Kevin Petrasic and Matthew Bornfreund Enhance Firm’s Bank Regulatory Practice

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kevin Petrasic and Matthew Bornfreund, two highly regarded financial services partners with a focus on bank regulation, have joined Troutman Pepper in Washington, D.C. Arriving from Davis Wright Tremaine, where they spearheaded the bank regulatory and financial institutions advisory practice, Petrasic and Bornfreund bring a wealth of experience representing U.S. banks and bank holding companies, foreign banks in their U.S. regulatory needs, including those with multifaceted governance issues and transactions, and payments companies in their bank relationships.

Yesterday, the Texas Bankers Association, the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, the Longview Chamber of Commerce, the Independent Community Bankers of America, and the Independent Bankers Association of Texas Revenue Based Finance Coalition (collectively, the plaintiffs) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas challenging the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (collectively, the agencies) Final Rule modernizing how they assess lenders’ compliance under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). In their complaint, the plaintiffs asked the court to vacate the Final Rule and provide a preliminary injunction that would pause implementation of the Final Rule while the court decides the case.

As discussed here, on October 24, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency finally issued their long-awaited final rule modernizing how they assess lenders’ compliance under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The CRA regulations had not been updated since 1995.

We are pleased to share our annual review of regulatory and legal developments in the consumer financial services industry. With active federal and state legislatures, consumer financial services providers faced a challenging 2023. Courts across the country issued rulings that will have immediate and lasting impacts on the industry. Our team of more than 140 professionals has prepared this concise, yet thorough analysis of the most important issues and trends throughout our industry. We not only examined what happened in 2023, but also what to expect — and how to prepare — for the months ahead.

On January 2, New York Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled her 2024 consumer protection agenda, which includes plans to regulate the “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) industry. Specifically, Governor Hochul plans to propose legislation to require BNPL providers to be licensed in the state and to authorize the New York State Department of Financial Services to propose and issue regulations for the industry. According to Governor Hochul, “New Yorkers are increasingly turning to [BNPL] loans as a low-cost alternative to traditional credit products to pay for everyday and big-ticket purchases. This legislation and regulations will establish strong industry protections around disclosure requirements, dispute resolution and credit reporting standards, late fee limits, consumer data privacy, and guidelines to curtail dark patterns and debt accumulation and overextension.”

On December 7, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) published the fall edition of its Semiannual Risk Perspective, which discusses key issues facing banks. From the OCC’s perspective, the overall strength of the banking system remains sound and recessionary pressures appear to be easing. The OCC notes that, while many economists had predicted a decline, gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.1% in the second quarter of 2023, slowing just slightly from the first quarter’s 2.2% pace. However, the OCC also emphasized that inflation remains elevated and a slowing labor market, declining savings, and higher interest rates could cause financial stress to borrowers.

Troutman Pepper has been recognized for its exceptional work in the field of Banking & Finance and Financial Services Law in the 14th edition of Best Law Firms®. Our firm’s National Tier 1 rankings include Banking and Finance Law, Financial Services Regulation Law and Banking & Finance Litigation.

On October 13, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 666, which amends the California Financing Law to prohibit a covered entity from charging certain fees in connection with a commercial financing transaction with a small business. Under the law, a small business is defined as an independently owned and operated business, with its principal office located in California, its officers domiciled in California, and, together with affiliates, 100 or fewer employees and average annual gross receipts of $15 million or less over the previous three years. “Covered entities” do not include depository institutions.

In a major victory for small business lenders, yesterday the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted motions filed by three groups of trade association intervenors to extend the court’s existing injunction against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB or Bureau) enforcement of its final rule under § 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Final Rule) to cover all small business lenders nationwide. A discussion of the preliminary injunction issued by that Texas federal court on July 31 can be found here. The injunction in Texas Bankers Association v. CFPB will dissolve if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the Fifth Circuit in Community Financial Services Association v CFPB (CFSA case), which found the CFPB’s funding structure unconstitutional.