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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021
Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the Transition Period from to
Commission File Number 001-35077
Wintrust Financial Corporation
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Illinois 36-3873352
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization) (I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
9700 W. Higgins Road, Suite 800
Rosemont, Illinois 60018
(Address of principal executive offices)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (847939-9000
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each ClassTrading Symbol(s)Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Stock, no par valueWTFCThe NASDAQ Global Select Market
Fixed-to-Floating Rate Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series D, no par valueWTFCMThe NASDAQ Global Select Market
Depositary Shares, Each Representing a 1/1,000th Interest in a Share of
WTFCPThe NASDAQ Global Select Market
6.875% Fixed-Rate Reset Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series E, no par value
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. þ Yes ¨ No

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. ¨ Yes þ No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. þ Yes ¨ No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). þ Yes ¨ No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerAccelerated filerNon-Accelerated filer
Smaller reporting companyEmerging growth company

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal controls over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. þ Yes ¨ No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes No

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 30, 2021 (the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second quarter), determined using the closing price of the common stock on that day of $75.63, as reported by the NASDAQ Global Select Market, was $4,278,341,370.

As of February 22, 2022, the registrant had 57,237,575 shares of common stock outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the Proxy Statement for the Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 26, 2022 are incorporated by reference into Part III.



TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
  Page
PART I
ITEM 1Business
ITEM 1A.Risk Factors
ITEM 1B.Unresolved Staff Comments
ITEM 2.Properties
ITEM 3.Legal Proceedings
ITEM 4.Mine Safety Disclosures
PART II
ITEM 5.Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
ITEM 6.[Reserved]
ITEM 7.Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
ITEM 7A.Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
ITEM 8.Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
ITEM 9.Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
ITEM 9A.Controls and Procedures
ITEM 9B.Other Information
ITEM 9C.
Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections
PART III
ITEM 10.Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
ITEM 11.Executive Compensation
ITEM 12.Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
ITEM 13.Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
ITEM 14.Principal Accountant Fees and Services
PART IV
ITEM 15.Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules
ITEM 16.Form 10-K Summary
Signatures


PART I

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

Overview
Wintrust Financial Corporation, an Illinois corporation (“we,” “Wintrust” or “the Company”), which was incorporated in 1992, is a financial holding company based in Rosemont, Illinois, with total assets of approximately $50.1 billion as of December 31, 2021. We provide community-oriented, personal and commercial banking services to customers located in the Chicago metropolitan area, southern Wisconsin and northwest Indiana (“our market area”) through our fifteen wholly-owned-banking subsidiaries (collectively, the “banks”), as well as the origination and purchase of residential mortgages for sale into the secondary market through Wintrust Mortgage, a division of Barrington Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Barrington Bank”). In addition, we provide specialty finance services, including financing for the payment of property and casualty insurance premiums and life insurance premiums (“premium finance receivables”) on a national basis through FIRST Insurance Funding, a division of our wholly-owned subsidiary Lake Forest Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Lake Forest Bank”), and Wintrust Life Finance, a division of Lake Forest Bank, and in Canada through our premium finance company, First Insurance Funding of Canada (“FIFC Canada”), lease financing and other direct leasing opportunities through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Wintrust Asset Finance, Inc. (“Wintrust Asset Finance”), and short-term accounts receivable financing and outsourced administrative services through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Tricom, Inc. of Milwaukee (“Tricom”). Further, we provide a full range of wealth management services primarily to customers in our market area through four separate subsidiaries, The Chicago Trust Company, N.A. (“CTC”), Wintrust Investments, LLC (“Wintrust Investments”), Great Lakes Advisors, LLC (“Great Lakes Advisors”) and Chicago Deferred Exchange Company, LLC (“CDEC”).

Our Business and Reporting Segments

As set forth in Note 24, “Segment Information,” our operations consist of three primary segments: community banking, specialty finance and wealth management. The three reportable segments are strategic business units that are separately managed as they offer different products and services and have different marketing strategies. In addition, each segment’s customer base has varying characteristics and each segment has a different regulatory environment. While the Company’s management monitors each of the fifteen bank subsidiaries’ operations and profitability separately, these subsidiaries have been aggregated into one reportable operating segment due to the similarities in products and services, customer base, operations, profitability measures and economic characteristics. All segment measurements discussed below are based on the reportable segments and do not reflect intersegment eliminations.

Community Banking

Through our community banking segment, our banks provide community-oriented, personal and commercial banking services to customers located in our market area. Our customers include individuals, small to mid-sized businesses, local governmental units and institutional clients residing primarily in the banks’ local service areas. The banks have a strategy to provide comprehensive community-focused banking services. In keeping with this strategy, the banks provide highly personalized and responsive service, a characteristic of locally-owned and managed institutions. As such, the banks compete for deposits principally by offering depositors a variety of deposit programs, convenient office locations, hours and other services, and for loan originations primarily through the interest rates and loan fees they charge, the efficiency and quality of services they provide to borrowers and the variety of their loan and treasury management products. Using our multiple bank charter corporate structure to our advantage, we offer our MaxSafe® deposit accounts, which provide customers with expanded Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) insurance coverage by spreading a customer’s deposit across our fifteen banks. This product differentiates our banks from many of our competitors that have consolidated their bank charters into branches. We also have downtown Chicago and Milwaukee offices that work with each of our banks to capture commercial and industrial business. Our commercial and industrial lenders in our downtown offices operate in close partnership with lenders at our community banks. By combining our expertise in the commercial and industrial sector with our high level of personal service and a full suite of banking products, we believe we create another point of differentiation from both our larger and smaller competitors. Our banks also offer home equity, consumer, and real estate loans, safe deposit facilities, ATMs, online and mobile banking and other innovative and traditional services specially tailored to meet the needs of customers in their market areas.

We developed our banking franchise through a combination of de novo organization and the purchase of existing bank franchises. The organizational efforts began in 1991, when a group of experienced bankers and local business people identified an unfilled niche in the Chicago metropolitan area retail banking market. As large banks acquired smaller ones and personal service was subjected to consolidation strategies, the opportunity increased for locally owned and operated, highly personal
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service-oriented banks. As a result, Lake Forest Bank was founded in December 1991 to service the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communities.

As of December 31, 2021, we owned fifteen nationally chartered banks: Lake Forest Bank, Barrington Bank, Wintrust Bank, N.A. (“Wintrust Bank”), Libertyville Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Libertyville Bank”), Northbrook Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Northbrook Bank”), Village Bank & Trust, N.A. (“Village Bank”), Wheaton Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Wheaton Bank”), State Bank of the Lakes, N.A., Crystal Lake Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Crystal Lake Bank”), Schaumburg Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Schaumburg Bank”), Beverly Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Beverly Bank”), Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A. (“Old Plank Trail Bank”), Hinsdale Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Hinsdale Bank”), St. Charles Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“St. Charles Bank”) and Town Bank, N.A. (“Town Bank”). As of December 31, 2021, we had 173 banking locations. Each nationally-chartered bank is subject to regulation, supervision and regular examination by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”).

We also engage in the retail origination and purchase of residential mortgages through Wintrust Mortgage as well as consumer direct lending primarily to veterans through our Veterans First brand. Certain originated loans are sold to unaffiliated companies or the Company’s banks with servicing remaining within Wintrust Mortgage operations. Wintrust Mortgage maintains retail mortgage offices in a number of states, with the largest concentration located in the Chicago, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas.

We also offer several niche lending products through several of the banks. These include Barrington Bank’s Community Advantage program, which provides lending, deposit and treasury management services to condominium, homeowner and community associations; Hinsdale Bank’s mortgage warehouse lending program, which provides loan and deposit services to mortgage brokerage companies located predominantly in the Chicago metropolitan area; and Lake Forest Bank’s franchise lending program, which provides lending to restaurant franchisees. Other niches offered throughout our banking franchise include Wintrust Commercial Finance, which offers direct leasing opportunities; Wintrust Business Credit, which specializes in asset-based lending for middle-market companies; Wintrust SBA Lending, which is dedicated to offering expertise in Small Business Administration loans; Wintrust Commercial Real Estate, which concentrates on real estate lending solutions including commercial mortgages and construction loans; and Wintrust Government, Non-Profit & Hospital, which focuses on financial solutions for mission-based organizations such as hospitals, non-profits, educational institutions and local government operations. In addition, we offer a niche deposit service through our Northbrook Bank’s Funds Group.

For the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, the community banking segment had net revenues of $1.3 billion, $1.3 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively, and net income of $319 million, $164 million and $238 million, respectively. The community banking segment had total assets of $40.3 billion, $36.8 billion and $29.6 billion as of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. The community banking segment accounted for approximately 74% of our consolidated net revenues, excluding intersegment eliminations, for the year ended December 31, 2021.

Specialty Finance

Through our specialty finance segment, we offer financing of insurance premiums for businesses and individuals; accounts receivable financing, value-added, out-sourced administrative services; and other specialty finance businesses. FIRST Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance engage in the premium finance receivables business, our most significant specialized lending niche, including property and casualty insurance premium finance and life insurance premium finance. We also engage in property and casualty insurance premium finance in Canada through our wholly-owned subsidiary FIFC Canada.

In their property and casualty insurance premium finance operations, FIRST Insurance Funding and FIFC Canada make loans to businesses to finance the insurance premiums they pay on their property and casualty insurance policies. Approved medium and large insurance agents and brokers located throughout the United States and Canada assist FIRST Insurance Funding and FIFC Canada, respectively, in arranging each commercial premium finance loan between the borrower and FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada, as the case may be. FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada evaluates each loan request according to its own underwriting criteria including the amount of the down payment on the insurance policy, the term of the loan, the credit quality of the insurance company providing the financed insurance policy, the interest rate, the borrower's previous payment history, if any, and other factors deemed appropriate. Upon approval of the loan by FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada, as the case may be, the borrower makes a down payment on the financed insurance policy, which is generally done by providing payment to the agent or broker, who then forwards it to the insurance company. FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada may either forward the financed amount of the remaining policy premiums directly to the insurance carrier or to the agent or broker for remittance to the insurance carrier on FIRST Insurance Funding’s or FIFC Canada’s behalf. In some cases the agent or broker may hold our collateral, in the form of the proceeds of the unearned insurance premium from the insurance company, and forward it to FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada in the event of a default by the borrower. This lending
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involves relatively rapid turnover of the loan portfolio and high volume of loan originations. Because the agent or broker is the primary contact to the ultimate borrowers who are located nationwide and because proceeds and our collateral may be handled by the agent or brokers during the term of the loan, FIRST Insurance Funding and FIFC Canada may be more susceptible to third party (i.e., agent or broker) fraud. The Company performs various controls and procedures including ongoing credit and other reviews of the agents and brokers as well as performs various internal audit steps to mitigate against the risk of material fraud.

The commercial and property premium finance business is subject to regulation in the majority of states. Regulation typically governs notices to borrowers prior to cancellation of a policy and required communication to insurance agents and insurance companies. FIRST Insurance Funding offers financing of property and casualty insurance policies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  FIRST Insurance Funding’s legal department regularly monitors changes to regulations and updates policies and programs accordingly.

Wintrust Life Finance finances life insurance policy premiums generally used for estate planning purposes of high net-worth borrowers. These loans are originated directly with the borrowers with assistance from life insurance carriers, independent insurance agents, financial advisors and legal counsel. The cash surrender value of the life insurance policy is the primary form of collateral. In addition, these loans often are secured with a letter of credit, marketable securities or certificates of deposit. In some cases, Wintrust Life Finance may make a loan that has a partially unsecured position.

The life insurance premium finance business is subject to banking regulations but is not subject to additional regulatory regimes (e.g. additional state regulation). Wintrust Life Finance’s compliance department regularly monitors the regulatory environment and the company’s compliance with existing regulations. Wintrust Life Finance maintains a policy prohibiting the known financing of stranger-originated life insurance and has established procedures to identify and prevent the company from financing such policies. While a carrier could potentially put at risk the cash surrender value of a policy, which serves as Wintrust Life Finance’s primary collateral, by challenging the validity of the insurance contract for lack of an insurable interest, Wintrust Life Finance believes it has strong counterclaims against any such claims by carriers, in addition to recourse to borrowers and guarantors as well as to additional collateral in certain cases.

Premium finance loans made by FIRST Insurance Funding, Wintrust Life Finance and FIFC Canada are primarily secured by the insurance policies financed by the loans. These insurance policies are written by a large number of insurance companies geographically dispersed throughout the United States and Canada. Our premium finance receivables balances finance insurance policies that are spread among a large number of insurers, however, the top three insurers represents approximately 14%, 6% and 5% of such balances. FIRST Insurance Funding, Wintrust Life Finance and FIFC Canada consistently monitor carrier ratings and financial performance of our carriers. In the event ratings fall below certain levels, most of Wintrust Life Finance’s life insurance premium finance policies provide for an event of default and allow Wintrust Life Finance to have recourse to borrowers and guarantors as well as to additional collateral in certain cases. For the commercial premium finance business, the term of the loans is sufficiently short such that in the event of a decline in carrier ratings, FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada, as the case may be, can restrict or eliminate additional loans to finance premiums to such carriers. The majority of premium finance receivables are purchased by the banks in order to more fully utilize their lending capacity as these loans generally provide the banks with higher yields than alternative investments.

Through our wholly-owned subsidiary Wintrust Asset Finance, we provide equipment financing through structured loan and lease products to customers in a variety of industries throughout the United States. Wintrust Asset Finance provides financing of fixed assets consisting of property, plant and equipment, transportation (trucks, trailers, rail, marine, buses), construction, manufacturing equipment, technology, oil and gas, restaurant equipment, medical and healthcare. As of December 31, 2021, the Company’s leasing portfolio, including direct financing leases, loans and equipment on operating leases, totaled $2.4 billion compared to $2.1 billion as of December 31, 2020. During 2021, Wintrust Asset Finance contributed approximately $72.5 million to our revenue, which does not reflect intersegment eliminations.

Through our wholly-owned subsidiary Tricom, we provide high-yielding, short-term accounts receivable financing and value-added, outsourced administrative services, such as data processing of payrolls, billing and cash management services to the temporary staffing industry. Tricom’s clients, located throughout the United States, provide staffing services to businesses in diversified industries. During 2021, Tricom processed payrolls with associated client billings of approximately $723 million and contributed approximately $12.3 million to our revenue, net of interest expense, which does not reflect intersegment eliminations.

In 2021, our commercial premium finance operations, life insurance premium finance operations, leasing operations and accounts receivable finance operations accounted for 42%, 29%, 25% and 4%, respectively, of the total revenues of our specialty finance business. For the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019 the specialty finance segment had net
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revenues of $294 million, $263 million and $241 million, respectively, and net income of $109 million, $100 million and $89 million, respectively. The specialty finance segment had total assets of $8.4 billion, $7.0 billion and $5.9 billion as of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. The specialty finance segment accounted for 17% of our consolidated net revenues, excluding intersegment eliminations, for the year ended December 31, 2021.

Wealth Management

Through our wealth management segment, we offer a full range of wealth management services through four separate subsidiaries (Wintrust Investments, CTC, Great Lakes Advisors and CDEC): trust and investment services, tax-deferred like-kind exchange services, asset management, securities brokerage services and 401(k) and retirement plan services.

Wintrust Investments, our registered broker/dealer subsidiary which has been operating since 1931, provides a full range of private client and securities brokerage services to clients located primarily in the Midwest. Wintrust Investments is headquartered in downtown Chicago, operates an office in Appleton, Wisconsin, and has established branch locations in offices at a majority of our banks. Wintrust Investments also provides a full range of investment services to clients through a network of relationships with community-based financial institutions primarily located in Illinois. Wintrust Investments is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) as a registered broker-dealer, as well as by the SEC as a registered investment adviser.

CTC, our trust subsidiary, offers trust and investment management services to clients through offices located in downtown Chicago and at various banking offices of our fifteen banks. CTC is subject to regulation, supervision and regular examination by the OCC.

Great Lakes Advisors, our registered investment adviser with locations in downtown Chicago and Tampa, Florida, as well as in various banking offices of our fifteen banks, provides money management services and advisory services to individuals, institutions, and municipal and tax-exempt organizations. Great Lakes Advisors also provides portfolio management and financial advisory services for a wide range of pension and profit-sharing plans as well as money management and advisory services to CTC. Great Lakes Advisors is regulated by the SEC as a registered investment adviser.

CDEC, our provider of tax-deferred like-kind exchange services, provides Qualified Intermediary services (as defined by U.S. Treasury regulations) for taxpayers seeking to structure tax-deferred like-kind exchanges under Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 1031. Under IRC Section 1031, a taxpayer may defer the gain on the sale of certain investment property if the taxpayer utilizes the services of a Qualified Intermediary. These transactions typically generate customer deposits during the period following the sale of the property until such proceeds are used to purchase a replacement property.  These deposits may flow into our banks as a source of low-cost deposits. CDEC is the subsidiary of Elektra Holding Company, LLC (“Elektra”), which was acquired by the Company in December of 2018.

As of December 31, 2021, the Company’s wealth management subsidiaries had approximately $35.5 billion of assets under administration, which included $5.3 billion of assets owned by the Company and its subsidiary banks. For the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, the wealth management segment had net revenues of $161 million, $134 million and $130 million, respectively, and net income of $38 million, $29 million and $28 million, respectively. The wealth management segment had total assets of $1.5 billion, $1.3 billion and $1.1 billion as of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. The wealth management segment accounted for 9% of our consolidated net revenues, excluding intersegment eliminations, for the year ended December 31, 2021.

Strategy and Competition

The Company has employed certain strategies since 2013 to achieve strong net income amid an environment characterized by low interest rates and increased competition. In general, the Company has taken a steady and measured approach to grow strategically and manage expenses. Specifically, the Company has:

Leveraged its internal loan pipeline and external growth opportunities to grow earnings assets to increase net interest income;
Continued efforts to reduce interest costs by improving our funding mix;
Written call option contracts on certain securities as an economic hedge to mitigate overall interest rate risk and enhance the securities’ overall return by using fees generated from these options;
Entered into mirror-image swap transactions to both satisfy customer preferences and maintain variable rate exposure;
Completed strategic acquisitions to expand our presence in existing and complimentary markets;
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Focused on cost control and leveraging our current infrastructure to grow without a commensurate increase in operating expenses; and
Expanded the Wintrust Asset Finance direct leasing niche.

Our strategy and competitive position for each of our business segments is summarized in further detail, below.

Community Banking

We compete in the commercial banking industry through our banks in the communities they serve. The commercial banking industry is highly competitive and the banks face strong direct competition for deposits, loans and other financial related services. The banks compete with other commercial banks, thrifts, credit unions, stockbrokers, government-sponsored entities, mutual fund companies, insurance companies, factoring companies and other commercial entities offering financial services products, including non-bank financial companies and entities commonly known as financial technology companies. Some of these competitors are local, while others are statewide or nationwide.

