This report presents the results of our
audit of the FDICís Division of Supervision and Consumer Protectionís
(DSC) examination assessment of financial institutionsí compliance management
systems (CMS). Although not required by law or regulation, the FDIC
has stated that it expects each FDIC-supervised financial institution
to have an effective CMS adapted to its unique business strategy and
designed to aid compliance with consumer protection laws and regulations.
The objective of the audit was to determine whether DSC is adequately
assessing financial institutionsí CMSs during compliance examinations.
We conducted this performance audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Appendix I of this report discusses our audit objective, scope, and methodology in detail. We concluded our fieldwork after a review of examination documentation1 and discussions with examiners and field office supervisors for a limited sample of seven compliance examinations and the performance of related audit procedures.
Financial institutions are required to comply with federal consumer protection laws and regulations. Noncompliance can result in harm to consumers as well as monetary penalties, litigation, and formal enforcement actions against the institution. The responsibility for ensuring an institution is in compliance rests with the board of directors and management of the institution.
As the federal supervisor of more than 5,000 financial institutions, the FDIC conducts
compliance examinations for each FDIC-supervised financial institution every 12 to
36 months, depending on the prior compliance examination rating and the asset size of
the institution. These examinations are the primary tool the FDIC uses to determine
whether a financial institution is meeting its responsibilities to comply with consumer
protection requirements. The FDIC also promotes compliance with the requirements of
federal consumer protection laws and regulations through outreach programs, which
include attendance at bankersí forums and conferences, and various supervisory
FDIC Institution and Examination Guidance for a CMS
In the mid-1990s, the FDIC introduced risk-scoping into the compliance
examination process. The goal of risk-scoping was for examiners to focus
attention on regulatory
areas that posed the greatest risk to the institution and the greatest potential
harm to customers. In 2003, the FDIC built upon that approach by initiating
compliance examinations that increased attention on a financial institutionís
CMS in order to emphasize a financial institutionís responsibility to ensure
with consumer protection laws and regulations.
The FDIC notified the financial institutions it supervises of its revised compliance examination approach through Financial Institution Letter (FIL) 52-2003, Revised Compliance Examination Process; and FIL-10-2007, Compliance Examination Handbook, which replaced the compliance examination procedures. The FDIC also issued Regional Directors (RD) Memorandum 2005-035, Revised Compliance Examination Procedures, dated August 18, 2005; and RD Memorandum 2006-034, Compliance Examination Handbook, dated October 24, 2006, to transmit the revised compliance examination procedures to its examination staff. The Compliance Examination Handbook outlines procedures to guide the examiner through an assessment of an institutionís CMS and assists the examiner in identifying specific areas of weakness for further analysis.
Elements of an Effective CMS
According to the FDICís Compliance Examination Handbook, the three interdependent
elements shown in Table 1 commonly comprise an effective CMS. The handbook states
that when the three elements are strong and working together, an institution has an
increased likelihood of being successful at managing its compliance responsibilities,
including ensuring that it complies with federal consumer protection laws, regulations,
Table 1: Interdependent Elements of an Effective CMS
Source: Compliance Examination Handbook.
|Board of Directors
and Management Oversight
|The board of directors of a financial institution is ultimately responsible for developing and
administering a CMS that ensures compliance with federal consumer protection laws and
regulations. To a great degree, the success of an institutionís CMS is founded on the actions taken
by its board and senior management. Key actions that a board and management may take to
demonstrate their commitment to maintaining an effective CMS and to set a positive climate for
- demonstrating clear and unequivocal expectations about compliance,
- adopting clear policy statements,
- appointing a compliance officer with authority and accountability,
- allocating resources to compliance functions commensurate with the level and complexity of
the institutionís operations,
- conducting periodic compliance audits, and
- providing for recurrent reports by the compliance officer to the board.
||A financial institution should generally establish a formal, written compliance program. A
compliance program includes the following components:
- policies and procedures,
- monitoring, and
- consumer complaint response.
