August 2022 financial reporting, governance, and risk management

| 8/17/2022
August 2022 financial reporting, governance, and risk management

Message from John Epperson, Managing Principal, Financial Services

Dear FIEB readers,

A seminal moment in the history of financial reporting, governance, and risk management occurred 20 years ago on July 30 – the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Whether your entity is public or private, the act likely has affected your assessment of risk, governance of identified risk, and reporting on risk. As you will read, several stakeholders mused this month on the act’s 20th anniversary, its lasting impacts, and the future.

Two of the largest conferences for our industry are hosted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), each offering in-person and virtual options. The AICPA national conference on banks and savings institutions will be Sept. 12-14 at the Gaylord National, National Harbor, Maryland. Use the code “BAN22” to save $100 on the virtual option. Use the code “BAN200” to save $200 on the in-person conference.

The AICPA credit unions conference will be Oct. 24-26 at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Use the code “CU22” to save a $100 on the in-person or the virtual option. This discount may be applied in addition to the early bird discount of $100 – for a total savings of $200 off the regular registration fee – for those who register by Sept. 9, 2022.

We hope you find this month’s insights helpful to your role in producing high-quality financial reporting. We will bring you a new update next month.

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Matters of importance from the federal financial institution regulators

FDIC releases advisory on deposit insurance and crypto companies

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) on July 29, 2022, issued an advisory to FDIC-insured institutions to address misrepresentations by some crypto companies that claim their products are eligible for FDIC deposit insurance coverage or that customers are FDIC-insured if the crypto company fails.

In the release, the FDIC clarifies that it insures only deposits held in insured banks and savings associations in the event of a bank failure and that the FDIC does not insure assets issued by nonbank entities, such as crypto companies. It adds that in dealings with crypto companies, “FDIC-insured banks should confirm and monitor that these companies do not misrepresent the availability of deposit insurance.”

The FDIC also issued a two-page Crypto Advisory and Deposit Insurance fact sheet reminding the public of the scope of the FDIC’s coverage. The fact sheet also provides useful resources for bankers and the public to use to become better educated on deposit insurance coverage.

Agencies issue proposed updates to policy statement on CRE loan workouts

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), FDIC, and National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) on Aug. 2, 2022, issued a proposed updated policy statement for prudent commercial real estate (CRE) loan accommodations and workouts. The updated policy would build on existing guidance on the need for financial institutions to work prudently and constructively with creditworthy borrowers during times of financial stress, update existing guidance on CRE loan workouts, and add a new section on short-term loan accommodations. In developing the proposal, the agencies consulted with state banking and credit union supervisors. If finalized, the proposed statement would supersede the previous interagency statement on CRE loan workouts that was issued in 2009.

The proposed statement addresses supervisory expectations with respect to a financial institution’s handling of loan accommodations and loan workouts on matters including risk management elements, loan classification, regulatory reporting, and accounting considerations.

In addition to the new section on short-term loan accommodations, the proposed statement reflects changes in GAAP since 2009, including those related to current expected credit losses (CECL). It also includes revisions and additions to examples of CRE loan workouts. Among other things, the agencies are seeking input on how the document reflects sound practices in CRE loan accommodation and what additional information it can include to optimize the guidance for managing CRE loan portfolios.

Comments are due Oct. 3, 2022.

FDIC issues summer supervisory insights

On Aug. 3, 2022, the FDIC published its summer 2022 “Supervisory Insights,” which includes articles on CRE lending risk management practices and subordinated debt considerations.

In the CRE lending article, the FDIC notes several potential uncertainties facing the CRE market, including pandemic-induced societal changes such as lower pressure for office space as more employees worked remotely, increased hotel vacancies, and a reduction in shopping at brick-and-mortar retailers. The FDIC also cites inflation, rising interest rates, and supply chain challenges as potentially increasing risk. Given those uncertainties, FDIC examiners will be increasing their focus on CRE transaction testing in upcoming examination cycles. In particular, examiners will be testing newer CRE credits, credits stressed within subcategories and geographies, and credits with payments vulnerable to rising rates and rising costs. The FDIC also notes that banks with well-developed risk management practices generally adapted better during the pandemic. “For banks substantively involved in CRE lending, this was especially true when robust contingency planning and stress testing/scenario analysis processes were in place.”

