SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
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Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐
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 ☐
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.
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 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
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 definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
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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 control 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.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes
The aggregate market value of the Common Stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant on June 30, 2020, based on the closing price of $10.25 of such shares on that date, was $
The number of shares of the Common Stock issued and outstanding as of February 22, 2021 was
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
The information required by Part III is incorporated by reference to portions of the definitive proxy statement to be filed within 120 days after December 31, 2020, pursuant to Regulation 14A under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 in connection with the annual meeting of stockholders to be held on April 27, 2021.
Table of Contents
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements concerning plans, estimates, calculations, forecasts and projections with respect to the anticipated future performance of the Company. These statements are often, but not always, identified by words such as “may”, “might”, “should”, “could”, “predict”, “potential”, “believe”, “expect”, “continue”, “will”, “anticipate”, “seek”, “estimate”, “intend”, “plan”, “projection”, “would”, “annualized”, “target” and “outlook”, or the negative version of those words or other comparable words of a future or forward-looking nature. Forward-looking statements are neither historical facts nor assurances of future performance. Instead, they are based only on our current beliefs, expectations and assumptions regarding our business, future plans and strategies, projections, anticipated events and trends, the economy and other future conditions. Because forward-looking statements relate to the future, they are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict and many of which are outside of our control. The actual results and financial condition may differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. Therefore, you should not rely on any of these forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause our actual results and financial condition to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements include, among others, the following:
|●||loan concentrations in our loan portfolio;|
|●||the overall health of the local and national real estate market;|
|●||business and economic conditions generally and in the financial services industry, nationally and within our market area;|
|●||the ability to successfully manage credit risk;|
|●||the ability to maintain an adequate level of allowance for loan losses;|
|●||new or revised accounting standards, including as a result of the implementation of the new Current Expected Credit Loss standard;|
|●||the concentration of large loans to certain borrowers;|
|●||the ability to successfully manage liquidity risk;|
|●||the dependence on non-core funding sources and our cost of funds;|
|●||the concentration of large deposits from certain clients;|
|●||the ability to raise additional capital to implement our business plan;|
|●||the ability to implement our growth strategy and manage costs effectively;|
|●||the composition of senior leadership team and the ability to attract and retain key personnel;|
|●||the occurrence of fraudulent activity, breaches or failures of our information security controls or cybersecurity-related incidents;|
|●||interruptions involving our information technology and telecommunications systems or third-party servicers;|
|●||competition in the financial services industry;|
|●||severe weather, natural disasters, wide spread disease or pandemics (including the COVID-19 pandemic), acts of war or terrorism, civil unrest or other adverse external events;|
|●||developments and uncertainty related to the future use and availability of some reference rates, such as the London Interbank Offered Rate, as well as other alternative reference rates;|
|●||the effectiveness of the risk management framework;|
|●||the commencement and outcome of litigation and other legal proceedings and regulatory actions against us;|
|●||the extensive regulatory framework that applies to us;|
|●||the impact of recent and future legislative and regulatory changes;|
|●||interest rate risk;|
|●||fluctuations in the values of the securities held in our securities portfolio; and|
|●||the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its effects on the economic environment, our clients and our operations, as well as any changes to federal, state or local government laws, regulations or orders in connection with the pandemic.|
The foregoing factors should not be construed as exhaustive and should be read together with the other cautionary statements included in this report. In addition, past results of operations are not necessarily indicative of future results. Any forward-looking statement made by us in this report is based only on information currently available to us and speaks only as of the date on which it is made. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
Company Overview and History
Bridgewater Bancshares, Inc. (the “Company”) is a Minnesota corporation and financial holding company with two wholly-owned subsidiaries, Bridgewater Bank (the “Bank”) and Bridgewater Risk Management, Inc., a captive insurance entity. The Bank has formed two wholly-owned subsidiaries: BWB Holdings, LLC, which was formed for the purpose of holding repossessed property; and Bridgewater Investment Management, Inc., which was formed for the purposes of holding certain municipal securities and engaging in municipal lending activities. The Bank has seven full-service offices located in Bloomington, Greenwood, Minneapolis (2), St. Louis Park, Orono, and St. Paul, Minnesota.
The Company is headquartered in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a suburb located approximately 5 miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis. The Company and Bank were established in 2005 as a de novo bank by a group of industry veterans and local business leaders committed to serving the diverse needs of commercial real estate investors, small business entrepreneurs, and high net worth individuals.
During the third quarter of 2020, the Company opened its newly constructed office complex in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The Company relocated its headquarters from Bloomington, Minnesota and relocated its current branch location in St. Louis Park to the new office complex.
Since inception, the Company has grown significantly and profitably, with a focus on organic growth, driven primarily by commercial real estate lending. Assets have grown at a compounded annual growth rate of 34.3%, since 2005, surpassing total asset milestones of $500 million in 2013, $1.0 billion in 2016 and $2.0 billion in 2019. While this growth has been almost entirely organic, in 2016, the Company acquired First National Bank of the Lakes in a complementary small bank acquisition, which added approximately $76.1 million in assets, $66.7 million in seasoned core deposits and two branch locations within its market area.
As of December 31, 2020, total assets were $2.93 billion, total gross loans were $2.33 billion, total deposits were $2.50 billion, and total shareholders’ equity was $265.4 million.
The principal sources of funds for loans and investments are transaction, savings, time, and other deposits, and short-term and long-term borrowings. The Company’s principal sources of income are interest and fees collected on loans, interest and dividends earned on investment securities and service charges. The Company’s principal expenses are interest paid on deposit accounts and borrowings, employee compensation and other overhead expenses. The Company’s simple, efficient business model of providing responsive support and unconventional experiences to clients continues to be the underlying principle that drives the Company’s profitable growth.
Market Area and Competition
The Company operates in the Twin Cities MSA, which had total deposits of $218.0 billion as of June 30, 2020, and ranks as the 14th largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States in total deposits, and the third largest metropolitan statistical area in the Midwest in total deposits, based on Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, data. This area is commonly known as the “Twin Cities” after its two largest cities, Minneapolis, the city with the largest population in the state, and St. Paul, which is the state capital.
The Twin Cities MSA is defined by attractive market demographics, including strong household incomes, dense populations, a resilient employee base and the presence of a diverse group of large and small businesses. As of December 31, 2020, the Company’s market ranked second in median household income in the Midwest and eighth in the nation, when compared to the top 20 metropolitan statistical areas by population size in each area, based on data available on S&P Global Market Intelligence. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the population in the Twin Cities MSA was approximately 3.7 million as of December 31, 2020, making it the third largest metropolitan statistical area in the Midwest and 16th largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States. The resilient employee base continues to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, as reflected by an unemployment rate meaningfully lower than the national average at 4.5% as of December 31, 2020. While no market has been immune to the pandemic, the significant presence of national and international businesses across diverse industries operating within the Twin Cities MSA was critical in allowing the market to navigate the fluid environment.
The Company operates in a competitive market area and competes with other, often much larger, retail and commercial banks and financial institutions. Two large, national banking chains, Wells Fargo and US Bank, together controlled 68.1% of the deposit market share in the Twin Cities MSA as of June 30, 2020, based on FDIC data and as displayed in the table below. By comparison, as of the same date, the Company had a deposit market share of approximately 1.1%, which ranked the Company ninth in the Twin Cities MSA overall and fourth in the Twin Cities MSA among banks headquartered in Minnesota.
Wells Fargo & Co
TCF Financial Corp.
Bank of Montreal
Otto Bremer Trust
Ameriprise Financial, Inc.
Bank of America Corp.
Old National Bancorp
Bridgewater Bancshares, Inc.
Top 10 Institutions
Total Bank Deposits
The market has experienced disruption in recent years due to acquisitions of local institutions by larger regional banks headquartered outside of the market. The Company seeks to attract customers by offering a higher level of responsiveness and by providing a more tailored array of products and services than larger competitors.
Products and Services
The Company offers a full array of simple, quality loan and deposit products primarily for commercial clients. While the Company provides products and services that compete with those offered by large, national and regional competitors, the Company additionally offers responsive support and personalized solutions tailored for each client. The Company emphasizes customer service over price, and believes in providing distinguishing levels of client service
through the experience of employees, the responsiveness and certainty of the credit process and the efficiency with which business is conducted. The Company believes that clients notice a difference in service compared to the much larger institutions in the market. The Company has built a strong referral network that continually provides opportunities with new client relationships. At this time, the Company does not operate any non-depository business lines such as mortgage, wealth management or trust.
Lending. The Bank focuses primarily on commercial lending, consisting of loans secured by nonfarm, nonresidential properties, loans secured by multifamily residential properties, nonowner occupied single family residential properties, construction loans, land development loans and commercial and industrial loans. The Bank has a particular niche in multifamily financing which has historically represented approximately 20-30% of the loan portfolio. This asset class has performed extremely well and has lower historical loss rates when compared to other loan types. Commercial real estate loans (excluding multifamily and construction) consist of owner and nonowner occupied properties. This portfolio segment is well diversified with loans secured by office buildings, retail strip centers, industrial properties, senior housing and hospitality properties and mixed-use properties. In addition to loans secured by improved commercial real estate properties, the Bank engages in construction lending, which includes single family residential construction loans, land development, finished lots and raw land loans, and commercial and multifamily construction.
In recent years, the Bank has increased its focus on commercial and industrial lending. This portfolio includes a mix of term equipment loans, revolving lines of credit and lease transactions to support the needs of local businesses. Additionally, the Bank has a niche within the tax credit investment market whereby it bridges equity capital receivables on various tax credit projects.
The Bank focuses on lending to borrowers located or investing in the Twin Cities MSA across a diverse range of industries and property types. The Bank does not generally lend outside of its market, however, as a relationship lender, it will, from time to time, finance properties located outside of Minnesota for its existing local clients in select situations.
Growth over the last several years has been partially attributable to the Bank’s ability to cultivate relationships with certain individuals and businesses that have resulted in a concentration of large loans to a small number of borrowers. The Bank has established an informal, internal limit on a single loan to finance one transaction, but may, under certain circumstances, consider going above this internal limit in situations where management’s understanding of the industry, the borrower’s financial condition, overall credit quality and property fundamentals are commensurate with the increased size of the relationship.
Deposits. The Bank has developed a suite of deposit products targeted at commercial clients, including a variety of remote deposit and cash management products, along with commercial transaction accounts. The Bank also offers consumers traditional retail deposit products through the branch network, along with online, mobile and direct banking channels. Many of the deposits do not require a branch visit, creating efficiencies across the Bank’s branch network.
The Bank has developed relationships with certain individuals and businesses that have resulted in a concentration of large deposits from a small number of clients. As of December 31, 2020, the 10 largest depositor relationships accounted for approximately 22.1% of total deposits. This high concentration of depositors presents a risk to liquidity if one or more of them decides to change its relationship with the Bank and to withdraw all or a significant portion of their accounts.
While the Bank is committed to growing core deposits, brokered deposits are used as a strategic component of the funding strategy and interest rate risk management. The Bank’s Asset Liability Management, or ALM, Committee monitors the size of this portfolio. As core deposits have grown, brokered deposits have remained a consistent part of the portfolio.
As the Company seeks to continue to grow the business, the following strengths are believed to provide a competitive advantage over other financial institutions operating in its market area:
Commercial Banking Expertise. Management believes the Company has earned the reputation as one of the prominent commercial real estate lenders in the Twin Cities MSA due in large part to the strength of the lending team. The Company has an experienced, professional team of 25 lenders, and believes the ability to drive quality, commercial loan growth is a result of being able to provide each client with access to a knowledgeable, experienced, responsive and dedicated banker. Due to their market knowledge and understanding of clients’ businesses, the lenders are well positioned to provide timely and relevant feedback to clients. Management believes the responsive credit culture separates the Company from competitors.
Multifamily Lending Niche. The Company specializes in multifamily lending, which typically represents between 20% to 30% of the total loan portfolio. We believe this lending niche lowers the risk profile of the overall loan portfolio due to its lower historical loss rates when compared to other loan types.
Engaged and Experienced Board of Directors and Management Team. The Company’s board of directors consists of highly accomplished individuals with strong industry and business experience in the market area. The combined expertise of the board of directors and the significant banking and regulatory experience of the strategic leadership team help execute the Company’s growth strategy.
The Company’s seven-person strategic leadership team has a strong balance of extensive banking and regulatory experience, drive and talent. The team has over 125 years of combined banking and financial services experience and more than 20 years of regulatory experience. Three members of the team have been leading the Bank since its formation, and with an average age of 48, this group can drive growth and strategy for years to come.
In addition to the strategic leadership team, the Company has demonstrated an ability to grow through the recruitment of high performing individuals. The Company seeks to hire people with significant in-market experience who fit the Company’s hard-working, driven culture. Through targeted hiring and internal development efforts, the Company has established a deep bench of talent to continue to grow and manage business. The Company has structured its team to prepare for long-term growth and stability by combining the experienced strategic leadership and commercial lending teams with its next generation of leaders.
Efficiency. The Company operates as an efficient organization based on a simple business model. By focusing on commercial real estate lending, employee overhead is low due to the increased loan portfolio sizes of lenders compared to smaller loan portfolio sizes typically related to other types of commercial lending. In addition, the Company serves its clients through a strategically positioned branch model, as well as through online, mobile and direct banking channels, and is not dependent on a traditional branch network with a large number of locations.
Hard-Working and Entrepreneurial Culture. The Company has developed a hard-working and entrepreneurial culture, which is a critical component for attracting and retaining experienced and talented bankers, as well as clients. The Company has established a set of core values, based on characteristics that describe and inspire the culture—unconventional, responsive, dedicated, focused on growth and accurate. To maintain the culture, all potential and current personnel evaluations include an assessment of these attributes. Clients notice the unconventional environment with dedicated employees who feel like they are part of building a high performing community bank.
Solid Asset Quality Metrics. A risk-management focused business model has contributed to solid asset quality during a period of strong loan growth and economic uncertainty. The Company diligently monitors and routinely stress tests the loan portfolio. The strong credit metrics are the result of prudent underwriting standards, experienced lenders, and close ties to and knowledge of clients.
Proactive Enterprise Risk Management. The Company’s enterprise risk management practices provide an enhanced level of oversight allowing management to be proactive rather than reactive. The Bank-level risk committee,
comprised of senior representatives from all departments, meets monthly to review the Bank’s overall enterprise risk position and to discuss how the Bank’s strategic initiatives may impact the Bank’s risk profile. Enterprise risk management reports are provided to the full Bank board on a quarterly basis. In 2016, Bridgewater Risk Management, Inc. was formed as a captive insurance subsidiary to provide supplemental insurance coverage to the Company and its subsidiaries for risk management purposes.
The Company also has a comprehensive Commercial Real Estate Portfolio Risk Management Policy which implements formal processes and procedures designed to manage and mitigate risk within the commercial real estate portfolio. This policy addresses regulatory guidelines for institutions, such as the Bank, that exhibit higher levels of commercial real estate concentrations. These processes and procedures include board and management oversight, commercial real estate exposure limits, portfolio monitoring tools, management information systems, market reports, underwriting standards, a credit risk review function and periodic stress testing to evaluate potential credit risk and the subsequent impact on capital and earnings.
Strategies for Growth
To generate future growth, the Company intends to continue to execute the strategies that it has used over the past fifteen years to achieve some of the strongest performance results in the community banking industry. These strategies include the following:
Focus on Organic Growth in the Market Area. The Company intends to continue to grow its business organically in a focused and strategic manner by leveraging its competitive strengths, including commercial banking expertise, an experienced management team, an efficient business model and strong branding, to capitalize on the opportunities in the Company’s market area. As a publicly traded but locally-headquartered community bank, the Company can go beyond what small banks can provide by offering similar sophisticated products and services to those offered by the much larger, out-of-state banks, but in a manner that is tailored to the needs of local clients in a more efficient, responsive and flexible way. Although the Company may in the future identify new markets to enter, the long-term growth potential of the current market is substantial and provides the ability to continue to grow organically in the market.
