Taken in advance of the CARES Act
In its role as a central bank, the FRB established multiple facilities to support the flow of credit to households and businesses, including:
- A Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF) to purchase unsecured and asset-backed commercial paper rated at least A1/P1/F1 (as of March 17, 2020) directly from eligible companies, defined to be U.S. issuers of commercial paper, including U.S. issuers with a foreign parent company. Purchases under the CPFF will continue through March 17, 2021 unless extended by the FRB.
- A Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) to offer overnight and term funding with maturities up to 90 days to Primary Dealers of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Credit extended to primary dealers under this facility may be collateralized by a broad range of investment grade debt securities, including commercial paper and municipal bonds, and a broad range of equity securities. The PDCF will be in place for at least six months and may be extended as conditions warrant.
- A Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility (MMLF) that will make loans available to eligible financial institutions secured by high-quality assets purchased by the financial institution from money market mutual funds. “Eligible financial institutions” are defined as U.S. depository institutions, U.S. bank holding companies, and U.S. branches and agencies of a foreign bank. High-quality assets include unsecured and secured commercial paper, agency securities, and Treasury securities. Credit extensions under the MMLF will be available through September 20, 2020 unless the facility is extended by the FRB.
- The Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility (PMCCF) for new bond and loan issuances. This facility is open to investment grade companies and will provide bridge financing of four years. Borrowers may elect to defer interest and principal payments during the first six months of the loan, extendable at the Federal Reserve's discretion, in order to have additional cash on hand that can be used to pay employees and suppliers.
- The Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF) to provide liquidity for outstanding corporate bonds. The SMCCF will purchase in the secondary market corporate bonds issued by investment grade U.S. companies and U.S.-listed exchange-traded funds whose investment objective is to provide broad exposure to the market for U.S. investment grade corporate bonds.
- The Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), to support the flow of credit to consumers and businesses. The TALF will enable the issuance of asset-backed securities (ABS) backed by student loans, auto loans, credit card loans, loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), and certain other assets.
State Regulatory Actions
Working collectively through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), individual States participated in releasing joint interagency guidance with the federal financial services regulators, including:
- Releasing a statement encouraging financial institutions to “work constructively” with borrowers and other customers in areas affected by COVID-19 to help meet the customers’ financial needs. The Agencies committed to providing appropriate regulatory assistance to affected institutions, working to minimize disruption and burden related to examinations and inspections, and expediting reviews of requests to provide more conveniently available services to affected customers.
- Releasing a statement on loan modifications and reporting (jointly with the federal banking regulators).
- Updating a Statement on Pandemic Planning, which identifies actions financial institutions should take to minimize the potential adverse effects of a pandemic.
Similarly, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) issued a brief outlining the types of insurance that may have provisions and exclusions triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak, including health, travel, life, business continuity, workers compensation, and general liability and directors and officers insurance.
Separately, a growing number of individual State insurance regulators have taken actions requesting and/or requiring insurers to extend premium payments and to not cancel or non-renew policies during the crisis. For example:
- New York Department of Financial Services provided guidance to insurance companies to “do their part to alleviate the adverse impact caused by COVID-19 on those consumers and small businesses that can demonstrate financial hardship caused by COVID-19,” including offering payment accommodations, increasing resources for claims, and proactively reaching out to customers.
- New York subsequently required issuers of life insurance and annuity contracts, property and casualty insurers and premium finance agencies to provide relief to New York consumers and businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Consumers experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 may defer paying life insurance premiums for ninety (90) days. Consumers and small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 may defer paying premiums for property and casualty insurance for sixty (60) days.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – or the CARES Act –provides more than $2 trillion in emergency aid to individuals and businesses in various forms including loans, direct payments, and insurance benefits intended to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, or COVID-19.
American Workers Paid and Employed Act
Provides $349 billion in direct appropriations for Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guarantees and additional funding for SBA programs and relief to small business borrowers and lenders. Highlights include:
- A new “Paycheck Protection Program” under the SBA’s Section 7(a) Loan program. Features include:
- A maximum loan amount of $10 million (based on payroll costs) and a maximum interest rate of four percent. Allowable uses for the loans would be expanded to include employee salaries, medical leave, insurance premiums, mortgage, rent, and utility payments; the loans will receive a 100 percent government guarantee through December 31, 2020.
