On January 22, 2034, NYDFS issued an industry letter titled “Guidance on Assessment of the Character and Fitness of Directors, Senior Officers, and Managers” for banks and other financial institutions (Covered Institutions) to notify them of NYDFS’s expectations. The final guidance came after a review process conducted over the past year where twenty comments indicated the need for Covered Institutions to build “robust character and fitness” policies. NYDFS asked that these Covered Institutions develop and maintain a framework to vet senior officials’ character and fitness during onboarding and on a regular basis.

According to the guidance, each Covered Institution is expected to “define sensitive issues, warning signs, and other indicators” that would be cause for concern. The depth and nature of each Covered Institution’s assessment is tailored to each institution, and the guidance does not demand a defined period for the review, but NYDFS supplied a list of suggested questions for Covered Institutions to use as best practices for vetting key individuals. (These questions are not mandated, however.) NYDFS noted that Covered Institutions are expected to review materials related to the character and fitness assessment of key persons. The guidance’s appendix lists suggested questions, including whether the key person has reviewed and understood pertinent policies and whether the interviewee has ever been charged or convicted of a crime or has previously been sanctioned or censured by a securities regulator. 

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