The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. meets Tuesday for the last time this year, and the nation's largest banks are disappointed that an item they have been pushing did not make the board's packed agenda.
The coalition of big banks have been working for months to get federal regulators to simplify rules governing audits of internal controls.
The FDIC does plan to finalize a regulation tomorrow that will require banks to pay deposit insurance premiums quarterly rather than every six months. The agency also plans to set up electronic accounts so that bank premiums can simply be debited. Right now, banks mail FDIC a check.
While the industry understands that the FDIC has important matters such as premium collection on its plate, bankers were hoping the agency would streamline the audit rules before yearend.
Section 112 of the FDIC Improvement Act requires independent public accountants to perform various tests to ensure that banks are complying with laws and regulations. That provision took effect last year and added about $100 million to banks' 1993 compliance bills, according to Curtis C. Verschoor, an accounting professor at DePaul University in Chicago.
The group of banks - along with a contingent of public accounting firms - want to make the rule easier to follow.
For example, the agencies do allow a bank's own auditors to test internal controls as long as the work is tested at each bank subsidiary with assets of $500 million or more.
The banks are asking that those tests to be done across the holding company rather than at each large subsidiary.
Another change being sought would double the deadline for testing loans to insiders. Right now, after an insider loan is made, a bank has two weeks to find a similar loan so that the terms on each can be compared.
"All agree that the changes would provide results to the banking regulators that are more useful for decision making and significantly decrease the cost burden to the banking industry," according to a memo written by Glen Hildebrand, First Chicago's regulatory liaison.
Mr. Hildebrand said in an interview Friday bankers had expected the FDIC to take up the issue at tomorrow's meeting. He called the agency's postponement of the matter frustrating.
"The banking industry will conclude that the regulators are not trying to reduce the regulatory burden - even when the fix is easy, the benefits are clear, and the industry took the initiative to build a realistic solution and gained consensus for it," his memo concludes.
FDIC staff agree with the bankers and are merely trying to find the time to get the matter to the board.