Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting took office only late last year, but he is wasting little time in tackling a series of hot-button topics, including easing anti-money-laundering regulations and lowering national bank fees.
In so doing, he's also making it clear that the agency is going in a different direction than in the Obama era, when Thomas Curry was comptroller. Curry's agenda was focused on ensuring examiners are not too close to the institutions they oversee and offering fintechs a charter so they can comply with national standards. Otting has scrapped Curry's plan to move examiners out of the bank and seems lukewarm at best on the fintech charter.
Following is a look at Otting's agenda.Community Reinvestment Act
Among the most controversial issues is CRA reform. Lenders and consumer groups alike have long argued the regulations governing the law, which have not been updated in more than two decades, are stale. But finding a reform plan that can satisfy both sides is tricky.
The OCC is expected to release an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking
soon which will ask commenters to weigh in on a number of questions. Among them will be what metric can be used to determine if a bank has met its CRA obligations.
"There’d be no magic,” Otting said last week. “And so every three years, when the CRA exam occurs, you’d know where you were so you wouldn’t have any questions.”
Exactly what that metric will be is unclear. He also wants to speed up the process, which typically lags by more than a year, so that the OCC can release real-time data.
The OCC “will have real-time data every quarter, where we can basically certify that you’re in compliance with CRA," Otting said.
Otting has also suggested that regulators should move away from using geographic location as a core part of CRA, noting that many banks offer digital offerings that are not tied to branch locations.