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OCC Report Identifies Key Risks Facing the U.S Federal Banking System

By December 10, 2023No Comments

OCC Report Identifies Key Risks Facing the U.S Federal Banking System

On December 7, 2023, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) published its semi-annual study on key risks facing the U.S federal banking system. The study is titled “Semiannual Risk Perspective for Fall 2023”. This fall 2023 report is based on data as of June 30, 2023 and presents data in five main areas: the operating environment, bank performance, special topics in emerging risks, trends in key risks, and supervisory actions.

According to the study, credit, market, operational, and compliance risks represent the key risks facing the U.S. federal banking system. The OCC noted the following:

Credit risk is increasing due to higher interest rates, increasing risk in commercial real estate lending, prolonged inflation, declining corporate profitability, and potential for slower economic growth. Key performance indicators are beginning to show signs of borrower stress across asset classes. Rising deposit rates, broader market liquidity contraction, and increased reliance on wholesale funding started to impact net interest margins through the first half of 2023. Competition for deposits and higher interest rates are raising deposit rates. Deposit and liquid asset trends stabilized in the latter half of 2023, but these levels were supported by increased reliance on wholesale funding. Increases in interest rates are negatively impacting investment portfolio values.

Operational risk is elevated. Cyber threats continue. Banks continue to leverage new technology to further digitalization efforts, offering innovative products and services to meet customer demands. Increasing digitalization efforts can also heighten risk of fraud and error, including fraud targeting peer-to-peer and other faster payment platforms.

Compliance risk remains elevated. This is due to the heightened focus on ensuring equal access to credit and fair treatment of consumers, the expanded use of innovative technologies for product and service delivery, and expanded partnerships with third parties, such as financial technology firms, and increases in Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering risk.

The report highlights artificial intelligence (AI) in banking as an emerging risk. The potential for further benefits as AI gains more widespread adoption could be significant. Developments in the technology may reduce costs and increase efficiencies; improve products, services, and performance; strengthen risk management and controls; and expand access to credit and other banking services. Widespread adoption of AI, however, may also present significant challenges relating to compliance risk, credit risk, reputation risk, and operational risk.

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