As a $50 billion asset financial services company, we expect to benefit from greater access to financial and managerial resources than our smaller local competitors while maintaining our commitment to local decision-making and to our community banking philosophy. In particular, we are able to provide a wider product selection and larger credit facilities than many of our smaller competitors, and we believe our service offerings help us in recruiting talented staff. We continue to add lenders throughout the community banking organization, many of whom have joined us because of our ability to offer a range of products and level of services which compete effectively with both larger and smaller market participants. We have continued to expand our product delivery systems, including a wide variety of electronic banking options for our retail and commercial customers which allow us to provide a level of service typically associated with much larger banking institutions. Additionally, we have access to public capital markets whereas many of our local competitors are privately held and may have limited capital-raising capabilities.

Management views service as a great equalizer to offset some of the inherent advantages of its significantly larger competitors. We also believe we are positioned to compete effectively with other larger and more diversified banks, bank holding companies and other financial services companies due to the multi-chartered approach that pushes accountability for building a franchise and a high level of customer service down to each of our banking franchises. Additionally, we believe that we provide a relatively complete portfolio of products that is responsive to the majority of our customers’ needs through the retail and commercial operations supplied by our banks, and through our mortgage and wealth management operations. The breadth of our product mix allows us to compete effectively with our larger competitors, while our multi-chartered approach with local and accountable management provides for what we believe is superior customer service relative to our larger and more centralized competitors. We continue to grow our digital service offerings while maintaining our expectations of high quality, more traditional banking services.

Wintrust Mortgage competes with large mortgage brokers as well as other banking organizations. Consolidation, margin compression, enhanced regulatory guidance and the promise of equal oversight for both banks and independent mortgage lenders have created challenges for small and medium-sized independent mortgage lenders. Wintrust Mortgage’s size, bank affiliation, regulatory competency, branding, technology, business development tools and reputation make the firm well positioned to compete in this environment. Our continued ability to retain the majority of servicing on loans sold, including those loans sold to the Company's banks, allows Wintrust Mortgage to continue to grow a more stable revenue stream. While earnings will fluctuate with the rise and fall of long-term interest rates, we expect that mortgage banking revenue will be a continuous source of revenue for us and our mortgage lending relationships will continue to provide franchise value to our other financial service businesses.

We continue to review our branch footprint and in 2021, the Company opened four new branch locations. The new branches included three locations in the Chicago metropolitan area and one location in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. Also in 2021, we recorded an impairment charge of $1.1 million associated with a 2021 branch closing. In addition, in 2021, the Company completed the sale of three branches in southwestern Wisconsin and the closure of nine branches both previously announced in 2020. These were predominantly smaller locations in close proximity to other Wintrust locations. As such, there was no material attrition or customer disruption. In the fourth quarter of 2020, we recorded an impairment charge of $1.4 million associated with the closing of the nine locations. During 2021, leases were terminated and updated appraisals received and approximately $900,000 of additional impairment was recorded associated with the closing of the nine locations. Collectively, the net reduction of eight locations during the year ended December 31, 2021, represented approximately 5% of the Wintrust retail banking locations as of December 31, 2021. It is important to note that while we see increased use of electronic services and are investing heavily in digital capabilities to allow clients to choose how they want to be served, Wintrust will continue to selectively open branches in areas where we are not represented.
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Specialty Finance

FIRST Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance encounter intense competition from numerous other firms, including a number of national commercial premium finance companies, companies affiliated with insurance carriers, independent insurance brokers who offer premium finance services and other lending institutions. Some of our competitors are larger and have greater financial and other resources. FIRST Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance compete with these entities by emphasizing a high level of knowledge of the insurance industry, flexibility in structuring financing transactions, and the timely funding of qualifying contracts. We believe that our commitment to service also distinguishes us from our competitors. FIFC Canada competes with one national commercial premium finance company and a few regional providers.

Wintrust Asset Finance competes with other bank-affiliated, independent, captive and vendor equipment leasing and finance companies. Wintrust Asset Finance believes a customer-focused origination philosophy, an experienced team, strong underwriting discipline and expert asset management enables them to compete effectively in a growing and dynamic market.

Tricom competes with numerous other firms, including a small number of similar niche finance companies and payroll processing firms, as well as various finance companies, banks and other lending institutions. Tricom’s management believes that its commitment to service distinguishes it from competitors.

Wealth Management

Our wealth management companies (CTC, Wintrust Investments, Great Lakes Advisors and CDEC) compete with larger wealth management subsidiaries of other larger bank holding companies as well as with other trust companies, brokerage and other financial service companies, stockbrokers and financial advisors. We believe we can successfully compete for trust, tax services, asset management and brokerage business by offering personalized attention and customer service to small to midsize businesses and affluent individuals. We continue to recruit and hire experienced wealth management professionals from within the larger Chicago metropolitan area as well as Wisconsin, which is expected to help in attracting new customer relationships.

Supervision and Regulation

Regulatory Environment

Our business is heavily regulated and supervised by both federal and state agencies. Both the scope of the laws and regulations and the intensity of the supervision to which our business is subject have increased in recent years, initially in response to the financial crisis, and more recently in light of other factors such as technological and market changes. Regulatory enforcement and fines have also increased across the banking and financial services sector. Many of these changes have occurred as a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) and its implementing regulations, most of which are now in place. We expect that our business will remain subject to extensive regulation and supervision. Further, the scope and the intensity of regulation and supervision will likely be higher in the Biden Administration.

The Company is a bank holding company under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended (the “BHC Act”), subject to regulation, supervision, and examination by the Federal Reserve. The Company is also subject to the disclosure and regulatory requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, both as administered by the SEC, as well as the rules of NASDAQ that apply to companies with securities listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. Each nationally-chartered bank is subject to regulation, supervision and regular examination by the OCC. The deposits of all of our subsidiary banks are insured by the Deposit Insurance Fund (“DIF”) and, as such, the FDIC has additional oversight authority over the banks. The supervision, regulation and examination of banks and bank holding companies by bank regulatory agencies are intended primarily for the protection of depositors, the DIF, and the banking system as a whole, rather than shareholders of banks and bank holding companies, and in some instances may be contrary to shareholders’ interests.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has broad rulemaking authority over a wide range of federal consumer protection laws applicable to the business of our subsidiary banks and some other operating subsidiaries. Because each of our subsidiary banks has less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets, our subsidiary banks’ federal banking agency, not the CFPB, is responsible for examining and supervising the subsidiary banks’ compliance with federal consumer protection laws and regulations. Our non-bank subsidiaries are subject to regulation by their functional regulators, including applicable state finance and insurance agencies, the applicable exchanges, the SEC, FINRA, and the OCC, as well as by the Federal Reserve.

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Federal and state laws, and the regulations of the bank regulatory agencies issued under them, affect the scope of business, the kinds and amounts of investments banks may make, reserve requirements, capital levels, the nature and amount of collateral for loans, the establishment of branches, the ability to merge, consolidate and acquire, dealings with insiders and affiliates and the payment of dividends. The regulatory agencies have broad discretion to impose restrictions and limitations on the operations of a regulated entity where the agencies determine, among other things, that such operations are unsafe or unsound, fail to comply with applicable law or are otherwise inconsistent with laws and regulations or with the supervisory policies of these agencies.

The following is a description of some of the laws and regulations that affect our business. By necessity, the descriptions below are summaries that do not purport to be complete, and that are qualified in their entirety by reference to those statutes and regulations discussed, and all regulatory interpretations thereof. Any changes in applicable laws, regulations, or the interpretations thereof could have a material adverse effect on our business or the business of our subsidiaries.

Bank Holding Company Regulation

The Company is a bank holding company that has elected to be treated as a financial holding company. The activities of bank holding companies generally are limited to the business of banking, managing or controlling banks, and certain other activities determined by the Federal Reserve to be closely related to banking. As a financial holding company, we may engage in an expanded range of activities, including activities that are considered to be financial in nature. Financial holding companies may also engage in activities incidental or complementary to financial activities, if the Federal Reserve determines that such activities pose no substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system in general. Impermissible activities for financial holding companies and their subsidiaries include activities that are related to commerce, such as sales of nonfinancial products or manufacturing. As a result, subject to certain exceptions, the BHC Act generally prohibits us from acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of voting shares of any company engaged in activities that are not permissible for us to engage in.

Maintaining our financial holding company status requires that the Company and each of our subsidiary banks remain “well-capitalized” and “well-managed” as defined by regulation and that each of our subsidiary banks maintain at least a “satisfactory” rating under the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”). If we or our subsidiary banks fail to continue to meet these requirements, we could be subject to restrictions on new activities and acquisitions, and/or be required to cease and possibly divest operations that conduct existing activities that are not permissible for a bank holding company that is not a financial holding company.

The BHC Act generally requires us to obtain prior approval from the Federal Reserve before acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of more than 5% of the voting shares of an additional bank or bank holding company, or to merge or consolidate with another bank holding company. The Bank Merger Act generally requires our subsidiary banks to obtain prior regulatory approval to merge or consolidate with, or acquire substantially all of the assets of or assume deposits of, another bank. We must also be well-capitalized and well-managed, in order to acquire a bank located outside of our home state.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Act (“FDIA”) and Federal Reserve regulations and policy require us to serve as a source of financial and managerial strength for our subsidiary banks, and to commit resources to support the banks. This support may be required even if doing so may adversely affect our ability to meet other obligations.

Acquisitions of Ownership of the Company

Acquisitions of the Company’s voting stock above certain thresholds may be subject to prior regulatory notice or approval under applicable federal banking laws. Investors are responsible for ensuring that they do not, directly or indirectly, acquire shares of our stock in excess of the amount that can be acquired without regulatory approval or notice under the BHC Act and the Change in Bank Control Act.

Volcker Rule

We are prohibited under the Volcker Rule from (1) engaging in short-term proprietary trading for our own account, and (2) having certain ownership interests in and relationships with hedge funds or private equity funds. The fundamental prohibitions of the Volcker Rule apply to banking entities of any size, including the Company and its bank subsidiaries. The Volcker Rule regulations contain exemptions for market-making, hedging, underwriting, trading in U.S. government and agency obligations and also permit certain ownership interests in certain types of funds to be retained. They also permit the offering and sponsoring of funds under certain conditions. The Volcker Rule regulations impose significant compliance and reporting obligations on banking entities. The Company has put in place the compliance programs required by the Volcker Rule and has either divested or received extensions for any holdings in illiquid funds.
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As of October 2019, the five regulatory agencies charged with implementing the Volcker Rule finalized amendments to the Volcker Rule’s proprietary trading and compliance provisions. These amendments tailor the Volcker Rule’s compliance requirements to the amount of a firm’s trading activity, revise the definition of trading account, clarify certain key provisions in the Volcker Rule, and modify the information companies are required to provide the federal agencies.

In June 2020, the five regulatory agencies again modified the Volcker Rule, effective October 1, 2020. These modifications permit banking entities to engage in certain fund activities, expand permissible transactions with covered funds, reduce extraterritorial effects on foreign funds, and clarify the Volcker Rule. These requirements did not have a material impact on the Company’s investing and trading activities. The Company will continue to monitor the Volcker Rule-related developments and assess their impact on its operations as necessary.

Capital Requirements of the Company and Subsidiary Banks

We and our subsidiary banks are required to maintain minimum risk-based and leverage capital ratios, as well as a capital conservation buffer (“Capital Conservation Buffer”), pursuant to regulations adopted by the Federal Reserve and the OCC to implement the Basel III capital framework (“U.S. Basel III Rule”).

Regulatory Capital and Risk-weighted Assets

Regulatory capital requirements apply to Common Equity Tier 1 capital, Tier 1 capital and total capital.

Common Equity Tier 1 capital consists primarily of common stock and related surplus (net of treasury stock), retained earnings, and certain minority interests, subject to certain regulatory adjustments. For us and our subsidiary banks, Common Equity Tier 1 capital does not include most elements of accumulated other comprehensive income (“AOCI”) because we exercised an opt-out election that was available to us with respect to certain changes in the capital treatment of AOCI. We made this election to avoid variations in the level of our capital depending on fluctuations in the fair value of our securities and derivatives portfolio.
Tier 1 capital is composed of Common Equity Tier 1 capital and Additional Tier 1 capital. Additional Tier 1 capital consists primarily of non-cumulative perpetual preferred stock and related surplus, certain minority interests and, subject to certain regulatory limits, certain grandfathered cumulative perpetual preferred stock and certain grandfathered trust preferred securities.
Total capital is composed of Tier 1 capital and Tier 2 capital. Tier 2 capital consists primarily of capital instruments and related surplus meeting specified requirements, and may include cumulative preferred stock and long-term perpetual preferred stock, mandatory convertible securities, intermediate preferred stock, certain trust preferred securities and subordinated debt. Also included in Tier 2 capital is the allowance for credit losses limited to a maximum of 1.25% of risk-weighted assets (“RWAs”) and, for institutions that have exercised the opt-out election regarding the treatment of AOCI up to 45% of net unrealized gains on available-for-sale equity securities with readily determinable fair market values.

Certain adjustments to and deductions from capital are required for purposes of calculating these regulatory capital measures, including with respect to goodwill, intangible assets, certain deferred tax assets, AOCI and investments in the capital instruments of unconsolidated financial institutions. In July 2019, the U.S. bank regulators finalized changes to certain aspects of the U.S. Basel III capital rules that simplified, for certain bank holding companies and banks, including us and our subsidiary banks, the framework for capital deductions for mortgage servicing assets, certain deferred tax assets and investments in the capital instruments of unconsolidated financial institutions, and the recognition of minority interests in regulatory capital. These amendments were effective as of April 1, 2020. The final rule also supersedes the transition rule that the U.S. bank regulators adopted in 2017 to allow certain banking organizations to continue to apply the transition treatment in effect in 2017 while the U.S. bank regulators considered the capital simplification proposals.

In addition, in December 2018, the U.S. federal banking agencies finalized rules that permit BHCs and banks to phase in, for regulatory capital purposes, the day-one impact of Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) 2016-13 Financial Instruments - Credit Losses (Topic 326) (“CECL”) on retained earnings over a period of three years. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, the OCC, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the FDIC published another final rule to delay the estimated impact on regulatory capital stemming from the implementation of CECL. The final rule maintains the three-year transition option in the previous rule and provides banks the option to delay for two years an estimate of CECL’s effect on regulatory capital, relative to the incurred loss methodology’s effect on regulatory capital, followed by a three-year transition period (five-year transition option). The Company is adopting the capital transition relief over the permissible five-year period. For further discussion of the new CECL accounting standard, including the Company’s implementation of such guidance, see
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“Summary of Critical Accounting Estimates” under Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in Item 7 and Note 2 “Recent Accounting Pronouncements,” to the Consolidated Financial Statements presented under Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Capital Ratio Requirements

Under the U.S. Basel III Rule, we and our subsidiary banks are required to maintain the following minimum capital ratios:

Common Equity Tier 1 capital to RWAs ratio (“Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratio”) of 4.5%;
Tier 1 capital to RWAs ratio (“Tier 1 Capital Ratio”) of 6.0%;
Total capital to RWAs ratio (“Total Capital Ratio”) of 8.0%; and
Tier 1 capital to quarterly average assets (net of goodwill, certain other intangible assets and certain other deductions) ratio (“Tier 1 Leverage Ratio”) of 4.0%.

To be well-capitalized, our subsidiary banks must maintain the following capital ratios:

Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratio of 6.5% or greater;
Tier 1 Capital Ratio of 8.0% or greater;
Total Capital Ratio of 10.0% or greater; and
Tier 1 Leverage Ratio of 5.0% or greater.
The Federal Reserve has not yet revised the well-capitalized standard for bank holding companies to reflect the higher capital requirements imposed under the U.S. Basel III Rule. For purposes of the Federal Reserve’s Regulation Y, including determining whether a bank holding company meets the requirements to be a financial holding company, bank holding companies, such as the Company, must maintain a Tier 1 Capital Ratio of 6.0% or greater and a Total Capital Ratio of 10.0% or greater to be well-capitalized. If the Federal Reserve were to apply the same or a very similar well-capitalized standard to bank holding companies as that applicable to our subsidiary banks, the Company’s capital ratios as of December 31, 2021 would exceed such revised well-capitalized standard. The Federal Reserve may require bank holding companies, including us, to maintain capital ratios substantially in excess of mandated minimum levels, depending upon general economic conditions and a bank holding company’s particular condition, risk profile and growth plans.

Failure to be well-capitalized or to meet minimum capital requirements could result in certain mandatory and possible additional discretionary actions by regulators, including restrictions on our or our subsidiary banks’ ability to pay dividends or otherwise distribute capital or to receive regulatory approval of applications, or other restrictions on growth. Such actions, if undertaken, could have an adverse material effect on our operations or financial condition.

In addition to meeting the minimum capital requirements, under the U.S. Basel III Rule, we and our banking subsidiaries must also maintain the required Capital Conservation Buffer to avoid becoming subject to restrictions on capital distributions and certain discretionary bonus payments to management. The Capital Conservation Buffer is 2.5% and is calculated as a ratio of Common Equity Tier 1 capital to RWAs and it effectively increases the required minimum risk-based capital ratios. The Tier 1 Leverage Ratio is not impacted by the Capital Conservation Buffer, and a banking institution may be considered well-capitalized while remaining out of compliance with the Capital Conservation Buffer.

The table below summarizes the capital requirements that we and our subsidiary banks must satisfy to avoid limitations on capital distributions and certain discretionary bonus payments (i.e., the required minimum capital ratios plus the Capital Conservation Buffer):
Minimum Regulatory Capital Ratio Plus Capital Conservation Buffer
Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratio7.00 %
Tier 1 Capital Ratio8.50 
Total Capital Ratio10.50 

As of December 31, 2021, our Company’s and our subsidiary banks’ regulatory capital ratios were above the well-capitalized standards and met the Capital Conservation Buffer. Based on current estimates, we believe that we and our subsidiary banks will continue to exceed all applicable well-capitalized regulatory capital requirements and the Capital Conservation Buffer. Please refer to the table below for a summary of our regulatory capital ratios as of December 31, 2021, calculated using the regulatory capital methodology applicable to us during 2021.
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Company Regulatory Capital Ratios
Minimum Regulatory Capital Ratio for the Company
Minimum Ratio + Capital Conservation Buffer(1)
Well-Capitalized Minimum
for the Company(2)
The Company
Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratio4.50 %7.00 %N/A8.6 %
Tier 1 Capital Ratio6.00 8.50 6.00 9.6 
Total Capital Ratio8.00 10.50 10.00 11.6 
Tier 1 Leverage Ratio4.00 N/AN/A8.0 
(1)Reflects the Capital Conservation Buffer of 2.50%.
(2)Reflects the well-capitalized standard applicable to the Company for purposes of the Federal Reserve’s Regulation Y. The Federal Reserve has not yet revised the well-capitalized standard for BHCs to reflect the higher capital requirements imposed under the U.S. Basel III Rule or to add Common Equity Tier 1 capital ratio and Tier 1 leverage ratio requirements to this standard.  As a result, the Common Equity Tier 1 capital ratio and Tier 1 leverage ratio are denoted as “N/A” in this column.  If the Federal Reserve were to apply the same or a very similar well-capitalized standard to BHCs as the standard applicable to our subsidiary banks, the Company’s capital ratios as of December 31, 2021 would exceed such revised well-capitalized standard.

