The Comptroller of the Currency on Thursday released new exam guidelines for large national banks.

The 73-page examiners handbook incorporates the agency's new "supervision by risk" program, unveiled in September. Under the program, examiners will divide the risks facing banks into nine categories.

"This formalizes a mechanism for examiners and bankers to have a common language in assessing a bank's risks and identifying a bank's problems," said Kevin Bailey, deputy chief national bank examiner.

The new system will be used by examiners at national banks with more than $1 billion in assets, or national banks owned by holding companies with at least one institution of $1 billion or more in assets. Examiners will identify and measure the amount of risk in each of the nine areas and then evaluate how well the bank's managers are controlling the risks.

With this information, examiners will put together a custom-tailored risk profile of each bank. While the profile will serve as a snapshot of the risks present in a bank, it also is a blueprint for future exams, Mr. Bailey said.

The new guidelines are expected to be used in most national bank exams by the end of the first quarter. For national banks of less than $1 billion in assets, new examiner guidelines incorporating the supervision-by-risk program are expected to be released by June.

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