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US Financial Regulators Restart Work on Long-Delayed Dodd-Frank Compensation Rules

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A trio of U.S. financial regulators have resumed work on a long-delayed rule-writing project to make executive compensation plans at financial firms more sensitive to risk.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Housing Finance Agency jointly proposed the rule, which would bar incentive-based plans that do not account for risks or allow pay to be clawed back or forfeited, the agencies said.

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The renewed effort, which is a repeat of a 2016 proposal, marks the latest attempt in a years-long effort to adopt new rules prescribed as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The proposed rules are aimed at ensuring that leaders of financial institutions are not encouraged to take on excessive risk in a bid to boost their personal compensation.

“When poor compensation practices involve the largest financial institutions, the negative impacts of inappropriate risk-taking can have broader consequences for the financial system,” FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said in a statement, noting that poor compensation practices were among issues identified in the failure of Silicon Valley Bank last year.

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The industry was quick to criticize the plan, which would apply to banks with more than $1 billion in assets, with firms having more than $250 billion in assets facing the strictest requirements. The Bank Policy Institute, which represents larger banks, dismissed the plan as “purely political” in a statement.

Regulators have struggled for years to get the mandatory rules in place, due in large part to the fact that six agencies—the FDIC, OCC, FHFA, as well as the National Credit Union Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Reserve—must agree on a joint proposal.

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The agencies said the NCUA is expected to adopt the proposal in the “near future,” and the SEC also has it on its rule-making agenda.

The Fed has not announced any plans to issue the rule as well. In March, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said compensation was a minor contributor to SVB’s issues, and added that the U.S. central bank would not commit to completing work on the rule this year.

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“I would like to understand the problem we’re solving, and then I would like to see a proposal that addresses that problem,” he said in congressional testimony.

A Fed spokesperson said on Monday the central bank is committed to working with regulators on a joint rule, but it should be considered with updated information reflecting current industry practices.

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If all regulators do not issue the same proposal, the agencies cannot officially solicit public feedback on the plan, a necessary step before finalizing any new rules. For now, the agencies that issued the proposal said they would be receiving comments on their own websites.

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