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Executive Letter: FHLBank Regulation Can Impact a Member Bank’s New Advance Option

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Given recent rate increases by the Federal Reserve and the overall market impact of the current economy, banks that have lines with a Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) need to be mindful of how FHLBank regulation can impact a member bank’s ability to obtain new FHLBank advances or letters of credit. With this Executive Letter, I wanted to be certain FHLB member banks are aware of the possibility.

Under FHLBank Regulation 12 CFR 1266.4(b), a FHLBank cannot make a new advance to a member bank whose tangible capital is not positive. To make a determination of whether a member bank has negative tangible capital, the FHLBank will use the member bank’s most recently available Call Report data. A member bank would not be considered to have negative tangible capital until its quarterly report is filed.

As an exception, a new advance may be made if the member bank’s prudential federal regulator (the Federal Reserve or OCC) or federal insurer (FDIC) requests, in writing, the FHLBank lend to the member bank. It is my understanding that the federal regulators are currently not willing to issue such instruction unless a particular member bank has a dire liquidity need for the advance.

Historically, bank capital calculations of the prudential federal banking regulators and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) were similar. However, recent changes made to capital calculations by the banking regulators have not been adopted by FHFA. In particular, under FHLBank regulations the definition of tangible capital is inclusive of Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (AOCI). Therefore, this difference will impact those member banks that made the election to opt-out of the requirement to include components of AOCI when calculating common equity tier 1 capital under Basel III rules.

It is important to note that the FHLBank regulation does allow member banks with negative tangible capital to renew outstanding advances, for successive terms of up to 30 days each. There is no limit to the number of times a member bank may roll over an existing advance. Such member banks may also renew outstanding advances for a term greater than 30 days at the written request of the appropriate federal banking regulator or FDIC as federal insurer.

It is also important to note that the limitation for a new advance does not impact a member bank’s use of Community Investment Products or for a member bank’s ability to sell loans into FHLBank’s Mortgage Partnership Finance (MPF) Program.

FHLBank member bankers who may be impacted by this limitation should work closely with their FHLBank Sales Director for more information specific to the member. Affected member banks should also work closely with your accounting and investment resources as there may be options to consider as a means to avoid reaching a negative tangible capital position. Accounting and investment resources will also be able to explain the impact of such options to the member bank in areas other than under FHLBank regulation.

WBA is monitoring the impact of this FHLBank regulation component and is working for a resolution whereby banks whose tangible capital is negative due to a difference in tangible capital calculations are not negatively impacted by an inability to obtain new FHLBank advances. WBA plans to advocate for a change in the rule starting with addressing the issue directly with FHFA later this month during our D.C. Regulatory Trip. In addition, WBA is also working to organize an all-member call on this issue — please watch our publications for an announcement of a complimentary webinar in the near future.