We regularly work with financial institutions to navigate the challenges of implementing, maintaining, and using security procedures for commercial customers’ use of treasury management services. Security procedures are an integral part of the relationship between the financial institution and its commercial customers. Financial institutions offer (and frequently require) commercial customers to use the institution’s security procedures, which are agreed to be commercially reasonable, to originate payment orders (e.g., wire transfers and ACH Entries) from the customers’ accounts.

Issues often arise when one or more of a customer’s authorized users is not able to use his standard security procedures to access a financial institution’s physical or electronic payments systems to either originate or confirm a payment order. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and concern over the implementation of preventative measures, including more companies asking or requiring employees to work remotely, financial institutions should consider which customers may need to update, amend or supplement the ways that its customers can make payments, whether this be through adding authorized users or implementing alternative methods to send payment orders.
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In response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, on March 6, 2020, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) issued an Interagency Statement on Pandemic Planning on behalf of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the State Liaison Committee.

The Statement identifies actions that financial institutions should take to minimize the potential adverse effects of a pandemic and provides specific items that should be addressed in a financial institution’s business continuity plan (BCP).  Due to the wide variety of possible ramifications from a pandemic, BCPs should be updated to provide for a “preventative program, a documented strategy scaled to the stages of pandemic outbreak, a comprehensive framework to ensure the continuance of critical operations, a testing program, and an oversight program to ensure that the plan is reviewed and updated.”
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2018 has a tough act to follow, after a 2017 full of momentous developments—starting with a new Administration and wrapping up with a showdown over the right to serve as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (a fight that continues as of this writing, as discussed below).

But 2018 is unlikely to be a quiet year. In addition to developments in the CFPB leadership battle and other litigation, the year is expected to bring developments such as effective and compliance dates for major regulations on data protection, Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money-laundering (BSA/AML), mortgage servicing, and other topics, and could bring changes in supervisory focus at multiple federal agencies. 
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Last week, the Federal Reserve issued proposed guidance that could dial back some regulatory expectations for directors of financial institutions. The proposed guidance, applicable to Fed-supervised entities like bank holding companies and state member banks, would clarify the role of boards of directors, and place more responsibilities back onto management instead. This breaks with a trend over the past several years in which regulators have urged more and more active and seemingly granular involvement from bank boards.
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