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Judge Questions FSOC Structure, Process in MetLife Challenge

In a recent hearing in MetLife’s challenge to its FSOC systemically important financial institution designation, Judge Rosemary Collyer raised several issues critical of the FSOC. According to Reuters, Judge Collyer questioned the FSOC’s structure and information gathering process, noting that "[t]here's nobody neutral in [the designation process]. They all have an interest." She also highlighted that the FSOC did not conduct a risk analysis of MetLife, but rather simply “assum[ed] the worst of the worst of the worst.” Judge Collyer further questioned whether the FSOC utilized the designation process that was originally outlined in its own guidance, suggesting that a focus on consolidated oversight may mean that once under consideration, a firm could not “escape” designation. However, she acknowledged language in Dodd-Frank that gives FSOC discretion and that the statute’s language creates a low bar for FSOC designation.

MetLife filed the complaint challenging its designation in January 2015. The company announced last month that it was considering spinning off its U.S. retail life and annuity business, at least in part due to heightened capital requirements and compliance burdens brought about by the designation.