NCUA releases report detailing progress in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) released a report detailing its progress in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in its workforce. © Shutterstock The NCUA’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) annual report also highlights the agency’s efforts to ensure fair and inclusive business practices and assess the diversity policies and practices of the […]

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The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) released a report detailing its progress in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in its workforce.

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The NCUA’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) annual report also highlights the agency’s efforts to ensure fair and inclusive business practices and assess the diversity policies and practices of the entities it regulates.

“This report reflects the agency’s ongoing commitment to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion as values reflected in our policies and practices,” NCUA Chairman Todd Harper said. “The NCUA remains deeply dedicated to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in its workforce, business activities, and the credit union system, and creating a greater sense of belonging within the agency for all employees.”

Among the achievements, NCUA reported that 41.5 percent of new hires in 2020 were people of color. Further, gender diversity among the agency’s senior executives achieved parity for the first time. Also,
15.4 percent and 4.2 percent of the NCUA’s workforce identify as having disabilities and targeted disabilities, respectively.

Further, 23.4 percent of the NCUA’s workforce participated in employee resource groups, more than twice the benchmark participation rate. Also, there were 15 facilitated, open discussions on racial injustice and racism hosted by OMWI in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

“Unquestionably, 2020 was one of the most challenging years in recent history,” Harper said. “Despite the unexpected changes the COVID-19 pandemic caused to the agency’s operations, OMWI skillfully ensured that the NCUA continued to adhere to its mission and values.”

NCUA’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion oversees all agency matters relating to monitoring and establishing policies for diversity at NCUA. It also assesses the diversity policies and practices of NCUA’s regulated entities.

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SEC details whistleblower awards

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials said joint whistleblowers have been awarded over $50 million for alerting agency staff to violations difficult to detect without their information.© Shutterstock Per the SEC, the circumstances involved complex transactions, noting the joint whistleblowers provided aid to staff during the investigation, including meeting with personnel numerous times and providing […]

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Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials said joint whistleblowers have been awarded over $50 million for alerting agency staff to violations difficult to detect without their information.

© Shutterstock

Per the SEC, the circumstances involved complex transactions, noting the joint whistleblowers provided aid to staff during the investigation, including meeting with personnel numerous times and providing detailed documents. The award is the second-largest in the history of the program.

Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, said the initiative reflects the contribution of joint whistleblowers to help recover funds for harmed investors.

“The SEC has now awarded over a quarter of a billion dollars to whistleblowers in the first seven months of this fiscal year alone, demonstrating the tremendous value of whistleblowers to our enforcement program,” she said.

The agency indicated it has awarded approximately $812 million to 151 individuals since issuing its first award nine years ago. Payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress completely financed through financial sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators.

Whistleblowers may be eligible for an award when they voluntarily provide the SEC with original, timely, and credible information leading to successful enforcement action. Awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million.

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ICI chief issues statement on potential money market fund reform

The Investment Company Institute issued a statement on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s request for comments on potential options for money market fund reforms, as detailed in the President’s Working Group (PWG) report.© Shutterstock “Policymakers seeking to address the COVID-19 market turmoil should be prudent in placing new rules on money market funds. ICI’s new […]

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The Investment Company Institute issued a statement on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s request for comments on potential options for money market fund reforms, as detailed in the President’s Working Group (PWG) report.

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“Policymakers seeking to address the COVID-19 market turmoil should be prudent in placing new rules on money market funds. ICI’s new data and analysis challenge the narrative that money market funds caused or amplified the stress in the short-term funding markets in March 2020. As such, it is important to examine how last year’s events, market structure, and the actions of all market participants, not just money market funds, led to significant strains in the short-term funding markets last March. This is a necessary step before considering any of the PWG money market fund reform options,” ICI President and CEO Eric Pan said.

Pan said that removing the tie between the 30 percent weekly liquid asset threshold and the imposition of fees and gates would strengthen prime money market funds and improve the financial system’s resiliency.