- eligibility to include certain nonprofits organizations, veterans’ organizations, or Tribal businesses as well as sole proprietors and independent contractors. Borrower eligibility would consider whether the borrower was operational on February 15, 2020 rather than repayment ability.
- Deferred payments of principal, interest, and fees for up to one year.
- Delegated authority to all current SBA Section 7(a) lenders and lenders who join and make loans under the program.
- A zero percent regulatory capital risk weight and temporary relief from troubled debt restructuring (TDR) disclosures. Section 1102.
- Limited loan forgiveness for amounts spent on payroll costs, rent and utilities payments, and interest payments on mortgages for borrowers that apply. The amount forgiven will be reduced by any reduction in employees retained. Section 1106.
- Expanded eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Section 1110.
- A requirement for the SBA to pay principal, interest, and any associated fees that are owed on existing section 7(a) loans, section 504 loans, or microloan products, for a six month period starting on the next payment due date. Loans on deferment will also receive six months of payment by the SBA, as will loans made up to six months after enactment. Loans provided under the Paycheck Protection Program are not included. Lenders are encouraged to further provide payment deferments and maturity extensions when appropriate. Section 1112.
- Increases to the eligibility threshold to file under subchapter V of chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to include businesses with up to $7.5 million of indebtedness; the increase will terminate after one year. Section 1113.
Economic Stabilization and Assistance to Severely Distressed Sectors of the United States Economy
Provisions in this section are directed toward providing credit and liquidity to small business and the markets. Many are temporary in nature and generally will expire on the earlier of December 31, 2020 or the date on which the national emergency is terminated. Some provisions codify actions taken previously by federal agencies. Highlights include:
- A total of $500 billion to be provided to the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) for loans, loan guarantees, and other investments. The bulk of these funds, $454 billion, will be provided to the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) to support its credit and liquidity facilities for eligible businesses, states, and municipalities. The remainder will be available as direct loans to passenger and cargo air carriers and related businesses, and other businesses deemed important to national security. If those funds are not fully used, the Treasury may make loan and loan guarantees, or other investments in, programs or facilities of the FRB.
- Lending through any of the FRB facilities must be broad-based, with verification that each participant is not insolvent and is unable to obtain adequate financing elsewhere. Loan forgiveness is not permissible in any such credit facility.
- Treasury will “endeavor to seek the implementation of a program or facility” through the FRB that provides financing to banks and other lenders that make direct loans to nonprofit organizations and eligible businesses with between 500 and 10,000 employees. The terms would include a requirement that the funds be used to retain at least 90 percent of the organization’s workforce. This would be separate from and would not impact the FRB’s Main Street Lending Program.
- Direct lending loan terms include sufficient loan security; loan duration of not more than 5 years; stock buyback and dividend restrictions; at least 90 percent retention of March 24, 2020 employment through September 30, 2020; no loan forgiveness; U.S. domiciled business with predominantly U.S. employees. Section 4003.
An Office of Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery will be established within the Treasury to conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits and investigations of the making, purchase, management, and sale of loans, loan guarantees, and other investments made by the Treasury Secretary under this Title. Section 4018. A Congressional Oversight Commission will be created; the Commission will terminate on September 30, 2025.
Additional provisions include:
- Authority for the FDIC to temporarily establish, through December 31, 2020, a debt guarantee program to guarantee debt of solvent insured depository institutions and depository institution holding companies. Noninterest-bearing transaction account may be treated as a debt guarantee program. Similarly, the NCUA may temporarily increase the share insurance coverage for non-interest-bearing transaction accounts. Section 4008.
- Authority for the OCC to temporarily except nonbank financial companies from the OCC’s lending limits as well as exempt transactions from the lending limits if they are in the public interest. Temporary relief expires on the earlier of December 31, 2020 or the end of the national emergency. Section 4011.
- A requirement that the Community Bank Leverage Ratio for qualifying community banks be reduced from 9 percent to 8 percent via interim final rule expiring on the earlier of December 31, 2020 or the end of the national emergency. Section 4012.
- Permissibility for financial institutions, including credit unions, to elect to suspend U.S. GAAP for loan modifications related to COVID-19 that would otherwise be categorized as a troubled debt restructuring. The suspense would apply to loan modifications for loans that were not more than 30 days past due as of December 31, 2019 for the period beginning March 1, 2020 and lasting no later than 60 days after the lifting of the national emergency. Section 4013.