In the article on considerations with subordinated debt issuances and investments, the FDIC recognizes that the issuance of subordinated debt has benefits and risks for banking organizations, and it says financial institutions should remain aware of the generally applicable capital rule’s requirements.

The article provides a comprehensive discussion on the definition and examples of subordinated debt, required capital deductions and risk weights, regulatory reporting requirements, and the treatment of subordinated debt for deposit insurance assessment purposes.

The FDIC highlights the capital rules including deductions from regulatory capital for certain investments in subordinated debt instruments issued by financial institutions. The FDIC reminds institutions that invest in subordinated debt to consider the credit quality and repayment capacity of the issuer as well as how such investments might affect an institution’s risk profile.

FDIC clarifies brokered deposit reporting rules

The FDIC on July 15, 2022, issued a statement and updated its related FAQ document to clarify the circumstances under which deposits are required to be reported as brokered deposits. The Brokered Deposits Final Rule took effect on April 1, 2021, but the statement says call report data after that suggests that some insured depository institutions (IDIs) “receiving sweep deposits from unaffiliated broker-dealers appear to be reporting the sweep deposits as non-brokered, despite the involvement of a third party that engages in facilitating the placement of deposits, including through engaging in matchmaking activities.”

In the statement, the FDIC recognizes that an institution may not have a direct relationship with an additional third party providing services to a broker-dealer with a primary purpose execution. However, when reporting sweep deposits, it is the institution’s responsibility to file accurate call report data, and therefore it might be necessary for the institution to review the agreements between the broker-dealer and any additional third party to evaluate and determine whether the additional third party is facilitating the placement of deposits, including by engaging in matchmaking activities.

The agency reminds banks that they must be aware of any additional third parties involved when receiving sweep deposits from an unaffiliated broker-dealer with a primary purpose exception.

The FDIC adds that it will not require banks to refile previous call reports “if, after good faith efforts, certain deposits were not previously reported as brokered by the IDI due to a misunderstanding of how the facilitation aspect of the deposit broker definition applies when additional third parties are involved.” However, institutions are encouraged to consult with their accountants and attorneys to discuss whether refiling of call reports might be appropriate and whether other regulatory filings might be affected.

FHFA creates new fintech office, issues RFI on fintech in housing finance

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) on July 18, 2022, announced the creation of an Office of Financial Technology, which will be a centralized source of information to support FHFA in addressing emerging risks and advancing agency priorities related to the adoption and deployment of fintech. The new office also will facilitate interagency collaboration.

In conjunction with the establishment of the new fintech office, the FHFA also issued a request for information (RFI) seeking public input on the role of technology in finance. Through the RFI the agency is broadly seeking to understand the current innovation landscape throughout the mortgage life cycle and related processes, risks, and opportunities.

Comments are due Oct. 16, 2022.

Treasury issues request for comment on digital asset development

The U.S. Department of the Treasury on July 8, 2022, issued a request for comment on ensuring responsible development of digital assets. The notice was sent pursuant to executive order 14067, issued in March 2022, which directed relevant agencies to report on the implications of the development and adoption of digital assets and on changes in financial market and payment infrastructures for U.S. consumers, investors, and businesses.

As part of the request, Treasury also sought feedback on potential risks associated with digital asset markets and how digital assets might benefit or pose risk to vulnerable populations.

The comment period closed Aug. 8, 2022.

From the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)

FASB discusses segment reporting

At its board meeting on July 27, 2022, the FASB discussed segment reporting and made the following decisions:

  • A public entity is required to disclose the title and position of its chief operating decision-maker (CODM).
  • A public entity must disclose the nature of the expense information that the CODM uses to manage operations if the entity does not disclose significant expense categories and amounts under the significant expense principle for one or more of its reportable segments.
  • A public entity is allowed to report multiple measures of a segment’s profit or loss. In those cases, at least one of the reported measures of a segment’s profit or loss should be a measure that management determines – in accordance with the measurement principles – to be the most consistent with those used in measuring the corresponding amounts in the consolidated financial statements.

