WASHINGTON Wells Fargo has shown "improvements" in its mandated plan for how the bank would be unwound in a failure, but still needs to address "specific shortcomings" in the bank's resolution plan due next year, regulators said Tuesday.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Federal Reserve Board, which under the Dodd-Frank Act are required to review the so-called "living wills" of roughly 130 large banks, appeared to strike a more positive tone in assessing Wells' 2014 resolution plan than their August criticism of plans from 11 more complex institutions.
"The firm's 2014 plan provides a basis for a resolution strategy that could facilitate an orderly resolution under bankruptcy," the agencies said in a joint press release. "If fully developed in the future, Wells Fargo's plan could reduce the risk that the company's failure would pose to the stability of the U.S. financial system."
The regulators review the plans in batches determined by an institution's complexity. Generally, banks with over $50 billion in assets submit their plans annually. The wills provide a blueprint of how a bank would be unwound through a traditional bankruptcy, yet they could also aid the FDIC's use of new powers under Dodd-Frank to resolve failing behemoths if a bankruptcy is deemed too disruptive to the economy.
In August, the Fed and FDIC signaled the 11 "first-wave" filers may have been close to getting "not credible" findings which under Dodd-Frank triggers a set of formal corrective measures for their 2013 plans. Those filers which include Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase had made "unrealistic" assumptions in their plans and not made structural changes to improve their plans, the agencies said. (The FDIC said it would have made the formal "not credible" findings for the banks on its own, but the decision must be made jointly with the Fed.)
But the feedback issued for Wells a "second-wave" filer appeared less specific and less critical. While it was unclear what exactly separated its plan from that of other banks, Wells' progress may be due to the relative simplicity of its balance sheet compared with other banks of its size. (A spokesperson for the bank declined to comment.)
Still, the regulators made clear they wanted further upgrades in the bank's plan. The improvements in the 2014 plan "notwithstanding, the agencies have also jointly identified specific shortcomings of the 2014 resolution plan that need to be addressed in the 2015 plan," the agencies said, adding that a letter sent to the institution "details the specific shortcomings and the expectations of the agencies for the 2015 submissions."
Three foreign banks BNP Paribas, HSBC Holdings, and Royal Bank of Scotland Group are also in the second wave, but the agencies said Tuesday that starting next year those institutions will file plans on a delayed schedule. They will submit them on Dec. 31 of each year, instead of July 1.