- Permissibility for insured depository institutions, including credit unions, bank holding companies, or any of their affiliates to opt to temporarily delay compliance with the FASB Current Expected Credit Losses (CECL) methodology. Such an option will expire at the earlier of December 31, 2020 or the date on which the national emergency is terminated.2 Section 4012.
- Temporary suspension of the statutory limitation on the use of the ESF for guarantee programs for U.S. money market mutual fund industry. Section 4015.
- Temporary enhancements to credit union access to the Central Liquidity Facility. Section 4016.
- A requirement that furnishers of information to credit reporting agencies who agree to an accommodation on an account of a consumer impacted by COVID-19 to report the account as “current” or as the same status as before the accommodation. Such credit protection is available beginning January 31, 2020 and ending at the later of 120 days after enactment or 120 days after the national emergency is terminated. Section 4021.
- A moratorium on foreclosures of federally-backed mortgage loans for not less than 60 days beginning March 18, 2020. Section 4022. A moratorium on eviction filings or charges related to nonpayment where the landlord’s mortgage is federally-backed. Section 4024.
- Temporary forbearance for federally-backed 1-4 family mortgage loans experiencing financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19. Borrowers may request up to 180 days as well as an extension of a second 180 days. Section 4022. Temporary forbearance of up to 90 days is also available for federally-backed multifamily mortgage loans, subject to renter protections during the forbearance period including no tenant evictions or late fee charges. Section 4023.
Main sources of information:
Following the CARES Act
Federal agencies have taken the following actions today to facilitate the flow of credit to small- and mid-sized businesses:
The FRB announced new credit facilities:
- The Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF) to support liquidity to the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPLF will extend credit to eligible financial institutions that originate PPP loans, taking the loans as collateral at face value.
- The Main Street Lending Program, which will purchase up to $600 billion in loans to small and mid-sized businesses. Firms that have taken advantage of the PPP may also take out Main Street loans.
- Expansion, in size and scope, of the Primary and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities (PMCCF and SMCCF) as well as the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF).
- The Municipal Liquidity Facility, which will offer up to $500 billion in lending to states and municipalities.
- A temporary repurchase agreement facility for foreign and international monetary authorities – the FIMA Repo Facility.
Financial services regulatory expectations for COVID-19
Federal Regulatory Actions
In response to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which provided $349 billion in direct appropriations for Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guarantees:
- On April 2, 2020, the SBA published an interim final rule providing guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created by the CARES Act.
- The program is expected to become operational beginning April 3, 2020 for small businesses and sole proprietorships, and on April 10, 2020 for independent contractors and self-employed individuals.
- Treasury separately posted additional information on the PPP for borrowers and lenders.
As at April 24th, The U.S. Treasury Department posted a new interim final rule on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to supplement previously released interim final rules with additional guidance
New PPP funding legislation
Also at April 24th , President Trump signed the “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” (H.R. 266)—legislation that provides more than $400 billion in new funding for the PPP as well as funds for health care, including relief for health care providers and for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, but no tax provisions.
- The SBA and the Treasury have published a new Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), FAQ #31, which asks whether businesses owned by large companies with adequate sources of liquidity to support the business’s ongoing operations qualify for PPP loans.
- Notably, this FAQ was released two days after the Senate, and on the same day the House, passed H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which provided the PPP with an additional $310 billion in funding following enactment of H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Treasury and SBA published multiple interim final rules for the PPP and stated they will review certain loans ahead of forgiveness.
- In answer to FAQ #31, the agencies remind borrowers they must certify in good faith that their PPP loan request is necessary to support their ongoing operations, taking into consideration their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of liquidity. By example, the agencies state it is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith.
- The agencies conclude, “Any borrower that applied for a PPP loan prior to the issuance of this guidance and repays the loan in full by May 7, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification in good faith.”
- Note: Under heightened attention, a number of large companies that received a PPP loan prior to this issuance have in fact publically stated that they have returned the PPP funding.
- To access the FAQ, please click here
According to the Treasury release (May 15, 2020), the loan forgiveness form and instructions include measures that are intended to reduce compliance burdens and to simplify the process for borrowers, including:
- Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with the borrowers’ regular payroll cycles.
- Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving the PPP loan.
- Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness.
- Implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30.
- The addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers that have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined.
- As noted in the Treasury release, the PPP loan forgiveness form and instructions are intended to help eligible businesses seek forgiveness at the conclusion of the eight-week “covered period” that begins with the disbursement of their loans.
- By example, the FAQ states that it is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith. FAQ #31 concludes: “Any borrower that applied for a PPP loan prior to the issuance of this guidance and repays the loan in full by May 7, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification in good faith.”
This FAQ answers 39 questions among which:
- Question: Are lenders required to make an independent determination regarding applicability of affiliation rules under 13 C.F.R. 121.301(f) to borrowers?
- Answer: No. It is the responsibility of the borrower to determine which entities (if any) are its affiliates and determine the employee headcount of the borrower and its affiliates. Lenders are permitted to rely on borrowers’ certifications.
- Question: The CARES Act excludes from the definition of payroll costs any employee compensation in excess of an annual salary of $100,000. Does that exclusion apply to all employee benefits of monetary value?
- Answer: No. The exclusion of compensation in excess of $100,000 annually applies only to cash compensation, not to non-cash benefits, including:
- employer contributions to defined-benefit or defined-contribution retirement plans;
- payment for the provision of employee benefits consisting of group health care coverage, including insurance premiums; and
- payment of state and local taxes assessed on compensation of employees
Separately, and also on April 23, the Federal Reserve Board released two press statements related to the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. In particular:
- For FRB liquidity and lending facilities using CARES Act funding, which includes the FRB’s Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF), the FRB will report, on a monthly basis:
- Names and details of participants in each facility
- Amounts borrowed and interest rate charged
- Overall costs, revenues, and fees for each facility.
- The FRB is working to expand access to the PPPLF for additional SBA-qualified lenders. At present, only depository institutions are eligible to participate in the PPPLF though the SBA has approved nonbanks to function as lenders for the PPP
Main Street Lending Program
The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) announced that it is expanding the terms for the Main Street Lending Program, which is intended to support lending to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now:
- The program is open to certain businesses with up to 15,000 employees or up to $5 billion in annual revenues where previously these numbers were limited to 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenue.
- Loans may be secured or unsecured, where previously they were only unsecured.
- The minimum loan size for the Main Street New Loan Facility (MSNLF) has been reduced to $500,000 from the previous $1 million.
- The maximum loan size for the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility (MSELF) has been increased to the lesser of $200 million from the previous $150 million or 35 percent of existing debt, up from 30%.
The announcement included the addition of a new, third lending option, the Main Street Priority Loan Facility (MSPLF), which will have a higher maximum loan amount compared to the MSNLF but also require lenders to retain a 15 percent share of the loans.
Notably, for all three facilities under the Main Street Lending Program, the rate on the loans has been changed to now tie to LIBOR, where previously they were tied to SOFR. This change, as explained in the Frequently Asked Questions attached to the press release, is attributed to feedback from potential participants regarding challenges with switching systems to the new benchmark.
The FRB acknowledged that it was considering establishing a separate lending option for nonprofit organizations.
A start date for the program has not yet been set.
- The Treasury and the SBA issued a joint statement to alert participants in the Paycheck Protection Program that SBA will review all loans in excess of $2 million, in addition to other loans as appropriate, following the lender’s submission of the borrower’s loan forgiveness application. Regulatory guidance implementing this procedure is forthcoming.
- The FRB announced expansion of the eligibility and duration of the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF). In particular, the changes lower the population thresholds for eligibility to borrow from the MLF, provide eligibility to certain multi-state entities, and lengthen the duration for eligible notes from 24 months to 36 months.
The Federal Banking Agencies (FRB, OCC, FDIC) have:
Issued an interim final rule that permits banking organizations that implement the FASB’s Current Expected Credit Losses (CECL) methodology before the end of 2020 the option to delay for two years an estimate of CECL’s effect on regulatory capital, relative to the incurred loss methodology’s effect on regulatory capital, followed by a three-year transition period to phase-out the aggregate amount of capital benefit provided during the initial two-year delay. The interim final rule does not replace the current three-year transition option available under the agencies’ 2019 final rule. Banking organizations that have already adopted CECL have the option to elect the three-year transition option contained in the 2019 CECL rule or the five-year transition contained in the interim final rule, beginning with the March 31, 2020, Call Report or FR Y-9CThe mechanics of the Five-Year Transition Provision are outlined within the rule, including consideration of the provisions of the CARES Act, which permit insured depository institutions, including credit unions, bank holding companies, or any of their affiliates to opt to temporarily delay compliance with the FASB CECL methodology. Such an option will expire at the earlier of December 31, 2020 or the date on which the national emergency is terminated.