The Company plans to increase core deposits and build market share by expanding existing client relationships and by developing new deposit-focused clients. The Company plans to continue to expand its footprint through marketing and networking efforts focused on generating deposits. Although the Company is committed to growing core deposits, growth will continue to be supplemented, when necessary, with non-core, wholesale funding sources. On the lending side, the Company intends to rely on the commercial real estate lending expertise of the lenders, and believes the Company is well-positioned to continue to organically grow commercial loans based on the favorable market demographics in the Twin Cities MSA.
Leverage Entrepreneurial Culture and Talent. The Company has built a team of bankers that is hard-working, passionate and energized by the opportunities to continue to grow the Company’s business and develop its brand in the Twin Cities MSA. With an experienced strategic leadership team and a strong layer of talented middle managers, the Company is well positioned for future growth. The Company aggressively recruits qualified personnel and develops talent internally and believes the culture, which empowers employees to be entrepreneurs for the business, will allow the Company to attract and develop the talent needed to drive growth.
Consider Opportunistic Acquisitions. In addition to organic growth, from time to time, the Company may consider additional acquisition opportunities that fit with the organization. Specifically, the Company will evaluate acquisitions that would be complementary to its existing business. The Company will continue to seek acquisitions that will bolster its balance sheet in areas where the Company would like to grow or diversify, without compromising the Company’s risk profile or culture. While pursuing acquisitions that fit, the Company intends to be disciplined in its approach to pricing, new business lines and new markets. In the future, the Company may evaluate and act upon acquisition opportunities that would produce attractive returns for shareholders. Management believes that there will be further bank consolidation in the Twin Cities MSA and that the Company is well positioned to be a preferred partner for smaller institutions looking to exit through a sale to an in-market buyer.
Human Capital Resources
The Company believes that its growth and success are dependent on its ability to attract, develop, and retain a high-performing and diverse team of people. As of December 31, 2020, the Company had 185 employees, most of which are full-time employees. None of the Company’s employees is a party to a collective bargaining agreement. The Company considers the relationship with its employees to be good and has not experienced interruptions of operations due to labor disagreements.
The Company believes embracing and understanding diversity has and will continue to make the Company stronger. The Company recognizes that different perspectives enhance its thinking and improve its employees’ experience by bringing together unique backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, and experiences at the Company. The Company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee focuses on building an inclusive culture that encourages, supports and celebrates the diversity of the Company’s employees and the communities in which it serves.
Employee retention helps the Company operate efficiently and carry out its mission of being the finest entrepreneurial bank in the Twin Cities. The Company believes its commitment to its core values (Unconventional, Responsive, Dedicated, Growth and Accuracy), as well as prioritizing concern for its employees’ well-being, supporting its employees’ career goals and offering competitive wages and benefits aid in the retention of its employees.
The Company believes developing employees’ leadership skills is a critical success factor for the long-term future of the Company. The Company has a Mentorship Program which gives employees the opportunity to open the door to professional advice and constructive communication from leaders at all levels within the organization. The program provides participants with ways to build leadership skills, learn from others outside of their normal area of activity, and continue to grow both personally and professionally.
The Company strives to give back to the communities in which it operates by encouraging employees to be engaged in the communities where they live and work. To help remove roadblocks to volunteering, the Company offers a program that provides employees paid time off to volunteer at non-profit organizations of their choice (up to 16 hours). The Company is proud to support many local community organizations through financial contributions and employee-driven volunteerism.
The safety, health and wellness of employees is a top priority. During 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for the Company and its team members. In a short period of time, the Company was able to adapt in the uncertain environment by utilizing the Company’s technology, electronic banking and other digital platforms to minimize interruption to both employees and clients. In an effort to keep employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company implemented a number of new health-related measures, including protocols governing the use of face masks, enhanced cleaning procedures at the corporate and branch offices, social-distancing protocols, the use of rotational in-office work schedules and providing the ability to work from home.
The Company’s principal executive office is located at 4450 Excelsior Blvd., Suite 100, St. Louis Park, Minnesota 55416, and the telephone number at that address is (952) 893-6868. The Company relocated its principal executive office in 2020 to a site it owns in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The website address is www.investors.bridgewaterbankmn.com. The information contained on the website is not a part of, nor incorporated by reference into, this report.
All filings made by the Company with the SEC may be copied or read at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20549. Information on the operation of the Public Reference Room may be obtained by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The SEC also maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC, as the Company does. The website is www.sec.gov. The Company provides access to its Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filings through its website at www.investors.bridgewaterbankmn.com. After accessing the website, the filings are available free of charge upon selecting “Investor Relations/SEC Filings/Documents.” Reports available include the
Company’s proxy statements, annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and all amendments to those reports as soon as reasonably practicable after the documents and reports are electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC.
SUPERVISION AND REGULATION
FDIC-insured institutions, their holding companies and their affiliates are extensively regulated under federal and state law. As a result, the Company’s growth and earnings performance may be affected not only by management decisions and general economic conditions, but also by the requirements of federal and state statutes and by the regulations and policies of various bank regulatory agencies, including the Company’s primary regulator, the Federal Reserve, and the Bank’s primary federal regulator, the FDIC and primary state regulator, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Financial Institutions Division, or MDOC, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, as the regulator of consumer financial services and their providers. Furthermore, taxation laws administered by the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, and state taxing authorities, accounting rules developed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, securities laws administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, and state securities authorities, and anti-money laundering laws enforced by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, or Treasury, have an impact on the Company’s business. The effect of these statutes, regulations, regulatory policies and accounting rules are significant to the Company’s operations and results.
Federal and state banking laws impose a comprehensive system of supervision, regulation and enforcement on the operations of FDIC-insured institutions, their holding companies and affiliates that is intended primarily for the protection of the FDIC-insured deposits and depositors of banks, rather than shareholders. These laws, and the regulations of the bank regulatory agencies issued under them, affect, among other things, the scope of the Company’s business, the kinds and amounts of investments the Company and the Bank may make, reserve requirements, required capital levels relative to assets, the nature and amount of collateral for loans, the establishment of branches, the ability to merge, consolidate and acquire, dealings with the Company’s and the Bank’s insiders and affiliates and the Company’s payment of dividends. In reaction to the global financial crisis and particularly following the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or Dodd-Frank Act, the Company experienced heightened regulatory requirements and scrutiny. Although the reforms primarily targeted systemically important financial service providers, their influence filtered down in varying degrees to community banks over time and caused the Company’s compliance and risk management processes, and the costs thereof, to increase. Then, in May 2018, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, or Regulatory Relief Act, was enacted by Congress in part to provide regulatory relief for community banks and their holding companies. To that end, the law eliminated questions about the applicability of certain Dodd-Frank Act reforms to community bank systems, including relieving the Company of any requirement to engage in mandatory stress tests, maintain a risk committee or comply with the Volcker Rule’s complicated prohibitions on proprietary trading and ownership of private funds. The Company believes these reforms are favorable to its operations.
The supervisory framework for U.S. banking organizations subjects banks and bank holding companies to regular examination by their respective regulatory agencies, which results in examination reports and ratings that are not publicly available and that can impact the conduct and growth of their business. These examinations consider not only compliance with applicable laws and regulations, but also capital levels, asset quality and risk, management ability and performance, earnings, liquidity, and various other factors. The regulatory agencies generally 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.
The following is a summary of the material elements of the supervisory and regulatory framework applicable to the Company and the Bank, beginning with a discussion of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the banking industry. It does not describe all of the statutes, regulations and regulatory policies that apply, nor does it restate all of the requirements of those that are described. The descriptions are qualified in their entirety by reference to the particular statutory and regulatory provision.
The federal bank regulatory agencies, along with their state counterparts, have issued a steady stream of guidance responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and have taken a number of unprecedented steps to help banks navigate the pandemic and mitigate its impact. These include, without limitation: requiring banks to focus on business continuity and pandemic planning; adding pandemic scenarios to stress testing; encouraging bank use of capital buffers and reserves in lending programs; permitting certain regulatory reporting extensions; reducing margin requirements on swaps; permitting certain otherwise prohibited investments in investment funds; issuing guidance to encourage banks to work with customers affected by the pandemic and encourage loan workouts; and providing credit under the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) for certain pandemic-related loans, investments and public service. Because of the need for social distancing measures, the agencies revamped the manner in which they conducted periodic examinations of their regulated institutions, including making greater use of off-site reviews.
Moreover, the Federal Reserve issued guidance encouraging banking institutions to utilize its discount window for loans and intraday credit extended by its Reserve Banks to help households and businesses impacted by the pandemic and announced numerous funding facilities. The FDIC also has acted to mitigate the deposit insurance assessment effects of participating in the PPP and the Federal Reserve’s PPP Liquidity Facility and Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility.
For information on the CARES Act, PPP program and the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities and for discussions of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” In addition, information as to selected topics, such as the impact on capital requirements, dividend payments, reserves and CRA, is contained in the relevant sections of this Supervision and Regulation discussion provided below.
The Role of Capital
Regulatory capital represents the net assets of a banking organization available to absorb losses. Because of the risks attendant to their business, FDIC-insured institutions are generally required to hold more capital than other businesses, which directly affects the Company’s earnings capabilities. While capital has historically been one of the key measures of the financial health of both bank holding companies and banks, its role became fundamentally more important in the wake of the global financial crisis, as the banking regulators recognized that the amount and quality of capital held by banks prior to the crisis was insufficient to absorb losses during periods of severe stress. Certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and Basel III, discussed below, establish capital standards for banks and bank holding companies that are meaningfully more stringent than those in place previously.
Capital Levels. Banks have been required to hold minimum levels of capital based on guidelines established by the bank regulatory agencies since 1983. The minimums have been expressed in terms of ratios of “capital” divided by “total assets.” The capital guidelines for U.S. banks beginning in 1989 have been based upon international capital accords (known as “Basel” rules) adopted by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, a committee of central banks and bank supervisors that acts as the primary global standard-setter for prudential regulation, as implemented by the U.S. bank regulatory agencies on an interagency basis. The accords recognized that bank assets for the purpose of the capital ratio calculations needed to be risk weighted (the theory being that riskier assets should require more capital) and that off-balance sheet exposures needed to be factored in the calculations. Following the global financial crisis, the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision, the oversight body of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, announced agreement on a strengthened set of capital requirements for banking organizations around the world, known as Basel III, to address deficiencies recognized in connection with the global financial crisis.
The Basel III Rule. In July 2013, the U.S. federal banking agencies approved the implementation of the Basel III regulatory capital reforms and, at the same time, promulgated rules effecting certain changes required by the Dodd-Frank Act (the “Basel III Rule”). In contrast to capital requirements historically, which were in the form of guidelines, Basel III was released in the form of binding regulations by each of the regulatory agencies. The Basel III Rule increased the required quantity and quality of capital and required more detailed categories of risk weighting of riskier, more opaque assets. For nearly every class of assets, the Basel III Rule requires a more complex, detailed and calibrated assessment of risk in the calculation of risk weightings. The Basel III Rule is applicable to all banking organizations that are subject to minimum capital requirements, including federal and state banks and savings and loan associations, as well
as to bank and savings and loan holding companies, other than “small bank holding companies” (generally certain holding companies with consolidated assets of less than $3 billion), and certain qualifying banking organizations that may elect a simplified framework, which the Company has not done. Thus, the Company and the Bank are each currently subject to the Basel III Rule as described below.
Not only did the Basel III Rule increase most of the required minimum capital ratios in effect prior to January 1, 2015, but, in requiring that forms of capital be of higher quality to absorb loss, it introduced the concept of Common Equity Tier 1 Capital, which consists primarily of common stock, related surplus (net of Treasury stock), retained earnings, and Common Equity Tier 1 minority interests subject to certain regulatory adjustments. The Basel III Rule also changed the definition of capital by establishing more stringent criteria that instruments must meet to be considered Additional Tier 1 Capital (primarily non-cumulative perpetual preferred stock that meets certain requirements) and Tier 2 Capital (primarily other types of preferred stock and subordinated debt, subject to limitations). The Basel III Rule also constrained the inclusion of minority interests, mortgage-servicing assets, and deferred tax assets in capital and required deductions from Common Equity Tier 1 Capital in the event that such assets exceeded a percentage of a banking institution’s Common Equity Tier 1 Capital.
The Basel III Rule requires minimum capital ratios as follows:
|●||A ratio of minimum Common Equity Tier 1 Capital equal to 4.5% of risk-weighted assets;|
|●||A ratio of minimum Tier 1 Capital equal to 6% of risk-weighted assets;|
|●||A continuation of the minimum required amount of Total Capital (Tier 1 plus Tier 2) at 8% of risk-weighted assets; and|
|●||A minimum leverage ratio of Tier 1 Capital to total quarterly average assets equal to 4% in all circumstances.|
In addition, institutions that seek the freedom to make capital distributions (including for dividends and repurchases of stock) and pay discretionary bonuses to executive officers without restriction must also maintain 2.5% in Common Equity Tier 1 Capital attributable to a capital conservation buffer. The purpose of the conservation buffer is to ensure that banking institutions maintain a buffer of capital that can be used to absorb losses during periods of financial and economic stress. Factoring in the conservation buffer increases the minimum ratios depicted above to 7% for Common Equity Tier 1 Capital, 8.5% for Tier 1 Capital and 10.5% for Total Capital. The federal bank regulators released a joint statement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic reminding the industry that capital and liquidity buffers were meant to give banks the means to support the economy in adverse situations, and that the agencies would support banks that use the buffers for that purpose if undertaken in a safe and sound manner.
Well-Capitalized Requirements. The ratios described above are minimum standards in order for banking organizations to be considered “adequately capitalized.” Bank regulatory agencies uniformly encourage banks to hold more capital and be “well-capitalized” and, to that end, federal law and regulations provide various incentives for banking organizations to maintain regulatory capital at levels in excess of minimum regulatory requirements. For example, a banking organization that is well-capitalized may: (i) qualify for exemptions from prior notice or application requirements otherwise applicable to certain types of activities; (ii) qualify for expedited processing of other required notices or applications; and (iii) accept, roll-over or renew brokered deposits. Higher capital levels could also be required if warranted by the particular circumstances or risk profiles of individual banking organizations. For example, the Federal Reserve’s capital guidelines contemplate that additional capital may be required to take adequate account of, among other things, interest rate risk, or the risks posed by concentrations of credit, nontraditional activities or securities trading activities. Further, any banking organization experiencing or anticipating significant growth would be expected to maintain capital ratios, including tangible capital positions (i.e., Tier 1 Capital less all intangible assets), well above the minimum levels.
Under the capital regulations of the Federal Reserve for the Company and the FDIC for the Bank, in order to be well-capitalized, a banking organization must maintain:
|●||A Common Equity Tier 1 Capital ratio to risk-weighted assets of 6.5% or more;|
|●||A ratio of Tier 1 Capital to total risk-weighted assets of 8% or more;|
|●||A ratio of Total Capital to total risk-weighted assets of 10% or more; and|
|●||A leverage ratio of Tier 1 Capital to total adjusted average quarterly assets of 5% or greater.|
It is possible under the Basel III Rule to be well-capitalized while remaining out of compliance with the capital conservation buffer discussed above.
As of December 31, 2020: (i) the Bank was not subject to a directive from MDOC or FDIC to increase its capital and (ii) the Bank was well-capitalized, as defined by FDIC regulations. As of December 31, 2020, the Company had regulatory capital in excess of the Federal Reserve’s requirements and met the Basel III Rule requirements to be well-capitalized. The Company was also in compliance with the capital conservation buffer as of December 31, 2020.
Prompt Corrective Action. The concept of an institution being “well-capitalized” is part of a regulatory enforcement regime that provides the federal banking regulators with broad power to take “prompt corrective action” to resolve the problems of undercapitalized institutions based on the capital level of each particular institution. The extent of the regulators’ powers depends on whether the institution in question is “adequately capitalized,” “undercapitalized,” “significantly undercapitalized” or “critically undercapitalized,” in each case as defined by regulation. Depending upon the capital category to which an institution is assigned, the regulators’ corrective powers include: (i) requiring the institution to submit a capital restoration plan; (ii) limiting the institution’s asset growth and restricting its activities; (iii) requiring the institution to issue additional capital stock (including additional voting stock) or to sell itself; (iv) restricting transactions between the institution and its affiliates; (v) restricting the interest rate that the institution may pay on deposits; (vi) ordering a new election of directors of the institution; (vii) requiring that senior executive officers or directors be dismissed; (viii) prohibiting the institution from accepting deposits from correspondent banks; (ix) requiring the institution to divest certain subsidiaries; (x) prohibiting the payment of principal or interest on subordinated debt; and (xi) ultimately, appointing a receiver for the institution.
