Fed Official: May Tailor New Rules For Individual Nonbank Companies

Date : 05/16/2012 @ 10:30AM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Metlife, Inc. (MET)
Quote : 55.04  0.0 (0.00%) @ 4:00AM

Fed Official: May Tailor New Rules For Individual Nonbank Companies

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U.S. regulators may individually tailor new requirements mandating tougher oversight for nonbank financial companies, a Federal Reserve official said in remarks prepared for a congressional hearing Wednesday.

New standards requiring financial companies to hold more capital, conduct "stress tests" and other tasks may be adjusted depending on a company's size, complexity and other factors, Michael Gibson, director of the Fed's division of banking supervision and regulation, said in testimony for Wednesday's hearing of a House Financial Services Committee panel.

"Working out the exact details of how enhanced prudential standards will apply to nonbank financial companies will certainly require a thoughtful and iterative analysis of each designated company over time," Gibson said in his prepared opening statement. The Fed will give "careful consideration" to how long each nonbank company should have to make the transition to the new requirements, he noted.

A new council of federal regulators last month finished setting out the three-step process it will use to spotlight some nonbank financial companies for tougher oversight. The council is expected to designate certain insurers, asset managers, hedge funds or other financial firms as "important" by the end of this year.

In testimony prepared for the same hearing, Lance Auer, the Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for financial institutions, said the council will exercise its judgment as it considers the risks that each firm may pose to the financial system. Doing so will allow the council "to address the diverse range of business models among nonbank financial companies." Each firm, he noted, will receive "robust due process protections," including the opportunity for a court review.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law automatically designates banks with at least $50 billion in assets as "systemically important" financial institutions but gives regulators broad authority to decide which nonbank financial firms pose risks.

The designated firms must comply with new, more-stringent capital, risk-management and leverage standards and come under the supervision of the Federal Reserve. Even after regulators have decided a firm is "systemically important," they will continue to monitor and may tweak adjustments for each company as warranted, Gibson said Wednesday.

Some nonbank financial companies have pushed back against the upcoming regulations, arguing they shouldn't be subject to a special level of federal scrutiny for large financial firms.

A top executive at MetLife Inc. (MET), the biggest U.S. life insurer, said in his prepared testimony for Wednesday's hearing that his company doesn't pose a threat to the financial system.

MetLife and Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU), the nation's largest life insurers by assets, are expected by analysts to earn the "systemically important" label.

-By Kristina Peterson, Dow Jones Newswires; 347-882-7215; kristina.peterson@dowjones.com

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