- Announced a 30-day grace period for financial institutions to file their March 31, 2020 Call Reports after the official filing deadline. The FRB separately announced that it would allow small financial institutions with total assets of $5 billion or less to file their Consolidated Financial Statements for Bank Holding Companies (FR Y-9C) or Financial Statements of U.S. Nonbank Subsidiaries of U.S. Bank Holding Companies (FR Y-11) within 30 days of the official filing due date.
- Announced changes to the calculation of Credit Concentration Ratios for the Community Bank Leverage Ratio.
- Provided notice that depository institutions and depository institution holding companies subject to the capital rule may accelerate implementation of the "standardized approach for measuring counterparty credit risk" rule, also known as SA-CCR, on a best efforts basis for the first quarter of 2020. The SA-CCR rule effective date remains April 1, 2020, and the mandatory compliance date will remain January 1, 2022.
- Issued an interagency statement with the CFPB and NCUA to encourage banks, savings associations, and credit unions to offer responsible small-dollar loans to consumers and small businesses through a variety of structures, such as open-end lines of credit, closed-end installment loans, or appropriately structured single payment loans.
- Issued an interim final rule to permit banking organizations to “neutralize” the regulatory capital effects of participating in the PPPLF and to clarify that a zero percent risk weight applies to loans covered by the PPP for capital purposes.
- Issued two interim final rules to temporarily modify the Community Bank Leverage Ratio and provide for a transition and grace period. Beginning in the second quarter of 2020, the ratio will be set at 8 percent. It will rise to 8.5 percent for calendar year 2021, and 9 percent thereafter.
- Issued interagency statements with the CFPB and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors to:
- Revise their previous statement on loan modifications and troubled debt restructurings (TDRs) to clarify the interaction between the agencies’ guidance and related provisions in the CARES Act (section 4013). The agencies state they view loan modification programs as positive actions that can mitigate adverse effects on borrowers due to COVID-19; they will not criticize institutions for working with borrowers in a safe and sound manner and COVID-19-related modifications generally do not need to be categorized as TDRs. The agencies stress that when working with borrowers, institutions must make good faith efforts to support borrowers and comply with the consumer protection requirements, including fair lending laws.
- Provide mortgage servicers that offer or provide a borrower a short-term payment forbearance option, including a CARES Act forbearance, with flexibility in complying with the mortgage servicing rules under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and Regulation X. (The CARES Act provides a forbearance option for borrowers with “federally backed mortgage loans” in sections 4022 and 4023.) Broadly, the agencies will provide flexibility with regard to application, notice, and contact requirements, provided the mortgage servicer makes a good faith effort to comply. The interagency statement is supplemented by, and references, a frequently asked questions document published by the CFPB on the mortgage servicing rules and COVID-19.
The FRB separately:
- Issued an interim final rule to temporarily amend, through March 31, 2021, its Supplemental Leverage Ratio applicable to large BHCs and SLHCs, and U.S. IHCs.
- Issued an interim final rule that revises the definition of “eligible retained income” for purposes of the FRB’s total loss-absorbing capacity (TLAC) rule. The revised definition will make any automatic limitations on capital distributions that could apply under the TLAC rule more gradual and aligns to recent action taken by the FRB and the other federal banking agencies in the capital rule.
- outreach and reduction in examination activities; large banking entities are still expected to submit their capital plans developed under CCAR by April 6.
- Delayed, for six-months, changes to its Payments System Risk Policy, and also the revisions to its Controls Determinations Framework.
- In its central bank role, the FRB announced a new credit facility - a temporary repurchase agreement facility for foreign and international monetary authorities (FIMA Repo Facility) to help support the financial markets, including the U.S. Treasury market. The FIMA Repo Facility will allow FIMA account holders, which consist of central banks and other international monetary authorities with accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to enter into repurchase agreements with the Federal Reserve to temporarily exchange their U.S. Treasury securities held with the Federal Reserve for U.S. dollars, which can then be made available to institutions in their jurisdictions. The FIMA Repo Facility will be available on April 6 and will continue for at least 6 months.