Community Bank Capital Simplification. Community banks have long raised concerns with bank regulators about the regulatory burden, complexity, and costs associated with certain provisions of the Basel III Rule. In response, Congress provided an “off-ramp” for institutions, like the Company, with total consolidated assets of less than $10 billion. Section 201 of the Regulatory Relief Act instructed the federal banking regulators to establish a single “Community Bank Leverage Ratio”, or CBLR, of between 8 and 10%. Under the final rule, a community banking organization is eligible to elect the new framework if it has less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets, limited amounts of certain assets and off-balance sheet exposures, and a CBLR greater than 9%. The bank regulatory agencies temporarily lowered the CBLR to 8% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Company may elect the CBLR framework at any time but has not currently determined to do so.
Supervision and Regulation of the Company
General. The Company, as the sole shareholder of the Bank, is a bank holding company that has elected financial holding company status. As a bank holding company, the Company is registered with, and is subject to regulation supervision and enforcement by, the Federal Reserve under the BHCA. The Company is legally obligated to act as a source of financial strength to the Bank and to commit resources to support the Bank in circumstances where the Company might not otherwise do so. Under the BHCA, the Company is subject to periodic examination by the Federal Reserve. The Company is required to file with the Federal Reserve periodic reports of the Company’s operations and such additional information regarding the Company and its subsidiaries as the Federal Reserve may require.
Acquisitions, Activities and Financial Holding Company Election. The primary purpose of a bank holding company is to control and manage banks. The BHCA generally requires the prior approval of the Federal Reserve for any merger involving a bank holding company or any acquisition by a bank holding company of another bank or bank holding company. Subject to certain conditions (including deposit concentration limits established by the BHCA), the Federal Reserve may allow a bank holding company to acquire banks located in any state of the United States. In approving interstate acquisitions, the Federal Reserve is required to give effect to applicable state law limitations on the aggregate amount of deposits that may be held by the acquiring bank holding company and its FDIC-insured institution affiliates in the state in which the target bank is located (provided that those limits do not discriminate against out-of-state institutions or their holding companies) and state laws that require that the target bank have been in existence for a minimum period of time (not to exceed five years) before being acquired by an out-of-state bank holding company. Furthermore, in accordance with the Dodd-Frank Act, bank holding companies must be well-capitalized and well-managed in order to effect interstate mergers or acquisitions. For a discussion of the capital requirements, see “—The Role of Capital” above.
The BHCA generally prohibits the Company from acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of 5% or more of the voting shares of any company that is not a bank and from engaging in any business other than that of banking, managing and controlling banks or furnishing services to banks and their subsidiaries. This general prohibition is subject to a number of exceptions. The principal exception allows bank holding companies to engage in, and to own shares of companies engaged in, certain businesses found by the Federal Reserve prior to November 11, 1999 to be “so closely related to banking ... as to be a proper incident thereto.” This authority permits the Company to engage in a variety of banking-related businesses, including the ownership and operation of a savings association, or any entity engaged in consumer finance, equipment leasing, the operation of a computer service bureau (including software development) and mortgage banking and brokerage services. The BHCA does not place territorial restrictions on the domestic activities of nonbank subsidiaries of bank holding companies.
Additionally, bank holding companies that meet certain eligibility requirements prescribed by the BHCA and elect to operate as financial holding companies may engage in, or own shares in companies engaged in, a wider range of nonbanking activities, including securities and insurance underwriting and sales, merchant banking and any other activity that the Federal Reserve, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, determines by regulation or order is financial in nature or incidental to any such financial activity or that the Federal Reserve determines by order to be complementary to any such financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of FDIC-insured institutions or the financial system generally. The Company has elected to operate as a financial holding company. In order to maintain its status as a financial holding company, the Company and the Bank must be well-capitalized, well-managed, and the Bank must have a least a satisfactory CRA rating. If the Federal Reserve determines that a financial holding company or any bank subsidiary is not well-capitalized or well-managed, the Federal Reserve will provide a period of time in which to achieve compliance, but, during the period of noncompliance, the Federal Reserve may place any additional limitations on the Company that it deems appropriate. Furthermore, if non-compliance is based on the failure of the Bank to achieve a satisfactory CRA rating, the Company would not be able to commence any new financial activities or acquire a company that engages in such activities.
Change in Control. Federal law prohibits any person or company from acquiring “control” of an FDIC-insured depository institution or its holding company without prior notice to the appropriate federal bank regulator. “Control” is conclusively presumed to exist upon the acquisition of 25% or more of the outstanding voting securities of a bank or bank holding company, but may arise under certain circumstances between 10% and 24.99% ownership.
Capital Requirements. The Company is subject to the complex consolidated capital requirements of the Basel III Rule, see “—the Role of Capital” above.
Dividend Payments. The Company’s ability to pay dividends to its shareholders may be affected by both general corporate law considerations and policies of the Federal Reserve applicable to bank holding companies. As a Minnesota corporation, the Company is subject to the Minnesota Business Corporation Act, as amended, which prohibits the Company from paying a dividend if, after giving effect to the dividend the Company would not be able to pay its debts as the debts become due in the ordinary course of business, or the Company’s total assets would be less than the sum of its total liabilities plus, the amount that would be needed, if the Company were to be dissolved at the time of the distribution, to satisfy the preferential rights upon dissolution of shareholders whose preferential rights are superior to those receiving the distribution.
As a general matter, the Federal Reserve has indicated that the board of directors of a bank holding company should eliminate, defer or significantly reduce dividends to shareholders if: (i) the company’s net income available to shareholders for the past four quarters, net of dividends previously paid during that period, is not sufficient to fully fund the dividends; (ii) the prospective rate of earnings retention is inconsistent with the company’s capital needs and overall current and prospective financial condition; or (iii) the company will not meet, or is in danger of not meeting, its minimum regulatory capital adequacy ratios. These factors have come into consideration in the industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Reserve also possesses enforcement powers over bank holding companies and their nonbank subsidiaries to prevent or remedy actions that represent unsafe or unsound practices or violations of applicable statutes and regulations. Among these powers is the ability to proscribe the payment of dividends by banks and bank holding companies. In addition, under the Basel III Rule, institutions that seek the freedom to pay dividends have to maintain 2.5% in Common Equity Tier 1 Capital attributable to the capital conservation buffer. See “—The Role of Capital” above.
Monetary Policy. The monetary policy of the Federal Reserve has a significant effect on the operating results of financial or bank holding companies and their subsidiaries, and this is evidenced in its reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the tools available to the Federal Reserve to affect the money supply are open market transactions in U.S. government securities and changes in the discount rate on bank borrowings. These means are used in varying combinations to influence overall growth and distribution of bank loans, investments and deposits, and their use may affect interest rates charged on loans or paid on deposits.
Federal Securities Regulation. The Company’s common stock is registered with the SEC under the Exchange Act. Consequently, the Company is subject to the information, proxy solicitation, insider trading and other restrictions and requirements of the SEC under the Exchange Act.
Corporate Governance. The Dodd-Frank Act addressed many investor protection, corporate governance and executive compensation matters that will affect most U.S. publicly traded companies. It increased shareholder influence over boards of directors by requiring companies to give shareholders a nonbinding vote on executive compensation and so-called “golden parachute” payments, and authorizing the SEC to promulgate rules that would allow shareholders to nominate and solicit voters for their own candidates using a company’s proxy materials. The legislation also directed the Federal Reserve to promulgate rules prohibiting excessive compensation paid to executives of bank holding companies, regardless of whether such companies are publicly traded.
Supervision and Regulation of the Bank
General. The Bank is a Minnesota-chartered bank. The deposit accounts of the Bank are insured by the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund, or DIF, to the maximum extent provided under federal law and FDIC regulations, currently $250,000 per insured depositor category. As a Minnesota-chartered FDIC-insured bank, the Bank is subject to the examination, supervision, reporting and enforcement requirements of the MDOC, the chartering authority for Minnesota banks, and the FDIC, designated by federal law as the primary federal regulator of insured state banks that, like the Bank, are not members of the Federal Reserve.
Deposit Insurance. As an FDIC-insured institution, the Bank is required to pay deposit insurance premium assessments to the FDIC. The FDIC has adopted a risk-based assessment system whereby FDIC-insured institutions pay insurance premiums at rates based on their risk classification. For institutions like the Bank that are not considered large and highly complex banking organizations, assessments are now based on examination ratings and financial ratios. The total base assessment rates currently range from 1.5 basis points to 30 basis points. At least semi-annually, the FDIC updates its loss and income projections for the DIF and, if needed, increases or decreases the assessment rates, following notice and comment on proposed rulemaking.
The reserve ratio is the FDIC insurance fund balance divided by estimated insured deposits. The Dodd-Frank Act altered the minimum reserve ratio of the DIF, increasing the minimum from 1.15% to 1.35% of the estimated amount of total insured deposits. The reserve ratio reached 1.36% as of September 30, 2018, exceeding the statutory required minimum. As a result, the FDIC provided assessment credits to insured depository institutions, like the Bank, with total consolidated assets of less than $10 billion for the portion of their regular assessments that contributed to growth in the reserve ratio between 1.15% and 1.35%. The FDIC applied the small bank credits for quarterly assessment periods beginning July 1, 2019. However, the reserve ratio then fell to 1.30% in 2020 as a result of extraordinary insured deposit growth caused by an unprecedented inflow of more than $1 trillion in estimated insured deposits in the first half of 2020, stemming mainly from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the FDIC could have ceased the small bank credits, it waived the requirement that the reserve ratio be at least 1.35% for full remittance of the remaining assessment credits, and it refunded all small bank credits as of September 30, 2020.
Supervisory Assessments. All Minnesota-chartered banks are required to pay supervisory assessments to the MDOC to fund the operations of that agency. The amount of the assessment is calculated on the basis of the Bank’s total assets. During the year ended December 31, 2020, the Bank paid supervisory assessments to the MDOC totaling approximately $101,829.
Capital Requirements. Banks are generally required to maintain capital levels in excess of other businesses. For a discussion of capital requirements, see “—The Role of Capital” above.
Liquidity Requirements. Liquidity is a measure of the ability and ease with which bank assets may be converted to cash. Liquid assets are those that can be converted to cash quickly if needed to meet financial obligations.
To remain viable, FDIC-insured institutions must have enough liquid assets to meet their near-term obligations, such as withdrawals by depositors. Because the global financial crisis was in part a liquidity crisis, Basel III also includes a liquidity framework that requires FDIC-insured institutions to measure their liquidity against specific liquidity tests. One test, referred to as the liquidity coverage ratio, or LCR, is designed to ensure that the banking entity has an adequate stock of unencumbered high-quality liquid assets that can be converted easily and immediately in private markets into cash to meet liquidity needs for a 30-calendar day liquidity stress scenario. The other test, known as the net stable funding ratio, or NSFR, is designed to promote more medium- and long-term funding of the assets and activities of FDIC-insured institutions over a one-year horizon. These tests provide an incentive for banks and holding companies to increase their holdings in Treasury securities and other sovereign debt as a component of assets, increase the use of long-term debt as a funding source and rely on stable funding like core deposits (in lieu of brokered deposits).
In addition to liquidity guidelines already in place, the federal bank regulatory agencies implemented the Basel III LCR in 2014, and in 2016 proposed implementation of the NSFR. While these rules do not, and will not, apply to the Bank, it continues to review its liquidity risk management policies in light of these developments.
Dividend Payments. The primary source of funds for the Company is dividends from the Bank. Under Minnesota law, the Bank cannot declare or pay a cash dividend or dividend in kind unless it will have a surplus amounting to not less than 20% of its capital after payment of the dividend. Once this surplus amount reaches 50% of the Bank’s capital, the Bank may pay dividends out of net profits if the dividends will not reduce the Bank’s capital, undivided profits and reserves below requirements established by the MDOC. Further, the Bank may not declare or pay a dividend until cumulative dividends on preferred stock, if any, are paid in full.
The payment of dividends by any FDIC-insured institution is affected by the requirement to maintain adequate capital pursuant to applicable capital adequacy guidelines and regulations, and an FDIC-insured institution generally is prohibited from paying any dividends if, following payment thereof, the institution would be undercapitalized. As described above, the Bank exceeded its capital requirements under applicable guidelines as of December 31, 2020. Notwithstanding the availability of funds for dividends, however, the FDIC and the MDOC may prohibit the payment of unrestricted dividends by the Bank if either or both determine such payment would constitute an unsafe or unsound practice. In addition, under the Basel III Rule, institutions that seek the freedom to pay dividends have to maintain 2.5% in Common Equity Tier 1 Capital attributable to the capital conservation buffer. See “—The Role of Capital” above.
State Bank Investments and Activities. The Bank is permitted to make investments and engage in activities directly or through subsidiaries as authorized by Minnesota law. However, under federal law and FDIC regulations, FDIC-insured state banks are prohibited, subject to certain exceptions, from making or retaining equity investments of a type, or in an amount, that are not permissible for a national bank. Federal law and FDIC regulations also prohibit FDIC-insured state banks and their subsidiaries, subject to certain exceptions, from engaging as principal in any activity that is not permitted for a national bank unless the bank meets, and continues to meet, its minimum regulatory capital requirements and the FDIC determines that the activity would not pose a significant risk to the DIF. These restrictions have not had, and are not currently expected to have, a material impact on the operations of the Bank.
Insider Transactions. The Bank is subject to certain restrictions imposed by federal law on “covered transactions” between the Bank and its “affiliates.” The Company is an affiliate of the Bank for purposes of these restrictions, and covered transactions subject to the restrictions include extensions of credit to the Company, investments in the stock or other securities of the Company and the acceptance of the stock or other securities of the Company as collateral for loans made by the Bank. The Dodd-Frank Act enhanced the requirements for certain transactions with affiliates, including an expansion of the definition of “covered transactions” and an increase in the amount of time for which collateral requirements regarding covered transactions must be maintained.
Certain limitations and reporting requirements are also placed on extensions of credit by the Bank to its directors and officers, to directors and officers of the Company and its subsidiaries, to principal shareholders of the Company and to “related interests” of such directors, officers and principal shareholders. In addition, federal law and regulations may affect the terms upon which any person who is a director or officer of the Company or the Bank, or a principal shareholder of the Company, may obtain credit from banks with which the Bank maintains a correspondent relationship.
Safety and Soundness Standards/Risk Management. FDIC-insured institutions are expected to operate in a safe and sound manner. The federal banking agencies have adopted operational and managerial standards to promote the safety and soundness of such institutions that address internal controls, information systems, internal audit systems, loan
documentation, credit underwriting, interest rate exposure, asset growth, compensation, fees and benefits, asset quality and earnings.
In general, the safety and soundness standards prescribe the goals to be achieved in each area, and each institution is responsible for establishing its own procedures to achieve those goals. If an institution fails to operate in a safe and sound manner, the FDIC-insured institution’s primary federal regulator may require the institution to submit a plan for achieving and maintaining compliance. If an FDIC-insured institution fails to submit an acceptable compliance plan, or fails in any material respect to implement a compliance plan that has been accepted by its primary federal regulator, the regulator is required to issue an order directing the institution to cure the deficiency. Until the deficiency cited in the regulator’s order is cured, the regulator may restrict the FDIC-insured institution’s rate of growth, require the FDIC-insured institution to increase its capital, restrict the rates the institution pays on deposits or require the institution to take any action the regulator deems appropriate under the circumstances. Operating in an unsafe or unsound manner will also constitute grounds for other enforcement action by the federal bank regulatory agencies, including cease and desist orders and civil money penalty assessments.
During the past decade, the bank regulatory agencies have increasingly emphasized the importance of sound risk management processes and strong internal controls when evaluating the activities of the FDIC-insured institutions they supervise. 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 a banking institution including, but not limited to, credit, market, liquidity, operational, legal and reputational risk. Bank regulators have identified key risk themes for 2021, which include: (i) credit risk management given projected weaker economic conditions and commercial and residential real estate concentration risk management; (ii) the transition away from LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) as a reference rate; (iii) compliance risk management related to COVID-19 pandemic-related activities; (iv) Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering (“AML”) compliance; (v) cybersecurity and operational resilience; (vi), planning for and implementation of the current-expected-credit-losses (“CECL”) accounting standard; and (vii) CRA performance.
