May 30, 2018

FED published the proposed rule to simplify and tailor compliance requirements related to the Volcker rule. By statute, the Volcker rule generally prohibits banking entities from engaging in proprietary trading and from owning or controlling hedge funds or private equity funds. Comment will be accepted for 60 days after publication of the proposal in the Federal Register.

The proposed changes were jointly developed by the five agencies responsible for administration of the Volcker rule—CFTC, FDIC, FED, OCC, and SEC. Section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act requires issuance of this rule jointly with the other four other agencies. Thus, publication of this preamble and proposed rule in the Federal Register will be delayed to allow all of the agencies to consider the proposal; the final version may differ from this version. As per this version of the rule, the proposed changes would:

  • Tailor the rule's compliance requirements based on the size of a firm's trading assets and liabilities, with the most stringent requirements applied to firms with the most trading activity
  • Provide more clarity by revising the definition of "trading account" in the rule, in part by relying on commonly used accounting definitions
  • Clarify that firms that trade within appropriately developed internal risk limits are engaged in permissible market making or underwriting activity
  • Streamline the criteria that apply when a banking entity seeks to rely on the hedging exemption from the proprietary trading prohibition
  • Limit the impact of the Volcker rule on the foreign activity of foreign banks
  • Simplify the trading activity information that banking entities are required to provide to the agencies

The recently enacted Economic Growth, Regulatory Reform, and Consumer Protection Act also made several changes to the statutory Volcker rule provisions. Among other things, the Act exempted community banks—firms with less than USD 10 billion in consolidated assets and with total trading assets and liabilities that are not more than 5% of total consolidated assets—from the Volcker rule restrictions. Formal implementation of the Volcker rule-related changes in the Act will occur in a separate rule making by the agencies. Since regulations implementing the Volcker rule were finalized in December 2013 by five federal agencies, experience has shown that the complexity of the rule has created compliance uncertainty for firms subject to the rule. The proposed changes are intended to streamline the rule by eliminating or modifying requirements that are not necessary to effectively implement the statute, without diminishing the safety and soundness of banking entities.

 

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Comment Due Date: FR + 60 Days

Keywords: Americas, US, Banking, Volcker Rule, Proportionality, Compliance Requirements, Foreign Banks, FED

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