A well-planned, implemented, and maintained compliance program will prevent or reduce
regulatory violations and provide cost-efficiencies and is a sound business step. It is expected that
no two compliance programs will be the same and that a program will be dictated by numerous
- institution size, number of branches, and organizational structure;
- business strategy of the institution (e.g., community bank versus regional; or retail versus
- types of products;
- location of the institutionóits main office and branches; and
- other influences, such as whether the institution is involved in interstate or international
||A compliance audit is an independent review of an institutionís compliance with consumer
protection laws and regulations and adherence to internal policies and procedures. The audit
(1) helps management ensure ongoing compliance and identify compliance risk conditions and
(2) complements the institutionís internal monitoring system. The board of directors of the
institution should determine the scope of an audit and the frequency with which audits are
conducted. The scope and frequency of an audit should consider such factors as:
- organization and staffing of the compliance function,
- complexity of products offered, and
- outsourcing of functions to third-party service providers.
RESULTS OF AUDIT
Our review of compliance examinations for seven sampled institutions showed that the
examiners had adequately assessed each financial institutionís CMS. Specifically, the
examiners completed a preliminary risk assessment that addressed each institutionís CMS
to assist in risk-scoping the examination and documented support for examination
conclusions regarding the CMS. Additionally, the ROEs for the seven institutions
addressed each CMS element and included a summary statement and conclusion on the
quality of the financial institutionís compliance management practices for each element
as shown in Table 2 below. Also, where significant violations were identified, the
examiner tied the cause of the violation to one of the CMS elements in the ROE.
Table 2: Examiner Assessment of CMS Elements
Source: OIG analysis of ROEs for the seven institutions.
||The ROE Included a Conclusion on
|Board and Management Oversight
A conclusion was in the ROE, and there was documented
evidence of examination work performed.
Examiner Review of CMS Implementation
According to the Compliance Examination Handbook, the examiner must assess the financial
institutionís CMS as it applies to key operational areas and evaluate the risk of non-compliance
with applicable laws and regulations. For each examination we reviewed, the examiner
documented the preliminary risk assessment of the institutionís CMS in the RPSM. In our
review of documentation of examiner fieldwork, we saw varying levels of evidence
documenting the examinerís assessment of a financial institutionís CMS. For example, in
reviewing the board and management oversight element, we saw examiner interview notes
about board meetings or copies of meeting minutes in the examinerís documentation. In
reviewing examiner documentation for the compliance program element, we saw, in some
instances, copies of compliance policies and procedures annotated with the examinerís
comments or a chart summarizing the examinerís review of a consumer complaint response. In
reviewing examiner documentation for the compliance audit element, we found the examiners
had documented the review of the audit committee meeting minutes. We also saw an instance
where the examiner had documented audit memoranda, audit plans, and a summary status of
audit exceptions. Although examination documentation varied, in each case, we were able to
determine that work had been performed in support of the examinerís conclusions in the ROE.
The Compliance Examination Handbook states that the ROE must assess the strengths of
the institutionís CMS, clearly identify the most critical deficiencies and related causes,
and aid the institutionís board of directors and management in developing an action plan to address the findings. The ROEs for the seven institutions discussed the overall quality
of the financial institutionsí CMSs and the examinersí conclusions for each CMS
element, beginning with a summary statement about the quality of the financial
institutionís compliance management practices (strong, adequate, or weak) for each
Also, in accordance with the Compliance Examination Handbook, where significant violations
were identified, the examiner tied the cause of the violation to an element of CMS in the ROE.
For example, one institution had a Truth in Lending Act violation resulting from the failure to
include the life-of-loan flood determination fees in the finance charge, resulting in an
understated finance charge. The ROE attributed the violation to insufficient training and the
bank staffís lack of awareness of the disclosure requirement and made recommendations to the
board to improve the CMS in this area. The following excerpt from one of the ROEs we
reviewed provides an example of how examiners concluded on each of the three CMS
Source: OIG review of examination documentation.
COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Board of Directors and Management Oversight
Board and management oversight is considered strong. Management at all levels is knowledgeable of
consumer compliance laws and regulations and is committed to an effective compliance program. The
Board provides sufficient resources and authority to management and compliance personnel. The
Board has formally appointed Ö as the bankís compliance officer. Board members receive training
quarterly from Ö to keep current with new laws and regulations. Audit and monitoring findings, as
well as recommendations, are presented to the Board during the quarterly compliance meetings. In
addition, policies, including compliance, are reviewed and approved by the Board annually.
Based on the FDICís establishment of examination guidance related to assessing an institutionís
CMS during a compliance examination and evidence of examiner implementation of the
guidance, we concluded our audit. This report does not make any recommendations.
On September 19, 2007, the Director, DSC, provided a written response to a draft of this report.