Privacy and Cybersecurity. The Bank is subject to many U.S. federal and state laws and regulations governing requirements for maintaining policies and procedures to protect non-public confidential information of their customers. These laws require the Bank to periodically disclose its privacy policies and practices relating to sharing such information and permit consumers to opt out of their ability to share information with unaffiliated third parties under certain circumstances. They also impact the Bank’s ability to share certain information with affiliates and non-affiliates for marketing and/or non-marketing purposes, or to contact customers with marketing offers. In addition, as a part of its operational risk mitigation, the Bank is required to implement a comprehensive information security program that includes administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure the security and confidentiality of customer records and information and to require the same of its service providers. These security and privacy policies and procedures are in effect across all business lines and geographic locations.
Branching Authority. Minnesota banks, such as the Bank, have the authority under Minnesota law to establish branches anywhere in the State of Minnesota, subject to receipt of all required regulatory approvals. The Dodd-Frank Act permits well-capitalized and well-managed banks to establish new interstate branches or acquire individual branches of a bank in another state (rather than the acquisition of an out-of-state bank in its entirety) without impediments. Federal law permits state and national banks to merge with banks in other states subject to: (i) regulatory approval; (ii) federal and state deposit concentration limits; and (iii) state law limitations requiring the merging bank to have been in existence for a minimum period of time (not to exceed five years) prior to the merger.
Transaction Account Reserves. Federal law requires FDIC-insured institutions to maintain reserves against their transaction accounts (primarily NOW and regular checking accounts) to provide liquidity. Reserves are maintained on deposit at the Federal Reserve Banks. The reserve requirements are subject to an annual adjustment by the Federal Reserve, and, for 2020, the Federal Reserve had determined that the first $16.9 million of otherwise reservable balances had a zero percent reserve requirement; for transaction accounts aggregating between $16.9 million to $127.5 million, the reserve requirement was 3% of those transaction account balances; and for net transaction accounts in excess of $127.5 million, the reserve requirement was 10% of the aggregate amount of total transaction account balances in excess of $127.5 million. However, in March 2020, in an unprecedented move, the Federal Reserve announced that the banking system had ample reserves, and, as reserve requirements no longer played a significant role in this regime, it reduced all reserve tranches to zero percent, thereby freeing banks from the reserve maintenance requirement. The action permits the
Bank to loan or invest funds that were previously unavailable. The Federal Reserve has indicated that it expects to continue to operate in an ample reserves regime for the foreseeable future.
Community Reinvestment Act Requirements. The CRA requires the Bank to have a continuing and affirmative obligation in a safe and sound manner to help meet the credit needs of the entire community, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Federal regulators regularly assess the Bank’s record of meeting the credit needs of its communities. Applications for acquisitions would be affected by the evaluation of the Bank’s effectiveness in meeting its CRA requirements. In a joint statement responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank regulatory agencies announced favorable CRA consideration for banks providing retail banking services and lending activities in their assessment areas, consistent with safe and sound banking practices, that are responsive to the needs of low- and moderate-income individuals, small businesses, and small farms affected by the pandemic. Those activities include waiving certain fees, easing restrictions on out-of-state and non-customer checks, expanding credit products, increasing credit limits for creditworthy borrowers, providing alternative service options, and offering prudent payment accommodations. The joint statement also provided favorable CRA consideration for certain pandemic-related community development activities.
Anti-Money Laundering. The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, or the USA Patriot Act, is designed to deny terrorists and criminals the ability to obtain access to the U.S. financial system and has significant implications for FDIC-insured institutions, brokers, dealers and other businesses involved in the transfer of money. The USA Patriot Act, along with other legal authorities, mandates financial services companies to have policies and procedures with respect to measures designed to address any or all of the following matters: (i) customer identification programs; (ii) money laundering; (iii) terrorist financing; (iv) identifying and reporting suspicious activities and currency transactions; (v) currency crimes; and (vi) cooperation between FDIC-insured institutions and law enforcement authorities.
Concentrations in Commercial Real Estate. Concentration risk exists when FDIC-insured institutions deploy too many assets to any one industry or segment. A concentration in commercial real estate is one example of regulatory concern. The interagency Concentrations in Commercial Real Estate, or CRE, Lending, Sound Risk Management Practices guidance, or CRE Guidance, provides supervisory criteria, including the following numerical indicators, to assist bank examiners in identifying banks with potentially significant commercial real estate loan concentrations that may warrant greater supervisory scrutiny: (i) CRE loans exceeding 300% of capital and increasing 50% or more in the preceding three years; or (ii) construction and land development loans exceeding 100% of capital. The CRE Guidance does not limit banks’ levels of CRE lending activities, but rather guides institutions in developing risk management practices and levels of capital that are commensurate with the level and nature of their CRE concentrations. On December 18, 2015, the federal banking agencies issued a statement to reinforce prudent risk-management practices related to CRE lending, having observed substantial growth in many CRE asset and lending markets, increased competitive pressures, rising CRE concentrations in banks, and an easing of CRE underwriting standards. The federal bank agencies reminded FDIC-insured institutions to maintain underwriting discipline and exercise prudent risk-management practices to identify, measure, monitor, and manage the risks arising from CRE lending. In addition, FDIC-insured institutions must maintain capital commensurate with the level and nature of their CRE concentration risk.
As of December 31, 2020, the Bank’s total loans secured by multifamily and CRE nonowner occupied properties plus total construction and land development loans represented 455.8% of its total capital. Thus, the Bank is deemed to have a concentration in CRE lending. Accordingly, pursuant to the CRE Policy Guidance, the Bank is required to have heightened risk management practices in place to account for the heightened degree of risk associated with CRE lending.
Consumer Financial Services. The historical structure of federal consumer protection regulation applicable to all providers of consumer financial products and services changed significantly on July 21, 2011, when the CFPB commenced operations to supervise and enforce consumer protection laws. The CFPB has broad rulemaking authority for a wide range of consumer protection laws that apply to all providers of consumer products and services, including the Bank, as well as the authority to prohibit “unfair, deceptive or abusive” acts and practices. The CFPB has examination and enforcement authority over providers with more than $10 billion in assets. FDIC-insured institutions with $10 billion or less in assets, like the Bank, continue to be examined by their applicable bank regulators.
Because abuses in connection with residential mortgages were a significant factor contributing to the financial crisis, many new rules issued by the CFPB and required by the Dodd-Frank Act addressed mortgage and mortgage-
related products, their underwriting, origination, servicing and sales. The Dodd-Frank Act significantly expanded underwriting requirements applicable to loans secured by 1-4 family residential real property and augmented federal law combating predatory lending practices. In addition to numerous disclosure requirements, the Dodd-Frank Act imposed new standards for mortgage loan originations on all lenders, including banks and savings associations, in an effort to strongly encourage lenders to verify a borrower’s ability to repay, while also establishing a presumption of compliance for certain “qualified mortgages.” The CFPB has from time to time released additional rules as to qualified mortgages and the borrower’s ability to repay, most recently in October of 2020. The CFPB’s rules have not had a significant impact on the Bank’s operations, except for higher compliance costs.
Item 1.A. RISK FACTORS
Investing in the Company’s common stock involves various risks, many of which are specific to the Company’s business. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully read and consider the risk factors described below as well as the other information included in this report and other documents we file with the SEC. The discussion below addresses the material risks and uncertainties, of which the Company is currently aware, that could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, results of operations, financial condition, and growth prospects. Other risks that the Company does not know about now, or that the Company does not currently believe are significant, could negatively impact the Company’s business or the trading price of the Company’s securities.
This is a summary of some of the material risks and uncertainties that management believes affects us. The list is not exhaustive but provides a high-level summary of some of the material risks that are further described in this Item 1A. We encourage you to read Item 1A in its entirety.
|●||Loan concentrations in our loan portfolio;|
|●||the overall health of the local and national real estate market;|
|●||business and economic conditions generally and in the financial services industry, nationally and within our market area;|
|●||the ability to successfully manage credit risk;|
|●||the ability to maintain an adequate level of allowance for loan losses;|
|●||new or revised accounting standards, including as a result of the implementation of the new Current Expected Credit Loss standard; and|
|●||the concentration of large loans to certain borrowers.|
Liquidity and Funding Risks
|●||The ability to successfully manage liquidity risk;|
|●||the dependence on non-core funding sources and our cost of funds;|
|●||the concentration of large deposits from certain clients; and|
|●||the ability to raise additional capital to implement our business plan.|
Operational, Strategic and Reputational Risks
|●||The ability to implement the Company’s growth strategy and manage costs effectively;|
|●||the composition of senior leadership team and the ability to attract and retain key personnel;|
|●||the occurrence of fraudulent activity, breaches or failures of our information security controls or cybersecurity-related incidents;|
|●||interruptions involving our information technology and telecommunications systems or third-party servicers;|
|●||competition in the financial services industry;|
|●||severe weather, natural disasters, widespread disease or pandemics (including the COVID-19 pandemic), acts of war or terrorism, civil unrest or other adverse external events; and|
|●||developments and uncertainty related to the future use and availability of some reference rates, such as the London Interbank Offered Rate, as well as other alternative reference rates.|
Legal, Accounting and Compliance Risks
|●||The effectiveness of the risk management framework;|
|●||the commencement and outcome of litigation and other legal proceedings and regulatory actions against us;|
|●||the extensive regulatory framework that applies to us; and|
|●||the impact of recent and future legislative and regulatory changes.|
Market and Interest Rate Risks
|●||Interest rate risk; and|
|●||fluctuations in the values of the securities held in our securities portfolio.|
COVID-19 Pandemic Related Risks
|●||The negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its effects on the economic environment, our clients and our operations, as well as any changes to federal, state or local government laws, regulations or orders in connection with the pandemic.|
Our loan portfolio has a large concentration of commercial real estate loans, which involve risks specific to real estate values and the health of the real estate market generally.
As of December 31, 2020, we had $1.51 billion of commercial real estate loans, consisting of $709.3 million of loans secured by nonfarm nonresidential properties, $626.5 million of loans secured by multifamily residential properties and $170.2 million of construction and land development loans. Additionally, we had $113.4 million in loans whose purpose was to finance commercial real estate projects, but were secured by other types of collateral. Commercial real estate secured loans represented 64.7% of our total gross loan portfolio and 455.8% of the Bank’s total risk-based capital at December 31, 2020. The market value of real estate securing our commercial real estate loans can fluctuate significantly in a short period of time as a result of market conditions. Adverse developments affecting real estate values in our market area could increase the credit risk associated with our loan portfolio. Additionally, the repayment of commercial real estate loans generally is dependent, in large part, on sufficient income from the properties securing the loans to cover operating expenses and debt service. Economic events or governmental regulations outside of the control of the borrower or lender could negatively impact the future cash flow and market values of the affected properties. If the loans that are collateralized by real estate become troubled during a time when market conditions are declining or have declined, then we may not be able to realize the full value of the collateral that we anticipated at the time of originating the loan, which could force us to take charge-offs or require us to increase our provision for loan losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Because a significant portion of our loan portfolio is comprised of real estate loans, negative changes in the economy affecting real estate values and liquidity, as well as environmental factors, could impair the value of collateral securing our real estate loans and result in loan and other losses.
At December 31, 2020, approximately 80.6% of our total gross loan portfolio was comprised of loans with real estate as a primary component of collateral. As a result, adverse developments affecting real estate values in our market area could increase the credit risk associated with our real estate loan portfolio. The market value of real estate can fluctuate significantly in a short period of time as a result of market conditions in the area in which the real estate is located. Adverse changes affecting real estate values and the liquidity of real estate in one or more of our markets could increase the credit risk associated with our loan portfolio, significantly impair the value of property pledged as collateral on loans and affect our ability to sell the collateral upon foreclosure without a loss or additional losses, which could result in losses that would adversely affect our profitability. Such declines and losses would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
In addition, if hazardous or toxic substances are found on properties pledged as collateral, the value of the real estate could be impaired. If we foreclose on and take title to such properties, we may be liable for remediation costs, as well as for personal injury and property damage. Environmental laws may require us to incur substantial expenses to address unknown liabilities and may materially reduce the affected property’s value or limit our ability to use or sell the affected property. In addition, future laws or more stringent interpretations or enforcement policies with respect to existing laws may increase our exposure to environmental liability. The remediation costs and any other financial liabilities associated with an environmental hazard could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
A decline in the business and economic conditions in our market could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and growth prospects.
Unlike larger banks that are more geographically diversified, we conduct our operations almost exclusively in the Twin Cities MSA. Because of the geographic concentration of our operations in the Twin Cities MSA, if the local economy weakens, our growth and profitability could be constrained. Weak economic conditions are characterized by, among other indicators, deflation, elevated levels of unemployment, fluctuations in debt and equity capital markets and lower home sales and commercial activity. These factors could negatively affect the volume of loan originations, increase the level of nonperforming assets, increase the rate of foreclosures and reduce the value of the properties
securing our loans. Any regional or local economic downturn that affects the Twin Cities MSA may affect us and our profitability more significantly and more adversely than those of our competitors whose operations are less geographically focused.
Our business depends on our ability to manage credit risk.
As a bank, our business requires us to manage credit risk. As a lender, we are exposed to the risk that our borrowers will be unable to repay their loans according to their terms, and that the collateral securing repayment of their loans, if any, may not be sufficient to ensure repayment. In addition, there are risks inherent in making any loan, including risks with respect to the period of time over which the loan may be repaid, risks relating to proper loan underwriting, risks resulting from changes in economic and industry conditions and risks inherent in dealing with individual borrowers, including the risk that a borrower may not provide information to us about its business in a timely manner, or may present inaccurate or incomplete information to us, as well as risks relating to the value of collateral. To manage our credit risk, we must, among other actions, maintain disciplined and prudent underwriting standards and ensure that our bankers follow those standards. The weakening of these standards for any reason, such as an attempt to attract higher yielding loans, a lack of discipline or diligence by our employees in underwriting and monitoring loans or our inability to adequately adapt policies and procedures to changes in economic or any other conditions affecting borrowers and the quality of our loan portfolio, may result in loan defaults, foreclosures and charge-offs and may necessitate that we significantly increase our allowance for loan losses, each of which could adversely affect our net income. As a result, our inability to successfully manage credit risk could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Our allowance for loan losses may prove to be insufficient to absorb potential losses in our loan portfolio.
We establish and maintain our allowance for loan losses at a level that management considers adequate to absorb probable loan losses based on an analysis of our loan portfolio and current market environment. The allowance for loan losses represents our estimate of probable losses in the portfolio at each balance sheet date and is based upon relevant information available to us at such time. The allowance contains provisions for probable losses that have been identified relating to specific borrowing relationships, as well as probable losses inherent in the loan portfolio that are not specifically identified. Additions to the allowance for loan losses, which are charged to earnings through the provision for loan losses, are determined based on a variety of factors, including an analysis of the loan portfolio, historical loss experience and an evaluation of current economic conditions in our market area. The actual amount of loan losses is affected by, among other things, changes in economic, operating and other conditions within our market, which may be beyond our control, and such losses may exceed current estimates.
