The public comment period for the banking agencies’ capital simplification rules for qualifying community banking organizations (i.e. the Community Bank Leverage Ratio proposal) are due on Tuesday, April 9th.
As previously discussed, the regulators have proposed a new, alternative, simplified capital regime for qualifying institutions that will deem an institution to be well-capitalized so long as it maintains a leverage ratio of at least 9% and adequately capitalized so long as it maintains a leverage ratio of at least 7.5%. While initially proposed last November, publication in the Federal Register was delayed until February of this year. As a result the comment period for the rule ends on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. Comments can be submitted online through Regulations.gov.
Through the publication of this blog post, the primary comments online appear to be the appropriate threshold for the new Community Bank Leverage Ratio. As background, EGRRCPA, the statutory basis for the reforms, obligates the regulators to apply a threshold of between 8% and 10%, and the regulators proposed 9%. Most of the submitted comments, including several from community bankers, comments from the Kansas Bankers Association and the Independent Bankers Association of Texas argue for a lower 8% ratio. Conversely, the Mercatus Center has submitted a comment supporting a 10% ratio.
On November 21, 2018, the Federal Reserve, Office of Comptroller of the Currency and the FDIC jointly published a notice of proposed rulemaking (the “NPR”) to provide an alternative capital system for qualifying banking organizations. Specifically, the regulators have proposed a new, alternative, simplified capital regime for qualifying institutions that will deem an institution to be well-capitalized so long as it maintains a leverage ratio of at least 9% and adequately capitalized so long as it maintains a leverage ratio of at least 7.5%.
The NPR seeks to implement the community bank leverage ratio (CBLR) mandated by Section 201 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (“EGRRCPA”). EGRRCPA requires the regulatory agencies to develop a CBLR of not less than 8 percent and not more than 10 percent for qualifying community banking organizations, and provides that organizations that meet such CBLR will deemed well capitalized for all purposes. EGRRCPA further provides that a qualifying community banking organization to be a depository institution or depository institution holding company with total consolidated assets of less than $10 billion.
Summary of the NPR
The NPR establishes five criteria for an depository institution or holding company to be deemed a Qualifying Community Banking Organization:
Total consolidated assets of less than $10 billion;
Total off-balance sheet exposures of 25% or less of total consolidated assets;
Total trading assets and trading liabilities of 5% or less of total consolidated assets;
MSAs of 25% or less of CBLR tangible equity; and
Temporary difference DTAs of 25% or less of CBLR tangible equity.
Under the NPR, the numerator of the CBLR would be CBLR tangible equity. CBLR tangible equity would be equal to total equity capital, determined in accordance with Call Report or Form Y-9C instructions, prior to including any minority interests, less (i) accumulated other comprehensive income (AOCI), (ii) all intangible assets (other than MSAs) including goodwill and core deposit intangibles, and (iii) DTA’s arising from net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards.
The CBLR denominator would be average total consolidated assets, calculated in accordance with Call Report or Form Y-9C instructions, less the items deducted from the CBLR numerator, except AOCI. The NPR notes that the calculation is similar to the one used in determining the denominator of the tier 1 leverage ratio.
Under the NPR, a Qualifying Community Banking Organization may elect to use the CBLR framework at any time, so long as it has a CBLR greater than 9% at the time of the election. Under the CBLR framework, the Qualifying Community Banking Organization will be considered well capitalized so long as it has a CBLR greater than 9%. A qualifying depository institution that previously elected to use the CBLR framework but has fallen below 9% will not be required to convert back to the regular capital system. Instead, the following CBLR leves will serve as proxies for the PCA categories:
Adequately Capitalized – CBLR of 7.5% or greater;
Undercapitalized – CBLR of less than 7.5%; and
Significantly Undercapitalized – CBLR of less than 6%.
The framework for Critically Undercapitalized would remain unchanged at a ratio of tangible equity to total assets of 2% or below. Any institution that would be deemed Significantly Undercapitalized under the CBLR framework would be required to promptly provide its appropriate regulators sufficient information to calculate the PCA tangible equity ratio.
As we mentioned just a couple of weeks ago, the federal banking regulators have taken aim at the risk weighting rules for High Volatility Commercial Real Estate (“HVCRE”) loans that went into effect back in 2015. In a proposal published on September 27, 2017, the regulators seek to simplify the approach in several ways. First, the existing HVCRE definition in the standardized approach would be replaced with a simpler definition, called HVADC, which would apply to credit facilities that primarily finance or refinance ADC activities. Second, an HVADC exposure would receive a 130 percent risk weight.as opposed to the 150% risk weight for HVCRE exposure under the existing rule. The tradeoff though is that HVADC would apply to a much broader set of loans. For example, as compared to the HVCRE exposure definition, the proposed HVADC exposure definition would not include an exemption for loans that finance projects with substantial borrower contributed capital and consequently removes the restriction on the release of internally generated capital.
The definition of “primarily finance” means credit facilities where more than 50 percent of loan proceeds will be used for ADC activities. So for example, multipurpose facilities where more than 50 percent of loan proceeds finance non-ADC activities, such as the purchase of equipment, would not be considered HVADC.
As with the HVCRE rule, there are certain exemptions. HVADC would exempt permanent loans, community development loans, loans for the purchase or development of agricultural land and loans for one to four family residential. Thus, lot development loans and loans to finance the ADC of townhomes or row homes would not be considered HVADC but raw land loans and loans to finance the ADC of apartments and condominiums generally would be considered HVADC.
Over the past year, my colleagues and I have spent an untold number of hours researching, writing and speaking about the Basel III capital rules. We felt it important to help bankers focus on the proposed rules in order to help them prepare and to help facilitate an appropriate response to the proposed rules. Because the rules were in proposed form, however, many bankers, bank directors and industry participants did not focus on these capital rules, instead waiting until they were finalized. Well, we’re here.
Earlier this month, the regulatory agencies finalized their revisions to the capital and risk-weighting rules, commonly known as the Basel III rules. Even though the rules will not be effective for most banks until Jan. 1, 2015, the finalizing of these rules presents the call to action to begin the dialogue about how the new rules will impact your bank. Of course, given the fact that the final release for the rules was almost 1,000 pages long, many bankers contemplating a board presentation are left to ask, “Where should I start?” Below are a few suggested areas of focus to begin to enhance your directors’ understanding of the new rules.
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