WASHINGTON — The Financial Stability Oversight Council said this week that transparency with nonbanks and the public is a primary focus of its efforts to resolve concerns about the council's process for designating institutions as systemically significant.

Several trade groups, public interest groups and business organizations met with FSOC on Thursday to air concerns around the council's process for designating nonbanks as "systemically important financial institutions," a label that has only been applied to a handful of nonbanks to date. The SIFI designation gives the Federal Reserve Board greater authority over the company's activities, though the central bank has not yet completed its rules outlining how exactly it would regulate those institutions.

In a statement issued after the meeting, FSOC staff said the broad contours of the conversations have been around engaging with nonbanks earlier in the designation process, annually reevaluating whether designated nonbanks should keep that status and balancing the public interest with the need for companies to keep proprietary and market-sensitive information confidential.

"Council staff will continue to engage with a variety of interested parties and firms regarding the process, before presenting to the Council any proposed or recommended changes," FSOC said.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who chairs FSOC, said in October that the council is soliciting suggestions from affected parties on how and whether to revise the rules.

Many of the trade groups attending yesterday's meetings — including the Association of Institutional Investors, American Council of Life Insurers, Financial Services Roundtable and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association — petitioned FSOC in August to revise the designation process. The groups asked FSOC to engage companies earlier in the designation process and to require the council to justify the information it sought when considering a SIFI designation.

The designation process gained greater importance recently when FSOC preliminarily tapped MetLife as a SIFI in September. The company formally protested its designation to FSOC during a November 3 oral hearing.

Other participants include public interest groups Americans for Financial Reform, Better Markets and the Systemic Risk Council, as well as investment trade groups the Investment Company Institute and Managed Funds Association. Insurance trade groups also participated, including the American Insurance Association and Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Bipartisan Policy Center.

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