As of December 31, 2020, our allowance for loan losses as a percentage of total gross loans was 1.50% and as a percentage of total nonperforming loans was 4,495.6%. Although management believes that the allowance for loan losses was adequate on such date to absorb probable losses on existing loans that may become uncollectible, losses in excess of the existing allowance will reduce our net income and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. We may also be required to take additional provisions for loan losses in the future to further supplement the allowance for loan losses, either due to management’s assessment that the allowance is inadequate or as required by our banking regulators. Our banking regulators periodically review our allowance for loan losses and the value attributed to nonaccrual loans or to real estate acquired through foreclosure and may require us to adjust our determination of the value for these items. These adjustments may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
The Current Expected Credit Loss accounting standard could require us to increase our allowance for loan losses and may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
In June 2016, the FASB issued a new accounting standard that will replace the current approach under accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, or GAAP, for establishing the allowance for loan losses which generally considers only past events and current conditions, with a forward-looking methodology that reflects the expected credit losses over the lives of financial assets, starting when such assets are first originated or acquired. This standard, referred to as Current Expected Credit Loss, or CECL, will require financial institutions to determine periodic
estimates of lifetime expected credit losses on loans and recognize the expected credit losses as allowances for loan losses. Under the revised methodology, credit losses will be measured based on past events, current conditions and reasonable and supportable forecasts of future conditions that affect the collectability of financial assets. The new standard is expected to generally result in increases to allowance levels and will require the application of the revised methodology to existing financial assets through a one-time adjustment to retained earnings upon initial effectiveness. The change will also likely greatly increase the types of data we will need to collect and analyze to determine the appropriate level of the allowance for loan losses. Any increase in our allowance for loan losses or expenses incurred to determine the appropriate level of the allowance for loan losses will result in a decrease in net income and capital and may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, the CECL model may create more volatility in our level of allowance for loan losses and could result in the need for additional capital.
As an emerging growth company, this standard is expected to become applicable to us on January 1, 2023, after the FASB recently elected to delay implementation for private companies. In connection with our initial public offering, we elected to use the extended transition period available to emerging growth companies, which means that we are not subject to all new or revised accounting standards generally applicable to public companies until those standards apply to private companies.
Many of our loans are to commercial borrowers, which have a higher degree of risk than other types of loans.
Commercial loans represented 13.1% of our total gross loan portfolio at December 31, 2020. Because payments on such loans are often dependent on the successful operation of the business involved, repayment of such loans is often more sensitive than other types of loans to the general business climate and economy. Accordingly, a challenging business and economic environment may increase our risk related to commercial loans. Unlike residential mortgage loans, which generally are made on the basis of the borrowers’ ability to make repayment from their employment and other income and which are secured by real property whose value tends to be more easily ascertainable, commercial loans typically are made on the basis of the borrowers’ ability to make repayment from the cash flow of the commercial venture. Our commercial loans are primarily made based on the identified cash flow of the borrower and secondarily on the collateral underlying the loans. Most often, this collateral consists of accounts receivable, inventory and equipment. Inventory and equipment may depreciate over time, may be difficult to appraise and may fluctuate in value based on the success of the business. If the cash flow from business operations is reduced, the borrower’s ability to repay the loan may be impaired. Due to the larger average size of each commercial loan as compared with other loans such as residential loans, as well as collateral that is generally less readily-marketable, losses incurred on a small number of commercial loans could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Construction and land development loans are based upon estimates of costs and values associated with the complete project. These estimates may be inaccurate, and we may be exposed to significant losses on loans for these projects.
Construction and land development loans comprised approximately 7.3% of our total loan portfolio as of December 31, 2020. Such lending involves additional risks because funds are advanced upon the security of the project, which is of uncertain value prior to its completion, and costs may exceed realizable values in declining real estate markets. Because of the uncertainties inherent in estimating construction costs and the realizable market value of the completed project and the effects of governmental regulation of real property, it is relatively difficult to evaluate accurately the total funds required to complete a project and the related loan-to-value ratio. As a result, construction and land development loans often involve the disbursement of substantial funds with repayment dependent, in part, on the success of the ultimate project and the ability of the borrower to sell or lease the property, rather than the ability of the borrower or guarantor to repay principal and interest. If our appraisal of the value of the completed project proves to be overstated or market values or rental rates decline, we may have inadequate security for the repayment of the loan upon completion of construction of the project. If we are forced to foreclose on a project prior to or at completion due to a default, we may not be able to recover all of the unpaid balance of, and accrued interest on, the loan as well as related foreclosure and holding costs. In addition, we may be required to fund additional amounts to complete the project and may have to hold the property for an unspecified period of time while we attempt to dispose of it.
Our high concentration of large loans to certain borrowers may increase our credit risk.
Our growth over the last several years has been partially attributable to our ability to cultivate relationships with certain individuals and businesses that have resulted in a concentration of large loans to a small number of borrowers. As of December 31, 2020, our 10 largest borrowing relationships accounted for approximately 17.5% of our total gross loan portfolio. We have established an informal, internal limit on a single loan to finance one transaction, but we may, under certain circumstances, consider going above this internal limit in situations where management’s understanding of the industry, the borrower’s financial condition, overall credit quality and property fundamentals are commensurate with the increased size of the loan. Along with other risks inherent in these loans, such as the deterioration of the underlying businesses or property securing these loans, this high concentration of borrowers presents a risk to our lending operations. If any one of these borrowers becomes unable to repay its loan obligations as a result of business, economic or market conditions, or personal circumstances, such as divorce or death, our nonaccruing loans and our provision for loan losses could increase significantly, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
The small to midsized businesses that we lend to may have fewer resources to weather adverse business developments, which may impair their ability to repay their loans.
We lend to small to midsized businesses, which generally have fewer financial resources in terms of capital or borrowing capacity than larger entities, frequently have smaller market share than their competition, may be more vulnerable to economic downturns, often need substantial additional capital to expand or compete and may experience substantial volatility in operating results, any of which may impair their ability to repay their loans. In addition, the success of a small and midsized business often depends on the management talents and efforts of one or two people or a small group of people, and the death, disability or resignation of one or more of these people could have a material adverse impact on the business and its ability to repay its loan. If general economic conditions negatively impact the markets in which we operate and small to midsized businesses are adversely affected or our borrowers are otherwise affected by adverse business developments, our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects may be materially adversely affected.
Our lending limit may restrict our growth and prevent us from effectively implementing our growth strategy.
We are limited in the total amount we can loan to a single borrower or related borrowers/guarantors by the amount of our capital. The Bank is a Minnesota chartered bank and therefore all branches, regardless of location, fall under the legal lending limits of the laws, rules and regulations applicable to banks chartered in the state of Minnesota. Minnesota’s legal lending limit is a safety and soundness measure intended to prevent one person or a relatively small and economically related group of persons from borrowing an unduly large amount of a bank’s funds. It is also intended to safeguard a bank’s depositors by diversifying the risk of loan losses among a relatively large number of creditworthy borrowers engaged in various types of businesses. Under Minnesota law, total loans and extensions of credit to a borrower may not generally exceed 20% of the Bank’s capital stock and surplus, subject to certain exceptions. Based upon our current capital levels, the amount we may lend to one borrower is significantly less than that of many of our larger competitors, which may discourage potential borrowers who have credit needs in excess of our lending limit from doing business with us. While we seek to accommodate larger loans by selling participations in those loans to other financial institutions, this strategy may not always be available. If we are unable to compete for loans from our target clients, we may not be able to effectively implement our business strategy, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Greater seasoning of our loan portfolio could increase risk of credit defaults in the future.
As a result of our rapid growth, a significant portion of our loan portfolio at any given time is of relatively recent origin. Typically, loans do not begin to show signs of credit deterioration or default until they have been outstanding for some period of time (which varies by loan duration and loan type), a process referred to as “seasoning.” As a result, a portfolio of more seasoned loans may more predictably follow a bank’s historical default or credit deterioration patterns than a newer portfolio. Because 69.4% of the dollar amount of our portfolio has been originated in the past three years, the current level of delinquencies and defaults may not represent the level that may prevail as the
portfolio becomes more seasoned. If delinquencies and defaults increase, we may be required to increase our provision for loan losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Nonperforming assets take significant time to resolve and adversely affect our net interest income.
As of December 31, 2020, our nonperforming loans (which consist of nonaccrual loans and loans past due 90 days or more) totaled $775,000, or 0.03% of our total gross loan portfolio, and our nonperforming assets totaled $775,000, or 0.03% of total assets. In addition, we had $13,000 in accruing loans that were 30-89 days delinquent as of December 31, 2020.
Our nonperforming assets adversely affect our net interest income in various ways. We do not record interest income on nonaccrual loans or foreclosed assets, thereby adversely affecting our net income and returns on assets and equity. When we take collateral in foreclosure and similar proceedings, we are required to mark the collateral to its then-fair market value, which may result in a loss. These nonperforming loans and foreclosed assets also increase our risk profile and the level of capital our regulators believe is appropriate for us to maintain in light of such risks. The resolution of nonperforming assets requires significant time commitments from management, which increases our loan administration costs and adversely affects our efficiency ratio, and can be detrimental to the performance of their other responsibilities. If we experience increases in nonperforming loans and nonperforming assets, our net interest income may be negatively impacted and our loan administration costs could increase, each of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Liquidity and Funding Risks
Liquidity risks could affect our operations and jeopardize our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Liquidity is essential to our business. Liquidity risk is the risk that we will not be able to meet our obligations, including financial commitments, as they come due and is inherent in our operations. An inability to raise funds through deposits, borrowings, the sale of loans or investment securities and from other sources could have a substantial negative effect on our liquidity. Our most important source of funds consists of our client deposits, which can decrease for a variety of reasons, including when clients perceive alternative investments, such as the stock market, as providing a better risk/return tradeoff. If clients move money out of bank deposits and into other investments, we could lose a relatively low cost source of funds, which would require us to seek other funding alternatives, including increasing our dependence on wholesale funding sources, in order to continue to grow, thereby potentially increasing our funding costs and reducing our net interest income and net income.
Additionally, we access collateralized public funds, which are bank deposits of state and local municipalities. These deposits are required to be secured by certain investment grade securities or other sources permitted by law to ensure repayment. If we are unable to pledge sufficient collateral to secure public funding, we may lose access to this source of liquidity that we have historically utilized. In addition, the availability of and fluctuations in these funds depends on the individual municipality’s fiscal policies and cash flow needs.
Other primary sources of funds consist of cash from operations, investment security maturities and sales and proceeds from the issuance and sale of our equity and debt securities to investors. Additional liquidity is provided by brokered deposits, repurchase agreements and the ability to borrow from the Federal Reserve and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, or FHLB. We may also borrow from third-party lenders from time to time. Our access to funding sources in amounts adequate to finance or capitalize our activities or on terms that are acceptable to us could be impaired by factors that affect us directly or the financial services industry or economy in general, such as disruptions in the financial markets or negative views and expectations about the prospects for the financial services industry. Economic conditions and a loss of confidence in financial institutions may increase our cost of funding and limit access to certain customary sources of capital, including inter-bank borrowings, repurchase agreements and borrowings from the discount window of the Federal Reserve.
Any decline in available funding could adversely impact our ability to continue to implement our strategic plan, including originating loans and investing in securities, or to fulfill obligations such as paying our expenses, repaying our borrowings or meeting deposit withdrawal demands, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We depend on non-core funding sources, which causes our cost of funds to be higher when compared to other financial institutions.
We use certain non-core, wholesale funding sources, including brokered deposits, federal funds purchased, and FHLB advances. As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately $452.3 million of brokered deposits, which represented approximately 18.1% of our total deposits, $57.5 million of FHLB advances and no federal funds purchased. Unlike traditional deposits from our local clients, there is a higher likelihood that the funds wholesale deposits provide will not remain with us after maturity. For example, depositors who have deposited funds with us through brokers are a less stable source of funding than typical relationship deposit clients. Although we are increasing our efforts to reduce our reliance on non-core funding sources, we may not be able to increase our market share of core-deposit funding in our highly competitive market area. If we are unable to do so, we may be forced to increase the amounts of wholesale funding sources. The cost of these funds can be volatile and may exceed the cost of core deposits in our market area, which could have a material adverse effect on our net interest income. In addition, our maximum borrowing capacity from the FHLB is based on the amount of mortgage and commercial loans we can pledge. As of December 31, 2020, our advances from the FHLB were collateralized by $739.9 million of real estate and commercial loans. If we are unable to pledge sufficient collateral to secure funding from the FHLB, we may lose access to this source of liquidity that we have historically relied upon. If we are unable to access any of these types of funding sources or if our costs related to them increases, our liquidity and ability to support demand for loans could be materially adversely affected.
Our high concentration of large depositors may increase our liquidity risk, and the loss of any large depositor may negatively impact our net interest margin.
We have developed relationships with certain individuals and businesses that have resulted in a concentration of large deposits from a small number of clients. As of December 31, 2020, our 10 largest depositor relationships accounted for approximately 22.1% of our total deposits. This high concentration of depositors presents a risk to our liquidity if one or more of them decides to change its relationship with us and to withdraw all or a significant portion of their deposits. If such an event occurs, we may need to seek out alternative sources of funding that may not be on the same terms as the deposits being replaced, which could negatively impact our net interest margin if the alternative source of funding is at a higher rate and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Our liquidity is dependent on dividends from the Bank.
The Company is a legal entity separate and distinct from the Bank. Various federal and state laws and regulations limit the amount of dividends that the Bank may pay to the Company. For example, Minnesota law only permits banks to pay dividends if a bank has established a surplus fund equal to or more than 20% of the bank’s capital stock and if the dividends will not reduce the bank’s capital, undivided profits and reserves below specific requirements. As of December 31, 2020, the Bank had the capacity to pay the Company a dividend of up to $16.0 million without the need to obtain prior regulatory approval. Also, the Company’s right to participate in a distribution of assets upon a subsidiary’s liquidation or reorganization is subject to the prior claims of the subsidiary’s creditors. In the event the Bank is unable to pay dividends to us, we may not be able to service any debt we may incur, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We may need to raise additional capital in the future, and if we fail to maintain sufficient capital, whether due to losses, an inability to raise additional capital or otherwise, our business, as well as our ability to maintain regulatory compliance, would be adversely affected.
We face significant capital and other regulatory requirements as a financial institution. We may need to raise additional capital in the future to provide us with sufficient capital resources and liquidity to meet our commitments and
business needs, which could include the possibility of financing acquisitions. In addition, the Company, on a consolidated basis, and the Bank, on a stand-alone basis, must meet certain regulatory capital requirements and maintain sufficient liquidity. Importantly, regulatory capital requirements could increase from current levels, which could require us to raise additional capital or contract our operations. Our ability to raise additional capital depends on conditions in the capital markets, economic conditions and a number of other factors, including investor perceptions regarding the banking industry, market conditions and governmental activities, and on our financial condition and performance. Accordingly, we cannot assure you that we will be able to raise additional capital if needed or on terms acceptable to us. If we fail to maintain capital to meet regulatory requirements, our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects would be materially and adversely affected.
We may be adversely affected by changes in the actual or perceived soundness or condition of other financial institutions.
Financial services institutions that deal with each other are interconnected as a result of trading, investment, liquidity management, clearing, counterparty and other relationships. Concerns about, or a default by, one institution could lead to significant liquidity problems and losses or defaults by other institutions, as the commercial and financial soundness of many financial institutions is closely related as a result of these credit, trading, clearing and other relationships. Even the perceived lack of creditworthiness of, or questions about, a counterparty may lead to market-wide liquidity problems and losses or defaults by various institutions. This systemic risk may adversely affect financial intermediaries with which we interact on a daily basis or key funding providers such as the FHLB, which could have a material adverse effect on our access to liquidity. In addition, our credit risk may increase when the collateral held by us cannot be realized upon or is liquidated at prices not sufficient to recover the full amount of the loan or derivative exposure due to us. Any such losses could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Operational, Strategic and Reputational Risks
We may not be able to implement our growth strategy or manage costs effectively, resulting in lower earnings or profitability.
Our strategy focuses on organic growth, supplemented by opportunistic acquisitions, but we may not be able to continue to grow and increase our earnings in the future. Our growth requires that we increase our loans and deposits while managing risks by following prudent loan underwriting standards without increasing interest rate risk or compressing our net interest margin, hiring and retaining qualified employees and successfully implementing strategic projects and initiatives. Even if we are able to increase our interest income, our earnings may nonetheless be reduced by increased expenses, such as additional employee compensation or other general and administrative expenses and increased interest expense on any liabilities incurred or deposits solicited to fund increases in assets.
Additionally, if our competitors extend credit on terms we find to pose excessive risks, or at interest rates which we believe do not warrant the credit exposure, we may not be able to maintain our lending volume and could experience deteriorating financial performance. Our inability to manage our growth successfully could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We are highly dependent on our strategic leadership team, and the loss of any of our senior executive officers or other key employees, or our inability to attract and retain qualified personnel, could harm our ability to implement our strategic plan and impair our relationships with clients.
