U.S. regulator finalizes risk management guidelines for big banks

WASHINGTON, Sept 2 Tue Sep 2, 2014 2:02pm EDT

WASHINGTON, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Big U.S. banks must spell out their plans to monitor risky activities and manage any problems under final guidelines released by a bank regulatory agency on Tuesday.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) also said banks' directors must take on a significant role in overseeing risk-taking and -management, in an effort to make big financial institutions safer after the 2007-2009 crisis.

"The 2008 financial crisis demonstrated that much stronger supervisory standards would be necessary to manage the risks associated with large, complex financial institutions," Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry said in a statement.

"The guidelines finalized today are an important step in making our federal system of banks and thrifts stronger and more resilient," Curry said.

Regulators have been ramping up oversight of the nation's biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup , after officials were criticized for failing to spot some of the speculative activity that fueled the financial crisis.

In particular, they have slammed banks' poor handle of their own data and sometimes limited understanding of risks. Some of the biggest global banks have received verbal warnings, and many firms have been hiring data specialists.

The OCC first proposed its tougher standards, which apply to banks with more than $50 billion in assets, in January to formalize its new "heightened expectations" for the banks it oversees. The final guidelines released on Tuesday were similar to the initial proposal.

Banks with more than $750 billion in assets will have to comply with the new rules soon. Smaller institutions will have more time to comply, the OCC said. (Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Bernard Orr)