In addition to the above, as a result of participation in mortgage programs with certain government-sponsored entities as well as other investors, the Company has specific net worth requirements for continued participation. As of December 31, 2021, the Company remained in compliance with such requirements.

Payment of Dividends and Share Repurchases

We are a legal entity separate and distinct from our banking and non-banking subsidiaries. Since our consolidated net income consists largely of net income of our bank and non-bank subsidiaries, our ability to pay dividends and repurchase shares depends upon our receipt of dividends from our subsidiaries. There are various federal and state law limitations on the extent to which our banking subsidiaries can declare and pay dividends to us, including regulatory capital requirements, general regulatory oversight to prevent unsafe or unsound practices and federal and state banking law requirements concerning the payment of dividends out of net profits or surplus. Applicable banking laws also prohibit, without prior regulatory approval, insured depository institutions, such as our bank subsidiaries, from making dividend distributions if such distributions are not paid out of available earnings. In addition, our right, and the right of our shareholders and creditors, to participate in any distribution of the assets or earnings of our bank and non-bank subsidiaries is further subject to the prior claims of creditors of our subsidiaries. No assurances can be given that the banks will, in any circumstances, pay dividends to the Company.

We and our bank subsidiaries must maintain the applicable Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Conservation Buffer to avoid becoming subject to restrictions on capital distributions, including dividends. The Capital Conservation Buffer is currently at its fully phased-in level of 2.5%. For more information on the Capital Conservation Buffer, see above.

Our ability to declare and pay dividends to our shareholders is similarly limited by federal banking law and Federal Reserve regulations and policy. Federal Reserve policy provides that a bank holding company should not pay dividends unless (1) the bank holding company’s net income over the last four quarters (net of dividends paid) is sufficient to fully fund the dividends, (2) the prospective rate of earnings retention appears consistent with the capital needs, asset quality and overall financial condition of the bank holding company and its subsidiaries and (3) the bank holding company will continue to meet minimum required capital adequacy ratios. The policy also provides that a bank holding company should inform the Federal Reserve reasonably in advance of declaring or paying a dividend that exceeds earnings for the period for which the dividend is being paid or that could result in a material adverse change to the bank holding company’s capital structure. Bank holding companies also are required to consult with the Federal Reserve before materially increasing dividends. The Federal Reserve could prohibit or limit the payment of dividends by a bank holding company if it determines that payment of the dividend would constitute an unsafe or unsound practice.

FDICIA and Prompt Corrective Action

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 (“FDICIA”) requires the federal bank regulatory agencies to take “prompt corrective action” regarding FDIC-insured depository institutions that do not meet certain capital adequacy standards. A depository institution’s treatment for purposes of the prompt corrective action provisions depends upon
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its level of capitalization and certain other factors. An institution that fails to remain well-capitalized becomes subject to a series of restrictions that increase in severity as its capital condition weakens. Such restrictions may include a prohibition on capital distributions, restrictions on asset growth or restrictions on the ability to receive regulatory approval of applications. The FDICIA also provides for enhanced supervisory authority over undercapitalized institutions, including authority for the appointment of a conservator or receiver for the institution. In certain instances, a bank holding company may be required to guarantee the performance of an undercapitalized subsidiary bank’s capital restoration plan.

As of December 31, 2021, each of the Company’s banks was categorized as “well-capitalized” and, in addition, met additional requirements under the Capital Conservation Buffer.

Enforcement Authority

The federal bank regulatory agencies have broad authority to issue orders to depository institutions and their holding companies prohibiting activities that constitute violations of law, rule, regulation, or administrative order, or that represent unsafe or unsound banking practices, as determined by the federal banking agencies. The federal banking agencies also are empowered to require affirmative actions to correct any violation or practice; issue administrative orders that can be judicially enforced; direct increases in capital; limit dividends and distributions; restrict growth; assess civil money penalties against institutions or individuals who violate any laws, regulations, orders, or written agreements with the agencies; order termination of certain activities of holding companies or their non-bank subsidiaries; remove officers and directors; order divestiture of ownership or control of a non-banking subsidiary by a holding company; or terminate deposit insurance and appoint a conservator or receiver.

Safety and Soundness

The federal bank regulatory agencies have adopted a set of guidelines prescribing safety and soundness standards relating to internal controls and information systems, informational security, internal audit systems, loan documentation, credit underwriting, interest rate exposure, asset growth, and compensation, fees and benefits. The guidelines prohibit excessive compensation as an unsafe and unsound practice, and describe compensation as excessive when the amounts paid are unreasonable or disproportionate to the services performed by an executive officer, employee, director or principal shareholder.

During the past decade, properly managing risks has been identified as critical to the conduct of safe and sound banking activities and has become even more important as new technologies, product innovation, and the size and speed of financial transactions have changed the nature of banking markets. The agencies have identified a spectrum of risks facing banking institutions including, but not limited to, credit, market, liquidity, operational, legal, and reputational risk. Some of the regulatory pronouncements have focused on operational risk, which arises from the potential that inadequate information systems, operational problems, breaches in internal controls, fraud, or unforeseen catastrophes will result in unexpected losses. New products and services, third-party risk management and cybersecurity are critical sources of operational risk that financial institutions are expected to address in the current environment. Our subsidiary banks are expected to have active board and senior management oversight; adequate policies, procedures, and limits; adequate risk measurement, monitoring, and management information systems; and comprehensive and effective internal controls.

Cross-Guarantee

Under the cross-guarantee provision of the FDIA, insured depository institutions such as our subsidiary banks may be liable to the FDIC for any losses incurred, or reasonably expected to be incurred, by the FDIC resulting from the default of, or FDIC assistance to, any other commonly controlled insured depository institution. An FDIC cross-guarantee claim against a depository institution is superior in right of payment to claims of the holding company and its affiliates against such depository institution. All of our subsidiary banks are commonly controlled within the meaning of the cross-guarantee provision.

Insurance of Deposit Accounts

The deposits of each of our subsidiary banks are insured by the Depositors Insurance Fund (“DIF”) up to the standard maximum deposit insurance amount of $250,000 per depositor. Each of our subsidiary banks is subject to deposit insurance assessments based on the risk it poses to the DIF, as determined by the capital category and supervisory category to which it is assigned. The FDIC has authority to raise or lower assessment rates on insured deposits in order to achieve statutorily required reserve ratios in the DIF and to impose special additional assessments. There is a risk that our subsidiary banks’ deposit insurance premiums will increase if failures of insured depository institutions deplete the DIF or if the FDIC were to change its view of the risk that they pose to the DIF.

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In addition, the Deposit Insurance Fund Act of 1996 authorized the Financing Corporation (“FICO”) to impose assessments on DIF assessable deposits in order to service the interest on FICO’s bond obligations. The FICO assessment rate was adjusted quarterly through the final collection in the second quarter of 2019. The rate was approximately 0.120 basis points for the second quarter of 2019 (12 cents per $10,000 of assessable deposits).

Assessment rates remain unchanged since the DIF reserve ratio fell to 1.30% in June 2020. The FDIC, as required under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, established a plan on September 15, 2020, to restore the DIF reserve ratio to meet or exceed 1.35% within eight years. The FDIC’s restoration plan projects the reserve ratio to exceed 1.35% without increasing the deposit insurance assessment rate, subject to ongoing monitoring over the next eight years. The FDIC could increase the deposit insurance assessments for certain insured depository institutions, including our subsidiary banks, if the DIF reserve ratio is not restored as projected.

Limits on Loans to One Borrower and Loans to Insiders

Federal banking laws impose limits on the amount of credit a bank can extend to any one person (or group of related persons). For national banks, this limit includes credit exposures arising from derivative transactions, repurchase agreements, and securities lending and borrowing transactions.

Applicable banking laws and regulations also place restrictions on loans by FDIC-insured banks and their affiliates to their directors, executive officers and principal shareholders.

Lending Standards and Guidance

The federal banking agencies have adopted uniform regulations prescribing standards for extensions of credit that are secured by liens or interests in real estate or made for the purpose of financing permanent improvements to real estate. Under these regulations, all insured depository institutions, such as our subsidiary banks, must adopt and maintain written policies establishing appropriate limits and standards for extensions of credit that are secured by liens or interests in real estate or are made for the purpose of financing permanent improvements to real estate. These policies must establish loan portfolio diversification standards, prudent underwriting standards (including loan-to-value limits) that are clear and measurable, loan administration procedures, and documentation, approval and reporting requirements. The real estate lending policies must reflect consideration of the federal bank regulators’ Interagency Guidelines for Real Estate Lending Policies.

De Novo Branching and De Novo Banks

With the approval of applicable regulators, national banks and state banks may establish de novo branches in states other than their home state as if such state was the bank’s home state.

For a three-year period, newly chartered banks are subject to enhanced supervisory procedures, including higher capital requirements, more frequent examinations and other requirements.

Anti-Tying Provisions

Each of our subsidiary banks is prohibited from conditioning the availability of any product or service, or varying the price for any product or service, on the requirement that the customer obtain some additional product or service from the bank or any of its affiliates, other than loans, deposits and trust services.

Transactions with Affiliates

Certain transactions between a bank and its holding company or other non-bank affiliates are subject to various restrictions imposed by state and federal law and regulation. Such “covered transactions” include loans and other extensions of credit by the bank to the affiliate, investments in securities issued by the affiliate, purchases of assets from the affiliate, certain derivative transactions that create a credit exposure to an affiliate, the acceptance of securities issued by the affiliate as collateral for a loan, and the issuance of a guarantee, acceptance or letter of credit on behalf of the affiliate. In general, these affiliate transaction rules limit the amount of covered transactions between an institution and a single affiliate, as well as the aggregate amount of covered transactions between an institution and all of its affiliates. In addition, covered transactions that are credit transactions must be secured by acceptable collateral, and all affiliate transactions, including those that do not qualify as covered transactions, must be on terms that are at least as favorable to the bank as then-prevailing in the market for comparable transactions with unaffiliated entities. Transactions between affiliated banks may be subject to certain exemptions under applicable federal law.
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Community Reinvestment Act

Under the CRA, insured depository institutions, including our subsidiary banks, have a continuing and affirmative obligation to help meet the credit needs of its entire community, including low and moderate-income neighborhoods. The CRA does not establish specific lending requirements or programs for insured depository institutions nor does it limit an insured depository institution’s discretion to develop the types of products and services that it believes are best suited to its particular community, consistent with the CRA. However, insured depository institutions are rated on their performance in meeting the needs of their communities. The CRA requires each federal banking agency to take an insured depository institution’s CRA record into account when evaluating certain applications by the insured depository institution or its holding company, including applications for charters, branches and other deposit facilities, relocations, mergers, consolidations, acquisitions of assets or assumptions of liabilities, and bank and savings association acquisitions. An unsatisfactory record of performance may be the basis for denying or conditioning approval of an application by an insured depository institution or its holding company. The CRA also requires that all institutions publicly disclose their CRA ratings. Each of our subsidiary banks received a “satisfactory” or better rating from the Federal Reserve or the OCC on its most recent CRA performance evaluation.

In June 2020, the OCC adopted the CRA rules in final form (June 2020 Rule), which would have applied to national banks, including our subsidiary banks. In December 2021, the OCC issued a final rule to rescind the June 2020 Rule and replace it with a rule based largely on the prior rules adopted jointly by the federal banking agencies in 1995, as amended, that existed prior to the June 2020 Rule. The OCC has also issued a joint statement with the FDIC and Federal Reserve stating that they are committed to working jointly to modernize the CRA rules.

Compliance with Consumer Protection Laws

Our subsidiary banks and some other operating subsidiaries are subject to a variety of federal and state statutes and regulations designed to protect consumers. The CFPB has broad rulemaking authority over a wide range of federal consumer protection laws that apply to banks and other providers of financial products and services, including the authority to prohibit “unfair, deceptive or abusive” acts and practices, but examination and supervision is carried out by each subsidiary bank’s primary federal banking agency and, where applicable, state banking agency, not the CFPB. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act authorizes state attorneys general and other state officials to enforce consumer protection rules issued by the CFPB. State authorities have recently increased their focus on and enforcement of consumer protection rules.

Interest and other charges collected or contracted for by banks are subject to state usury laws and federal laws concerning interest rates. Loan operations are also subject to federal laws applicable to credit transactions, such as:    

the federal Truth-In-Lending Act and Regulation Z issued by the CFPB, governing disclosures of credit terms to consumer borrowers;
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and Regulation X issued by the CFPB, requiring that borrowers for mortgage loans for one- to four-family residential real estate receive various disclosures, including good faith estimates of settlement costs, lender servicing and escrow account practices, and prohibiting certain practices that increase the cost of settlement services;
the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and Regulation C issued by the CFPB, requiring financial institutions to provide information to enable the public and public officials to determine whether a financial institution is fulfilling its obligation to help meet the housing needs of the community it serves;
the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Regulation B issued by the CFPB, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of various prohibited factors in extending credit;
the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Regulation V issued by the CFPB, governing the use and provision of information to consumer reporting agencies;
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Regulation F issued by the CFPB, governing the manner in which consumer debts may be collected by collection agencies;
the Service Members Civil Relief Act, applying to all debts incurred prior to commencement of active military service (including credit card and other open-end debt) and limiting the amount of interest, including service and renewal charges and any other fees or charges (other than bona fide insurance) that is related to the obligation or liability; and
the guidance of the various federal agencies charged with the responsibility of implementing such federal laws.

Deposit operations are subject to, among others:

the Truth in Savings Act and Regulation DD issued by the CFPB, which require disclosure of deposit terms to consumers;
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Regulation CC issued by the Federal Reserve Board, which relates to the availability of deposit funds to consumers;
the Right to Financial Privacy Act, which imposes a duty to maintain the confidentiality of consumer financial records and prescribes procedures for complying with administrative subpoenas of financial records; and
the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and Regulation E issued by the CFPB, which governs automatic deposits to and withdrawals from deposit accounts and customers’ rights and liabilities arising from the use of automated teller machines and other electronic banking services.

There are consumer protection standards that apply to functional areas of operation rather than applying only to loan or deposit products. Our subsidiary banks and some other operating subsidiaries are also subject to certain state laws and regulations designed to protect consumers.

The CFPB has promulgated, and continues to promulgate, many mortgage-related final rules since it was established under the Dodd-Frank Act, including rules related to the ability to repay and qualified mortgage standards, mortgage servicing standards, loan originator compensation standards, high-cost mortgage requirements, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requirements and appraisal and escrow standards for higher priced mortgages. Most of the provisions of these mortgage-related final rules are currently effective. In addition, several proposed revisions to mortgage-related rules are pending finalization. The mortgage-related final rules issued by the CFPB have materially restructured the origination, servicing and securitization of residential mortgages in the United States. These rules have impacted, and will continue to impact, the business practices of mortgage lenders, including the Company.

In order to ensure compliance with all mortgage-related rules and regulations, the Company consolidated its consumer mortgage loan origination and loan servicing operations primarily within Wintrust Mortgage. All consumer mortgage applications are taken through Wintrust Mortgage, which has extensively trained loan originators located at many of our branches. While in certain limited cases our banks may offer specialized consumer mortgages to our customers, substantially all consumer mortgages for all of our banks are originated and closed by Wintrust Mortgage. Wintrust Mortgage then sells loans to third parties or to our banks. To the extent that we retain consumer mortgage loans in our bank portfolios, our banks have engaged Wintrust Mortgage to provide loan servicing.

In January 2021, the OCC released a final rule that would require certain OCC-supervised banks to provide access to services, capital, and credit based on their risk assessment of individual customers, rather than broad-based decisions affecting whole categories or classes of customers, which includes requiring banks to make each financial service they offer available to all persons in the geographic market served by them on proportionally equal terms. The rule was scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2021. However, the OCC announced that the next confirmed Comptroller of the Currency will review the final rule, and its future remains uncertain.

Changes to consumer protection regulations, including those promulgated by the CFPB, could affect our business but the likelihood, timing and scope of any such changes and the impact any such change may have on us cannot be determined with any certainty. See Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Debit Interchange

We are subject to a statutory requirement that interchange fees for electronic debit transactions that are paid to or charged by payment card issuers, including our bank subsidiaries, be reasonable and proportional to the cost incurred by the issuer. Interchange fees for electronic debit transactions are limited to 21 cents plus 0.05% of the transaction, plus an additional one cent per transaction fraud adjustment, impose requirements regarding routing and exclusivity of electronic debit transactions, and generally require that debit cards be usable in at least two unaffiliated networks.

Anti-Money Laundering Programs

The Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) and USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (“USA PATRIOT Act”) contain anti-money laundering (“AML”) and financial transparency provisions intended to detect, and prevent the use of the U.S. financial system for, money laundering and terrorist financing activities. The BSA, as amended by the USA PATRIOT Act, requires depository institutions and their holding companies to undertake activities including maintaining an AML program, verifying the identity of clients, monitoring for and reporting suspicious transactions, reporting on cash transactions exceeding specified thresholds, and responding to requests for information by regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies. Each of our subsidiary banks is subject to the BSA and, therefore, is required to provide its employees with AML training, designate an AML compliance officer and undergo an annual, independent audit to assess the effectiveness of its AML program. We have implemented policies, procedures and internal controls that are designed to comply with these AML requirements. In May 2016, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), which is a unit of the Treasury Department that drafts regulations
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implementing the USA PATRIOT Act and other AML and BSA legislation, issued final rules governing enhanced customer due diligence. The rules impose several new obligations on covered financial institutions with respect to their “legal entity customers,” including corporations, limited liability companies and other similar entities. For each such customer that opens an account (including an existing customer opening a new account), the covered financial institution must identify and verify the customer’s “beneficial owners,” who are specifically defined in the rules. The rules contain an exemption for certain insurance premium financing transactions. Bank regulators are focusing their examinations on anti-money laundering compliance, and we will continue to monitor and augment, where necessary, our AML compliance programs. The federal banking agencies are required, when reviewing bank and bank holding company acquisition or merger applications, to take into account the effectiveness of the anti-money laundering activities of the applicant.

The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, enacted on January 1, 2021 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, does not directly impose new requirements on banks, but requires the U.S. Treasury Department to issue National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Priorities, and conduct studies and issue regulations that may, over the next few years, significantly alter some of the due diligence, recordkeeping and reporting requirements that the Bank Secrecy Act and USA PATRIOT Act impose on banks. The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 also contains provisions that promote increased information-sharing and use of technology, and increases penalties for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and includes whistleblower incentives, both of which could increase the prospect of regulatory enforcement.