Our success is dependent, to a large degree, upon the continued service and skills of our strategic leadership team, which consists of Jerry Baack, our Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President, Jeff Shellberg, our Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer, Mary Jayne Crocker, our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Joe Chybowski, our Chief Financial Officer, Nick Place, our Chief Lending Officer, Lisa Salazar, our Chief Deposit Officer, and Mark Hokanson, our Chief Technology Officer. Our business and growth strategies are built primarily upon our ability to retain employees with experience and business relationships within our market area. The loss of any of the members of our strategic leadership team or any of our other key personnel could have an adverse
impact on our business and growth because of their skills, years of industry experience, knowledge of our market area, the difficulty of finding qualified replacement personnel and any difficulties associated with transitioning of responsibilities to any new members of the strategic leadership team. As such, we need to continue to attract and retain key personnel and to recruit qualified individuals who fit our culture to succeed existing key personnel to ensure the continued growth and successful operation of our business. Leadership changes may occur from time to time, and we cannot predict whether significant retirements or resignations will occur or whether we will be able to recruit additional qualified personnel.
Competition for senior executives and skilled personnel in the financial services and banking industry is intense, which means the cost of hiring, incentivizing and retaining skilled personnel may continue to increase. In addition, our ability to effectively compete for senior executives and other qualified personnel by offering competitive compensation and benefit arrangements may be restricted by applicable banking laws and regulations. The loss of the services of any senior executive or other key personnel, the inability to recruit and retain qualified personnel in the future or the failure to develop and implement a viable succession plan could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Our ability to maintain our reputation is critical to the success of our business, and the failure to do so may materially adversely affect our business and the value of our stock.
We rely, in part, on our reputation to attract clients and retain our client relationships. Damage to our reputation could undermine the confidence of our current and potential clients in our ability to provide high-quality financial services. Such damage could also impair the confidence of our counterparties and vendors and ultimately affect our ability to effect transactions. Maintenance of our reputation depends not only on our success in maintaining our service-focused culture and controlling and mitigating the various risks described in this report, but also on our success in identifying and appropriately addressing issues that may arise in areas such as potential conflicts of interest, anti-money laundering, client personal information and privacy issues, client and other third party fraud, record-keeping, regulatory investigations and any litigation that may arise from the failure or perceived failure of us to comply with legal and regulatory requirements. Maintaining our reputation also depends on our ability to successfully prevent third parties from infringing on the “Bridgewater Bank” brand and associated trademarks and our other intellectual property. Defense of our reputation, trademarks and other intellectual property, including through litigation, could result in costs that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
The occurrence of fraudulent activity, breaches or failures of our information security controls or cybersecurity-related incidents could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
As a bank, we are susceptible to fraudulent activity, information security breaches and cybersecurity-related incidents that may be committed against us or our clients, which may result in financial losses or increased costs to us or our clients, disclosure or misuse of our information or our client information, misappropriation of assets, privacy breaches against our clients, litigation or damage to our reputation. Such fraudulent activity may take many forms, including check fraud, electronic fraud, wire fraud, phishing, social engineering and other dishonest acts. Information security breaches and cybersecurity-related incidents may include fraudulent or unauthorized access to systems used by us or our clients, denial or degradation of service attacks and malware or other cyber-attacks.
There continues to be a rise in electronic fraudulent activity, security breaches and cyber-attacks within the financial services industry, especially in the commercial banking sector due to cyber criminals targeting commercial bank accounts. Moreover, in recent periods, several large corporations, including financial institutions and retail companies, have suffered major data breaches, in some cases exposing not only confidential and proprietary corporate information, but also sensitive financial and other personal information of their customers and employees and subjecting them to potential fraudulent activity. Some of our clients may have been affected by these breaches, which could increase their risks of identity theft and other fraudulent activity that could involve their accounts with us.
Information pertaining to us and our clients is maintained, and transactions are executed, on networks and systems maintained by us and certain third party partners, such as our online banking, mobile banking or accounting
systems. The secure maintenance and transmission of confidential information, as well as execution of transactions over these systems, are essential to protect us and our clients against fraud and security breaches and to maintain the confidence of our clients. Breaches of information security also may occur through intentional or unintentional acts by those having access to our systems or the confidential information of our clients, including employees. In addition, increases in criminal activity levels and sophistication, advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries, vulnerabilities in third party technologies (including browsers and operating systems) or other developments could result in a compromise or breach of the technology, processes and controls that we use to prevent fraudulent transactions and to protect data about us, our clients and underlying transactions, as well as the technology used by our clients to access our systems. Our third party partners’ inability to anticipate, or failure to adequately mitigate, breaches of security could result in a number of negative events, including losses to us or our clients, loss of business or clients, damage to our reputation, the incurrence of additional expenses, disruption to our business, additional regulatory scrutiny or penalties or our exposure to civil litigation and possible financial liability, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We depend on information technology and telecommunications systems of third parties, and any systems failures, interruptions or data breaches involving these systems could adversely affect our operations and financial condition.
Our business is highly dependent on the successful and uninterrupted functioning of our information technology and telecommunications systems, third party servicers, accounting systems, mobile and online banking platforms and financial intermediaries. We outsource to third parties many of our major systems, such as data processing and mobile and online banking. The failure of these systems, or the termination of a third party software license or service agreement on which any of these systems is based, could interrupt our operations. Because our information technology and telecommunications systems interface with and depend on third party systems, we could experience service denials if demand for such services exceeds capacity or such third party systems fail or experience interruptions. A system failure or service denial could result in a deterioration of our ability to process loans or gather deposits and provide customer service, compromise our ability to operate effectively, result in potential noncompliance with applicable laws or regulations, damage our reputation, result in a loss of customer business or subject us to additional regulatory scrutiny and possible financial liability, any of which could have a material adverse effect on business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. In addition, failures of third parties to comply with applicable laws and regulations, or fraud or misconduct on the part of employees of any of these third parties, could disrupt our operations or adversely affect our reputation.
It may be difficult for us to replace some of our third party vendors, particularly vendors providing our core banking and information services, in a timely manner if they are unwilling or unable to provide us with these services in the future for any reason and even if we are able to replace them, it may be at higher cost or result in the loss of clients. Any such events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Our operations rely heavily on the secure processing, storage and transmission of information and the monitoring of a large number of transactions on a minute-by-minute basis, and even a short interruption in service could have significant consequences. We also interact with and rely on retailers, for whom we process transactions, as well as financial counterparties and regulators. Each of these third parties may be targets of the same types of fraudulent activity, computer break-ins and other cybersecurity breaches described above, and the cybersecurity measures that they maintain to mitigate the risk of such activity may be different than our own and may be inadequate.
As a result of financial entities and technology systems becoming more interdependent and complex, a cyber incident, information breach or loss, or technology failure that compromises the systems or data of one or more financial entities could have a material impact on counterparties or other market participants, including ourselves. As a result of the foregoing, our ability to conduct business may be adversely affected by any significant disruptions to us or to third parties with whom we interact.
Our use of third party vendors and our other ongoing third party business relationships is subject to increasing regulatory requirements and attention.
Our use of third party vendors for certain information systems is subject to increasingly demanding regulatory requirements and attention by our federal bank regulators. Regulations require us to enhance our due diligence, ongoing monitoring and control over our third party vendors and other ongoing third party business relationships. In certain cases we may be required to renegotiate our agreements with these vendors to meet these enhanced requirements, which could increase our costs. We expect that our regulators will hold us responsible for deficiencies in our oversight and control of our third party relationships and in the performance of the parties with which we have these relationships. As a result, if our regulators conclude that we have not exercised adequate oversight and control over our third party vendors or other ongoing third party business relationships or that such third parties have not performed appropriately, we could be subject to enforcement actions, including civil money penalties or other administrative or judicial penalties or fines, as well as requirements for customer remediation, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We have a continuing need for technological change, and we may not have the resources to effectively implement new technology or we may experience operational challenges when implementing new technology.
The financial services industry is undergoing rapid technological changes with frequent introductions of new technology-driven products and services. In addition to better serving clients, the effective use of technology increases efficiency and enables financial institutions to reduce costs. Our future success will depend in part upon our ability to address the needs of our clients by using technology to provide products and services that will satisfy client demands for convenience as well as to create additional efficiencies in our operations as we continue to grow. We may experience operational challenges as we implement these new technology enhancements, which could result in us not fully realizing the anticipated benefits from such new technology or require us to incur significant costs to remedy any such challenges in a timely manner.
Many of our larger competitors have substantially greater resources to invest in technological improvements. As a result, they may be able to offer additional or superior products to those that we will be able to offer, which would put us at a competitive disadvantage. Accordingly, a risk exists that we will not be able to effectively implement new technology-driven products and services or be successful in marketing such products and services to our clients.
In addition, the implementation of technological changes and upgrades to maintain current systems and integrate new ones may also cause service interruptions, transaction processing errors and system conversion delays and may cause us to fail to comply with applicable laws. We expect that new technologies and business processes applicable to the banking industry will continue to emerge, and these new technologies and business processes may be better than those we currently use. Because the pace of technological change is high and our industry is intensely competitive, we may not be able to sustain our investment in new technology as critical systems and applications become obsolete or as better ones become available. A failure to successfully keep pace with technological change affecting the financial services industry and failure to avoid interruptions, errors and delays could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We depend on the accuracy and completeness of information about clients and counterparties.
In deciding whether to extend credit or enter into other transactions, and in evaluating and monitoring our loan and deposit portfolios on an ongoing basis, we may rely on information furnished by or on behalf of clients and counterparties, including financial statements, credit reports and other financial information. We may also rely on representations of those clients or counterparties or of other third parties, such as independent auditors, as to the accuracy and completeness of that information. Reliance on inaccurate, incomplete, fraudulent or misleading financial statements, credit reports or other financial or business information, or the failure to receive such information on a timely basis, could result in loan losses, reputational damage or other effects that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
If we pursue additional acquisitions, it may expose us to financial, execution and operational risks.
We plan to grow our business organically but remain open to considering potential bank or other acquisition opportunities that fit within our overall strategy and that we believe make financial and strategic sense. Although we do not have any current plans, arrangements or understandings to make any acquisitions, in the event that we pursue additional acquisitions, we may have difficulty completing them and may not realize the anticipated benefits of any transaction we complete. For example, we may not be successful in realizing anticipated cost savings, and we may not be successful in preventing disruptions in service to existing client relationships of the acquired institution. Our potential acquisition activities could require us to use a substantial amount of cash, other liquid assets or incur additional debt. In addition, if goodwill recorded in connection with our potential future acquisitions were determined to be impaired, then we would be required to recognize a charge against our earnings, which could materially and adversely affect our results of operations during the period in which the impairment was recognized.
In addition to the foregoing, we may face additional risks in acquisitions to the extent we acquire new lines of business or new products, or enter new geographic areas, in which we have little or no current experience, especially if we lose key employees of the acquired operations. We may not be successful in overcoming these risks or any other problems encountered in connection with acquisitions. Our inability to overcome risks associated with acquisitions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
New lines of business, products, product enhancements or services may subject us to additional risks.
From time to time, we may implement new lines of business or offer new products and product enhancements as well as new services within our existing lines of business. There are substantial risks and uncertainties associated with these efforts, particularly in instances in which the markets are not fully developed. In implementing, developing or marketing new lines of business, products, product enhancements or services, we may invest significant time and resources, although we may not assign the appropriate level of resources or expertise necessary to make these new lines of business, products, product enhancements or services successful or to realize their expected benefits. Further, initial timetables for the introduction and development of new lines of business, products, product enhancements 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 affect the ultimate implementation of a new line of business or offerings of new products, product enhancements or services. Furthermore, any new line of business, product, product enhancement or service or system conversion 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 offerings of new products, product enhancements or services could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We operate in a highly competitive and changing industry and market area and compete with both banks and non-banks.
We operate in the highly competitive financial services industry and face significant competition for clients from financial institutions located both within and beyond our market area. We compete with national commercial banks, regional banks, private banks, savings banks, credit unions, non-bank financial services companies and other financial institutions operating within or near the areas we serve, many of whom target the same clients we do in the Twin Cities MSA. As client preferences and expectations continue to evolve, technology has lowered barriers to entry and made it possible for banks to expand their geographic reach by providing services over the internet and for non-banks to offer products and services traditionally provided by banks, such as automatic transfer and automatic payment systems. The banking industry is experiencing rapid changes in technology, and, as a result, our future success will depend in part on our ability to address our clients’ needs by using technology. Client loyalty can be influenced by a competitor’s new products, especially offerings that could provide cost savings or a higher return to the client. Increased lending activity of competing banks has also led to increased competitive pressures on loan rates and terms for high-quality credits. We may not be able to compete successfully with other financial institutions in our markets, particularly with larger financial institutions that have significantly greater resources than us, and we may have to pay higher interest rates to attract deposits, accept lower yields to attract loans and pay higher wages for new employees, resulting in lower net interest margins and reduced profitability. Many of our non-bank competitors are not subject to the
same extensive regulations that govern our activities and may have greater flexibility in competing for business. The financial services industry could become even more competitive as a result of legislative, regulatory and technological changes and continued consolidation. In addition, some of our current commercial banking clients may seek alternative banking sources as they develop needs for credit larger than we may be able to accommodate or more expansive product mixes offered by larger institutions.
Severe weather, natural disasters, widespread disease or pandemics (including the COVID-19 pandemic), acts of war or terrorism, civil unrest or other adverse external events could significantly impact our business.
Severe weather, natural disasters, widespread disease or pandemics (including the COVID-19 pandemic), acts of war or terrorism, civil unrest or other adverse external events could have a significant impact on our ability to conduct business. In addition, such events could affect the stability of our deposit base, impair the ability of borrowers to repay outstanding loans, impair the value of collateral securing loans, cause significant property damage, result in loss of revenue or cause us to incur additional expenses. The occurrence of any of these events in the future could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
A transition away from the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, as a reference rate for financial contracts could negatively affect our income and expenses and the value of various financial contracts.
LIBOR is used extensively in the United States and globally as a benchmark for various commercial and financial contracts, including adjustable rate mortgages, corporate debt and interest rate swaps. LIBOR is set based on interest rate information reported by certain banks, which may stop reporting such information after 2021. It is not certain at this time whether LIBOR will change or cease to exist or the extent to which those entering into commercial or financial contracts will transition to any particular new benchmark. Other benchmarks may perform differently than LIBOR or alternative benchmarks have performed in the past or have other consequences that cannot currently be anticipated. It is also uncertain what will happen with instruments that rely on LIBOR for future interest rate adjustments and which remain outstanding if LIBOR ceases to exist.
While there is no consensus on what rate or rates may become accepted alternatives to LIBOR, the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, a steering committee comprised of U.S. financial market participants, selected by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, started in May 2018 to publish the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or SOFR, as an alternative to LIBOR. SOFR is a broad measure of the cost of overnight borrowings collateralized by Treasury securities that was selected by the Alternative Reference Rate Committee due to the depth and robustness of the Treasury repurchase market. At this time, it is impossible to predict whether SOFR will become an accepted alternative to LIBOR.
We have loans, available for sale securities, derivative contracts, notes payable and subordinated debentures with terms that are either directly or indirectly dependent on LIBOR. The transition to LIBOR to alternative rates such as SOFR, could create considerable costs and additional risk. Any such transition could: (i) adversely affect the interest rates paid or received on, the revenue and expenses associate with, and the value of our floating-rate obligations, loans, deposits, derivatives, and other financial instruments tied to LIBOR rates, or other securities or financial arrangements given LIBOR’s role in determining market interest rates globally; (ii) prompt inquiries or other actions from regulators in respect of our preparation and readiness for the replacement of LIBOR with an alternative reference rate; (iii) result in disputes, litigation or other actions with counterparties regarding the interpretation and enforceability of certain fallback language in LIBOR-based securities; and (iv) require the transition to or development of appropriate systems and analytics to effectively transition our risk management processes from LIBOR-based products to those based on the applicable alternative pricing benchmark, such as SOFR. Since proposed alternative rates are calculated differently, payments under contracts referencing new rates will differ from those referencing LIBOR. The transition will change our market risk profile, requiring changes to risk and pricing models, valuation tools, product design and hedging strategies. Further, a failure to adequately manage this transition process with our customers could adversely affect our reputation. Although we are currently unable to assess the ultimate impact of the transition from LIBOR, a failure to adequately manage the transition could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Legal, Accounting and Compliance Risks
We are subject to commercial real estate lending guidance issued by the federal banking regulators that impacts our operations and capital requirements.