DSCís response is presented in its entirety as Appendix III of this report. DSC stated that it is
committed to assuring that financial institutions implement effective consumer protection
safeguards by maintaining strong CMSs and will continue to emphasize this important area of
risk through its supervisory programs.
OBJECTIVE, SCOPE, AND METHODOLOGY
The audit objective was to determine whether DSC is adequately assessing institutionsí
CMSs during compliance examinations. We conducted this performance audit from May
through August 2007 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our audit objective. We believe that the evidence obtained provides
a reasonable basis for our observations.
Scope and Methodology
The scope of the audit focused on reviewing policies, procedures, and practices for the
examinerís assessment of a financial institutionís CMS during a compliance examination.
We concluded our fieldwork after a review of the examination documentation for a
limited sample of compliance examinations for seven financial institutions.
We reviewed the FDICís Compliance Examination Handbook, which includes guidance
for the examinerís assessment of a financial institutionís CMS, and performed the
- Obtained an understanding of:
- the CMS expectations for financial institutions,
- the CMS examination procedures,
- the level of examiner assessment of the CMS,
- how the CMS assessment results are used by the examiners to risk-scope the compliance examination and rate the financial institution, and
- the impact of the CMS assessment on the overall results of the compliance
- Met with and interviewed DSC officials and staff in headquarters and in the three DSC field offices.
- Reviewed laws and regulations and other criteria pertaining to CMS, including:
- RD Memoranda, and
- guidance on the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council2 Web site.
- Reviewed the Formal and Informal Action Procedures Manual, dated December
2005, covering administrative procedures affecting the processing and monitoring of corrective actions against financial institutions, including addressing violations of
laws and other weaknesses in financial institutions.
- Confirmed with OIG Counsel that there are no statutory or regulatory requirements
for financial institutions to have a CMS.
- Selected a limited, non-statistical sample of compliance examinations for review.3 As
of March 20, 2007, there were 5,238 active banks identified in DSCís online
resources. We pulled a random sample of 45 banks that had compliance
examinations completed from January 1, 2006 through March 20, 2007. From that
random sample, we selected seven examinations for review based on the size of the
institutions, the compliance ratings, and location.
- Reviewed examiner documentation for the selected compliance examinations in
DSCís Holyoke, South Boston, and Minneapolis field offices.
- Reviewed congressional correspondence relating to improving federal consumer
- Reviewed a Risk Analysis Center presentation, dated January 2007, on the New
Compliance Examination Handbook.
- Identified and reviewed applicable DSC Internal Control and Review Section reports,
including Internal Control and Review-Field Territory Reviews: Potential Strong
Practices, dated January 2006.
- Reviewed the Office of Enterprise Risk Management 2006 Accountability Listing for
DSC compliance and consumer protection.
- Identified CMS examination procedures for the Office of Thrift Supervision, Office
of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Board of Governors of the Federal
- Reviewed FDIC Supervisory Insights journals from summer 2004 through winter
2006, for information on compliance examinations and CMS.
- Reviewed and evaluated the following performance measurement planning
- FDIC Strategic Plan (2005-2010)
- FDIC Annual Performance Plan for 2006 and 2007
- FDIC Corporate Performance Objectives for both 2006 and 2007
- FDIC 2006 Annual Report
We gained an understanding of relevant internal controls by reviewing the: (1) DSC
Internal Control and Review Sectionís internal review reports; (2) FDIC policies and
procedures, such as FILs and RD Memoranda related to compliance examinations and the
Relationship Manager Program;4 (3) Compliance Examination Handbook; and
(4) examination procedures for assessing institution performance related to a CMS. In
addition, we interviewed DSC individuals to obtain an understanding of how examiners
use examination guidance to assess institutionsí CMSs during compliance examinations,
including how compliance examiners and the field office supervisors coordinate the
performance of work with risk management examiners.
Reliance on Computer-based Data
Our audit objective did not require that we assess the reliability of computer-based data.
We obtained certain data from SOURCE to identify the universe of banks that had a
compliance examination completed from January 1, 2006 through March 20, 2007.
However, for purposes of our audit, we did not rely on computer-based data to support
our observations or conclusions.