Office of Foreign Assets Control Regulation

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or “OFAC,” is responsible for administering economic sanctions that affect transactions with designated foreign countries, nationals and others, as defined by various Executive Orders and Acts of Congress.  OFAC-administered sanctions take many different forms.  For example, sanctions may include: (1) restrictions on trade with or investment in a sanctioned country, including prohibitions against direct or indirect imports from and exports to a sanctioned country and prohibitions on U.S. persons engaging in financial transactions relating to, making investments in, or providing investment-related advice or assistance to, a sanctioned country; and (2) a blocking of assets in which the government or “specially designated nationals” of the sanctioned country have an interest, by prohibiting transfers of property subject to U.S. jurisdiction (including property in the possession or control of U.S. persons).  OFAC also publishes lists of persons, organizations, and countries suspected of aiding, harboring or engaging in terrorist acts, known as Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. Blocked assets (e.g., property and bank deposits) cannot be paid out, withdrawn, set off or transferred in any manner without a license from OFAC.  Failure to comply with these sanctions could have serious legal and reputational consequences.

Protection of Client Information

Legal requirements concerning the use and protection of client information affect many aspects of the Company’s business, and are continuing to evolve. They include the privacy and information safeguarding provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLB Act”), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and the amendments adopted by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, as well as state law requirements. The GLB Act requires a financial institution to disclose its privacy policy to certain customers, and requires the financial institution to allow those customers to opt-out of some sharing of the customers’ nonpublic personal information with nonaffiliated third persons. In accordance with these requirements, we and each of our banks and operating subsidiaries provide a written privacy notice to each affected customer when the customer relationship begins and on an annual basis. As described in the privacy notice, we protect the security of information about our customers, educate our employees about the importance of protecting customer privacy, and allow affected customers to opt out of certain types of information sharing. We and our subsidiaries also require business partners with which we share information to have adequate security safeguards and to follow the requirements of the GLB Act. The GLB Act, as interpreted by the federal banking regulators, and state laws require us to take certain actions, including possible notice to affected customers, in the event that sensitive customer information is compromised. We and/or each of the banks and operating subsidiaries may need to amend our privacy policies and adapt our internal procedures in the event that these legal requirements, or the regulators’ interpretation of them, change, or if new requirements are added.

Data privacy and data protection are areas of increasing state legislative focus. For example, in June of 2018, the Governor of California signed into law the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”). The CCPA, which became effective on January 1, 2020, applies to for-profit businesses that conduct business in California and meet certain revenue or data collection thresholds. The CCPA contains several exemptions, including that many, but not all, requirements of the CCPA are inapplicable to information that is collected, processed, sold or disclosed pursuant to the GLB Act. California voters also recently passed the California Privacy Rights Act, which will take effect on January 1, 2023 and significantly modifies the CCPA. The California Privacy Rights Act imposes additional obligations on covered companies and expands California consumers’ rights with respect
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to certain sensitive personal information, resulting in further uncertainty and potentially requiring us to incur additional costs and expenses in an effort to comply with these requirements.

The CCPA may be interpreted or applied in a manner inconsistent with our understanding or similar laws may be adopted by other states where we do business. The impact of the CCPA on our business is yet to be determined. The federal government may also pass data privacy or data protection legislation.

Like other lenders, the banks and several of our operating subsidiaries use credit bureau data in their underwriting activities. Use of such data is regulated under the FCRA, and the FCRA also regulates reporting information to credit bureaus, prescreening individuals for credit offers, sharing of information between affiliates, and using affiliate data for marketing purposes. Similar state laws may impose additional requirements on us, the banks and our operating subsidiaries.

In November 2021, the Federal Reserve, OCC, and FDIC adopted a new regulation that, among other things, requires a banking organization to notify its primary federal regulators within 36 hours after identifying a “computer-security incident” that the banking organization believes in good faith could materially disrupt or degrade its business or operations in a manner that would, among other things, jeopardize the viability of its operations, result in customers being unable to access their deposit and other accounts, result in a material loss of revenue, profit or franchise value, or pose a threat to the financial stability of the United States.

Violation of these legal requirements may expose us to regulatory action and private litigation, including claims for damages and penalties.

Broker-Dealer and Investment Adviser Regulation

Wintrust Investments and Great Lakes Advisors are subject to extensive regulation under federal and state securities laws. Wintrust Investments is registered as a broker-dealer with the SEC and in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Both Wintrust Investments and Great Lakes Advisors are registered as investment advisers with the SEC. In addition, Wintrust Investments is a member of several self-regulatory organizations (“SROs”), including FINRA and NYSE Chicago. In addition to SEC rules and regulations, the SROs adopt rules, subject to approval of the SEC, that govern all aspects of business in the securities industry and conduct periodic examinations of member firms. Wintrust Investments is also subject to regulation by state securities commissions in states in which it conducts business. Wintrust Investments and Great Lakes Advisors are registered only with the SEC as investment advisers, but certain of their advisory personnel are subject to regulation by state securities regulatory agencies.

As a result of federal and state registrations and SRO memberships, Wintrust Investments is subject to overlapping schemes of regulation that cover all aspects of its securities businesses. Such regulations cover uses and safekeeping of clients’ funds; record-keeping and reporting requirements; supervisory and organizational procedures intended to assure compliance with securities laws and to prevent improper trading on material nonpublic information; personnel-related matters, including qualification and licensing of supervisory and sales personnel; limitations on extensions of credit in securities transactions; clearance and settlement procedures; “suitability” determinations as to certain customer transactions; limitations on the amounts and types of fees and commissions that may be charged to customers; and regulation of proprietary trading activities and affiliate transactions. Violations of the laws and regulations governing a broker-dealer’s actions can result in censures, fines, the issuance of cease-and-desist orders, revocation of licenses or registrations, the suspension or expulsion from the securities industry of a broker-dealer or its officers or employees, or other similar actions by both federal and state securities administrators, as well as the SROs.

As a registered broker-dealer, Wintrust Investments is subject to the SEC’s net capital rule as well as the net capital requirements of the SROs of which it is a member. Net capital rules, which specify minimum capital requirements, are designed to measure general financial integrity and liquidity and require that at least a minimum amount of net assets be kept in relatively liquid form. Rules of FINRA and other SROs also impose limitations and requirements on the transfer of member organizations’ assets. Compliance with net capital requirements may limit the Company’s operations requiring the intensive use of capital. These requirements restrict the Company’s ability to withdraw capital from Wintrust Investments, which in turn may limit the Company’s ability to pay dividends, repay debt or redeem or purchase shares of the Company’s own outstanding stock. Wintrust Investments is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”), which subject to certain limitations, serves to oversee the liquidation of a member brokerage firm, and to return missing cash, stock and other securities owed to the firm’s brokerage customers, in the event a member broker-dealer fails. The general SIPC protection for customers’ securities accounts held by a member broker-dealer is up to $500,000 for each eligible customer, including a maximum of $250,000 for cash claims. SIPC does not protect brokerage customers against investment losses. In addition to SIPC coverage, the clearing firm utilized by Wintrust Investments offers certain insurance coverage. In the event of the clearing firm’s
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insolvency, clients whose cash and securities were not fully protected by SIPC may benefit from this additional insurance. The policy provides coverage to each client up to $1.9 million, subject to an aggregate cap of $1 billion for all policy beneficiaries.

Wintrust Investments and Great Lakes Advisors in their capacities as investment advisers are subject to regulations covering matters such as transactions between clients, transactions between the adviser and clients, custody of client assets and management of mutual funds and other client accounts. The principal purpose of regulation and discipline of investment firms is the protection of customers, clients and the securities markets rather than the protection of creditors and shareholders of investment firms. Sanctions that may be imposed for failure to comply with laws or regulations governing investment advisers include the suspension of individual employees, limitations on an adviser’s engaging in various asset management activities for specified periods of time, the revocation of registrations, other censures and fines.

In June 2019, the SEC finalized Regulation Best Interest, which imposes a new standard of conduct on SEC-registered broker-dealers when making recommendations to retail customers. In addition, the SEC finalized a new summary disclosure form that broker-dealers and registered investment advisers must provide to retail customers. Wintrust Investments and Great Lakes Advisors were required to comply with these requirements, as applicable, as of June 2020.

Incentive Compensation

The federal banking agencies have issued joint guidance on incentive compensation designed to ensure that the incentive compensation policies of banking organizations, such as us and our subsidiary banks, do not encourage imprudent risk taking and are consistent with the safety and soundness of the organization. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act requires the federal banking agencies and the SEC to issue regulations or guidelines requiring covered financial institutions, including us and our subsidiary banks, to prohibit incentive-based payment arrangements that encourage inappropriate risks by providing compensation that is excessive or that could lead to material financial loss to the institution. A proposed rule was issued in 2016. It is unclear when, if ever, the proposed rule will be finalized. The Biden Administration may revisit this proposal.

Also pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, in 2015, the SEC proposed rules that would direct stock exchanges to require listed companies to implement clawback policies to recover incentive-based compensation from current or former executive officers in the event of certain financial restatements and would also require companies to disclose their clawback policies and their actions under those policies. The SEC has re-opened the comment period for these rules, but it is unclear when the proposed rules will be finalized.

Human Capital Resources

Since its formation, Wintrust has held the objective of aiming to differentiate itself by offering customers a highly-personalized banking experience, through staff that is warm, friendly, and responsive. Wintrust expects each of its employees to embody that original mission by serving as brand ambassadors each day, within each community served by our banks and other business units.

Workforce Overview

As of December 31, 2021, Wintrust employed 5,239 full-time equivalent employees in the U.S. and Canada. Approximately 97% of Wintrust’s employees are classified as full-time, working greater than 30 hours per week. None of our employees are represented by a collective bargaining agreement and we consider our employee relations to be good.

Talent Recruiting and Retention

At Wintrust we recognize that attracting, motivating and retaining talent at all levels is vital to continuing our success. In 2021, Wintrust filled approximately 1,069 positions, including external hires, internal transfers/promotions, and temporary hires. In 2021, approximately 54% of our new hires self-identified as female and approximately 39% of new hires self-identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Wintrust promotes an employee referral program, which we believe favorably affects colleague retention and engagement. Turnover for the entire Wintrust enterprise for the year was approximately 20% and voluntary departures accounted for approximately 81% of the total turnover.

Wintrust offers total rewards packages that are designed to attract, motivate and retain a talented and diverse group of employees. In addition to competitive, performance-based compensation plans, we provide employees with comprehensive benefits packages. Wintrust consistently monitors and adapts its total rewards program design to reflect both market changes and employee feedback.
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Diversity & Inclusion

Wintrust strives to promote an equitable, diverse and inclusive culture where each employee can be successful, and one that is reflective of the communities we serve. Women currently represent more than 58% of Wintrust’s workforce. In addition, racially/ethnically diverse representation in Wintrust’s workforce is approximately 31%. To further advance diversity and inclusion across Wintrust, we have taken the following steps:

Expanded the “shared responsibility in action” theme by launching 12-month advocate-protégé partnerships which paired select high-potential protégés with senior executive advocates. The protégé cohort includes over 60% women and 35% leaders who are racially or ethnically diverse. The program objective is to accelerate development of leadership opportunities for protégés within one to three years after launching the partnership.
Launched a fourth Business Resource Group (“BRG”) called Prism, which is intended to support our LGBTQ+ employees and community. Other BRGs are: Leadership Coalition, Multicultural Professionals Network, and Career Navigation. Over 10% of Wintrust employees have registered as members of one or more BRG.
Introduced the 360 degree Inclusivity Model designed to take inclusive approaches to addressing racial and financial disparities in the communities we serve, through enhanced products and services.
Required each of our business units to outline key goals and effective effort for advancing diversity and inclusion via formal Diversity & Inclusion Business Unit Action Plans document that are reviewed and updated annually.

Learning & Development

We are committed to providing all team members with development opportunities through individual and career development planning. Our employees have access to approximately 500 Banking topics, 150 Professional Skills topics and 400 customized training courses and resources through Wintrust University – our learning portal. In 2021, we introduced a new online training catalog containing over 16,000 course offerings for our employees’ personal and professional development. In 2021, Wintrust invested more than 117,000 total hours in training by team members.

We routinely identify and recognize talented employees by performing comprehensive reviews of leadership capability, readiness, aspiration and succession planning. To support the development of our internal talent pipeline, we have invested in a number of programs to support the development of future leaders and additional training for senior leaders with strategic accountability. To support the development of future leaders, 79 newly minted leaders attended “The Fundamentals of Wintrust Leadership” program and 18 senior leaders participated in our year-long “Winning at Wintrust” training program focused on strategic accountability. Additionally, 141 retail employees completed the Wintrust Bankers Academy program in 2021.

Annually, Wintrust team members at all levels certify their completion of regulatory training based upon their roles and responsibilities. They also are encouraged to complete a minimum of two professional development activities each year.

Pandemic Worker Health & Safety Efforts

Initiatives undertaken to keep our employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic have included:

Granted emergency sick leave to all employees up to 160 hours for caring for a family member or personal illness due to COVID-19.
Paid employees for all employer directed quarantines due to close contact exposure in the workplace.
Continued to support non-essential staff to work remotely where possible.
Hosted various virtual wellness sessions throughout the year addressing a variety of topics that included anxiety, depression, resiliency for working parents, nutrition, ergonomics and virtual cooking classes.
Closely monitored vaccinations percentages of our overall workforce.
Modified banking operations and branch staffing levels to limit close person-to-person contact where possible.
Paid employees full wages in the event a branch closure occurred due to COVID-19 impacts on staffing levels.
Offered telemedicine services through a third-party vendor for COVID-19 symptoms and illness.
Covered the full cost of COVID-19 testing for all employees and family members enrolled in Wintrust’s health benefits.
Made at-home COVID-19 test kits available to limit employees’ need to leave their homes for testing.
Continued support for childcare benefits for employees to improve work-life balance.
Provided employee assistance program offerings and resources designed to help employees deal with COVID-19 related mental health issues.
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Monitored and adjusted safety protocols and signage at all of our locations in response to changing guidelines by local, state and federal regulations, and recommendations.
Maintained comprehensive employee communications program regarding COVID-19 related matters.
Provided enhanced manager and employee resources relating to remote work environment.
Required daily health attestations for employees reporting to branch locations and offices.


Available Information

The Company’s Internet address is www.wintrust.com. The Company makes available at this address, under the “Investor Relations” tab, free of charge, its Annual Report on Form 10-K, its annual reports to shareholders, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. These filings are also available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
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ITEM 1A.RISK FACTORS

Risk Factors Summary

The summary of risks below provides an overview of the principal risks we are exposed to in the normal course of our business activities. This summary does not contain all of the information provided in the detailed discussion of risks that follows this summary and should be read together with such detailed discussion.

Risks Related to Economic Conditions and Operating Environment
Includes risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and related environmental sustainability matters, deterioration in economic conditions and economic declines in the Chicago metropolitan and southern Wisconsin market areas, since our business is concentrated in these regions.

Risks Related to Competition and Reputation
Includes risks related to our ability to compete effectively, damage to our reputation, consumers deciding not to use banks to complete their financial transactions and the impact on us from the soundness of other financial institutions.

Risks Related to Growth and Acquisitions
Includes risks related to our ability to identify favorable acquisitions or successfully integrate our acquisitions, our participation in FDIC-assisted acquisitions, new lines of business and new products and services and de novo operations that often involve significant expenses and delayed returns.

Legal and Regulatory Risks
Includes risks related to our ability to meet regulatory capital ratios, changes in the United States’ monetary policy, legislative and regulatory actions taken now or in the future regarding the financial services industry, financial reform legislation and increased regulatory rigor around consumer protection mortgage-related issues, federal, state and local consumer lending laws that may restrict our ability to originate certain mortgage loans or increase our risk of liability with respect to such loans, regulatory initiatives regarding bank capital requirements that may require heightened capital, any increase in our FDIC insurance premiums, any non-compliance with the USA PATRIOT Act, BSA or other laws and regulations, claims and legal actions, examinations and challenges by tax authorities, changes in federal and state tax laws and changes in the interpretation of existing laws, changes in accounting policies or accounting standards and changes in U.S. trade policies, including the imposition of tariffs and retaliatory tariffs.

Risks Related to Lending Operations
Includes risks related to our allowance for credit losses and sufficiency to absorb losses that may occur in our loan portfolio, litigation from the banks’ customers or other parties regarding the banks’ processing of loans for the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and that the SBA may not fund some or all PPP loan guaranties, the repayment of commercial loans which are largely dependent upon the financial success and economic viability of the borrower, our loan portfolio being secured by real estate, in particular commercial real estate, events impacting collateral consisting of real property, any inaccurate assumptions in our analytical and forecasting models and environmental liability risk associated with lending activities.

Risks Related to Our Niche Businesses
Includes risks related to our premium finance business, which may involve a higher risk of delinquency or collection than our other lending operations, widespread financial difficulties or credit downgrades among commercial and life insurance providers and exposure to certain risks associated with the securities industry.

Risks Related to Financial Strength and Liquidity
Includes risks related to changes in prevailing interest rates, our liquidity position, an actual or perceived reduction in our financial strength, our credit rating, capital not being available when it is needed or the cost of that capital being very high, disruption in the financial markets, being a bank holding company and therefore being limited in sources of funds, including to pay dividends, and uncertainty about the transition from LIBOR to alternate benchmark interest rates.

Risks Related to General Operations
Includes risks related to our controls and procedures, our operational or security systems or infrastructure, or those of third parties, security risks (including denial of service attacks, hacking, social engineering attacks targeting our colleagues and customers, malware intrusion and data corruption attempts), the failures of vendors, cybersecurity risks associated with debit cards and debit card transactions, the accuracy and completeness of information we receive about
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our customers and counterparties to make credit decisions, our ability to attract and retain experienced and qualified personnel, losses incurred in connection with actual or projected repurchases and indemnification payments related to mortgages that we have sold into the secondary market and the occurrence of extraordinary events, such as acts of war, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and public health threats.

Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock
Anti-takeover provisions could negatively impact our shareholders.

Risk Factors

An investment in our securities is subject to risks inherent to our business. Certain material risks and uncertainties that management believes affect Wintrust are described below. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below together with all of the other information included or incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and in our other filings with the SEC. Additional risks and uncertainties that management is not aware of or that management currently deems immaterial may also impair Wintrust’s business operations. This Annual Report on Form 10-K is qualified in its entirety by these risk factors. If any of the following risks actually occur, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. If this were to happen, the value of our securities could decline significantly, and you could lose all or part of your investment.

Risks Related to Economic Conditions and Operating Environment

The COVID-19 pandemic is adversely affecting us and our customers, employees and third-party service providers, and the adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be material.

Although the U.S. and global economies have begun to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as many health and safety restrictions have been lifted and vaccine distribution has increased, certain adverse consequences of the pandemic continue to impact the macroeconomic environment and may persist for some time, including labor shortages and disruptions of global supply chains. The growth in economic activity and demand for goods and services, alongside labor shortages and supply chain complications, has also contributed to rising inflationary pressures. All of our three primary business segments: community banking, specialty finance and wealth management, have been uniquely impacted and we expect will continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring the implementation of certain responses as circumstances evolve. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our business, results of operations and financial condition will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and are difficult to predict, including, but not limited to, the rate of distribution and administration of vaccines globally, the severity and duration of any resurgence of COVID-19 variants, the actions to contain the virus or treat its impact, and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic may have the effect of heightening the other risks described in this Item 1A.

