WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that it will begin to implement significant changes to its supervisory program for large financial institutions following the recommendations of a yearlong internal investigation into how the Fed examines banks.
The internal probe, the results of which were also published Tuesday, found that while many regional Fed banks employ best practices in their supervision process for banks covered by the Fed's Large Institution Supervision Coordinating Committee, there are some inconsistencies in policies dealing with examining data and supervisory expectations across the entire Fed system. The report also found that there was no standardized process for individual examiners to dissent from or contest the conclusions of supervisory assessments.
To remedy this, the Fed said that next year it would begin establishing minimum supervisory standards for examiners and supervisory program offices covering LISCC banks and lay out a curriculum specifically targeted to the supervisory expectations for those large and complex institutions.
"While the review found that 95 percent of staff interviewed felt empowered to raise differing opinions, it noted that a formal process for raising divergent views had not been established," the Fed said in announcing the changes. "To address this, the Federal Reserve System in 2016 will develop policies and practices to encourage the exchange of, and response to, divergent staff views on all supervisory matters."
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond said they will also dedicate additional resources to each of their supervisory teams.
The report was commissioned last November and examined the supervisory programs at the Richmond, New York and San Francisco Fed banks from December 2014 through April 2015. The Fed's Office of Inspector General announced a similar investigation last November, but its results have not yet been published. Supervisory practices for community and regional banks will remain unchanged.
The probes came after former New York Fed examiner Carmen Segarra leaked secretly recorded audio of supervisory proceedings to the investigative reporting outlet ProPublica and the public radio program "This American Life." The resulting investigate report suggested supervisory teams at the New York Fed tread too lightly in their oversight of banks, particularly the largest and most complex institutions. Her allegations sparked congressional hearings and concerns of "regulatory capture" at the New York Fed, with lawmakers saying that it appeared as though the supervisors were afraid of the banks rather than the other way around.
Michael Gibson, who heads LISCC and the Fed's Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation, said the changes announced Tuesday will go a long way toward mollifying those concerns.
"The steps we are implementing will further strengthen our robust, multi-disciplinary approach to supervising the largest and most complex financial institutions," Gibson said in a press release.