As a next step, the board directed the staff to draft a proposed Accounting Standards Update for vote by written ballot. The proposal will include a 75-day comment period.

From the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

SEC proposes private fund reporting enhancements

On Aug. 10, 2022, the SEC proposed, jointly with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, amendments to Form PF. The amendments increase disclosure granularity of private funds’ operations and strategies.

Comments are due 30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register or 60 days after Aug. 10, 2022, whichever is later.

SEC proposes clearing agency governance changes

The SEC proposed, on Aug. 8, 2022, rules to improve the governance of clearing agencies. The proposal defines independence and requires certain minimum criteria for clearing agency directors and committee members. The proposal also requires clearing agencies to institute various governance policies and procedures.

Comments are due 30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register or 60 days after Aug. 8, 2022, whichever is later.

Small business capital committee meets

The SEC’s Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee held a videoconference meeting on Aug. 2, 2022, to discuss matters relating to rules and regulations affecting small and emerging businesses and their investors under federal securities laws. Committee members provided their outlooks on what is ahead for small-business capital formation. Additionally, the committee discussed secondary market liquidity for investors in Regulation A and Regulation Crowdfunding companies and for smaller public companies. They discussed exit opportunities for these investors, secondary market liquidity challenges for the private and smaller public companies and their investors, and what changes could help facilitate secondary liquidity for these investors.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler shared remarks at the meeting, noting that he looks forward to the committee’s discussion on promoting investor protection and facilitating capital formation. New SEC Commissioner Mark Uyeda presented remarks, acknowledging the importance of the committee’s work and its recommendations, which provide helpful ideas for capital formation that are considered and used by policymakers and also are relevant to financial regulators. New SEC Commissioner Jaime Lizárraga also shared remarks, in which he highlighted unique challenges in addressing liquidity in the secondary markets for private offerings. Lastly, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce presented remarks, asking several questions about improving secondary market liquidity.

SEC moves to tighten exemptions from FINRA membership requirement

The SEC, on July 29, 2022, re-proposed amendments that would narrow the exemption from Securities Exchange Act Section 15(b)(8), which requires any broker or dealer registered with the SEC to become a member of a national securities association unless the broker or dealer effects transactions in securities solely on an exchange of which it is a member. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) currently is the only registered national securities association.

Rule 15b9-1 provides an exemption from Section 15(b)(8) under which certain SEC-registered dealers may engage in unlimited proprietary trading of securities on any national securities exchange of which they are not a member or in the over-the-counter market without triggering the Section 15(b)(8)’s FINRA membership requirement. The proposed amendments would replace this exemption with narrow exemptions from Section 15(b)(8)’s FINRA membership requirement. Under the proposed amendments, “a broker-dealer that carries no customer accounts and effects securities transactions other than on a national securities exchange where it is a member would be exempt from Section 15(b)(8) only if those transactions result from routing for order protection purposes by a national securities exchange where the broker-dealer is a member or constitute the execution of the stock leg of a stock-option order.”

Comments are due Sept. 27, 2022.

SEC chair remarks on climate-related financial risks proposals

At the Financial Stability Oversight Council meeting on July 28, 2022, SEC Chair Gensler shared an update on the SEC’s proposals on climate-related financial risks, including the proposals on climate-related disclosures, the Names Rule for funds, and disclosure requirements for advisers and investment companies marketing themselves with labels related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. He said that the climate-related disclosures proposal is about adding consistency, comparability, and decision-usefulness to this information and said the SEC has received more than 14,500 comments, which are available on the SEC website. He said that the Names Rule proposal will help ensure investors are provided with the information that conforms with climate-related naming conventions. Gensler noted that the SEC is focused on making sure statements that companies present to investors are not materially false or misleading.

The comment periods closed on Aug. 16, 2022, for the proposals on the Names Rule and the disclosure requirements for advisers and investment companies. The comment period for the climate-related disclosure proposal ended on June 17, 2022.