We have continued to maintain appropriate levels of our allowance for loan losses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects of the pandemic could cause us to recognize heightened credit losses in our loan portfolio and additional increases in our allowance for loan losses. Certain portions of our lending portfolio are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, including commercial and industrial and commercial real estate loans. Until the effects of the pandemic subside, we could experience additional draws on lines of credit, downward pressure on deposits, and increased loan delinquencies. The effects of COVID-19 may impair the value of collateral securing our loans, especially commercial and residential real estate loans. Further, a significantly larger amount of delinquent mortgage loans may result in us having to repurchase or substitute loans that we have sold in the secondary market.

Market interest rates declined significantly during the pandemic, but we expect that the temporary reduction of interest rates to near zero will be reversed, with the Federal Reserve now signaling its concerns with respect to inflation and announcing that it will begin to taper its purchases of mortgage and other bonds. The timing and impact of this expected reversal in interest rates trends is unknown. The lower interest rate environment has negatively affected our interest rate margin and, especially if prolonged, could adversely affect our net interest income and profitability. Further, the pandemic could cause us to recognize impairment of our goodwill and other financial assets, may increase our cost of capital, may prevent us from satisfying our minimum regulatory capital ratios and other supervisory requirements, and could result in a downgrade in our credit ratings. The negative economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially if prolonged, may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

To protect the health and safety of our employees and communities, many of our employees have been working remotely. We may experience increased costs of operations or other operational difficulties, including increased cybersecurity risk, due to the remote working environments of our employees. We may also experience additional operational risk due to difficulties
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experienced by our vendors. The effects of the pandemic and measures taken in response may subject us to increased risk of litigation and governmental and regulatory scrutiny.

Given the ongoing and dynamic nature of the circumstances, it is not possible to accurately predict the extent, severity or duration of the pandemic or when normal economic and operating conditions will resume. Even after the pandemic has subsided, we may continue to experience adverse impacts to our business as a result of the virus’s impact on the domestic and global economy. Accordingly, the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic may affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows (including without limitation our liquidity, regulatory capital ratios and credit ratings) is highly uncertain, unpredictable and depends on factors including, among other things, new information that may emerge regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the duration and severity of the pandemic, the availability and efficacy of vaccines, the emergence of variant strains of the virus and responses to the pandemic by the government, businesses and consumers.

Deterioration in economic conditions may materially adversely affect the financial services industry and our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Our business activities and earnings are affected by general business conditions in the United States and abroad, including factors such as the level and volatility of short-term and long-term interest rates, inflation, home prices, unemployment and underemployment levels, bankruptcies, household income, consumer spending, fluctuations in both debt and equity capital markets, liquidity of the global financial markets, the availability and cost of capital and credit, investor sentiment and confidence in the financial markets, and the strength of the domestic economies in which we operate. The deterioration of any of these conditions can adversely affect our consumer and commercial businesses and securities portfolios, our level of charge-offs and provision for credit losses, our capital levels and liquidity, and our results of operations.

As a lending institution, our business is directly affected by the ability of our borrowers to repay their loans, as well as by the value of collateral, such as real estate, that secures many of our loans. Any economic deterioration from current levels or slowing of current economic activity could lead to an increase in loan charge-offs and negatively affect consumer confidence as well as the level of business activity. Net charge-offs totaled $21.5 million in 2021 from $40.3 million in 2020. Our balance of non-performing loans and other real estate owned (“OREO”) was $74.4 million and $4.3 million, respectively, at December 31, 2021 compared to $127.5 million and $16.6 million, respectively, at December 31, 2020. Deterioration in the economy and real estate markets, higher inflation, rising interest rates or increased unemployment rates, particularly in the markets in which we operate, will likely diminish the ability of our borrowers to repay loans that we have made to them, decrease the value of any collateral securing such loans and may cause increases in delinquencies, problem assets, charge-offs and provision for credit losses, all of which could materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. Further, the underwriting and credit monitoring policies and procedures that we have adopted may not prevent losses that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Since our business is concentrated in the Chicago metropolitan and southern Wisconsin market areas, economic declines in the economy of this region could adversely affect our business.

Except for our premium finance business and certain other niche businesses, our success depends primarily on the general economic conditions of the specific local markets in which we operate. Unlike larger national or other regional banks that are more geographically diversified, we provide banking and financial services to customers primarily in the Chicago metropolitan and southern Wisconsin market areas. The local economic conditions in these areas significantly impact the demand for our products and services as well as the ability of our customers to repay loans, the value of the collateral securing loans and the stability of our deposit funding sources.

In addition, the State of Illinois has experienced significant financial difficulty in recent years. To the extent that these issues impact the economic vitality of the state and the businesses operating in Illinois, businesses may be encouraged to leave the state or new employers may be discouraged to start or move businesses to Illinois, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

Climate change manifesting as transition, physical or other risks could adversely affect our operations, businesses, customers, reputation and financial condition.

There is an increasing concern over the risks of climate change and related environmental sustainability matters. The physical risks of climate change include discrete events, such as flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires, and longer-term shifts in climate patterns, such as extreme heat, sea level rise, and more frequent and prolonged drought. Such events could disrupt our operations or those of our customers or third parties on which we rely, including through direct damage to assets and indirect impacts from supply chain disruption and market volatility. Additionally, transitioning to a low-carbon economy will entail
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extensive policy, legal, technology and market initiatives. Transition risks, including changes in consumer preferences, additional regulatory requirements or taxes and additional counterparty or customer requirements, could increase our expenses, undermine our strategies and impact our financial condition. In addition, our reputation and client relationships may be damaged as a result of our practices related to climate change, including our involvement, or our clients’ involvement, in certain industries or projects associated with causing or exacerbating climate change, as well as any decisions we make to continue to conduct or change our activities in response to considerations relating to climate change. As climate risk is interconnected with all key risk types, we have begun to develop and continue to enhance processes, to embed climate risk considerations into our risk management strategies established for risks such as market, credit and operational risks; however, because the timing and severity of climate change may not be predictable, our risk management strategies may not be effective in mitigating climate risk exposure.

Risks Related to Competition and Reputation

The financial services industry is very competitive, and if we are not able to compete effectively, we may lose market share and our business could suffer.

We face competition in attracting and retaining deposits, making loans, and providing other financial services (including wealth management services) throughout our market area. Our competitors include national, regional and other community banks, and a wide range of other financial institutions such as credit unions, government-sponsored enterprises, mutual fund companies, insurance companies, factoring companies and other non-bank financial companies such as marketplace lenders and other financial technology (“FinTech”) companies. Many of these competitors have substantially greater resources and market presence or more advanced technology than Wintrust and, as a result of their size, may be able to offer a broader range of products and services, better pricing for those products and services, or newer technologies to deliver those products and services than we can. Several of our local competitors have experienced improvements in their financial condition over the past few years and are better positioned to compete for loans, acquisitions and personnel. The financial services industry could become even more competitive as a result of legislative, regulatory and technological changes and continued consolidation. For example, the Economic Growth Act and its implementing regulations significantly reduce the regulatory burden of certain large BHCs and raise the asset thresholds at which more onerous requirements apply, which could cause certain large BHCs to become more competitive or to more aggressively pursue expansion. Also, technology has lowered barriers to entry and made it possible for non-banks to offer products and services traditionally provided by banks, such as mobile payment and other automatic transfer and payment systems, and for banks that do not have a physical presence in our markets to compete for deposits. The absence of regulatory requirements may give non-bank financial companies a competitive advantage over Wintrust.

Our ability to compete successfully depends on a number of factors, including, among other things:

the ability to develop, maintain and build upon long-term customer relationships based on top quality service and high ethical standards;
the scope, relevance and pricing of products and services offered to meet customer needs and demands;
the ability to expand our market position;
the ability to uphold our reputation in the marketplace;
the rate at which we introduce new products and services relative to our competitors;
customer satisfaction with our level of service; and
industry and general economic trends.

If we are unable to compete effectively, our market share and income from deposits, loans and other products may be reduced. This could adversely affect our profitability and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Damage to our reputation may harm our business.

Maintaining trust in the Company is critical to our ability to attract and maintain customers, investors and employees. If our reputation is damaged, our business could be significantly harmed. Harm to our reputation could arise from numerous sources, including, among others, employee misconduct, security breaches, compliance failures, litigation or regulatory outcomes or governmental investigations. Our reputation could also be harmed by the failure or perceived failure of an affiliate or a vendor or other third party with which we do business, to comply with laws or regulations. In addition, our reputation or prospects could be significantly damaged by adverse publicity or negative information regarding the Company, whether or not true, that
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may be posted on social media, non-mainstream news services or other parts of the internet, and this risk can be magnified by the speed and pervasiveness with which information is disseminated through those channels.

Actions by the financial services industry generally or by certain members of or individuals in the industry can also affect our reputation. For example, the role played by financial services firms during and after the financial crisis, including concerns that consumers have been treated unfairly by financial institutions or that a financial institution had acted inappropriately with respect to the methods employed in offering products to customers, have damaged the reputation of the industry as a whole.

In addition, increased focus on environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) issues, including without limitation the impact of climate change, could damage our reputation or prospects if customers, prospective customers, investors or third parties assigning ESG ratings to the Company are of the opinion that the Company’s practices, including without limitation our lending practices, are not sufficiently robust from an ESG perspective.

Should any of these or other events or factors that can undermine our reputation occur, there is no assurance that the additional costs and expenses that we may need to incur to address the issues giving rise to the damage to our reputation would not adversely affect our earnings and results of operations, or that damage to our reputation will not impair our ability to retain our existing customers and employees or attract new customers and employees. Harm to our reputation or the reputation of our industry may also result in greater regulatory or legislative scrutiny, which may lead to changes in laws or regulations that could constrain our business or operations. Events that result in damage to our reputation may also increase our litigation risk.

Consumers may decide not to use banks to complete their financial transactions, which could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Technology and other changes are allowing parties to complete financial transactions that historically have involved banks through alternative methods. For example, consumers can now maintain funds that would have historically been held as bank deposits in brokerage accounts or mutual funds. Consumers can also complete transactions such as paying bills and transferring funds directly without the assistance of banks. The process of eliminating banks as intermediaries could result in the loss of fee income, as well as the loss of customer deposits and the related income generated from those deposits. The loss of these revenue streams and the lower cost deposits as a source of funds could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We may be adversely impacted by the soundness of other financial institutions.

Financial services institutions are interrelated as a result of trading, clearing, counterparty or other relationships. We have exposure to many different industries and counterparties and routinely execute transactions with counterparties in the financial services industry, including the Federal Home Loan Bank (“FHLB”), commercial banks, brokers and dealers, investment banks and other institutional clients. Many of these transactions expose us to credit risk as well as market and liquidity risk in the event of a default by a counterparty or client. In addition, our credit risk may be exacerbated when collateral held by us cannot be realized or is liquidated at prices not sufficient to recover the full amount due to us. Any such losses could have material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Growth and Acquisitions

If we are unable to continue to identify favorable acquisitions or successfully integrate our acquisitions, our growth may be limited and our results of operations could suffer.

In the past several years, we have completed numerous acquisitions of banks, other financial service related companies and financial service related assets, including acquisitions of troubled financial institutions, as more fully described below. We expect to continue to make such acquisitions in the future. Wintrust seeks merger or acquisition partners that are culturally similar, have experienced management, possess either significant market presence or have potential for improved profitability through financial management, economies of scale or expanded services. Failure to successfully identify and complete acquisitions may result in Wintrust achieving slower growth.

The Economic Growth Act could result in increased competition for merger or acquisition partners, potentially resulting in higher acquisition prices or an inability to complete desired acquisitions. In addition, the standards by which bank and financial institution acquisitions will be evaluated are currently in flux and some banking organizations are experiencing delays in the processing of applications. In July 2021, President Biden issued an executive order on competition that requires the banking agencies to review the standards for bank mergers and the DOJ has announced that it is reviewing its bank merger guidelines. It
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is expected that these reviews will tighten the standards for bank mergers and may change how the financial stability factor is evaluated. In addition, some members of Congress have called for a moratorium of any bank merger and acquisition of greater than $100 billion in assets. While the Company is still much smaller in asset size than $100 billion, we cannot exclude the possibility that we may be subject to higher antitrust standards, enhanced scrutiny under the financial stability risk factor, or have a potential acquisition denied.

Acquiring other banks, businesses or branches involves various risks commonly associated with acquisitions, including, among other things:

(1)potential exposure to unknown or contingent liabilities or asset quality issues of the target company;
(2)failure to adequately estimate the level of loan losses at the target company;
(3)difficulty and expense of integrating the operations and personnel of the target company;
(4)potential disruption to our business, including diversion of our management's time and attention;
(5)the possible loss of key employees and customers of the target company;
(6)difficulty in estimating the value of the target company; and
(7)potential changes in banking or tax laws or regulations that may affect the target company.

Acquisitions typically involve the payment of a premium over book and market values, and, therefore, some dilution of Wintrust’s tangible book value and net income per common share may occur as a result of any future acquisitions. In addition, certain acquisitions may expose us to additional regulatory risks, including from foreign governments. Our ability to comply with any such regulations will impact the success of any such acquisitions. Furthermore, failure to realize the expected revenue increases, cost savings, increases in geographic or product presence, and/or other projected benefits from an acquisition could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

New lines of business and new products and services are essential to our ability to compete but may subject us to additional risks.

We continually implement new lines of business and offer new products and services within existing lines of business to offer our customers a competitive array of products and services. The financial services industry is continually undergoing rapid technological change with frequent introductions of new technology-driven products and services, such as the rapid adoption of mobile payment platforms. The effective use of technology can increase efficiency and enable financial institutions to better serve customers and to reduce costs. However, some new technologies needed to compete effectively result in incremental operating costs. Our future success depends, in part, upon our ability to address the needs of our customers by using technology to provide products and services that will satisfy customer demands, as well as to create additional efficiencies in operations. Many of our competitors, because of their larger size and available capital, have substantially greater resources to invest in technological improvements. We may not be able to effectively implement new technology-driven products and services or be successful in marketing these products and services to our customers. Failure to successfully keep pace with technological change affecting the financial services industry could cause a loss of customers and have a material adverse effect on our business.

At the same time, there can be substantial risks and uncertainties associated with these efforts, particularly in instances where the markets for such services are still developing. In developing and marketing new lines of business and/or new products or services, we may invest significant time and resources. Initial timetables for the introduction and development of new lines of business and/or new products or services may not be achieved, and price and profitability targets may not prove feasible. External factors, such as compliance with regulations, competitive alternatives, and shifting market preferences, may also impact the successful implementation of a new line of business or a new product or service. Furthermore, any new line of business and/or new product or service could have a significant impact on the effectiveness of our system of internal controls. Failure to successfully manage these risks in the development and implementation of new lines of business or new products or services could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

De novo operations often involve significant expenses and delayed returns and may negatively impact Wintrust's profitability.

Our financial results have been and will continue to be impacted by our strategy of branch openings and de novo bank formations. We expect to increase the opening of additional branches and may, under certain circumstances, resume de novo bank formations. It may take longer than expected or more than the amount of time Wintrust has historically experienced for new banks and/or banking facilities to reach profitability, and there can be no guarantee that these branches or banks will ever be profitable. Moreover, the FDIC's enhanced supervisory period for de novo banks of three years, including higher capital
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requirements during this period, could also delay a new bank's ability to contribute to the Company's earnings and impact the Company's willingness to expand through de novo bank formation. To the extent we undertake additional de novo bank, branch and business formations, our level of reported net income, return on average equity and return on average assets will be impacted by startup costs associated with such operations, and it is likely to continue to experience the effects of higher expenses relative to operating income from the new operations. These expenses may be higher than we expected or than our experience has shown, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Legal and Regulatory Risks

If we fail to meet our regulatory capital ratios, we may be forced to raise capital or sell assets.

As a banking institution, we are subject to regulations that require us to maintain certain capital ratios, such as the ratio of our Tier 1 capital to our risk-based assets, and in recent years these regulatory and market expectations have increased substantially. If our regulatory capital ratios decline, as a result of decreases in the value of our loan portfolio or otherwise, we may be required to improve such ratios by either raising additional capital or by disposing of assets. If we choose to dispose of assets, we cannot be certain that we will be able to do so at prices that we believe to be appropriate, and our future operating results could be negatively affected. If we choose to raise additional capital, we may accomplish this by selling additional shares of common stock, or securities convertible into or exchangeable for common stock, which could significantly dilute the ownership percentage of holders of our common stock and cause the market price of our common stock to decline. Additionally, events or circumstances in the capital markets generally may increase our capital costs and impair our ability to raise capital at any given time.

Changes in the United States’ monetary policy may restrict our ability to conduct our business in a profitable manner.

Our ability to profitably operate is dependent, in part, upon federal fiscal policies that cannot be predicted. We are particularly affected by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve, which influence money supply in the United States. Any change in the United States’ monetary policy, or worsening federal budgetary pressures, could affect our access to capital. Additionally, any trend toward inflation, economic decline, destabilizing of financial markets, or other factors beyond our control may significantly affect consumer demand for our products and consumers’ ability to repay loans, reducing our results of operations. We cannot predict the nature or timing of future changes in monetary policies in response to the outbreak, or in a response to what is being characterized as a current inflationary environment, or the precise effects that future changes in monetary policies may have on our activities and financial results.

Legislative and regulatory actions taken now or in the future regarding the financial services industry may significantly increase our costs or limit our ability to conduct our business in a profitable manner.

We are subject to extensive federal and state regulation and supervision. The cost of compliance with such laws and regulations can be substantial and adversely affect our ability to operate profitably. While we are unable to predict the scope or impact of any potential legislation or regulatory action until it becomes final, it is possible that changes in applicable laws, regulations or interpretations thereof could significantly increase our regulatory compliance costs, impede the efficiency of our internal business processes, negatively impact the recoverability of certain of our recorded assets, require us to increase our regulatory capital, interfere with our executive compensation plans, or limit our ability to pursue business opportunities in an efficient manner including our plan for de novo growth and growth through acquisitions.

Both the scope of the laws and regulations and the intensity of the supervision to which our business is subject have increased in recent years, in response to the financial crisis as well as other factors such as technological and market changes. For example, as cybersecurity and data privacy risks for banking organizations and the broader financial system have significantly increased in recent years, cybersecurity and data privacy issues have become the subject of increasing legislative and regulatory focus. For example, in June of 2018, the Governor of California signed into law the CCPA. The CCPA, which became effective on January 1, 2020, applies to for-profit businesses that conduct business in California and meet certain revenue or data collection thresholds. For more information regarding data privacy laws and regulations, see “Protection of Client Information” under Supervision and Regulation in Item 1.

