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OCC Bulletin 2006-47 | December 13, 2006

Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses (ALLL): Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the ALLL


Chief Executive Officers of All National Banks, Department and Division Heads, and All Examining Personnel

The guidance attached to this bulletin continues to apply to federal savings associations.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the National Credit Union Administration (collectively, the agencies), have issued an interagency policy statement on the ALLL and supplemental FAQs. This issuance revises the 1993 policy statement on the ALLL previously issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of Thrift Supervision. The National Credit Union Administration has also joined in issuing the revised guidance.

The agencies believe an assessment of the appropriateness of the ALLL is critical to the safety and soundness of a financial institution. In light of ALLL-related developments since the policy statement was first adopted in 1993, the agencies have revised the previous policy to ensure consistency with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and more recent supervisory guidance. The 1993 policy statement was originally issued to describe the responsibilities of the boards of directors, management and examiners of banks and savings associations regarding the ALLL; factors to be considered in the estimation of the ALLL; and the objectives and elements of an effective loan review system, including a sound credit grading system. The revised policy statement updates this guidance and also extends it to credit unions and their examiners.

This revision reiterates key concepts and requirements included in existing ALLL supervisory guidance and GAAP. Because the ALLL represents one of the most significant estimates in an institution's financial statements and regulatory reports, the agencies remind those institutions of their responsibility for developing, maintaining, and documenting a comprehensive, systematic, and consistently applied process for determining the amounts of the ALLL and the provision for loan and lease losses. To fulfill this responsibility, each institution should ensure that controls are in place to determine consistently the ALLL in accordance with GAAP, the institution's stated policies and procedures, management's best judgment and relevant supervisory guidance.

Consistent with longstanding supervisory guidance, institutions must maintain an ALLL at a level that is appropriate to cover estimated credit losses on individually evaluated loans determined to be impaired as well as estimated credit losses inherent in the remainder of the loan and lease portfolio. Estimates of credit losses should reflect consideration of all significant factors that affect the collectibility of the portfolio as of the evaluation date. Arriving at an appropriate allowance involves a high degree of management judgment and results in a range of estimated losses. Accordingly, prudent, conservative, but not excessive, loan loss allowances that represent management's best estimate from within an acceptable range of estimated losses are appropriate.

Although the revised policy statement reiterates key concepts and requirements in GAAP and existing supervisory guidance on the ALLL, the agencies recognize that institutions may not have sufficient time to complete any enhancements needed to bring their ALLL processes and documentation into full compliance with the revised guidance for year-end 2006 reporting purposes. Nevertheless, these enhancements should be completed in the near term.

In addition to the revised policy statement, the agencies are issuing a compilation of 16 FAQs to assist institutions in complying with GAAP and ALLL supervisory guidance.

For further information, please contact Kathy Murphy, Deputy Chief Accountant at (202) 649-6280 or Doreen Ledbetter, NBE, Credit Risk Specialist at (202) 649-6360.

Zane D. Blackburn
Chief Accountant
Office of the Chief Accountant

Kathryn E. Dick
Deputy Comptroller
Credit & Market Risk

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