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Supervisory Changes for De Novo Banks

Posted by Wendell Brock on Fri, Sep 11, 2009

The FDIC has announced its intention to extend the de novo period for certain new banking institutions. The previous de novo period was three years; the new one will be seven years. This change is significant because newly insured institutions are subject to more scrutiny and higher minimum capital ratios during that de novo period. Along with extending the de novo period, the FDIC will also subject de novos to more risk management examinations and require prior approval for any de novo business plan changes.

Heightened risk for seven years

Regulators say the supervisory updates are needed because de novos pose a heightened risk to the banking system. According to the FDIC, too many of the actual failures that occurred in 2008 and 2009 were banks that had been open for fewer than seven years. On top of that, a good number of those failures were banks that had been operating between four and seven years-banks that, under current policy, were not subject to the heightened de novo regulations.

According to data compiled by FinCriAdvisor (, twenty-three, or 19.6 percent, of the 109 bank failures occurring between January 1, 2008 and August 21, 2009 were de novos. Of those twenty-three, six were within the three-year de novo period; the rest, 74 percent, failed between their fourth and seventh years of operation.


The extended de novo period will apply to existing newly insured institutions as well as banks for which charters have not yet been issued. Since the number of new charters awarded by the FDIC in recent months is relatively minimal, the changes affect existing banks far more than would-be banks. The only de novos that won't be subject to the extension and heightened scrutiny are those that are subsidiaries of eligible holding companies.

Eligible holding companies must have consolidated assets of $150 million or more. Bank holding companies are required to have BOPEC ratings of at least 2; thrift holding companies must have an A rating.


Capital requirement.

A primary change implied by the extension of the de novo period is an increased capital requirement. De novos are currently required to maintain a Tier 1 leverage ratio of at least 8 percent during the de novo period. A longer de novo period means that young institutions will have to maintain this higher ratio for seven years instead of three.

Examination frequency

. Along with extending the de novo period, the FDIC will also increase the frequency of risk management exams for de novo banks. Periodic risk management exams, which begin after the institution's first birthday, will occur once annually rather than once every eighteen months. De novos will have to budget for the extra costs associated with the additional examinations.

The first year examination requirements for de novos will be as follows:

  • Limited risk management exam during first six months of operation
  • Full risk management exam during first twelve months of operation
  • Compliance exams during first twelve months of operation
  • CRA evaluation during first twelve months of operation

Thereafter, under the new policy, a risk management exam will be conducted every twelve months until the expiration of the de novo period. Compliance exams and CRA evaluations "will alternate on an annual basis."

Business plan changes

. The new policy also requires de novos to get FDIC approval prior to implementing any material changes to the institution's business plan during the seven-year de novo period. Previously, newly insured institutions had to provide the FDIC with a written notice of proposed business plan changes within the three-year de novo period.

The FDIC argues that experience shows the necessity of this requirement; when newly insured institutions deviate from their original business plans, those deviations can often lead them into areas of business where they do not have adequate risk management expertise or resources. "Significant deviations from approved business plans" was one of several common elements the FDIC identified among troubled institutions that have not yet completed their seventh year of operation.

Change requests will be reviewed to ensure that:

  • There is a defensible business reason for the change.
  • The de novo has the resources-financial and human-to manage any risks created by the change.

While this requirement keeps de novos from jumping into risky lines of business without adequate forethought, it also limits the de novo's ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. Should the bank implement changes or deviate from the original business plan without FDIC approval, fines or other penalties could result.

Financial statement updates

. In the third year of operation, de novos must now provide the FDIC with current financial statements along with strategic plans and projected financial statements covering years four through seven. This applies to existing institutions that are less than three years old, as well as newly chartered institutions. The FDIC will want to know specifically about the de novo's expansion plans, product/service strategies and the outlook for capital expenditures and dividend payments.

