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News Release 2014-91 | June 25, 2014

OCC Report Examines Risks Facing National Banks and Federal Savings Associations

WASHINGTON— Competitive pressures, and strategic and operational risks top the semiannual list of supervisory concerns in a report released today by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC).

While conditions overall showed improvement in the second half of 2013, the OCC reports in its Spring 2014 Semiannual Risk Perspective that credit risk is building in supervised national banks and federal savings associations following a period of improving credit quality and problem loan clean-up.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Competition for limited lending opportunities is intensifying, resulting in loosening underwriting standards, particularly in indirect auto and leveraged lending. Easing in underwriting and increased risk layering is also occurring in commercial loans.
  • The prolonged low interest rate environment continues to lay the foundation for future vulnerability. Banks that extend asset maturities to pick up yield, especially if relying on the stability of non-maturity deposit funding in a rising rate environment, could face significant earnings pressure and potential capital erosion depending on the severity and timing of  interest rate moves.
  • Many banks continue to re-evaluate their business models and risk appetites to generate returns against the backdrop of slow economic growth and low interest rates. OCC examiners will focus on banks’ strategic business and new product planning to ensure appropriate risk management processes are established.
  • Cyber-threats continue to evolve, requiring heightened awareness and appropriate resources to identify and mitigate the associated risks.
  • Financial asset prices have experienced very low volatility for an extended period. As a result, measures of price risk, such as value-at-risk, are at very low levels. The reduced willingness of dealers to hold securities in inventory, due to capital and other concerns such as a change in monetary policy, could contribute to greater price swings going forward and increased price risk.
  • Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering risks remain prevalent as money-laundering methods evolve, and electronic bank fraud increases in volume and sophistication. Banks work to incorporate appropriate controls to oversee higher risk customers and new products and services.

The report presents data in five main areas: the operating environment; the condition and performance of the banking system; key risk issues; elevated risk metrics; and regulatory actions. It focuses on issues that pose threats to the safety and soundness of those financial institutions regulated by the OCC and is intended as a resource to the industry, examiners, and the public. The report reflects data as of December 31, 2013.

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