The federal banking regulators have issued guidance regarding concentrations in commercial real estate lending directed at institutions that have particularly high concentrations of commercial real estate loans within their lending portfolios. This guidance suggests that institutions whose commercial real estate loans exceed certain percentages of capital should implement heightened risk management practices appropriate to their concentration risk and may be required to maintain higher capital ratios than institutions with lower concentrations in commercial real estate lending. As of December 31, 2020, our commercial real estate secured loans represented 455.8% of the Bank’s total risk-based capital. As a result, we are deemed to have a concentration in commercial real estate lending under applicable regulatory guidelines. Accordingly, pursuant to guidance issued by the federal bank regulatory agencies, we are required to have heightened risk management practices in place to account for the heightened degree of risk associated with commercial real estate lending and may be required to maintain capital in excess of regulatory minimums. We cannot guarantee that the risk management practices we have implemented will be effective to prevent losses relating to our commercial real estate portfolio. In addition, increased capital requirements could limit our ability to leverage our capital, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Our risk management framework may not be effective in mitigating risks or losses to us.
Our risk management framework is comprised of various processes, systems and strategies, and is designed to manage the types of risk to which we are subject, including, among others, operational, credit, market, liquidity, interest rate and compliance. Our framework also includes financial or other modeling methodologies that involve management assumptions and judgment. Our risk management framework may not be effective under all circumstances and it may not adequately mitigate any risk or loss to us. If our framework is not effective, we could suffer unexpected losses and our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected. We may also be subject to potentially adverse regulatory consequences.
Our accounting estimates and risk management processes and controls rely on analytical and forecasting techniques and models and assumptions, which may not accurately predict future events.
Our accounting policies and methods are fundamental to the manner in which we record and report our financial condition and results of operations. Our management must exercise judgment in selecting and applying many of these accounting policies and methods so they comply with GAAP and reflect management’s judgment of the most appropriate manner to report our financial condition and results of operations. In some cases, management must select the accounting policy or method to apply from two or more alternatives, any of which may be reasonable under the circumstances, yet which may result in our reporting materially different results than would have been reported under a different alternative.
Certain accounting policies are critical to presenting our financial condition and results of operations. They require management to make difficult, subjective or complex judgments about matters that are uncertain. Materially different amounts could be reported under different conditions or using different assumptions or estimates. These critical accounting policies include policies related to the allowance for loan losses, investment securities impairment, fair value of financial instruments and deferred tax assets. See Note 1 of the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements included as part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further information. Because of the uncertainty of estimates involved in these matters, we may be required to do one or more of the following: significantly increase the allowance for loan losses or sustain loan losses that are significantly higher than the reserve provided, experience additional impairment in our securities portfolio, change the carrying value of our financial instruments and the amount of revenue or loss recorded, or record a valuation allowance against our deferred tax assets. Any of these could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Our risk management processes, internal controls, disclosure controls and corporate governance policies and procedures are based in part on certain assumptions and can provide only reasonable (not absolute) assurances that the
objectives of the system are met. Any failure or circumvention of our controls, processes and procedures or failure to comply with regulations related to controls, processes and procedures could necessitate changes in those controls, processes and procedures, which may increase our compliance costs, divert management attention from our business or subject us to regulatory actions and increased regulatory scrutiny. Any of these could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Changes in accounting policies or standards could materially impact our financial statements.
From time to time, the FASB or the SEC, may change the financial accounting and reporting standards that govern the preparation of our financial statements. Such changes may result in us being subject to new or changing accounting and reporting standards. In addition, the bodies that interpret the accounting standards (such as banking regulators or outside auditors) may change their interpretations or positions on how these standards should be applied. These changes may be beyond our control, can be hard to predict and can 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, or apply an existing standard differently, in each case resulting in our needing to revise or restate prior period financial statements.
The obligations associated with being a public company require significant resources and management attention, which may divert time and attention from our business operations.
As a public company, we are required to file periodic reports containing our consolidated financial statements with the SEC within a specified time following the completion of quarterly and annual periods. As a public company, we also incur significant legal, accounting, insurance, and other expenses. Compliance with these reporting requirements and other rules of the SEC could increase our legal and financial compliance costs and make some activities more time consuming and costly, which could negatively affect our efficiency ratio. Furthermore, the need to establish and maintain the corporate infrastructure demanded of a public company may divert management’s attention from implementing our strategic plan, which could prevent us from successfully implementing our growth initiatives and improving our business, financial condition and results of operations.
As an emerging growth company as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or JOBS Act, we are taking advantage of certain temporary exemptions from various reporting requirements, including reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements and an exemption from the requirement to obtain an attestation from our auditors on management’s assessment of our internal control over financial reporting. When these exemptions cease to apply, we expect to incur additional expenses and devote increased management effort toward ensuring compliance with them.
Litigation and regulatory actions, including possible enforcement actions, could subject us to significant fines, penalties, judgments or other requirements resulting in increased expenses or restrictions on our business activities.
Our business is subject to increased litigation and regulatory risks as a result of a number of factors, including the highly regulated nature of the financial services industry and the focus of state and federal prosecutors on banks and the financial services industry generally. This focus has only intensified since the financial crisis, with regulators and prosecutors focusing on a variety of financial institution practices and requirements, including foreclosure practices, compliance with applicable consumer protection laws, classification of “held for sale” assets and compliance with anti-money laundering statutes, the Bank Secrecy Act and sanctions administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury.
In the normal course of business, from time to time, we have in the past and may in the future be named as a defendant in various legal actions, including arbitrations, class actions and other litigation, arising in connection with our current or prior business activities. Legal actions could include claims for substantial compensatory or punitive damages or claims for indeterminate amounts of damages. We may also, from time to time, be the subject of subpoenas, requests for information, reviews, investigations and proceedings (both formal and informal) by governmental agencies regarding our current or prior business activities. Any such legal or regulatory actions may subject us to substantial compensatory or punitive damages, significant fines, penalties, obligations to change our business practices or other requirements
resulting in increased expenses, diminished income and damage to our reputation. Our involvement in any such matters, whether tangential or otherwise and even if the matters are ultimately determined in our favor, could also cause significant harm to our reputation and divert management attention from the operation of our business. Further, any settlement, consent order or adverse judgment in connection with any formal or informal proceeding or investigation by government agencies may result in litigation, investigations or proceedings as other litigants and government agencies begin independent reviews of the same activities. As a result, the outcome of legal and regulatory actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We are subject to extensive regulation, and the regulatory framework that applies to us, together with any future legislative or regulatory changes, may significantly affect our operations.
The banking industry is extensively regulated and supervised under both federal and state laws and regulations that are intended primarily for the protection of depositors, clients, federal deposit insurance funds and the banking system as a whole, not for the protection of our shareholders. The Company is subject to regulation and supervision by the Federal Reserve, and the Bank is subject to regulation and supervision by the FDIC and the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The laws and regulations applicable to us govern a variety of matters, including permissible types, amounts and terms of loans and investments we may make, the maximum interest rate that may be charged, the amount of reserves we must hold against deposits we take, the types of deposits we may accept, maintenance of adequate capital and liquidity, changes in the control of us and our bank, restrictions on dividends and establishment of new offices. We must obtain approval from our regulators before engaging in certain activities, and there is the risk that such approvals may not be obtained, either in a timely manner or at all. Our regulators also have the ability to compel us to take certain actions, or restrict us from taking certain actions entirely, such as actions that our regulators deem to constitute an unsafe or unsound banking practice. Our failure to comply with any applicable laws or regulations, or regulatory policies and interpretations of such laws and regulations, could result in sanctions by regulatory agencies, civil money penalties or damage to our reputation, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Since the financial crisis, federal and state banking laws and regulations, as well as interpretations and implementations of these laws and regulations, have undergone substantial review and change. In particular, the Dodd-Frank Act drastically revised the laws and regulations under which we operate. As an institution with less than $10 billion in assets, certain elements of the Dodd-Frank Act have not been applied to us and provisions of the Regulatory Relief Act are intended to result in meaningful regulatory relief for community banks and their holding companies. While we endeavor to maintain safe banking practices and controls beyond the regulatory requirements applicable to us, our internal controls may not match those of larger banking institutions that are subject to increased regulatory oversight.
Financial institutions generally have also been subjected to increased scrutiny from regulatory authorities. This increased regulatory burden has resulted and may continue to result in increased costs of doing business and may in the future result in decreased revenues and net income, reduce our ability to compete effectively to attract and retain clients, or make it less attractive for us to continue providing certain products and services. Any future changes in federal and state laws and regulations, as well as the interpretation and implementation of such laws and regulations, could affect us in substantial and unpredictable ways, including those listed above or other ways that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. In addition, political developments, including changes in law introduced by the Biden administration in the United States in 2021, add uncertainty to the implementation, scope and timing of regulatory reforms.
Changes in tax laws and regulations, or changes in the interpretation of existing tax laws and regulations, may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We operate in an environment that imposes income taxes on our operations at both the federal and state levels to varying degrees. We engage in certain strategies to minimize the impact of these taxes. Consequently, any change in tax laws or regulations, or new interpretation of an existing law or regulation, could significantly alter the effectiveness of these strategies.
The net deferred tax asset reported on our balance sheet generally represents the tax benefit of future deductions from taxable income for items that have already been recognized for financial reporting purposes. The bulk of these deferred tax assets consist of deferred loan loss deductions and deferred compensation deductions. The net deferred tax asset is measured by applying currently-enacted income tax rates to the accounting period during which the tax benefit is expected to be realized. As of December 31, 2020, our net deferred tax asset was $8.0 million.
We also face risk based on actions of the U.S. Treasury and the IRS. In November 2016, these agencies issued a notice making captive insurance company activities “transactions of interest” due to the potential for tax avoidance or evasion. We have a captive insurance company, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company that provides insurance coverage to the Company and its subsidiaries for risk management purposes or where commercial insurance may not be available or economically feasible. It is not certain at this point how the notice may impact us or the continued operation of the captive insurance company as a risk management tool, but if the activity is deemed by the IRS to be an abusive tax structure, we may become subject to significant penalties and interest.
In addition, in February of 2018, we formed Bridgewater Investment Management, Inc., a Minnesota corporation and a subsidiary of the Bank, to hold certain municipal securities and to engage in municipal lending activities. Based on current tax regulations and guidance, we believe that municipal securities held by a non-bank subsidiary of a financial institution are eligible to receive favorable federal income tax treatment. Like our captive insurance company, there is a risk that the IRS may investigate these types of arrangements and issue new guidance eliminating the tax benefit to such a structure.
There is uncertainty surrounding potential legal, regulatory and policy changes by new presidential administrations in the United States that may directly affect financial institutions and the global economy.
Changes in federal policy and at regulatory agencies occur over time through policy and personnel changes following elections, which lead to changes involving the level of oversight and focus on the financial services industry. The nature, timing and economic and political effects of potential changes to the current legal and regulatory framework affecting financial institutions remain highly uncertain. Uncertainty surrounding future changes may adversely affect our operating environment and therefore our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We are subject to more stringent capital requirements.
Banking institutions are required to hold more capital as a percentage of assets than most industries. In the wake of the global financial crisis, our capital requirements increased, both in the amount of capital we must hold and in the quality of the capital to absorb losses. Holding high amounts of capital compresses our earnings and constrains growth. In addition, the failure to meet applicable regulatory capital requirements could result in one or more of our regulators placing limitations or conditions on our activities, including our growth initiatives, or restricting the commencement of new activities, and could affect client and investor confidence, our costs of funds and FDIC insurance costs and our ability to make acquisitions and ultimately result in a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Federal and state regulators periodically examine our business, and we may be required to remediate adverse examination findings.
The Federal Reserve, the FDIC and the Minnesota Department of Commerce periodically examine us, including our operations and our compliance with laws and regulations. If, as a result of an examination, a banking agency were to determine that our financial condition, capital resources, asset quality, earnings prospects, management, liquidity or other aspects of any of our operations had become unsatisfactory, or that we were in violation of any law or regulation, they may take a number of different remedial actions as they deem appropriate. These actions include the power to enjoin “unsafe or unsound” practices, to require affirmative action to correct any conditions resulting from any violation or practice, to issue an administrative order that can be judicially enforced, to direct an increase in our capital, to restrict our growth, to assess civil money penalties, to fine or remove officers and directors and, if it is concluded that such conditions cannot be corrected or there is an imminent risk of loss to depositors, to terminate our deposit insurance
and place us into receivership or conservatorship. Any regulatory action against us could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We are subject to numerous laws designed to protect consumers, including the Community Reinvestment Act and fair lending laws, and failure to comply with these laws could lead to a wide variety of sanctions.
The CRA requires the Bank, consistent with safe and sound operations, to ascertain and meet the credit needs of its entire community, including low and moderate income areas. Our failure to comply with the CRA could, among other things, result in the denial or delay of certain corporate applications filed by us, including applications for branch openings or relocations and applications to acquire, merge or consolidate with another banking institution or holding company. In addition, the CRA, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act and other fair lending laws and regulations prohibit discriminatory lending practices by financial institutions. The U.S. Department of Justice, bank regulatory agencies and other federal agencies are responsible for enforcing these laws and regulations. A challenge to an institution’s compliance with fair lending laws and regulations could result in a wide variety of sanctions, including damages and civil money penalties, injunctive relief, restrictions on mergers and acquisitions activity, restrictions on expansion and restrictions on entering new business lines. Private parties may also challenge an institution’s performance under fair lending laws in private class action litigation. Such actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Noncompliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and other anti-money laundering statutes and regulations could result in fines or sanctions against us.
The Bank Secrecy Act, the USA Patriot Act and other laws and regulations require financial institutions, among other duties, to institute and maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and to file reports such as suspicious activity reports and currency transaction reports. We are required to comply with these and other anti-money laundering requirements. The bank regulatory agencies and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network are authorized to impose significant civil money penalties for violations of those requirements and have recently engaged in coordinated enforcement efforts against banks and other financial services providers with the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS. We are also subject to increased scrutiny of compliance with the rules enforced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. If our policies, procedures and systems are deemed deficient, we would be subject to liability, including fines and regulatory actions, which may include restrictions on our ability to pay dividends and the necessity to obtain regulatory approvals to proceed with certain aspects of our business plan, including our acquisition plans.
Failure to maintain and implement adequate programs to combat money laundering and terrorist financing could also have serious reputational consequences for us. Any of these results could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Regulations relating to privacy, information security and data protection could increase our costs, affect or limit how we collect and use personal information and adversely affect our business opportunities.
We are subject to various privacy, information security and data protection laws, including requirements concerning security breach notification, and we could be negatively affected by these laws. For example, our business is subject to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which, among other things (i) imposes certain limitations on our ability to share nonpublic personal information about our clients with nonaffiliated third parties, (ii) requires that we provide certain disclosures to clients about our information collection, sharing and security practices and afford clients the right to “opt out” of any information sharing by us with nonaffiliated third parties (with certain exceptions) and (iii) requires that we develop, implement and maintain a written comprehensive information security program containing appropriate safeguards based on our size and complexity, the nature and scope of our activities and the sensitivity of client information we process, as well as plans for responding to data security breaches. Various state and federal banking regulators and states have also enacted data security breach notification requirements with varying levels of individual, consumer, regulatory or law enforcement notification in certain circumstances in the event of a security breach. Moreover, legislators and regulators in the United States are increasingly adopting or revising privacy, information security and data protection laws that potentially could have a significant impact on our current and planned privacy,
data protection and information security-related practices, our collection, use, sharing, retention and safeguarding of consumer or employee information and some of our current or planned business activities. This could also increase our costs of compliance and business operations and could reduce income from certain business initiatives. This includes increased privacy-related enforcement activity at the federal level, by the Federal Trade Commission and the CFPB, as well as at the state level, such as with regard to mobile applications.
