Trying to get a better handle on the quality of loans and investments that banks and thrifts hold, federal regulators have proposed major modifications in call reports that would require institutions to submit more detailed data on a range of items, including residential construction loans and structured investment products.
The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council published the proposed changes in Tuesday's Federal Register and are giving banks until Nov. 24 to comment. A Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. official said more changes could be in store if and when the government's plan to buy up about $700 billion of banks' mortgage-related assets takes effect.
Bankers said the changes are likely to add to the cost of and time spent preparing the call reports that banks and thrifts submit to their regulators quarterly.
"It generally takes us about two-and-a-half weeks to get our call report ready to go," said Jon Drake, the chief financial officer and executive vice president of the $215 million-asset Peoples Bank in Lubbock, Tex. "This will probably add another one to three days onto the call-report time period."
Mr. Drake, who was an examiner in Texas and Oklahoma for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency from 1986 to 1993, said the changes would be useful to regulators who are trying to see how deeply Wall Street's troubles are rooted in the banking system.
Robert Storch, the FDIC's chief accountant, conceded that the extra reporting items would add to banks' workload, but he said the net result could be speedier and more efficient examinations. "By proposing to collect certain data in areas of concern to a bank's risk profile ... our examination staff is better able to pinpoint the areas that they want to focus in on during their examination," he said.
One key area where regulators are looking for more clarity is in construction and development lending. C&D loans account for most credit problems these days, and regulators want to add two C&D line items to the call report: loans that use interest reserves as part of the loan agreement, and the amount of capitalized interest included in the interest accrued during a quarter.
"These data, together with information that banks currently report on the amount of past due and nonaccrual C&D loans, will assist in identifying banks with C&D loan concentrations that may be engaging in questionable interest capitalization practices for supervisory follow-up," according to the proposal printed in the Federal Register.
Regulators are also looking for more transparency in reporting on structured financial products, such as collateralized debt obligations and mortgage-backed securities. As it stands, these are single-line items, but the new call reports would require banks to break out these securities by the type of collateral supporting them.
Regulators are also proposing changes in the way banks report such items as unused short-term commitments to asset-backed commercial paper conduits, fair-value measurements for asset and liability categories at banks with assets of $500 million or more, pledged loans or pledged trading assets, investments in real estate ventures, past-due and nonaccrual trading assets, and credit derivatives.
"This seems like a comparatively large number of changes," said Mark Tenhundfeld, the senior vice president in the office of regulatory policy at the American Bankers Association. "They typically have to tweak it a little, but not like with this one. This is a big set of changes."
Dennis Hilb, an executive in the Washington office of Crowe Horwath LLP, said he believes the changes are aimed at banks with more than $5 billion of assets. "There are some small banks that get involved in complex assets, but by and large the larger the bank, the more activity there," he said. "In light of today's environment, especially the credit environment, it's not a surprise we are seeing regulators need more data to perform better oversight."
There is a potential for more call data items to be added to call reports of banks that sell assets to the government as part of the $700 billion bailout. The FDIC's Mr. Storch said the agencies would have the authority to add items on a temporary, emergency basis for such banks without soliciting public comment.
14-Day Free Trial
Corrected September 26, 2008 at 7:13PM: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of a Crowe Horwath executive. He is Dennis Hild.