OCC's Brooks sees 'overlap' with Fed on CRA

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WASHINGTON — Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks signaled that he was still open to working with the Federal Reserve on modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act, over four months after the national bank regulator published a CRA rule without the Fed's support.

“There's a significant amount of overlap between what the Fed has proposed and what the OCC has finalized,” Brooks said in a pre-recorded interview shared by the Consumer Bankers Association during a virtual event Thursday afternoon.

Last month, the Fed released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking outlining the reform approach it is considering for the anti-redlining law. While key differences remain — namely how the two agencies have proposed calculating community development activity relative to other kinds of CRA lending — analysts have suggested their respective approaches appeared more similar than expected.

Citing conversations with “people who've done a line-by-line comparison” of the OCC rule and Fed's rulemaking notice, Brooks said "something like 75% of the Fed’s proposal is straight out of what we did in our final rule.”

"There's plenty of reason to think we largely agree — the status quo doesn't work, branch-focused assessments don't work, subjectivity doesn't work," said acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks of the Fed and OCC's approaches to reforming CRA.
"There's plenty of reason to think we largely agree — the status quo doesn't work, branch-focused assessments don't work, subjectivity doesn't work," said acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks of the Fed and OCC's approaches to reforming CRA.

“They have some other things that are a little bit different; we'll learn more about that as we analyze it and as we get comments,” Brooks said. “But I think there's plenty of reason to think we largely agree — the status quo doesn't work, branch-focused assessments don't work, subjectivity doesn't work. Why are we fighting?”

Without committing to anything as specific as concrete changes or regulatory action, Brooks said he had “told the Fed that if they get good comments in response to their rulemaking, we're not beyond the prospect of finding ways of improving even more.”

But Brooks also stressed that the OCC would not slow down implementation of its rule. “In the meantime, I can't sit by another four or five years on my watch and let this thing be the way it was the last 10,” he said. “That's just not fair for the people who need credit.”

In the interview, Brooks was later asked by Richard Hunt, the president and chief executive of the Consumer Bankers Association, to comment on “regulatory coordination with other agencies,” and to what extent he interacted with his “fellow regulators.”

“I mean, I sometimes feel like I do little else,” Brooks said. “I think that the truth is, the interagency relationship right now is really really strong.”

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CRA Brian Brooks Lael Brainard Federal Reserve OCC Compliance
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