- Issued a Statement on Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act indicating lenders should comply with the CARES Act and providing flexibility for lenders and credit bureaus regarding the time they take to investigate disputes.
- Announced that it will not expect:
Quarterly information reporting by certain mortgage lenders as required under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) & Regulation C.
Reporting of certain information related to credit card and prepaid accounts under the Truth in Lending Act, Regulation Z, and Regulation E, including annual submissions concerning agreements between credit card issuers and institutions of higher education; quarterly submission of consumer credit card agreements; collection of certain credit card price and availability information; and submission of prepaid account agreements and related information.
Capital Markets Regulators
- Issued a new order to supersede and extend until July 1, 2020 an earlier order that allowed publicly traded companies an additional 45 days to file certain disclosure reports. The new order applies to reports that due between March 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020. The relief is conditional on companies meeting certain requirements, including an explanation of why the relief is needed.
- Issued new orders to supersede and extend earlier orders related to the Investment Advisers Act and the Investment Company Act. Among other conditions, entities must notify the Division staff and/or investors, as applicable, of the intent to rely on the relief, but generally no longer need to describe why they are relying on the order or estimate a date by which the required action will occur.
- Issued an order providing temporary conditional exemptive relief for business development companies (BDCs) to enable them to make additional investments in small and medium-sized businesses, including those with operations affected by COVID-19.
- Published two risk alerts outlining expectations for inspections of compliance with Regulation Best Interest and Form CRS, which go into effect on June 30, 2020. The SEC has stated that the deadlines “remain appropriate” as they are conduct and transparency initiatives that will benefit Main Street investors, especially in these times of uncertainty.
- Issued disclosure guidance providing the staff’s current views regarding disclosure and other securities law obligations that companies should consider with respect to COVID-19 and related business and market disruptions.
- Announced temporary flexibility for registered funds to borrow funds from certain affiliates and to enter into certain other lending arrangements to address recent market events.
- Issued a temporary final rule that provides relief from the Form ID notarization requirement from March 26, 2020 through July 1, 2020, subject to certain conditions and for certain filers, and extends the filing deadlines for specified reports and forms due pursuant to Regulation Crowdfunding and Regulation A for certain issuers.
- Issued a temporary conditional exemptive order that provides, subject to certain conditions, affected municipal advisors with an additional 45 days to file annual updates to Form MA that would have otherwise been due between March 26, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Among other conditions, the municipal advisor must be unable to meet the filing deadline for its annual update to Form MA due to circumstances related to current or potential effects of COVID-19 and must provide a brief description of the reasons why it could not timely file.
- Issued targeted, temporary no-action relief to foreign affiliates of certain futures commission merchants; the relief expires on September 30, 2020.
- Voted to extend the comment period on multiple rule proposals to provide participants additional time and flexibility. Links to the extensions are available here.
- Announced that it will take the same approach as set forth in the SEC Risk Alerts when FINRA examines broker-dealers and their associated persons for compliance with Regulation Best Interest and Form CRS. In addition FINRA published highlights of firm practices it observed when conducting preparedness reviews for Regulation Best Interest.
- Proposed a rule change to address brokers with a significant history of misconduct.
State Insurance Regulatory Actions
A growing number of state insurance regulators have requested or required insurers to extend the time for premium payment and to not cancel or non-renew policies during the crisis. For example:
- California and Georgia have requested all insurance companies provide insureds with “at least a 60-day grace period” to pay insurance premiums so the policies are not cancelled for non-payment. Maryland issued a bulletin encouraging all insurers to make reasonable accommodations to individuals and businesses so they do not lose coverage due to non-payment of premium during the crisis. Other states like Massachusetts, Missouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin have issued directives requesting insurers to work with consumers on premium extensions and deferrals.
- New York has required issuers of life insurance and annuity contracts, property and casualty insurers and premium finance agencies to provide relief to New York consumers and businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Consumers experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 may defer paying life insurance premiums for ninety (90) days. Consumers and small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 may defer paying premiums for property and casualty insurance for sixty (60) days.
- Expanding auto insurance to cover restaurant deliveries using personal vehicles.
- Calling on insurers to provide auto policy holders with partial rebates or discounts amid the sudden decline in driving.