“As ICI’s letter shows, the threat of fees and gates was a main contributor to the unusually high redemptions from some prime institutional money market funds. In contrast, the other PWG options will not achieve policymakers’ goal of making the financial system more resilient in the face of a severe liquidity shock. Instead, those options will only severely weaken money market funds’ key characteristics and eliminate the important benefits they provide to millions of investors and the economy—without addressing the underlying vulnerabilities in the financial system,” Pan added.

Pan added that more than 50 million retail investors, as well as corporations, municipalities, and other institutional investors, rely on money market funds, which have some $4.9 trillion in assets.

“ICI and its members are committed to working with U.S. and international policymakers to further strengthen money market funds and the short-term funding markets for the benefit of investors and the economy,” the ICI CEO concluded.

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Consumer Bankers Association outlines student loan debt solutions

The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) has outlined a series of reforms the organization said reduces student debt while also protecting borrowers.© Shutterstock According to the CBA, initiatives include reining in unlimited federal government lending the organization maintains drives up higher education costs. In correspondence forwarded to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee […]

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The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) has outlined a series of reforms the organization said reduces student debt while also protecting borrowers.

© Shutterstock

According to the CBA, initiatives include reining in unlimited federal government lending the organization maintains drives up higher education costs.

In correspondence forwarded to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy in advance of its hearing on student loan debt, CBA President and CEO Richard Hunt indicated the domestic student debt problem is caused by unlimited lending by the federal government and the resulting constantly increasing prices charged by schools.

“The best way to reduce excessive student loan debt is to restrain the federal lending that is fueling the excess,” Hunt wrote. “Federal student loan debt has ballooned in large part because many borrowers are not making progress repaying what they borrowed. In contrast, private student loan borrowers are successfully repaying their loans 98 percent of the time. This successful repayment rate has persisted year after year, only dropping slightly during the COVID-19 pandemic-affected months 2020 and already recovering this year.”

Hunt said federal law allows for open-ended borrowing of PLUS loans by graduate students and parents of undergraduates, limited by what schools decide to charge.

The CBA solutions include changing the Higher Education Act to limit PLUS borrowing and otherwise encourage colleges to restrain their costs; improving disclosure of terms and conditions for federal loans, like those required for private loans by the Truth in Lending Act; taking into some consideration students’ and families’ ability to repay before saddling them with significant debt they may not be able to repay.

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Sen. Brown seeking answers from major banks on relationships with Archegos Capital

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is seeking answers from large bank executives about the margin call and market activity connected to Archegos Capital Management.© Shutterstock Brown, the chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, wrote a letter to the heads of four major banks, Credit Suisse Securities, Nomura Holding America, […]

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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is seeking answers from large bank executives about the margin call and market activity connected to Archegos Capital Management.

© Shutterstock

Brown, the chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, wrote a letter to the heads of four major banks, Credit Suisse Securities, Nomura Holding America, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley, expressing concern about news reports that Archegos entered into risky derivatives transactions facilitated by major investment banks. It resulted in the panicked selling of stocks worth tens of billions of dollars and banks losing nearly $10 billion collectively, said Brown.

“Similar failures in the past, including Long-Term Capital Management and Amaranth Advisors, demonstrate the hazards to market stability and investor confidence when excessive leverage is combined with careless risk-taking,” Brown wrote.

Brown said the losses raise several questions regarding the banks’ relationships with Archegos and the treatment of so-called family offices. He sought answers to several questions, including their know your customer review and client onboarding processes for family offices, including any consideration given to whether the family office is subject to regulatory registration or reporting. He also asked the banks to describe the services offered to family offices through their prime brokerage or similar divisions; how family offices are evaluated to determine eligibility for services or products, including the extension of credit; if some services or products are not offered to family offices that are not subject to regulatory registration or reporting; and how collateral, including initial margin and variation margin, is maintained for transactions with those clients.

Brown requested answers to these and other questions by April 22.

