SMALL BANKS: The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Sept. 3 released its handbook for examining national banks with less than $1 billion of assets. Examiners will focus more on how a bank conducts its business, rather than on whether it documents policies and procedures.

UNREALIZED GAINS: Bank and thrift regulators adopted a rule allowing financial institutions to count 45% of unrealized equity investment gains toward their Tier 2 risk-based capital. The rule mirrors a provision in the 1998 Basel Accord. Published Sept. 1. Effective Oct. 1, but early adoption is permitted.

YEAR-2000: The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council on Aug. 31 said that fiduciaries need to consider how year-2000 problems might affect their clients and should take steps to correct any problems.

MUTUAL THRIFTS: The OTS said federal mutual thrifts may adopt a one- depositor, one-vote governing structure. The rule applies to new and existing thrifts as well as credit unions that convert. Published and effective Aug. 31.

FOREIGN BANKS: Under an interim rule, the Federal Reserve Board will examine the U.S. operations of well-managed, well-capitalized foreign banks once every 18 months, rather than once a year. Published and effective Aug. 28. Comments for the final rule are due Oct. 27.

HIGH-LTV LOANS: The OTS on Aug. 27 said thrifts engaging in high-loan- to-value lending should implement risk-management programs. Institutions that fail to control risks could be forced to reduce their high-LTV portfolios or be cited for unsafe banking practices.

PC BANKING: The OCC on Aug. 26 issued guidelines for banking by personal computer. The safeguards are aimed at protecting banks from software breakdowns, security breaches, and problems that may damage an institution's reputation.

FDIC STRATEGIC PLAN: The FDIC on Aug. 25 approved a strategic plan for fulfilling its supervisory, insurance, and receivership missions through 2003.

INTERNAL CONTROLS: The OCC on Aug. 24 said examiners will look more closely at national banks' internal policies for detecting employee theft and errors. Examiners will also assess the skills of key bank personnel, the effectiveness of risk-management systems, and the vulnerability of sensitive data to unauthorized access.

PHONE SCAMS: The OCC on Aug. 20 detailed safeguards national banks should adopt to protect confidential customer data from telephone scam artists. For instance, banks should not disclose account information over the phone unless the caller provides an authorization code.

INTERNET PRIVACY: The FDIC on Aug. 17 issued guidance for banks that collect customer information over the Internet. Web site owners should tell consumers what personal data is being gathered and how it will be used, and should let consumers choose to restrict its use.

OUT-OF-STATE LOANS: Bank regulators on Aug. 17 released a state-by-state list of loan-to-deposit ratios. The figures will help examiners implement a provision of the 1994 interstate branching law which requires out-of-state bank branches to make at least half as many local loans as their host-state competitors do.

MERGERS: In an Aug. 14 letter to the FDIC, the Justice Department said it would no longer review the anticompetitive effects of mergers involving banks with the same owner or mergers conducted solely to create a bank holding company.

REVERSE REPOS: The OTS barred thrifts from entering reverse repurchase agreements with nonbank affiliates. The agency said reverse repos are extensions of credit, and thrifts are prohibited from lending to nonbank affiliates. Published Aug. 13. Effective Oct. 1.

SERVICING ASSETS: Federal banking regulators doubled to 100% the amount of servicing assets-including purchased credit card relationships-that banks and thrifts may count as Tier 1 capital. Purchased credit card relationships and non-mortgage-servicing assets may make up no more than 25% of Tier 1 capital, and all servicing assets must be discounted by 10%. Published Aug. 10. Effective Oct. 1, but early adoption is permitted.

TRIBAL LENDING: The OCC on Aug. 5 issued guidance to help Native American tribes open or acquire national banks.

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