- Source: occ.gov
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The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has issued a final rule regarding Fair Access to Financial Services (Fair Access Rule). When finalizing the rule, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks said, “When a large bank decides to cut off access to charities or even embassies serving dangerous parts of the world or companies conducting legal businesses in the United States that support local jobs and the national economy, they need to show their work and the legitimate business reasons for doing so. . .banks should not terminate services to entire categories of customers without conducting individual risk assessments. It is inconsistent with basic principles of prudent risk management to make decisions based solely on conclusory or categorical assertions of risk without actual analysis.”
The Fair Access Rule requires national banks and federal savings associations with $100 billion or more in total assets to:
- Make each financial service it offers available to all persons in the geographic market served by the covered bank on proportionally equal terms;
- Not deny any person a financial service offered by the covered bank unless the denial is justified by such person’s quantified and documented failure to meet quantitative, impartial risk-based standards established in advance by covered banks; and
- Not deny, in coordination with others, any person a financial service the covered bank offers.
“Person” is defined broadly, to include partnerships, corporations, and businesses and legal entities in addition to natural persons. The intent of the Fair Access Rule is to ensure covered banks do not de-risk by denying access to financial services to broad categories of customers. It requires covered banks to recognize that individual customers within customer category may pose varying degrees of risk and to assess the risk of individual customer relationships in an unbiased fashion before declining to provide banking services to a customer.