Regulatory enforcement and fines have also increased across the banking and financial services sector. Many of these changes have occurred as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act and its implementing regulations, most of which are now in place. We expect that our business will remain subject to extensive regulation and supervision.

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In addition, we expect that the Biden Administration and the Democratically-controlled Congress will continue to seek to implement a regulatory reform agenda that is significantly different than that of the Trump Administration. This reform agenda could include a heightened focus on the regulation of loan portfolios and credit concentrations to borrowers impacted by climate change, heightened scrutiny on Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering requirements, topics related to social equity, executive compensation, and increased capital and liquidity, as well as limits on share buybacks and dividends. In addition, mergers and acquisitions could be dampened by increased antitrust scrutiny. We also expect reform proposals for the short-term wholesale markets. At this time, we are unable to assess which, if any of these policies, would be implemented and what their impact on the Company's business, financial condition or results of operations would be.

Financial reform legislation and increased regulatory rigor around consumer protection mortgage-related issues may reduce our ability to market our products to consumers and may limit our ability to profitably operate our mortgage business.

The CFPB has broad rulemaking authority over a wide range of federal consumer protection laws applicable to the business of our subsidiary banks and some other operating subsidiaries, including the authority to prohibit “unfair, deceptive or abusive” acts and practices, but examination and supervision of our subsidiary banks is carried out by the primary federal banking agency and, where applicable, the state banking agency. Consumer protection is an area of heightened regulatory focus, and the CFPB has promulgated a number of specific regulatory requirements in this area. These rules have increased and may further increase the costs of doing business for all market participants, including our subsidiaries.

In particular, the mortgage-related rules issued by the CFPB have materially restructured the origination, servicing and securitization of residential mortgages in the United States. These rules have impacted, and will continue to impact, the business practices of mortgage lenders, including the Company. For example, in order to ensure compliance with mortgage-related rules issued by the CFPB, the Company consolidated its consumer mortgage loan origination and loan servicing operations within Wintrust Mortgage.

In the wake of the mortgage crisis of 2007-2008, the CFPB and federal and state banking agencies are closely examining the mortgage and mortgage servicing activities of depository financial institutions. Should these or other agencies have serious concerns with respect to our operations in this regard, the effect of such concerns could have a material adverse effect on our profits.

Federal, state and local consumer lending laws may restrict our ability to originate certain mortgage loans or increase our risk of liability with respect to such loans and could increase our cost of doing business.

Federal, state and local laws have been adopted that are intended to eliminate certain lending practices considered “predatory.” These laws prohibit practices such as steering borrowers away from more affordable products, selling unnecessary insurance to borrowers, repeatedly refinancing loans and making loans without a reasonable expectation that the borrowers will be able to repay the loans irrespective of the value of the underlying property. The CFPB has promulgated many mortgage-related rules since it was established under the Dodd-Frank Act, including rules relating to the ability to repay loans and relating to qualified mortgage standards. Most of these mortgage-related rules have been adopted, although portions of certain of these rules have not yet become effective. In addition, several proposed revisions to mortgage-related rules are pending finalization. We may find it necessary to tighten our mortgage loan underwriting standards in response to the CFPB rules, which may constrain our ability to make loans consistent with our business strategies. It is our policy not to make predatory loans and to determine borrowers' ability to repay, but the law and related rules create the potential for increased liability with respect to our lending and loan investment activities. They increase our cost of doing business and, ultimately, may prevent us from making certain loans and cause us to reduce the average percentage rate or the points and fees on loans that we do make. In addition, regulation related to redlining, fair lending, CRA compliance and BSA compliance create significant burdens which necessitate increased costs. Any failure to comply with any of these regulations could have a significant impact on our ability to operate, our ability to acquire or open new banks and/or result in meaningful fines.

Regulatory initiatives regarding bank capital requirements may require heightened capital.

The U.S. Basel III Rule, as well as other aspects of current or proposed regulatory or legislative changes to laws applicable to banking organizations, have increased our compliance costs, impacted the profitability of our business activities and may change certain of our business practices, including the ability to offer new products, obtain financing, attract deposits, make loans, and achieve satisfactory interest spreads, and could expose us to additional costs, including increased compliance costs. These changes also may require us to invest significant management attention and resources to make any necessary changes to
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operations in order to comply, and could therefore also materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our ability to engage in capital distributions, including paying dividends or repurchasing stock, may be restricted if we do not maintain the required Capital Conservation Buffer. In addition, we anticipate that our pro forma capital ratios will be an important factor considered by the Federal Reserve in evaluating whether proposed payments of dividends or stock repurchases are consistent with its prudential expectations. For more information regarding capital requirements, see “Capital Requirements of the Company and Subsidiary Banks” under Supervision and Regulation in Item 1.

Our FDIC insurance premiums may increase, which could negatively impact our results of operations.

Insured institution failures leading up to and following the financial crisis, as well as deterioration in banking and economic conditions, significantly increased FDIC loss provisions, resulting in a decline of its deposit insurance fund to historical lows at the peak of the crisis. In response, the Dodd-Frank Act and FDIC regulations changed the assessment base for federal deposit insurance from the amount of insured deposits to average total consolidated assets less average tangible capital, eliminated the maximum size of the DIF, eliminated the requirement that the FDIC pay dividends to depository institutions when the reserve ratio exceeds certain thresholds, and increased the minimum reserve ratio of the DIF from 1.15% to 1.35%. These developments also caused our FDIC insurance premiums to increase. There is a risk that the banks' deposit insurance premiums will increase in the future if failures of insured depository institutions once again deplete the DIF. Any such increase may negatively impact our financial condition and results of operations.

Non-compliance with the USA PATRIOT Act, BSA or other laws and regulations could result in fines or sanctions.

The USA PATRIOT Act and the BSA require financial institutions to develop programs to prevent financial institutions from being used for money laundering or the funding of terrorist activities. If such activities are detected, financial institutions are obligated to file suspicious activity reports with FinCEN. These rules require certain financial institutions to establish procedures for identifying and verifying the identity of customers seeking to open new accounts. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in fines or sanctions. An increasing number of banking institutions have received large fines for non-compliance with these laws and regulations. Although we have developed policies and procedures designed to assist in compliance with these laws and regulations, no assurance can be given that these policies and procedures will be effective in preventing violations of these laws and regulations.

We are subject to claims and legal actions that could negatively affect our results of operations or financial condition.

Periodically, as a result of our normal course of business, we are involved in claims and related litigation from our customers, employees or other parties. These claims and legal actions, whether meritorious or not, as well as reviews, investigations and proceedings by governmental and self-regulatory agencies could involve large monetary claims and significant legal expense. In addition, such actions may negatively impact our reputation in the marketplace and lessen customer demand. If such claims and legal actions are not decided in Wintrust's favor, our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely impacted.

We are subject to examinations and challenges by tax authorities that may impact our financial results.

In the normal course of business, we, as well as our subsidiaries, are routinely subject to examinations from federal and state tax authorities regarding the amount of taxes due in connection with investments we have made and the businesses in which we have engaged. Recently, federal and state tax authorities have become increasingly aggressive in challenging tax positions taken by financial institutions. These tax positions may relate to among other things tax compliance, sales and use, franchise, gross receipts, payroll, property and income tax issues, including tax base, apportionment and tax credit planning. The challenges made by tax authorities may result in adjustments to the timing or amount of taxable income or deductions or the allocation of income among tax jurisdictions. If any such challenges are made and are not resolved in our favor, they could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

Changes in federal and state tax laws and changes in interpretation of existing laws can impact our financial results.

The federal government enacted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) on December 22, 2017, and given the changing economic and political environment and ongoing budgetary pressures, the enactment of further new federal or state tax legislation may occur. The enactment of such legislation, or changes in the interpretation of existing law, including provisions
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impacting tax rates, apportionment, consolidation or combination, income, expenses, credits and exemptions may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Changes in accounting policies or accounting standards could materially adversely affect how we report our financial results and financial condition.

Our accounting policies are fundamental to understanding our financial results and financial condition. Some of these policies require use of estimates and assumptions that affect the value of our assets or liabilities and financial results. Some of our accounting policies are critical because they require management to make difficult, subjective and complex judgments about matters that are inherently uncertain and because it is likely that materially different amounts would be reported under different conditions or using different assumptions. If such estimates or assumptions underlying our financial statements are incorrect, we may experience material losses. From time to time, the FASB and the SEC change the financial accounting and reporting standards that govern the preparation of our financial statements. These changes, such as the CECL standard adopted on January 1, 2020, can be hard to predict and could materially impact how we record and report our financial condition and results of operations. In some cases, we could be required to apply a new or revised standard retroactively, resulting in the restatement of prior period financial statements.

Changes in U.S. trade policies, including the imposition of tariffs and retaliatory tariffs, may adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

There continues to be discussion and dialogue in the U.S. government regarding potential changes to U.S. trade policies, legislation, treaties and tariffs, including trade policies and tariffs affecting other countries, including China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico and retaliatory tariffs by such countries. Tariffs and retaliatory tariffs have been imposed, and additional tariffs and retaliatory tariffs have been proposed. Such tariffs, retaliatory tariffs or other trade restrictions on products and materials that our customers import or export could cause the prices of our customers’ products to increase, which could reduce demand for such products, or reduce our customers’ margins, and adversely impact their revenues, financial results and ability to service debt. This in turn, could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, to the extent changes in the political environment have a negative impact on us or on the markets in which we operate our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely impacted. It remains unclear what the U.S. government or foreign governments will or will not do with respect to tariffs already imposed, additional tariffs that may be imposed, or international trade agreements and policies. It is also unclear what changes, if any, to U.S. trade policy will be made by the Biden Administration and Congress, particularly in light of the mid-term elections in 2022.

On October 1, 2018, the United States, Canada and Mexico agreed to a new trade deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. On January 29, 2020, then-President Trump signed the USMCA into law. The full impact of the USMCA on us, our customers and on the economic conditions in the markets in which we operate is currently unknown. Changes to the terms upon which the United States, Mexico and Canada trade could negatively affect our customers or the U.S. economy or certain sectors thereof and, thus, adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Lending Operations

If our allowance for credit losses is not sufficient to absorb losses that may occur in our loan portfolio, our financial condition and liquidity could suffer.

We maintain an allowance for credit losses that is intended to absorb expected lifetime credit losses related to our loan portfolio, off-balance sheet credit exposures and held-to-maturity debt securities portfolio. At each balance sheet date, our management determines the amount of the allowance for credit losses based on our estimate of expected credit losses over the life of the related asset with consideration of historical credit losses, current economic conditions and reasonable and supportable forecasts.

Because our allowance for credit losses represents an estimate of lifetime losses, there is no certainty that it will be adequate over time to cover credit losses in the portfolios, particularly if there are changes in expectations of general economic or market conditions, or events that adversely affect specific customers. In 2021, we charged off $21.5 million in loans (net of recoveries) and decreased our allowance for credit losses from $379.9 million at December 31, 2020 to $299.7 million at December 31, 2021. Our allowance for loan and unfunded lending-related commitment losses represents 0.86% and 1.18% of total loans outstanding at December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively.
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Although we believe our allowance for credits losses is adequate to absorb estimated credit losses in our loan portfolio, if our estimates are inaccurate and our actual credit losses exceed the amount that is anticipated, or if the forecasts and assumptions used in calculating our reserves are significantly different from those we actually experience, our financial condition and liquidity could be materially adversely affected.

For more information regarding our allowance for loan losses, see “Loan Portfolio and Asset Quality” under Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in Item 7.

As a participating lender in the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”), the Company and its banks are subject to additional risks of litigation from the banks’ customers or other parties regarding the banks’ processing of loans for the PPP and risks that the SBA may not fund some or all PPP loan guaranties.

From April 3, 2020 through the end of the program in the second quarter of 2021, we originated over 19,400 PPP loans with a carrying balance totaling approximately $4.8 billion. As of December 31, 2021, the carrying balance of such loans was reduced to approximately $558.3 million primarily resulting from forgiveness by the SBA. The PPP program expired on May 31, 2021.

Since the launch of the PPP, several other larger banks have been subject to litigation regarding the process and procedures that such banks used in processing applications for the PPP, as well as litigation regarding the alleged nonpayment of fees that may be due to certain agents who facilitated PPP loan applications. Although many of these lawsuits have subsequently been dismissed, the Company and the banks may be exposed to the risk of litigation, from both customers and non-customers that approached the banks regarding PPP loans, regarding its process and procedures used in processing applications for the PPP. If any such litigation is filed against the Company or its banks and is not resolved in a manner favorable to the Company or the banks, such litigation may result in significant financial liability or adversely affect the Company’s reputation. The Company and one of its banks were named as defendants in a putative class action, which has been dismissed with prejudice, regarding the alleged nonpayment of agency fees.

Regardless of outcome, litigation can be costly and divert the Company’s attention and resources. Any financial liability, litigation costs or reputational damage caused by PPP related litigation could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

PPP loans are fixed, low interest rate loans that are guaranteed by the SBA and subject to numerous other regulatory requirements, and a borrower may apply to have all or a portion of the loan forgiven. If PPP borrowers fail to qualify for loan forgiveness, banks face a heightened risk of holding these loans at unfavorable interest rates for an extended period of time. While the PPP loans are guaranteed by the SBA, various regulatory requirements will apply to banks’ ability to seek recourse under the guarantees, and related procedures are subject to uncertainty.

Participating banks also have credit risk with respect to PPP loans if a determination is made by the SBA that there is a deficiency in the manner in which the loan was originated, funded, or serviced by the banks, such as an issue with the eligibility of a borrower to receive a PPP loan, which may or may not be related to the ambiguity in the laws, rules and guidance regarding the operation of the PPP. In the event of a loss resulting from a default on a PPP loan and a determination by the SBA that there was a deficiency in the manner in which a PPP loan was originated, funded, or serviced by the Company, the SBA may deny its liability under the guaranty, reduce the amount of the guaranty, or, if it has already paid under the guaranty, seek recovery of any loss related to the deficiency from the Company.

A significant portion of our loan portfolio is comprised of commercial loans, the repayment of which is largely dependent upon the financial success and economic viability of the borrower.

The repayment of our commercial loans is dependent upon the financial success and viability of the borrower. If the economy weakens for a prolonged period or experiences deterioration or if the industry or market in which the borrower operates weakens, our borrowers may experience depressed or dramatic and sudden decreases in revenues that could hinder their ability to repay their loans. Excluding PPP loans that include a guarantee from the SBA, our commercial loan portfolio totaled $11.3 billion or 33% of our total loan portfolio, at December 31, 2021, compared to $9.2 billion, or 29% of our total loan portfolio, at December 31, 2020.

Commercial loans are secured by different types of collateral related to the underlying business, such as accounts receivable, inventory and equipment. Should a commercial loan require us to foreclose on the underlying collateral, the unique nature of the collateral may make it more difficult and costly to liquidate, thereby increasing the risk to us of not recovering the principal
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amount of the loan. Accordingly, our business, results of operations and financial condition may be materially adversely affected by defaults in this portfolio.

A substantial portion of our loan portfolio is secured by real estate, in particular commercial real estate. Deterioration in the real estate markets could lead to additional losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

As of both December 31, 2021 and 2020, approximately 34% and 36%, respectively, of our total loan portfolio was secured by real estate, the majority of which is commercial real estate. The commercial and residential real estate market continues to experience a variety of difficulties, including the Chicago metropolitan area and southern Wisconsin, in which a majority of our real estate loans are concentrated. Increases in commercial and consumer delinquency levels or declines in real estate market values would require increased net charge-offs and increases in the allowance for loan and lease losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Events impacting collateral consisting of real property could lead to additional losses which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

Many of the loans in our portfolio are secured by real estate located in the Chicago metropolitan area. Any declines in economic conditions, including inflation, recession, unemployment, changes in securities markets or other factors impacting these local markets could, in turn, have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Deterioration in the real estate markets where collateral for our mortgage loans is located could adversely affect the borrower's ability to repay the loan and the value of the collateral securing the loan, and in turn the value of our assets. In addition, any natural disasters or severe weather events have the potential to damage our real estate collateral. Climate change could have an impact on longer-term natural weather trends and increase the occurrence and severity of such adverse weather events.

Any inaccurate assumptions in our analytical and forecasting models could cause us to miscalculate our projected revenue, capital, liquidity or losses, which could adversely affect our financial condition.

We use analytical and forecasting models to estimate the effects of economic conditions on our loan portfolio and probable loan performance. Those models reflect certain assumptions about market forces, including interest rates and consumer behavior that may be incorrect. If our analytical and forecasting models’ underlying assumptions are incorrect, improperly applied, or otherwise inadequate, we may suffer deleterious effects such as higher than expected loan losses, lower than expected net interest income, lower than expected liquidity, lower than expected capital or unanticipated charge-offs, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We are subject to environmental liability risk associated with lending activities.

A significant portion of the Company's loan portfolio is secured by real property. In the ordinary course of business, the Company may foreclose on and take title to properties securing certain loans. In doing so, there is a risk that hazardous or toxic substances could be found on these properties. If hazardous or toxic substances are found, the Company may be liable for remediation costs, as well as for personal injury and property damage. In addition, we own and operate a number of properties that may be subject to similar environmental liability risks.

Environmental laws may require the Company to incur substantial expenses and could materially reduce the affected property's value or limit the Company's ability to use or sell the affected property. The costs associated with investigation and remediation activities could be substantial. In addition, if we are the owner or former owner of a contaminated site, we may be subject to common law claims by third parties based on damages and costs resulting from environmental contamination emanating from the property. Although the Company has policies and procedures to perform an environmental review before initiating any foreclosure action on real property, these reviews may not be sufficient to detect all potential environmental hazards. The remediation costs and any other financial liabilities associated with an environmental hazard could have a material adverse effect on the Company's business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Our Niche Businesses

Our premium finance business may involve a higher risk of delinquency or collection than our other lending operations, and could expose us to losses.

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We provide financing for the payment of property and casualty insurance premiums and life insurance premiums on a national basis through FIRST Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance, respectively, and financing for the payment of property and casualty insurance premiums in Canada through our wholly-owned subsidiary, FIFC Canada. Property and casualty insurance premium finance loans involve a different, and possibly higher, risk of delinquency or collection than life insurance premium finance loans and the loan portfolios of our bank subsidiaries because these loans are issued primarily through relationships with a large number of unaffiliated insurance agents and because the borrowers are located nationwide. As a result, risk management and general supervisory oversight may be difficult. As of December 31, 2021, we had $4.9 billion of property and casualty insurance premium finance loans outstanding, of which $4.2 billion related to the Company's U.S. operations at FIRST Insurance Funding and $677.0 million related to the Company's Canadian operations at FIFC Canada. Together, these loans represented 14% of our total loan portfolio as of such date.

