DEFINITION of 'Bank Examination'

An evaluation of the safety and soundness of a bank. The primary focus is an examination of the banks assets and liabilities, but the exam also commonly includes a review of its adherence to regulations and standards, its compliance with various laws - such as truth-in-lending - and an examination of its electronic data processing systems.

Bank examinations for national banks are conducted by the comptroller of the currency, state chartered banks by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the state banking department, and bank holding companies by the Federal Reserve Board.

BREAKING DOWN 'Bank Examination'

In evaluating the safety and soundness of an institution, examiners follow the CAMELS system: Capital adequacy, Asset quality, Management, Earnings, Liquidity and Sensitivity (to systemic risk). Banks are ranked on a scale of one to five in each category, and receive an overall assessment, with one being the strongest and five the weakest. Banks with CAMELS of four and five are ordinarily placed on a watch list and monitored closely.


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