Regulators finalize rule streamlining call reports for smaller banks

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WASHINGTON — The federal bank regulators have issued a final rule allowing more small banks to use a simplified call reporting form.

The new rule, mandated by the regulatory relief law that Congress enacted last year, allows financial institutions with total assets of less than $5 billion that are not involved in complex or international activities to use the shorter-form FFIEC 051 Call Report every other quarter. The previous asset threshold was $1 billion.

The new regulation, which is unchanged from the November proposal, would also further streamline the simplified call report by removing 37% of the data items.

"The agencies are committed to actively exploring additional revisions to Call Reports that would further reduce reporting requirement burdens," the Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said in a joint press release Monday.

Banks of all sizes submit quarterly call reports that regulators use to observe and evaluate the performance and risk profile of individual institutions.

The new rule allows smaller banks to file the short-form call report during the first and third quarters of each year, effectively reducing the number of reportable data items by about a third.

But industry representatives have urged the regulators to take more dramatic steps to reduce reporting requirements for community banks.

In an American Banker op-ed, Independent Community Bankers of America Chief Executive Rebeca Romero Rainey said the November proposal "effectively ... [eliminates] data fields that few community banks use anyway."

"This offers little meaningful relief from unnecessary reporting burdens for institutions that are still required to file the full call report at midyear and year-end," she said. "The regulators themselves have admitted as much, projecting that their plan would reduce reporting burdens by just 1.18 hours for institutions with assets of less than $1 billion."

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