FIRST Insurance Funding and FIFC Canada may also be more susceptible to third party fraud with respect to property and casualty insurance premium finance loans because these loans are originated and many times funded through relationships with unaffiliated insurance agents and brokers. In the second quarter of 2010, for example, fraud perpetrated against a number of premium finance companies in the industry, including the property and casualty division of FIRST Insurance Funding, increased both the Company's net charge-offs and provision for credit losses by $15.7 million. Acts of fraud are difficult to detect and deter, and we cannot assure investors that our risk management procedures and controls will prevent losses from fraudulent activity.

Wintrust Life Finance may be exposed to the risk of loss in our life insurance premium finance business because of fraud. While Wintrust Life Finance maintains a policy prohibiting the known financing of stranger-originated life insurance and has established procedures to identify and prevent the company from financing such policies, Wintrust Life Finance cannot be certain that it will never provide loans with respect to such a policy. In the event such policies were financed, a carrier could potentially put at risk the cash surrender value of a policy, which serves as Wintrust Life Finance's primary collateral, by challenging the validity of the insurance contract for lack of an insurable interest.

See the below risk factor “Widespread financial difficulties or credit downgrades among commercial and life insurance providers could lessen the value of the collateral securing our premium finance loans and impair the financial condition and liquidity of FIRST Insurance Funding, Wintrust Life Finance and FIFC Canada” for a discussion of further risks associated with our insurance premium finance activities.

While FIRST Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance are licensed as required and carefully monitor compliance with regulation of each of their businesses, there can be no assurance that either will not be negatively impacted by material changes in the regulatory environment. FIFC Canada is not required to be licensed in most provinces of Canada, but there can be no assurance that future regulations which impact the business of FIFC Canada will not be enacted.

Additionally, to the extent that affiliates of insurance carriers, banks, and other lending institutions add greater service and flexibility to their financing practices in the future, our competitive position and results of operations could be adversely affected. Wintrust Life Finance's life insurance premium finance business could be materially negatively impacted by changes in the federal or state estate tax provisions. There can be no assurance that FIRST Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance will be able to continue to compete successfully in its markets.

Widespread financial difficulties or credit downgrades among commercial and life insurance providers could lessen the value of the collateral securing our premium finance loans and impair the financial condition and liquidity of FIRST Insurance Funding, Wintrust Life Finance and FIFC Canada.

FIRST Insurance Funding, Wintrust Life Finance and FIFC Canada's premium finance loans are primarily secured by the insurance policies financed by the loans. These insurance policies are written by a large number of insurance companies geographically dispersed throughout the country. Our premium finance receivables balances finance insurance policies that are spread among a large number of insurers, however, the top three insurers represents approximately 14%, 6% and 5% of such balances. FIRST Insurance Funding, Wintrust Life Finance and FIFC Canada consistently monitor carrier ratings and financial performance of our carriers. While FIRST Insurance Funding, Wintrust Life Finance and FIFC Canada can mitigate its risks as a result of this monitoring to the extent that commercial or life insurance providers experience widespread difficulties or credit downgrades, the value of our collateral will be reduced. FIRST Insurance Funding, Wintrust Life Finance and FIFC Canada are also subject to the possibility of insolvency of insurance carriers in the commercial and life insurance businesses that are in possession of our collateral. If one or more large nationwide insurers were to fail, the value of our portfolio could be significantly negatively impacted. A significant downgrade in the value of the collateral supporting our premium finance
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business could impair our ability to create liquidity for this business, which, in turn could negatively impact our ability to expand.

Our wealth management business in general, and Wintrust Investments’ brokerage operation, in particular, exposes us to certain risks associated with the securities industry.

Our wealth management business in general, and Wintrust Investments' brokerage operations in particular, present special risks not borne by community banks that focus exclusively on community banking. For example, the brokerage industry is subject to fluctuations in the stock market that may have a significant adverse impact on transaction fees, customer activity and investment portfolio gains and losses. Likewise, additional or modified regulations may adversely affect our wealth management operations. Each of our wealth management operations is dependent on a small number of professionals whose departure could result in the loss of a significant number of customer accounts. A significant decline in fees and commissions or trading losses suffered in the investment portfolio could adversely affect our results of operations. In addition, we are subject to claim arbitration risk arising from customers who claim their investments were not suitable or that their portfolios were inappropriately traded. These risks increase when the market, as a whole, declines. The risks associated with retail brokerage may not be supported by the income generated by our wealth management operations.

Risks Related to Financial Strength and Liquidity

Changes in prevailing interest rates could adversely affect our net interest income, which is our largest source of income.

We are exposed to interest rate risk in our core banking activities of lending and deposit taking, since changes in prevailing interest rates affect the value of our assets and liabilities. Such changes may adversely affect our net interest income, which is the difference between interest income and interest expense. Our net interest income is affected by the fact that assets and liabilities reprice at different times and by different amounts as interest rates change. Net interest income represents our largest component of net income, and was $1.1 billion and $1.0 billion for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively.

Each of our businesses may be affected differently by a given change in interest rates. For example, we expect that the results of our mortgage banking business in selling loans into the secondary market could be negatively impacted during periods of rising interest rates, whereas falling interest rates could have a negative impact on the net interest spread earned on deposits as we would be unable to lower the rates on many interest bearing deposit accounts of our customers to the same extent as many of our higher yielding asset classes.

Additionally, increases in interest rates may adversely influence the growth rate of loans and deposits, the quality of our loan portfolio, loan and deposit pricing, the volume of loan originations in our mortgage banking business and the value that we can recognize on the sale of mortgage loans in the secondary market.

In response to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve lowered its target for the federal funds rate to a range of 0% to 0.25%. While interest rates remain low, the Federal Reserve is expected to begin raising interest rates during 2022. We cannot predict the nature or timing of future changes in monetary policies or the precise effects that they may have on our activities and financial results.

We seek to mitigate our interest rate risk through several strategies, which may not be successful. With the relatively low interest rates that prevailed in recent years, we were able to augment the total return of our investment securities portfolio by selling call options on fixed-income securities that we own. We recorded fee income of approximately $3.7 million, $2.3 million and $3.7 million for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. We also mitigate our interest rate risk by entering into interest rate swaps and other interest rate derivative contracts from time to time with counterparties. To the extent that the market value of any derivative contract moves to a negative market value, we are subject to loss if the counterparty defaults. In the future, there can be no assurance that such mitigation strategies will be available or successful or that we will be successful in implementing any new mitigation strategies necessary to address the current rising interest rate environment. In addition, transactions entered into as part of mitigation strategies employed to mitigate risks associated with a prolonged low interest rate environment could be less beneficial or result in losses if interest rates continue to rise.

Our liquidity position may be negatively impacted if economic conditions do not improve or if they decline.

Liquidity is a measure of whether our cash flows and liquid assets are sufficient to satisfy current and future financial obligations, such as demand for loans, deposit withdrawals and operating costs. Our liquidity position is affected by a number of factors, including the amount of cash and other liquid assets on hand, payment of interest and dividends on debt and equity
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instruments that we have issued, capital we inject into our bank subsidiaries, proceeds we raise through the issuance of securities, our ability to draw upon our revolving credit facility and dividends received from our banking subsidiaries. Our future liquidity position may be adversely affected by multiple factors, including:

if our banking subsidiaries report net losses or their earnings are weak relative to our cash flow needs;
if it is necessary for us to make capital injections to our banking subsidiaries;
if changes in regulations require us to maintain a greater level of capital, as more fully described below;
if we are unable to access our revolving credit facility due to a failure to satisfy financial and other covenants; or
if we are unable to raise additional capital on terms that are satisfactory to us.

Weakness or worsening of the economy, real estate markets or unemployment levels may increase the likelihood that one or more of these events will occur. If our liquidity is adversely affected, it may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

An actual or perceived reduction in our financial strength may cause others to reduce or cease doing business with us, which could result in a decrease in our net interest income and fee revenues.

Our customers rely upon our financial strength and stability and evaluate the risks of doing business with us. If we experience diminished financial strength or stability, actual or perceived, including due to market or regulatory developments, announced or rumored business developments or results of operations, or a decline in stock price, customers may withdraw their deposits or otherwise seek services from other banking institutions and prospective customers may select other service providers. The risk that we may be perceived as less creditworthy relative to other market participants is increased in the current market environment, where the consolidation of financial institutions, including major global financial institutions, is resulting in a smaller number of much larger counterparties and competitors. As our community banks become more closely identified with the Wintrust name, the impact of any perceived weakness or creditworthiness at either the holding company or our community banks may be greater than in prior periods. If customers reduce their deposits with us or select other service providers for all or a portion of the services that we provide them, net interest income and fee revenues will decrease accordingly, and could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

If our credit rating is lowered, our financing costs could increase.

As of December 31, 2021, we have been rated by Fitch Ratings as "BBB+" and DBRS as "A (low)". A credit rating is not a recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities and may be subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the assigning rating organization.

Our creditworthiness is not fixed and should be expected to change over time as a result of company performance and industry conditions. We cannot give any assurances that our credit ratings will remain at current levels, and it is possible that our ratings could be lowered or withdrawn by Fitch Ratings or DBRS. Any actual or threatened downgrade or withdrawal of our credit rating could affect our perception in the marketplace and our ability to raise capital, and could increase our debt financing costs.

If our growth requires us to raise additional capital, that capital may not be available when it is needed or the cost of that capital may be very high.

We are required by regulatory authorities to maintain adequate levels of capital to support our operations (see “ - Risks Related to Our Regulatory Environment - If we fail to meet our regulatory capital ratios, we may be forced to raise capital or sell assets”) and as we grow, internally and through acquisitions, the amount of capital required to support our operations grows as well. We may need to raise additional capital to support continued growth both internally and through acquisitions. Any capital we obtain may result in the dilution of the interests of existing holders of our common stock.

Our ability to raise additional capital, if needed, will depend on conditions in the capital markets at that time which are outside our control and on our financial condition and performance. If we cannot raise additional capital when needed, or on terms acceptable to us, our ability to further expand our operations through internal growth and acquisitions could be materially impaired and our financial condition and liquidity could be materially and negatively affected.

Disruption in the financial markets could result in lower fair values for our investment securities portfolio.

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The Company's available-for-sale debt and trading securities as well as certain equity securities are carried at fair value.

Accounting standards require the Company to categorize these securities according to a fair value hierarchy. As of December 31, 2021, approximately 96% of the Company's available-for-sale debt securities and equity securities with a readily determinable fair value were categorized in level 1 or 2 of the fair value hierarchy (meaning that their fair values were determined by unadjusted quoted prices in active markets for identical assets, quoted prices for similar assets or other observable inputs). Significant prolonged reduced investor demand could manifest itself in lower fair values for these securities and may result in recognition of an other-than-temporary or permanent impairment of available-for-sale debt securities and unrealized losses of equity securities with a readily determinable fair value recognized in earnings, which could lead to accounting charges and have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial condition and results of operations.

The remaining securities in our available-for-sale debt securities and equity securities with a readily determinable fair value portfolios were categorized as level 3 (meaning that their fair values were determined by inputs that are unobservable in the market and therefore require a greater degree of management judgment). The determination of fair value for securities categorized in level 3 involves significant judgment due to the complexity of factors contributing to the valuation, many of which are not readily observable in the market. In addition, the nature of the business of the third party source that is valuing the securities at any given time could impact the valuation of the securities. Consequently, the ultimate sales price for any of these securities could vary significantly from the recorded fair value at December 31, 2021, especially if the security is sold during a period of illiquidity or market disruption or as part of a large block of securities under a forced transaction.

There can be no assurance that decline in market value of available-for-sale debt securities and equity securities with a readily determinable fair value associated with these disruptions will not result in credit or permanent impairments, and unrealized losses, respectively, of these assets, which would lead to accounting charges which could have a material negative effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We are a bank holding company, and our sources of funds, including to pay dividends, are limited.

We are a bank holding company and our operations are primarily conducted by and through our 15 operating banks, which are subject to significant federal and state regulation. Cash available to pay dividends to our shareholders, repurchase our shares or repay our indebtedness is derived primarily from dividends received from our banks and our ability to receive dividends from our subsidiaries is restricted. Various statutory provisions restrict the amount of dividends our banks can pay to us without regulatory approval. The banks may not pay cash dividends if that payment could reduce the amount of their capital below that necessary to meet the “adequately capitalized” level in accordance with regulatory capital requirements. It is also possible that, depending upon the financial condition of the banks and other factors, regulatory authorities could conclude that payment of dividends or other payments, including payments to us, is an unsafe or unsound practice and impose restrictions or prohibit such payments. Our inability to receive dividends from our banks could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Uncertainty about the future of LIBOR may adversely affect our business.

We have derivative contracts, borrowings, variable rate loans and other financial instruments with attributes that are either directly or indirectly dependent on the LIBOR. Central banks around the world, including the Federal Reserve, have commissioned committees and working groups of market participants and official sector representatives to replace LIBOR and replace or reform other interest rate benchmarks. The publication of most LIBOR rates ceased as of the end of December 2021. While certain U.S. dollar LIBOR tenors are expected to continue to be published until June 30, 2023, the U.S. banking agencies have encouraged banks to cease entering into new contracts referencing LIBOR no later than December 31, 2021. A transition away from the widespread use of LIBOR to alternative rates and other potential interest rate benchmark reforms has begun and will continue over the course of the next few years. These reforms may cause such rates to perform differently than in the past, or to disappear entirely, or have other consequences which cannot be predicted.

While there is no consensus on what rate or rates may become accepted alternatives to LIBOR, a group of market participants convened by the Federal Reserve, the Alternative Reference Rate Committee (“ARRC”), has selected the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) as its recommended alternative to LIBOR. SOFR is a broad measure of the cost of overnight borrowings collateralized by Treasury securities that was selected due to the depth and robustness of the U.S. Treasury repurchase market. At this time, it is impossible to predict whether SOFR will become an accepted alternative to LIBOR. Further, the Bank of England has commenced publication of a reformed Sterling Overnight Index Average (“reformed SONIA”), comprised of a broader set of overnight Sterling money market transactions, as of April 23, 2018. Reformed SONIA has been recommended as the alternative to Sterling LIBOR by the Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates.

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Although SOFR appears to be the preferred replacement rate for U.S dollar LIBOR, it is unclear if other benchmarks may emerge or if other rates will be adopted outside of the United States. We cannot predict what effect any such alternatives will have on the value of LIBOR-based securities or financial arrangements, including the Company’s Series D Preferred Stock, junior subordinated debentures or other securities or financial arrangements, given LIBOR’s role in determining market interest rates globally. Uncertainty as to the nature of alternative reference rates and as to potential changes or other reforms to LIBOR may adversely affect LIBOR rates and other interest rates. In the event that a published LIBOR rate is unavailable after 2021, the dividend rate on the Company’s Series D Preferred Stock, which currently is based on the LIBOR rate, will be determined as set forth in the accompanying offering documents, and the value of such securities may be adversely affected.

We anticipate significant operational challenges for the transition away from LIBOR including, but not limited to, amending existing loan agreements with borrowers on loans that may have not been modified with fallback language and adding effective fallback language to new agreements in the event that LIBOR is discontinued before maturity. In addition, the transition away from LIBOR could prompt inquiries or other actions from regulators in respect of the Company’s preparation and readiness for the replacement of LIBOR with an alternative reference rate, as well as result in disputes, litigation or other actions with counterparties regarding the interpretation and enforceability of certain fallback language in LIBOR-based contracts and securities. Currently, the manner and impact of this transition and related developments, as well as the effect of these developments on our funding costs, loan, derivative and investment portfolios, asset-liability management and business, is uncertain.

Risks Related to General Operations

Our controls and procedures may fail or be circumvented.

Management regularly reviews and updates our internal controls over financial reporting, disclosure controls and procedures and corporate governance policies and procedures. Any system of controls, however well-designed and operated, is based in part on certain assumptions and can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurances that the objectives of the system are met. Any circumvention of our controls and procedures or failure to comply with regulations related to controls and procedures could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our operational or security systems or infrastructure, or those of third parties, could fail or be breached, which could disrupt our business and adversely impact our results of operations, liquidity and financial condition, as well as cause legal or reputational harm.

The potential for operational risk exposure exists throughout our business and, as a result of our interactions with, and reliance on, third parties, is not limited to our own internal operational functions. Our operational and security systems and infrastructure, including our computer systems, data management, and internal processes, as well as those of third parties, are integral to our performance. We rely on our employees and third parties in our day-to-day and ongoing operations, who may, as a result of human error, misconduct, malfeasance or failure, or breach of our or of third-party systems or infrastructure, expose us to risk. For example, our ability to conduct business may be adversely affected by any significant disruptions to us or to third parties with whom we interact or upon whom we rely. In addition, our ability to implement backup systems and other safeguards with respect to third-party systems is more limited than with respect to our own systems. Our financial, accounting, data processing, backup or other operating or security systems and infrastructure may fail to operate properly or become disabled or damaged as a result of a number of factors, including events that are wholly or partially beyond our control, which could adversely affect our ability to process transactions or provide services. Such events may include sudden increases in customer transaction volume; electrical, telecommunications or other major physical infrastructure outages; natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods; disease pandemics; and events arising from local or larger scale political or social matters, including wars and terrorist acts. In addition, we may need to take our systems offline if they become infected with malware or a computer virus or as a result of another form of cyber-attack. In the event that backup systems are utilized, they may not process data as quickly as our primary systems and some data might not have been saved to backup systems, potentially resulting in a temporary or permanent loss of such data. We frequently update our systems to support our operations and growth and to remain compliant with all applicable laws, rules and regulations. This updating entails significant costs and creates risks associated with implementing new systems and integrating them with existing ones, including business interruptions. Implementation and testing of controls related to our computer systems, security monitoring and retaining and training personnel required to operate our systems also entail significant costs. Operational risk exposures could adversely impact our results of operations, liquidity and financial condition, as well as cause reputational harm. In addition, we may not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate for losses from a major interruption.

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We face security risks, including denial of service attacks, hacking, social engineering attacks targeting our colleagues and customers, malware intrusion and data corruption attempts, in addition to the resulting identity theft that could result in the disclosure of confidential information, all of which could adversely affect our business or reputation, and create significant legal and financial exposure.

Our computer systems and network infrastructure and those of third parties, on which we are highly dependent, are subject to security risks and could be susceptible to cyberattacks, such as denial of service attacks, hacking, terrorist activities or identity theft. Our business relies on the secure processing, transmission, storage and retrieval of confidential, personal, proprietary and other information in our computer and data management systems and networks, and in the computer and data management systems and networks of third parties. In addition, to access our network, products and services, our customers and other third parties may use personal mobile devices or computing devices that are outside of our network environment and are subject to their own cybersecurity risks.