SEC chair comments on the 20th anniversary of SOX

On July 27, 2022, before the Center for Audit Quality, SEC Chair Gensler delivered remarks recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). He said that finance ultimately is about trust and a fundamental goal of SOX was to restore trust in the U.S. financial system after several crises revealed weaknesses. Gensler noted the impact of SOX on the quality of auditing standards; auditing inspections, investigations, and enforcement; auditor independence; accounting standards; corporate governance; and coverage of foreign issuers in the U.S. He said that although SOX has had a profound effect on auditing standards with the establishment of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), and the PCAOB initially adopted the auditing standards of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), there is still much work to be done to update and enhance the standards.

Gensler identified the PCAOB’s responsibility for inspecting and investigating auditing firms for compliance with auditing standards and bringing enforcement actions as critical factors in imparting trust in the U.S. capital markets. He said that under the current leadership, the PCAOB has an opportunity to reinvigorate its enforcement program. He then addressed auditor independence and concerns over the growth and complexity of advisory businesses within auditing firms, stressing the importance of maintaining a culture of ethics, integrity, and independence.

Additionally, Gensler noted that SOX created requirements for corporate governance and accountability to help ensure that the incentives of executives, boards, accountants, and investors were better aligned. However, cases still are brought today regarding these matters. Lastly, Gensler touched on coverage of foreign issuers in the U.S. and said that they need to play by the same rules as everyone else or lose access to the U.S. markets. He specifically mentioned China and Hong Kong.

In conclusion, Gensler noted that although we have gained a lot from SOX and the quality of public company audits has improved, much more work is still to be done for SOX to reach its full potential.

SEC enforcement director provides testimony to House committee

On July 21, 2022, Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, testified on the work of the division before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets. He noted that the work of the Division of Enforcement is central to the SEC’s mission of protecting investors; maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and facilitating capital formation. He reported that during the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2021, the SEC filed 434 new enforcement actions, a 7% increase over the prior year. In addition, the SEC’s whistleblower program awarded $564 million to 108 whistleblowers, compared to 39 whistleblowers in the prior year. He said a main goal of the division is to restore public trust in the U.S. markets and institutions through robust enforcement, remedies, and compliance.

Grewal identified the division’s priorities as enforcement, remedies, and compliance. He described the ever-changing landscape of enforcement and how the division needs to keep up with newer and emerging areas and risks and more complex schemes of misconduct. He noted that robust enforcement includes a focus not only on the wrongdoers but also on gatekeeper accountability. In addition to punishing wrongdoers for violations of the securities laws, the SEC’s remedies should prevent future violations from happening in the first place and should be viewed as more than the cost of doing business. He added that robust compliance is a responsibility shared by all market participants.

Finally, Grewal noted that the division has been performing its work with fewer employees. He said that the challenges currently faced by the division require it to constantly assess and reassess how best to allocate the division’s limited resources in the most effective manner to address the most significant and pressing risks facing investors and the financial markets. The SEC’s fiscal year 2023 budget seeks additional staff to enable the division to meet these increasing challenges and to maintain an effective investigative capacity and deterrent presence for the benefit of the U.S. markets and investors.

From the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB)

PCAOB chair remarks on SOX anniversary and creation of the PCAOB

On July 28, 2022, PCAOB Chair Erica Williams presented prepared remarks celebrating the 20th anniversary of SOX and establishment of the PCAOB. SOX created the PCAOB with the mission of protecting investors by being an independent audit watchdog. The PCAOB’s role is to set standards to uphold the integrity of public audits, inspect for compliance with those standards, and enforce them to help restore trust in the U.S capital markets.

According to Williams, since its creation, the PCAOB has:

  • “Registered over 3,800 audit firms,
  • “Completed more than 4,300 firm inspections in 55 countries – reviewing more than 15,000 audits of public companies and over 1,000 broker-dealer engagements,
  • “Issued more than 330 settled orders, and
  • “Sanctioned more than 230 firms and 270 individuals.”

Williams noted that continuing to strengthen credibility is a top priority for the PCAOB and identified three key areas where the PCAOB plans to further its investor-protection mission: modernizing its standards, enhancing its inspections, and strengthening its enforcement.

From the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ)

CAQ issues July audit committee newsletter

On July 29, 2022, the CAQ released its July 2022 “Audit Committee Insights” newsletter highlighting topics including the audit partner pulse survey, top audit committee considerations for 2022, comments on the SEC’s proposed rule on climate-related disclosures, and takeaways from 20 years with SOX.

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