On November 24, the OCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking (and accompanying Bulletin 2020-103) covering evaluation measure benchmarks, retail lending distribution test thresholds, and community development (CD) minimums under the new general performance standards outlined in the Community Reinvestment Act’s (CRA) final rule issued earlier this year. As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, on May 20, the OCC announced the final rule to modernize the regulatory framework implementing the CRA. The final rule was technically effective on October 1, but provides for at least a 27-month transition period for compliance based on a bank’s size and business model. Large banks and wholesale and limited purpose banks will have until January 1, 2023 to comply, and small and intermediate banks that opt-in to the final rule’s performance standards will have until January 1, 2024. In the preamble to the final rule, the OCC noted a future proposal would provide details of the calibration process of the requirements for each of the three components (the CRA evaluation measure benchmarks, retail lending distribution test thresholds, and CD minimums) of the objective performance standards. Highlights of the proposal include:

  • Requirements for each of the three components such that the proportion of banks that would have received presumptive ratings of outstanding and satisfactory would be no greater than the historical proportion of banks that received the same ratings under the previous CRA regulations.
  • The OCC would issue an information survey to institutions subject to the general performance standards to obtain bank-specific information and would use this information to calculate CRA evaluation measures and CD minimum calculations for each bank’s assessment areas, as well as a bank-level CRA evaluation measure and CD minimum calculation for each bank.
  • For each major retail lending product line, the OCC proposes to calculate the numerator used in determining each bank’s retail lending distribution test ratios for each bank’s assessment areas. Each bank’s numerators under the borrower and geographic distribution tests would be divided by the applicable demographic and peer comparators to calculate each bank’s retail lending distribution test ratios for each bank’s assessment areas.
  • The retail lending distribution tests would yield up to 18 different threshold values. The CRA evaluation measure would involve six different benchmark values (one at the bank level and one at the assessment area level for needs to improve, satisfactory, and outstanding presumptive ratings, respectively), while the CD minimum would involve two values, one at the bank level and one at the assessment area level.
  • The OCC would consider a decline of 10 percent or greater in a bank’s performance on the general performance standards that could not be explained by market conditions or other performance context factors, as “precipitous,” which may warrant a downward adjustment in the OCC’s determination of the bank’s assigned rating.

Once the proposal is finalized, the OCC stated that it will take the necessary steps to publicize the specific benchmarks, thresholds, and minimums, and will periodically review and adjust these benchmarks, thresholds, and minimums, as necessary.

Comments on the proposal are due within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register.