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Community Development Finance Advisory Group conducts initial session

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) recently spearheaded the initial Community Development Finance Advisory Group session, which targets public policies supporting minority depository institutions (MDIs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Waters, chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, and Warner outlined how the MDIs and CDFIs, whose mission […]

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U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) recently spearheaded the initial Community Development Finance Advisory Group session, which targets public policies supporting minority depository institutions (MDIs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs).

Waters, chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, and Warner outlined how the MDIs and CDFIs, whose mission includes supporting low and moderate-income communities, communities of color, and minority-owned businesses, would advise Waters and Warner in overseeing the implementation of $12 billion in capital investment and grant programs.

“As part of my ongoing support for MDIs and CDFIs, I look forward to continuing to collaborate with Sen. Warner and key stakeholders in this new forum to help expand federal support for diverse and mission-driven financial institutions,” Waters said. “This will aid our work with the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure that federal programs and policies are improved to be mindful of the unique needs and challenges facing these important institutions that have been a lifeline during the pandemic to the communities they serve.”

Warner said he is proud to work with Waters and colleagues to ensure CDFIs and MDIs support.

“I look forward to working with this group to make sure that these unprecedented investments are implemented in a way that gets this support out the door as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Warner said.

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Study examines financial planning amid pandemic

Recently released Bank of America study findings determined 46 percent of affluent Americans have been focusing on financial goals and methods of achieving them amid the COVID-19 pandemic.© Shutterstock The Bank of America Preferred Insights: Hindsight is 20/20 Personal Finance Report revealed despite the pandemic’s challenges. Some respondents maintain they are on track to reach […]

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Recently released Bank of America study findings determined 46 percent of affluent Americans have been focusing on financial goals and methods of achieving them amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Bank of America Preferred Insights: Hindsight is 20/20 Personal Finance Report revealed despite the pandemic’s challenges. Some respondents maintain they are on track to reach various financial milestones earlier in life than their parents.

“The health crisis has caused many people to take stock of their life priorities and to control what they can during a period of uncertainty,” said Aron Levine, president of Preferred and Consumer Banking & Investments at Bank of America. “In addition to getting their finances in order, people are looking ahead at new possibilities, plotting a course for their future, and engaging with educational resources and advice that will help them make informed financial decisions and pursue new and exciting goals for themselves and their families.”

The study’s scope involved exploring the financial decisions and reflections of 2,000 affluent Americans over the last two decades, in addition to changes in financial behaviors and priorities over the last year.

The research is based on a survey of adults aged 25 and above with investable assets between $100,000 and $1 million and 18- to 24-year-olds with investable assets between $50,000 and $1 million.

The findings noted that the vast majority of affluent Americans prioritize many traditional milestones in life, such as owning a car, owning a home, saving their goal amount for retirement, and paying off credit card debt. Eighty-four percent of respondents indicated they plan to achieve or have already achieved one or more financial milestones earlier than their parents.

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Financial Crimes Enforcement Network makes leadership changes

Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced several leadership changes, including the appointment of a new acting director. © Shutterstock The current director, Kenneth Blanco, will step down as director of FinCEN on April 9. He has been in this role since December 2017. Michael Mosier, former FinCEN deputy director and current counselor to the Deputy […]

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Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced several leadership changes, including the appointment of a new acting director.

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The current director, Kenneth Blanco, will step down as director of FinCEN on April 9. He has been in this role since December 2017. Michael Mosier, former FinCEN deputy director and current counselor to the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, was named acting director. AnnaLou Tirol, former associate director of FinCEN’s Strategic Operations Division, is serving as FinCEN deputy director.

“Serving as FinCEN’s eighth Director has been a wonderful and rewarding experience for me,” Blanco said. “I am proud to have led an incredible organization with an important national security mission that has a profound effect on the lives of so many people, especially the most vulnerable in our society. I have every confidence in Mr. Mosier and Ms. Tirol’s ability to lead the bureau forward and continue the progress of ensuring our national security and protecting people from harm. They are skilled professionals with extensive experience safeguarding the American people. Their proven leadership at FinCEN and in other parts of government, combined with their vast relationships across the U.S. government and the national security enterprise, will ensure continuity as FinCEN implements the historic and sweeping Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 while remaining a pacesetter in innovation and industry regulation.”