To read the full Financial Institution Letter explaining and defending the altered supervisory procedures, click here:

Topics: FDIC, regulators, Bank Capital, Bank Regulations, tier 1 capital, De Novo Banks, De Novo Banking

BarCampBank - Chicago

Posted by Wendell Brock on Mon, Jul 21, 2008

On July 16, 2008, DCI, De Novo Strategy and CREED hosted a BarCampBank in Chicago at the Drake Hotel - it was a great success! All who attended enjoyed a lively discussion on the current affairs of several banking topics, such as de novo banking, enterprise zone marketing, Islamic finance, bank loyalty, and market trends. Read on for an overview of the information shared at the meeting.

De novo banking is always a topic of interest. Industry folks want to know how many new banks are being started and what the consensus is on whether it's wise, in the current environment, to start a new bank. In the first quarter of this year, 38 new banks received permission to open. Annualizing that number indicates a run-rate of 152 for 2008. However, as the financial crisis has deepened, I suspect that the latter half of the year will slow down, such that 2008 will possibly close out with about 100 new bank openings nationwide.

Attendees also discussed the wisdom of starting a new bank in these difficult times. As the question was turned over and thoughtfully discussed, the general opinion was that while capital would be difficult to obtain, starting a bank now would be a good thing. After all, the bottom of a market is normally the right time to enter. And, since it takes 14-24 months to actually open the doors, the economic environment is likely to be much different by the time a bank started today is ready to begin doing business. These factors may be contributing to the encouraging market trends for DCI thus far this year; trends have been up and DCI has seen an increase in its activity.

Islamic Finance was perhaps the most interesting topic discussed. While there are approximately 7 million people in the United States of Muslim heritage, there are very few sources of Sharia compliant banking. A few banks have started offering Sharia compliant residential mortgage loans, but this is a small subset of a larger market. Most Muslims are small business owners and need other sources of small business loans and commercial real estate loans. If a bank is interested in labeling its loans and deposits as Sharia compliant, it must employ an Islamic Scholar to research all the terms of the transactions and compare them with Islamic law to make sure they are valid. Once this is done, the bank can offer its banking products to the Muslim public as "Sharia Compliant." The average Muslim in the U.S. is educated with a bachelor's degree and earns an average income of $67,500. This places this demographic in the highest income bracket of the immigrant population, along with other Southeast Asians. Within this group, the default rate is relatively low, so the opportunity for a bank to place good, profitable financial transactions on the books is strong.

Another topic discussed was how to increase bank loyalty. There were several ideas put forth and one was to offer better financial education, specifically with the goal of matching bank products to customer needs. This ultimately means providing customers with easy-to-understand information about how specific products will help their businesses and what options are available to enhance those products to the customer's advantage. The philosophy of ‘helping someone else get what he truly needs and he will help you' comes to mind here. Banks might consider adding more customized products to the portfolio of customer solutions. Then, give customers the information and ability to pick and choose product features that will contribute to their own success. Ultimately, this is where the community bank will flourish - by building success through its customers. This is easy to talk about and more difficult to implement, but the banks and core providers will have to figure it out.

This leads to the Enterprise Zone marketing ideas. Forty-three states have enterprise zones, each with different tax credits for businesses that operate within these zones. Approximately 95 percent of the tax credits every year go unclaimed, mostly because businesses are unaware that the benefits are available or unaware of how to do the accounting so the credits can be claimed. Often it is a matter of education, on the part of the business owner and its accountant. The bottom line is that there are billions of dollars available and bankers - if they learn how to help their customers - can capitalize on this great opportunity.

There are many workshops, seminars, and conferences that people attend, but the discussions at a BarCampBank are amazingly insightful for all who attend. We want to thank our attendees and wish them the best of success in their endeavors. A sincere thanks also to our sponsors as we greatly appreciate their support; we at De Novo Strategy will certainly plan to sponsor more of these events in the future.

By Wendell Brock, MBA, ChFC

Topics: BarCampBank, Bank Marketing, De Novo Banking, Islamic Banking, Enterprise Zone

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