FDICIA Audit Requirements Move Closer to Implementation

Article excerpt

Bankers have until mid-October to comment on an FDIC proposal that requires annual independent audits, more stringent reporting requirements, and tougher internal controls for approximately 3,000 banks.

In general, the proposed requirements would apply to banks with $150 million or more in assets, with some exceptions for qualifying holding company banks in which holding-company audits meet the required standards. The FDIC proposal, which was to be published in September with a 45-day comment period, would implement expanded audit requirements included in the FDIC Improvement Act.

Broadly, covered institutions-- including both banks and thrifts insured by FDIC--would have to have an annual audit by an independent public accountant and provide it to FDIC, other regulators, and the public; form an independent audit committee consisting solely of outside directors; and compile a management report on the institution's compliance with safety and soundness laws and regulations that the accounting firm would have to attest to. FDICIA requires that these steps be taken in fiscal years beginning after Dec. 31.

Expanded outside audit requirements were debated for some time before FDICIA made them a reality. ABA resisted the proposals, arguing that mandatory audits would not be cost-effective for many banks.

Annual audits. In addition to financial statements audited by the institution's public accountant, audits and the resulting reports would have to include material concerning the effectiveness of internal controls and compliance with safety and soundness laws and regulations. Among the latter are rules on transactions with affiliates; legal lending limits; insider lending; restrictions on dividends; and financial reporting in call reports.

Capital regulations are not included in the foregoing list, because FDIC believes examiners already pay a great deal of attention to capital. However, further comment is requested on this decision.

While it is not part of the proposed regulation, FDIC recommends that reporting of internal controls make reference to specific aspects of the program, such as risk assessment and monitoring systems.

Both banks and their outside auditors would be required to promptly notify regulators when an audit relationship is terminated.

FDICIA authorizes FDIC to require public accountants to review quarterly financial reports as well as annual reports. FDIC proposes not to require this step at this time, except in specific cases where there is concern.

Additionally, where an institution currently files reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it would be permitted to submit those financial statements to FDIC. Audit committee. Among numerous duties outlined in the proposal, the audit committee would be required to review the annual audit and management reports with management and the independent auditor. …