Less than two months remain before the Volcker Rule takes full effect, and banks are still grappling to prepare for the regulation’s complex ban on proprietary trading.
Due to the intense, ongoing focus by regulators, the biggest banks should already be at the stage where they have developed their compliance programs and the technology necessary to implement them, said Cliff Stanford, counsel and chair of Alston & Bird’s Bank Regulatory Group.
“They should be in the stage of remediating any concerns so they’ll be ready on day one,” he said.
For banks in the next tier, regulators provided a mere six bullet points of guidance on compliance expectations in an annex to the rule, Stanford said.
“It’s that sort of fuzzy wording around what’s appropriate for you that leaves some uncertainty as a practical matter in terms of setting a compliance program in advance of the compliance date,” he said.
To date, regulators have attempted to help ease the confusion for banks by releasing a series of FAQs and speaking regularly with bankers and industry groups, Stanford noted.
“There have been good interactions with the supervisors, and I always advise the banks we work with to be open and transparent in their dialogue with them,” he said.
But because it is the banks that have the burden to prove that they are complying with the Volcker Rule, getting up to speed prior to July 21 is vital even if regulators do provide some sort of initial grace period, Stanford said.
“There’s nothing like a deadline to force some action,” he said.