We, our customers, regulators and other third parties, including other financial services institutions and companies engaged in data processing, have been subject to, and are likely to continue to be the target of, cyber-attacks. These cyber-attacks include computer viruses, malicious or destructive code, phishing attacks, denial of service or information, ransomware, improper access by employees or vendors, attacks on personal email of employees, ransom demands to not expose security vulnerabilities in our systems or the systems of third parties or other security breaches that could result in the unauthorized release, gathering, monitoring, misuse, loss or destruction of confidential, proprietary and other information of ours, our employees, our customers or of third parties, damage to our systems or other material disruption of our or our customers’ or other third parties’ network access or business operations. As cyber threats continue to evolve, we may be required to expend significant additional resources to continue to modify or enhance our protective measures or to investigate and remediate any information security vulnerabilities or incidents. Despite efforts to ensure the integrity of our systems and implement controls, processes, policies and other protective measures, we may not be able to anticipate all security breaches, nor may we be able to implement guaranteed preventive measures against such security breaches. Cyber threats are rapidly evolving and we may not be able to anticipate or prevent all such attacks and could be held liable for any security breach or loss.

Cybersecurity risks for banking organizations have significantly increased in recent years in part because of the proliferation of new technologies, and the use of the internet and telecommunications technologies to conduct financial transactions. For example, cybersecurity risks may increase in the future as we continue to increase our mobile-payment and other internet-based product offerings and expand our internal usage of web-based products and applications. In addition, cybersecurity risks have significantly increased in recent years in part due to the increased sophistication and activities of organized crime affiliates, terrorist organizations, hostile foreign governments, disgruntled employees or vendors, activists and other external parties, including those involved in corporate espionage. Even the most advanced internal control environment may be vulnerable to compromise. Targeted social engineering attacks and "spear phishing" attacks are becoming more sophisticated and are extremely difficult to prevent. In such an attack, an attacker will attempt to fraudulently induce colleagues, customers or other users of our systems to disclose sensitive information in order to gain access to its data or that of its clients. Persistent attackers may succeed in penetrating defenses given enough resources, time, and motive. The techniques used by cyber criminals change frequently and may not be recognized until launched or until well after a breach has occurred. The risk of a security breach caused by a cyber-attack at a vendor or by unauthorized vendor access has also increased in recent years. Additionally, the existence of cyber-attacks or security breaches at third-party vendors with access to our data may not be disclosed to us in a timely manner.

We also face indirect technology, cybersecurity and operational risks relating to the customers, clients and other third parties with whom we do business or upon whom we rely to facilitate or enable our business activities, including, for example, financial counterparties, regulators and providers of critical infrastructure such as internet access and electrical power. As a result of increasing consolidation, interdependence and complexity of financial entities and technology systems, a technology failure, cyber-attack or other information or security breach that significantly degrades, deletes or compromises the systems or data of one or more financial entities could have a material impact on counterparties or other market participants, including us. This consolidation, interconnectivity and complexity increases the risk of operational failure, on both individual and industry-wide bases, as disparate systems need to be integrated, often on an accelerated basis. Any third-party technology failure, cyber-attack or other information or security breach, termination or constraint could, among other things, adversely affect our ability to effect transactions, service our clients, manage our exposure to risk or expand our business.

Cyber-attacks or other information or security breaches, whether directed at us or third parties, may result in a material loss or have material consequences. Furthermore, the public perception that a cyber-attack on our systems has been successful, whether or not this perception is correct, may damage our reputation with customers and third parties with whom we do business. Hacking of personal information and identity theft risks, in particular, could cause serious reputational harm. A successful
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penetration or circumvention of system security could cause us serious negative consequences, including our loss of customers and business opportunities, significant disruption to our operations and business, misappropriation or destruction of our confidential information and/or that of our customers, or damage to our or our customers’ and/or third parties’ computers or systems, and could result in a violation of applicable privacy laws and other laws, litigation exposure, regulatory fines, penalties or intervention, remediation costs, loss of confidence in our security measures, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensatory costs, remediation costs, additional compliance costs, and could adversely impact our results of operations, liquidity and financial condition.

Our vendors may be responsible for failures that adversely affect our operations.

We use and rely upon many external vendors to provide us with day-to-day products and services essential to our operations. We are thus exposed to risk that such vendors will not perform as contracted or at agreed-upon service levels. The failure of our vendors to perform as contracted or at necessary service levels for any reason could disrupt our operations, which could adversely affect our business. In addition, if any of our vendors experience insolvency or other business failure, such failure could affect our ability to obtain necessary products or services from a substitute vendor in a timely and cost-effective manner or prevent us from effectively pursuing certain business objectives entirely. Our failure to implement business objectives due to vendor nonperformance could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

We issue debit cards, and debit card transactions pose a particular cybersecurity risk that is outside of our control.

Debit card numbers are susceptible to theft at the point of sale via the physical terminal through which transactions are processed and by other means of hacking. The security and integrity of these transactions are dependent upon retailers’ vigilance and willingness to invest in technology and upgrades. Despite third-party security risks that are beyond our control, we offer our customers protection against fraud and attendant losses for unauthorized use of debit cards in order to stay competitive in the marketplace. Offering such protection to our customers exposes us to potential losses which, in the event of a data breach at one or more retailers of considerable magnitude, may adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

We depend on the accuracy and completeness of information we receive about our customers and counterparties to make credit decisions.

We rely on information furnished by or on behalf of customers and counterparties in deciding whether to extend credit or enter into other transactions. This information could include financial statements, credit reports, and other financial information. We also rely on representations of those customers, counterparties, or other third parties, such as independent auditors, as to the accuracy and completeness of that information. Reliance on inaccurate or misleading financial statements, credit reports, or other financial information could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

If we are unable to attract and retain experienced and qualified personnel, our ability to provide high quality service will be diminished, we may lose key customer relationships, and our results of operations may suffer.

We believe that our future success depends, in part, on our ability to attract and retain experienced personnel, including our senior management and other key personnel. Our business model is dependent upon our ability to provide high quality and personal service. In addition, as a holding company that conducts its operations through our subsidiaries, we are focused on providing entrepreneurial-based compensation to the chief executives of each our business units. As a Company with start-up and growth oriented operations, we are cognizant that to attract and retain the managerial talent necessary to operate and grow our businesses we often have to compensate our executives with a view to the business we expect them to manage, rather than the size of the business they currently manage. Accordingly, any executive compensation restrictions may negatively impact our ability to retain and attract senior management. The departure of a senior manager or other key personnel may damage relationships with certain customers, or certain customers may choose to follow such personnel to a competitor. The loss of any of our senior managers or other key personnel, or our inability to identify, recruit and retain such personnel, could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Losses incurred in connection with actual or projected repurchases and indemnification payments related to mortgages that we have sold into the secondary market may exceed our financial statement reserves and we may be required to increase such reserves in the future. Increases to our reserves and losses incurred in connection with actual loan repurchases and indemnification payments could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
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We engage in the origination and purchase of residential mortgages for sale into the secondary market. In connection with such sales, we make certain representations and warranties, which, if breached, may require us to repurchase such loans, substitute other loans or indemnify the purchasers of such loans for actual losses incurred in respect of such loans. We receive requests for loan repurchases and indemnification payments relating to the representations and warranties with respect to such loans. We have been able to reach settlements with a number of purchasers, and believe that we have established appropriate reserves with respect to indemnification requests. It is possible that the number of such requests will increase or that we will not be able to reach settlements with respect to such requests in the future. Accordingly, it is possible that losses incurred in connection with loan repurchases and indemnification payments may be in excess of our financial statement reserves, and we may be required to increase such reserves and may sustain additional losses associated with such loan repurchases and indemnification payments in the future. Increases to our reserves and losses incurred by us in connection with actual loan repurchases and indemnification payments in excess of our reserves could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

Our business could be adversely affected by the occurrence of extraordinary events, such as acts of war, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and public health threats.

An act of war, terrorist activity, including acts of domestic terrorism, a major epidemic or pandemic, natural disaster, or the threat of such an event or other public health threat, could adversely affect our customers and our business. Such events could significantly impact the demand for our products and services as well as the ability of our customers to repay loans, affect the stability of our deposit base, impair the value of the collateral securing loans, adversely impact our employee base, cause significant property damage, result in loss of revenue, and cause us to incur additional expenses. Additionally, financial markets may be adversely affected by the current or anticipated impact of military conflict, including escalating military tension between Russia and Ukraine, terrorism or other geopolitical events. The occurrence or threat of any such extraordinary event could result in a material negative effect on our business and results of operations.

Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock

Anti-takeover provisions could negatively impact our shareholders.

Certain provisions of our articles of incorporation, by-laws and Illinois law may have the effect of impeding the acquisition of control of Wintrust by means of a tender offer, a proxy fight, open-market purchases or otherwise in a transaction not approved by our board of directors. For example, our board of directors may issue additional authorized shares of our capital stock to deter future attempts to gain control of Wintrust, including the authority to determine the terms of any one or more series of preferred stock, such as voting rights, conversion rates and liquidation preferences. As a result of the ability to fix voting rights for a series of preferred stock, the board has the power, to the extent consistent with its fiduciary duty, to issue a series of preferred stock to persons friendly to management in order to attempt to block a merger or other transaction by which a third party seeks control, and thereby assist the incumbent board of directors and management to retain their respective positions. In addition, our articles of incorporation expressly elect to be governed by the provisions of Section 7.85 of the Illinois Business Corporation Act, which would make it more difficult for another party to acquire us without the approval of our board of directors.

The ability of a third party to acquire us is also limited under applicable banking regulations. The BHC Act requires any “bank holding company” (as defined in the BHC Act) to obtain the approval of the Federal Reserve prior to acquiring more than 5% of our outstanding common stock. Any person other than a bank holding company is required to obtain prior approval of the Federal Reserve to acquire 10% or more of our outstanding common stock under the Change in Bank Control Act of 1978. Any holder of 25% or more of our outstanding common stock, other than an individual, is subject to regulation as a “bank holding company” under the BHC Act. For purposes of calculating ownership thresholds under these banking regulations, bank regulators would generally take the position that the maximum number of shares of Wintrust common stock that a holder is entitled to receive pursuant to securities convertible into or settled in Wintrust common stock, including pursuant to any warrants to purchase Wintrust common stock held by such holder, must be taken into account in calculating a shareholder's aggregate holdings of Wintrust common stock.

These provisions may have the effect of discouraging a future takeover attempt that is not approved by our board of directors but which our individual shareholders may deem to be in their best interests or in which our shareholders may receive a substantial premium for their shares over then-current market prices. As a result, shareholders who might desire to participate in such a transaction may not have an opportunity to do so. Such provisions will also render the removal of our current board of directors or management more difficult.
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ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

The Company’s executive offices are located at 9700 W. Higgins Road, Rosemont, Illinois as well as additional nearby corporate office locations at 9701 W. Higgins Road, Rosemont, Illinois and 9801 W. Higgins Road, Rosemont, Illinois. The Company also leases office locations and retail space at 231 S. LaSalle Street in downtown Chicago and at 731 N. Jackson Street in downtown Milwaukee. The Company’s community banking segment operates through 173 banking facilities, the majority of which are owned. The Company owns 228 automatic teller machines, the majority of which are housed at banking locations. The banking facilities are located in communities throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, southern Wisconsin and northwest Indiana as well as one banking location in Naples, Florida. Excess space in certain properties is leased to third parties. Wintrust Mortgage, also of our banking segment, is headquartered in our corporate headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois and has 40 locations in 11 states, all of which are leased, as well as office locations at several of our banks.

The Company’s wealth management subsidiaries has one location in downtown Chicago, one in Appleton, Wisconsin, and one in Tampa, Florida, all of which are leased, as well as office locations at several of our banks. FIRST Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance have one location in Northbrook, Illinois which is owned and locations in downtown Newark, New Jersey, Long Island, New York and Newport Beach, California, all of which are leased. FIFC Canada has three locations in Canada that are leased, located in Toronto, Ontario; Wainwright, Alberta; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Wintrust Asset Finance is located in our corporate headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois and has locations in Frisco, Texas, Mishawaka, Indiana, and Irvine, California, all of which are leased. Tricom has one location in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin which is owned. In addition, the Company owns other real estate acquired for further expansion that, when considered in the aggregate, is not material to the Company’s financial position.

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

The information required by this item is set forth in Part II, Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data, under Note 20, “Commitments and Contingencies”.

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

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PART II

ITEM 5.MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
The Company’s common stock is traded on The NASDAQ Global Select Stock Market under the symbol WTFC.

Performance Graph

The following performance graph compares the five-year percentage change in the Company’s cumulative shareholder return on common stock compared with the cumulative total return on composites of (1) all NASDAQ Global Select Market stocks for United States companies (broad market index) and (2) all NASDAQ Global Select Market bank stocks (peer group index). Cumulative total return is computed by dividing the sum of the cumulative amount of dividends for the measurement period and the difference between the Company’s share price at the end and the beginning of the measurement period by the share price at the beginning of the measurement period. The NASDAQ Global Select Market for United States companies’ index comprises all domestic common shares traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and the NASDAQ Small-Cap Market. The NASDAQ Global Select Market bank stocks index comprises all banks traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and the NASDAQ Small-Cap Market.

This graph and other information furnished in the section titled “Performance Graph” under this Part II, Item 5 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K shall not be deemed to be “soliciting” materials or to be “filed” with the SEC or subject to Regulation 14A or 14C, or to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, as amended.
wtfc-20211231_g1.jpg
201620172018201920202021
Wintrust Financial Corporation100.00 114.36 93.14 100.75 88.89 134.32 
NASDAQ — Total US100.00 121.38 114.78 150.55 182.57 229.84 
NASDAQ — Bank Index100.00 118.39 98.98 135.78 118.40 162.58 
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Approximate Number of Equity Security Holders

As of February 10, 2022, there were approximately 1,659 shareholders of record of the Company’s common stock.

Dividends on Common Stock

The Company’s Board of Directors approved the first semi-annual dividend on the Company’s common stock in January 2000 and continued to approve a semi-annual dividend until quarterly dividends were approved starting in 2014. The payment of dividends is subject to statutory restrictions and restrictions arising under the terms of the Company's Fixed-to-Floating Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series D (the “Series D Preferred Stock”), the terms of the Company’s Fixed-Rate Reset Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series E (the “Series E Preferred Stock”), the terms of the Company’s Trust Preferred Securities offerings and under certain financial covenants in the Company’s revolving and term facilities. Under the terms of these separate revolving and term facilities entered into on September 18, 2018, the Company is prohibited from paying dividends on any equity interests, including its common stock and preferred stock, if such payments would cause the Company to be in default under its facilities or exceed a certain threshold.

The following is a summary of the cash dividends paid in 2021 and 2020:

Record Date  Payable Date  Dividend per Share
November 11, 2021  November 26, 2021  $0.31
August 5, 2021  August 19, 2021  $0.31
May 6, 2021  May 20, 2021  $0.31
February 11, 2021  February 25, 2021  $0.31
November 12, 2020  November 27, 2020  $0.28
August 6, 2020  August 20, 2020  $0.28
May 7, 2020May 21, 2020$0.28
February 6, 2020February 20, 2020$0.28

On January 27, 2022, Wintrust Financial Corporation announced that the Company’s Board of Directors approved a quarterly cash dividend of $0.34 per share of outstanding common stock. The dividend was paid on February 24, 2022 to shareholders of record as of February 10, 2022.

The final determination of timing, amount and payment of dividends is at the discretion of the Company's Board of Directors and will depend on the Company's earnings, financial condition, capital requirements and other relevant factors. Because the Company’s consolidated net income consists largely of net income of the banks and certain wealth management subsidiaries, the Company’s ability to pay dividends generally depends upon its receipt of dividends from these entities. The Company's and the banks’ ability to pay dividends is subject to banking laws, regulations and policies. See “Supervision and Regulation - Payment of Dividends and Share Repurchases” in Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. During 2021, 2020 and 2019, the banks and certain wealth management subsidiaries paid $145.0 million, $253.0 million and $139.0 million, respectively, in dividends to the Company.

Reference is also made to Note 19 to the Consolidated Financial Statements, and “Liquidity and Capital Resources” contained in Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a description of the restrictions on the ability of certain subsidiaries to transfer funds to the Company in the form of dividends.

44


Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Our previously authorized share repurchase program permitted the repurchase of up to $125 million of our common stock. On October 28, 2021, the Board of Directors of the Company authorized the repurchase of up to $200 million of the Company’s outstanding shares of common stock. This authorization is incremental to the remaining authorization of approximately $23 million under the previous program, which the Board approved in 2019. The repurchase authorization does not have an expiration date. In 2021, the Company repurchased approximately $9.5 million of the Company's common stock on the open market.

The table below provides information of such repurchases by month in 2021.

Month PeriodTotal Number of Shares PurchasedAverage Price Paid Per ShareTotal Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or ProgramsMaximum Dollar Value that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs (in thousands)
January 1, 2021 to January 31, 2021$— $32,944 
February 1, 2021 to February 28, 2021— 32,944 
March 1, 2021 to March 31, 2021— 32,944 
April 1, 2021 to April 30, 2021— 32,944 
May 1, 2021 to May 31, 2021— 32,944 
June 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021— 32,944 
July 1, 2021 to July 31, 202140,00070.93 40,00030,107 
August 1, 2021 to August 31, 202194,06271.25 94,06223,405 
September 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021— 23,405 
October 1, 2021 to October 31, 2021 (1)
— 223,405 
November 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021 (1)
— 223,405 
December 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 (1)
— 223,405 
Total134,062$71.16 134,062$223,405 
(1)Maximum dollar value that may yet be purchased includes the October 28, 2021 increase in authorization.

ITEM 6.[Reserved]

45


ITEM 7.MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following discussion highlights the significant factors affecting the operations and financial condition of Wintrust for the three years ended December 31, 2021. The detailed financial discussion focuses on 2021 results compared to 2020. This discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes thereto within this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

For a discussion of 2020 results compared to 2019, refer to Part II, Item 7, “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of the Wintrust Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020 filed on February 26, 2021.

OPERATING SUMMARY

Wintrust’s key measures of profitability and balance sheet changes are shown in the following table:
 Years Ended
December 31,
Percentage % or
Basis Point (bp)
Change
Percentage % or
Basis Point (bp)
Change
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data)2021202020192020 to 20212019 to 2020
Net income$466,151 $292,990 $355,697 59%(18)%
Pre-tax income, excluding provision for credit losses (non-GAAP) (2)
578,533 604,001 533,965 (4)13
Net income per common share — Diluted7.58 4.68 6.03 62(22)
Net revenue (1)
1,711,077 1,644,096 1,462,091 412
Net interest income1,124,957 1,039,907 1,054,919 8(1)
Net interest margin2.57 %2.72 %3.45 %(15) bp(73) bp
Net interest margin - fully taxable-equivalent (non-GAAP) (2)
2.58 2.73 3.47 (15)(74)
Net overhead ratio (3)
1.17 1.05 1.57 12(52)
Non-interest income to average assets1.25 1.46 1.23 (21)23
Non-interest expense to average assets2.42 2.51 2.79 (9)(28)
Return on average assets1.00 0.71 1.07 29(36)
Return on average common equity11.27 7.50 10.41 377(291)
Return on average tangible common equity (non-GAAP) (2)
13.83 9.54 13.22