Compliance With Laws and Regulations
In conducting the audit, we confirmed with the FDICís OIG Counsel that there were no
federal statutory or regulatory requirements for financial institutions to have a CMS. We
did identify various consumer protection laws and regulations applicable to financial
Government Performance and Results Act
The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 directs federal agencies to
develop a strategic plan and annual performance plan to help improve federal program
effectiveness. We reviewed the FDICís Strategic Plan for 2005-2010 and the FDIC
Annual Performance Plan for 2006 and 2007. We determined that the FDIC has a
strategic goal and objective related to ensuring consumersí rights are protected and that
FDIC-supervised institutions comply with consumer protection and fair lending laws.
The FDIC also has a 2007 performance goal to determine the need for changes in current
FDIC practices for following up on significant violations of consumer protection laws
and regulations identified during examinations of banks. We reviewed the FDICís
Corporate Performance Objectives for 2006 and 2007 and the FDIC 2006 Annual
Report. We determined that there were no specific strategic objectives or goals directly
related to DSCís examination assessment of a financial institutionís CMS.
Fraud and Illegal Acts
We did not develop specific procedures to detect fraud and illegal acts because they were
not considered material to the audit objective. However, throughout our review, we were
sensitive to the potential for acts of fraud and illegal acts, and none came to our attention.
Prior Audit Coverage
The OIG has conducted two prior audits related to compliance examinations. We
discussed the audits with the OIG Auditors-in-Charge and reviewed their work papers
and the Status of DSC Corrective Action reports for the prior audits. Additionally, we
performed a comparative analysis of the results of the prior audit reports, listed below, to
our audit objective, scope, and methodology.
Audit Report No. 05-038, Audit of DSCís Risk-Focused Compliance Examination
Process, issued September 2005. The objective of this audit was to determine whether
DSCís risk-focused compliance examination program resulted in examinations that were
adequately planned and effective in assessing financial institution compliance with
consumer protection laws and regulations. We recommended that the Director, DSC,
clarify and reinforce requirements that examiners adequately document the scope of work
performed, including transaction testing and spot checks of the reliability of the
institutionsí compliance review functions, during the on-site portions of compliance
Audit Report No. 06-024, Audit of DSCís Supervisory Actions Taken for Compliance
Violations, issued September 2006. The objective of this audit was to determine
whether DSC adequately addressed the violations and deficiencies reported in
compliance examinations to ensure that FDIC-supervised institutions took appropriate
corrective action. We recommended that the Director, DSC, strengthen guidance related
to the monitoring and follow-up processes for compliance violations by revising: (1) the
Compliance Examination Procedures to require follow-up between examinations on
repeat, significant compliance violations and program deficiencies; (2) the Formal and
Informal Action Procedures Manual to require consideration of supervisory actions when
any institutionís corrective action on repeat, significant violations is not timely or when
repeat, significant violations are a recurring examination finding; and (3) DSCís
performance goals to focus more broadly on institutions with repeat, significant
FINANCIAL INSTITUTION LETTERS AND RD MEMORANDA
|Financial Institution Letters
- FIL-10-2007, Compliance
January 30, 2007
|The Compliance Examination Handbook replaced the
Compliance Examination Manual in June 2006 and
includes guidance for examiner assessment of an
- FIL-52-2003, Revised
Process, June 20, 2003
|The FDICís revisions to its process for examining
FDIC-supervised depository institutions to determine
their compliance with consumer protection laws and
regulations. The revised process focuses increased
attention on an institutionís CMS.
|DSC Regional Directors
- 2006-034, Compliance
October 24, 2006
|Transmitted the total revision and replacement of the
Compliance Examination Manual. The handbook
captures outstanding examination policies and
procedures in effect as of June 30, 2006.
- 2005-035, Revised Compliance
August 18, 2005
|Transmitted revised compliance examination
procedures for on-site reviews beginning on or after
January 1, 2006.
|DATE: ||September 19, 2007|
|MEMORANDUM TO:||Russell A. Rau|
|Assistant Inspector General for Audits|
|FROM:||Sandra L. Thompson [Electronically produced version; original signed by Sandra L. Thompson]|
|SUBJECT:||Response to Draft Report Entitled: |
DSCís Examination Assessment of Financial Institutionsí Compliance Management Systems (Assignment No. 2007-017)
The Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection appreciates that you found FDIC examiners effectively assessed financial institution's Compliance Management Systems (CMS) and appropriately presented findings in Reports of Examination.
We are committed to assuring that financial institutions implement effective consumer protection safeguards by maintaining strong CMS. We will continue to emphasize this important area of risk through our supervisory programs.