Prior to his role as counselor to the deputy secretary of the Treasury, Mosier was FinCEN’s deputy director and first digital innovation officer. Before that, he was chief technical counsel at the cryptocurrency analytics, compliance, and investigations firm Chainalysis. He has also served as associate director at Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and deputy chief in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Money Laundering & Asset Recovery Section. He has also worked on the White House National Security Council as Director for Transnational Organized Crime. He began his public service career as a prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office

Tirol is already serving in her new role as deputy director, where she assists in overseeing FinCEN’s wide-ranging work to enhance national security. She joined FinCEN in September 2019, serving as associate director of the Strategic Operations Division, where she worked extensively to promote FinCEN’s strategic partnerships with government and private industry stakeholders. Before FinCen, Tirol oversaw the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section prosecuting public corruption matters. She began her public service as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Diego.

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New report shows how unemployment benefits, stimulus helped renters

A new report from Freddie Mac Multifamily looks at how expanded unemployment benefits and federal stimulus payments have helped unemployed renters and their ability to pay rent.© Shutterstock The report found that in 37 out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia, a median income renter/worker would receive less income from their unemployment benefits […]

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A new report from Freddie Mac Multifamily looks at how expanded unemployment benefits and federal stimulus payments have helped unemployed renters and their ability to pay rent.

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The report found that in 37 out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia, a median income renter/worker would receive less income from their unemployment benefits than if they were working. However, in well over half of states, a median income renter/worker who lost their job at the onset of the pandemic will receive within 10 percent of their lost income in benefits, essentially replacing their pre-pandemic income.

“The COVID-19 pandemic created huge shifts in unemployment and put uncertainty on working families about how they would pay their rents,” Steve Guggenmos, vice president of Freddie Mac Multifamily Research and Modeling, said. “And while economic indicators and unemployment levels have shifted throughout the pandemic, the availability of benefits and stimulus continues to play a role in how renters and the apartment market as a whole can weather the pandemic.”

Further, it found that, on average, between 30 percent and 40 percent of benefits would pay for a median-priced rental. Areas with higher median incomes saw unemployment benefits replace a lower percentage of their lost income.

Overall, the apartment market has weathered the downturn well, as Freddie Mac’s Multifamily Apartment Investment Market Index remained positive nationally in most markets. However, some local markets felt the impact of the pandemic more acutely and experienced substantial contractions.

Freddie Mac Multifamily is the nation’s multifamily housing finance leader. More than 90 percent of the eligible rental units it funds are affordable to families with low-to-moderate incomes.

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SEC awards $500,000 to whistleblower under “safe harbor” provisions

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials said a whistleblower has been awarded more than $500,000 for providing information that helped the Commission and a partner agency file actions and address an ongoing fraudulent scheme.© Shutterstock The whistleblower initially raised concerns internally before submitting a tip to the Commission. “With this award, the Commission has awarded […]

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Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials said a whistleblower has been awarded more than $500,000 for providing information that helped the Commission and a partner agency file actions and address an ongoing fraudulent scheme.

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The whistleblower initially raised concerns internally before submitting a tip to the Commission.

“With this award, the Commission has awarded 40 individuals this fiscal year, surpassing last year’s record of 39 individual awards,” Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, said. “The Commission has awarded whistleblowers nearly $200 million in the first half of FY21 alone.”

The information resulted in an internal investigation by the company, officials said, followed by a report to an outside agency, which provided the information to the SEC. Additionally, the whistleblower reported to the SEC within 120 days of reporting the violations internally to the company, per authorities.

Under the safe harbor provision of the SEC’s whistleblower rules, the SEC receives the whistleblower’s information as though it had been submitted to the agency at the same time it was internally reported, as long as the whistleblower also reports the information to the SEC within 120 days of the internal report.

Since issuing its first award in 2012, the SEC has awarded approximately $760 million to 145 individuals, with payments made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress and financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators.

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