WASHINGTON - Bank regulators went along last week with the Financial Accounting Standards Board's May decision to count originated mortgage servicing rights as assets.
The decision means that on call reports as well as balance sheets, the servicing rights on mortgages originated by banks and thrifts will now be treated the same as the ones they buy.
That much is good news for lenders, who in the past have often sold servicing rights on their own loans and bought rights from others in order to carry them on their balance sheets.
But Marti Sworobuk, a lobbyist for America's Community Bankers, said she was disappointed that, for now at least, regulators will treat both purchased and originated mortgage servicing rights as intangible assets.
"At least they came out with this before the June 30 call report deadline," Ms. Sworobuk said.
But, she added, servicing rights "should no longer qualify as intangibles. They should be classified as tangible assets. They're actively traded and they are measurable; those are the attributes of tangible assets."
This matters because intangible assets - mortgage servicing rights plus purchased credit card relationship intangibles - can't make up more than 50% of an institution's core capital for regulatory purposes.
Last week's announcement by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council amounts to "interim guidance" on how banks and thrifts should fill out their call reports. Actual changes to the call report forms will have to be proposed by the regulatory agencies that make up the council, then put out for public comment.