Compliance with current or future privacy, data protection and information security laws (including those regarding security breach notification) affecting client or employee data to which we are subject could result in higher compliance and technology costs and could restrict our ability to provide certain products and services, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. Our failure to comply with privacy, data protection and information security laws could result in potentially significant regulatory or governmental investigations or actions, litigation, fines, sanctions and damage to our reputation, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
The Federal Reserve may require us to commit capital resources to support the Bank.
As a matter of policy, the Federal Reserve expects a bank holding company to act as a source of financial and managerial strength to a subsidiary bank and to commit resources to support such subsidiary bank. The Dodd-Frank Act codified the Federal Reserve’s policy on serving as a source of financial strength. Under the “source of strength” doctrine, the Federal Reserve may require a bank holding company to make capital injections into a troubled subsidiary bank and may charge the bank holding company with engaging in unsafe and unsound practices for failure to commit resources to a subsidiary bank. A capital injection may be required at times when the holding company may not have the resources to provide it and therefore may be required to borrow the funds or raise capital. Any loans by a holding company to its subsidiary bank are subordinate in right of payment to deposits and to certain other indebtedness of such subsidiary bank. In the event of a bank holding company’s bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee will assume any commitment by the holding company to a federal bank regulatory agency to maintain the capital of a subsidiary bank. Moreover, bankruptcy law provides that claims based on any such commitment will be entitled to a priority of payment over the claims of the institution’s general unsecured creditors, including the holders of its note obligations. Thus, any borrowing that must be done by the Company to make a required capital injection becomes more difficult and expensive and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We are an emerging growth company within the meaning of the Securities Act and because we have decided to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting and other requirements applicable to emerging growth companies, our common stock could be less attractive to investors.
For as long as we remain an emerging growth company, as defined in the JOBS Act, we will have the option to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting and other requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, being permitted to have an extended transition period for adopting any new or revised accounting standards that may be issued by the FASB or the SEC, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and shareholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We have elected to, and expect to continue to, take advantage of certain of these and other exemptions until we are no longer an emerging growth company. Further, the JOBS Act allows us to present only two years of audited financial statements and only two years of related management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations and provide less than five years of selected financial data.
We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest of (i) the end of the fiscal year during which we have total annual gross revenues of $1.07 billion or more, (ii) the end of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the completion of our initial public offering, (iii) the date on which we have, during the previous three-year period, issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt and (iv) the end of the first fiscal year in which (A) the market value of our equity securities that are held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of June 30 of that year, (B) we have been a public reporting company under the Exchange Act for at least twelve calendar months and (C) we have filed at least one annual report on Form 10-K.
Because we have elected to use the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards for an emerging growth company, our financial statements may not be comparable to companies that comply with these accounting standards as of the public company effective dates.
We have elected to use the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards under Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act. This election allows us to delay the adoption of new or revised accounting standards that have different effective dates for public and private companies until those standards apply to private companies. As a result of this election, our financial statements may not be comparable to companies that comply with these accounting standards as of the public company effective dates. Because our financial statements may not be comparable to companies that comply with public company effective dates, investors may have difficulty evaluating or comparing our business, financial results or prospects in comparison to other public companies, which may have a negative impact on the value and liquidity of our common stock. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we plan to rely on this exemption. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.
The financial reporting resources we have put in place may not be sufficient to ensure the accuracy of the additional information we are required to disclose as a publicly listed company.
As a result of being a publicly listed company, we are subject to the heightened financial reporting standards under GAAP and SEC rules, including more extensive levels of disclosure. Complying with these standards required enhancements to the design and operation of our internal control over financial reporting as well as additional financial reporting and accounting staff with appropriate training and experience in GAAP and SEC rules and regulations.
If we are unable to meet the demands that are placed upon us as a public company, including the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley, we may be unable to report our financial results accurately, or report them within the timeframes required by law or stock exchange regulations. Failure to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley, when and as applicable, could also potentially subject us to sanctions or investigations by the SEC or other regulatory authorities. If material weaknesses or other deficiencies occur, our ability to report our financial results accurately and timely could be impaired, which could result in late filings of our annual and quarterly reports under the Exchange Act, restatements of our consolidated financial statements, a decline in our stock price, suspension or delisting of our common stock from the Nasdaq Stock Market, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. Even if we are able to report our financial statements accurately and in a timely manner, any failure in our efforts to implement the improvements or disclosure of material weaknesses in our future filings with the SEC could cause our reputation to be harmed and our stock price to decline significantly.
We did not engage our independent registered public accounting firm to perform an audit of our internal control over financial reporting, as contemplated by Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley, under the standards of the PCAOB as of any balance sheet date reported in our financial statements as of December 31, 2020. If we had our independent registered public accounting firm perform an audit of our internal control over financial reporting under the standards of the PCAOB, material weaknesses may have been identified. In addition, the JOBS Act provides that, so long as we qualify as an emerging growth company, we will be exempt from the provisions of Section 404(b) of Sarbanes-Oxley, which would require that our independent registered public accounting firm provide an attestation report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting under the standards of the PCAOB. We may take advantage of this exemption so long as we qualify as an emerging growth company.
Certain banking laws and certain provisions of our second amended and restated articles of incorporation may have an anti-takeover effect.
Provisions of federal banking laws, including regulatory approval requirements, could make it difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if doing so would be perceived to be beneficial to our shareholders. Acquisition of 10% or more of any class of voting stock of a bank holding company or depository institution, including shares of our common stock, generally creates a rebuttable presumption that the acquirer “controls” the bank holding company or depository institution. Also, a bank holding company must obtain the prior approval of the Federal Reserve before, among other
things, acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of more than 5% of the voting shares of any bank, including the Bank.
There are also provisions in our second amended and restated articles of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws, such as the classification of our board of directors and limitations on the ability to call a special meeting of our shareholders, that may be used to delay or block a takeover attempt. In addition, our board of directors is authorized under our second amended and restated articles of incorporation to issue shares of preferred stock, and determine the rights, terms conditions and privileges of such preferred stock, without shareholder approval. These provisions may effectively inhibit a non-negotiated merger or other business combination, which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.
Our amended and restated bylaws have an exclusive forum provision, which could limit a shareholder’s ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees.
Our amended and restated bylaws have an exclusive forum provision providing that, unless we consent in writing to an alternative forum, the state or federal courts in Hennepin County, Minnesota shall be the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the Company, (ii) any action asserting a claim for breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer, employee, or agent of the Company to the Company or the Company’s shareholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Minnesota Business Corporation Act, the articles or the bylaws of the Company, or (iv) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in each case subject to said courts having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants therein. Any person purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in any shares of our capital stock shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to this provision of our bylaws. The exclusive forum provision may limit a shareholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits. Alternatively, if a court were to find the exclusive forum provision to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Market and Interest Rate Risks
Our business is subject to interest rate risk, and fluctuations in interest rates may adversely affect our earnings.
Fluctuations in interest rates may negatively affect our business and may weaken demand for some of our products. Our earnings and cash flows are largely dependent on our net interest income, which is the difference between the interest income that we earn on interest earning assets, such as loans and investment securities, and the interest expense that we pay on interest bearing liabilities, such as deposits and borrowings. Additionally, changes in interest rates also affect our ability to fund our operations with client deposits and the fair value of securities in our investment portfolio. Therefore, any change in general market interest rates, including changes in federal fiscal and monetary policies, can have a significant effect on our net interest income and results of operations.
Our interest earning assets and interest bearing liabilities may react in different degrees to changes in market interest rates. Interest rates on some types of assets and liabilities may fluctuate prior to changes in broader market interest rates, while rates on other types of assets and liabilities may lag behind. The result of these changes to rates may cause differing spreads on interest earning assets and interest bearing liabilities. We cannot control or accurately predict changes in market rates of interest.
Interest rates are volatile and highly sensitive to many factors that are beyond our control, such as economic conditions and policies of various governmental and regulatory agencies, and, in particular U.S. monetary policy. For example, we face uncertainty regarding the interest rate risk, and resulting effect on our portfolio, that could result when the Federal Reserve reduces the amount of securities it holds on its balance sheet. In recent years, it has been the policy of the Federal Reserve to maintain interest rates at historically low levels through a targeted federal funds rate and the purchase of U.S. Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. As a result, yields on securities we have purchased, and market rates on the loans we have originated, have generally been at levels lower than were available prior to the
financial crisis. Consequently, the average yield on the Bank’s interest-earning assets has generally decreased during the current low interest rate environment. If a low interest rate environment persists, we may be unable to increase our net interest income.
As of December 31, 2020, we had $671.9 million of noninterest bearing deposit accounts and $1.83 billion of interest bearing deposit accounts. We do not know what future market rates will be. If we need to offer higher interest rates on these accounts to maintain current clients or attract new clients, our interest expense will increase, perhaps materially. Furthermore, if we fail to offer interest in a sufficient amount to keep these demand deposits, our core deposits may be reduced, which would require us to obtain funding in other ways or risk slowing our future asset growth.
We could recognize losses on securities held in our securities portfolio, particularly if interest rates increase or economic and market conditions deteriorate.
As of December 31, 2020, the fair value of our securities portfolio was approximately $390.6 million, or 13.3% of our total assets. Factors beyond our control can significantly influence the fair value of securities in our portfolio and can cause potential adverse changes to the fair value of these securities. For example, fixed-rate securities acquired by us are generally subject to decreases in market value when interest rates rise. Additional factors include, but are not limited to, rating agency downgrades of the securities or our own analysis of the value of the security, defaults by the issuer or individual mortgagors with respect to the underlying securities and instability in the credit markets. Any of the foregoing factors could cause an other than temporary impairment in future periods and result in realized losses. The process for determining whether impairment is other than temporary usually requires difficult, subjective judgments about the future financial performance of the issuer and any collateral underlying the security in order to assess the probability of receiving all contractual principal and interest payments on the security. Because of changing economic and market conditions affecting interest rates, the financial condition of issuers of the securities and the performance of the underlying collateral, we may recognize realized or unrealized losses in future periods, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Monetary policies and regulations of the Federal Reserve could adversely affect our operations.
In addition to being affected by general economic conditions, our earnings and growth are affected by the policies of the Federal Reserve. An important function of the Federal Reserve is to regulate the money supply and credit conditions. Among the instruments used by the Federal Reserve to implement these objectives are open market purchases and sales of U.S. government securities, adjustments of the discount rate and changes in banks’ reserve requirements against bank deposits. These instruments are used in varying combinations to influence overall economic growth and the distribution of credit, bank loans, investments and deposits. Their use also affects interest rates charged on loans or paid on deposits.
The monetary policies and regulations of the Federal Reserve have had a significant effect on the operating results of commercial banks in the past and are expected to continue to do so in the future. The effects of such policies upon our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects cannot be predicted.
Our stock is relatively thinly traded.
Although our common stock is traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market, the average daily trading volume of our common stock is relatively low compared to many public companies. The desired market characteristics of depth, liquidity, and orderliness require the substantial presence of willing buyers and sellers in the marketplace at any given time. In our case, this presence depends on the individual decisions of a relatively small number of investors and general economic and market conditions over which we have no control. Due to the relatively low trading volume of our common stock, significant sales of our common stock, or the expectation of these sales, could cause the stock price to fall more than would be justified by the inherent worth of the Company. Conversely, attempts to purchase a significant amount of our stock could cause the market price to rise above the reasonable inherent worth of the Company.
The price of our common stock could be volatile and other factors could cause our stock price to decline.
Stock price volatility may make it more difficult for you to resell your common stock when you want and at prices you find attractive. The market price of our common stock may be volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations in price in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control. These factors include, among other things:
actual or anticipated variations in our quarterly results of operations;
recommendations or research reports about us or the financial services industry in general published by securities analysts;
the failure of securities analysts to cover, or continue to cover;
operating and stock price performance of other companies that investors or analysts deem comparable to us;
news reports relating to trends, concerns and other issues in the financial services industry;
perceptions in the marketplace regarding us, our competitors or other financial institutions;
future sales of our common stock;
departure of members of our strategic leadership team or other key personnel;
new technology used, or services offered, by competitors;
significant acquisitions or business combinations, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments by or involving us or our competitors;
changes or proposed changes in laws or regulations, or differing interpretations of existing laws and regulations, affecting our business, or enforcement of these laws and regulations;
litigation and governmental investigations; and
geopolitical conditions such as acts or threats of terrorism or military conflicts.
In addition, if the market for stocks in our industry, or the stock market in general, experiences a loss of investor confidence, the trading price of our common stock could decline for reasons unrelated to our business, financial condition, results of operations or growth prospects. If any of the foregoing occurs, it could cause our stock price to fall and may expose us to lawsuits that, even if unsuccessful, could be costly to defend and a distraction to management.
An investment in our common stock is not an insured deposit.
An investment in our common stock is not a bank deposit and, therefore, is not insured against loss by the FDIC, any other deposit insurance fund or by any other public or private entity. Investment in our common stock is inherently risky for the reasons described in this report, and is subject to the same market forces that affect the price of common stock in any company. As a result, if you acquire our common stock, you could lose some or all of your investment.
Our ability to pay dividends may be limited, and we do not intend to pay cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. Consequently, your ability to achieve a return on your investment will depend on appreciation in the price of our common stock.
Holders of our common stock are entitled to receive only such dividends as our board of directors may declare out of funds legally available for such payments. We expect that we will retain all earnings, if any, for operating capital, and we do not expect our board of directors to declare any dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. Even if we have earnings in an amount sufficient to pay cash dividends, our board of directors may decide to retain earnings for the purpose of funding growth. We cannot assure you that cash dividends on our common stock will ever be paid. You should not purchase shares of common stock offered hereby if you need or desire dividend income from this investment.
In addition, we are a financial holding company, and our ability to declare and pay dividends is dependent on certain federal regulatory considerations, including the guidelines of the Federal Reserve regarding capital adequacy and dividends. It is the policy of the Federal Reserve that bank and financial holding companies should generally pay dividends on capital stock only out of earnings, and only if prospective earnings retention is consistent with the organization’s expected future needs, asset quality and financial condition.
Further, if we are unable to satisfy the capital requirements applicable to us for any reason, we may not be able to make, or may have to reduce or eliminate, the payment of dividends on our common stock in the event we decide to declare dividends. Any change in the level of our dividends or the suspension of the payment thereof could have a material adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.
Future issuances of common stock could result in dilution, which could cause our common stock price to decline.
We are generally not restricted from issuing additional shares of our common stock, up to the 75,000,000 shares of common stock in our second amended and restated articles of incorporation, which could be increased by a vote of the holders of a majority of our shares of common stock. We may issue additional shares of our common stock in the future pursuant to current or future equity compensation plans, upon conversions of preferred stock or debt, or in connection with future acquisitions or financings. If we choose to raise capital by selling shares of our common stock for any reason, the issuance would have a dilutive effect on the holders of our common stock and could have a material negative effect on the market price of our common stock.
The holders of our debt obligations and preferred stock, if any, will have priority over our common stock with respect to payment in the event of liquidation, dissolution or winding up and with respect to the payment of interest and dividends.
In any liquidation, dissolution or winding up of the Company, our common stock would rank below all claims of debt holders against us and claims of all of our outstanding shares of preferred stock. As of December 31, 2020, we had $11.0 million of senior indebtedness and $75.0 million of subordinated debentures outstanding. We do not currently have any shares of preferred stock outstanding. As a result, holders of our common stock will not be entitled to receive any payment or other distribution of assets upon the liquidation, dissolution or winding up of the Company until after all of our obligations to our debt holders have been satisfied and holders of senior equity securities, including preferred shares, if any, have received any payment or distribution due to them.
We cannot guarantee that our stock repurchase program will be fully implemented or that it will enhance long-term shareholder value.
In January 2019, the Company’s board of directors approved a stock repurchase program, which authorized the Company to repurchase up to $15.0 million of its common stock, subject to certain limitations and conditions. The repurchase program was effective immediately and was subsequently expanded. On July 23, 2019 and October 27, 2020, the Company’s board of directors approved a $10.0 million and $15.0 million increase, respectively, to the repurchase program for a total authorization of $40.0 million. Additionally, on October 27, 2020, the repurchase program duration was extended to run through October 27, 2022. The repurchase program does not obligate the Company to repurchase any shares of its common stock, and other than repurchases that have been completed to date, there is no assurance that the Company will do so or that the Company will repurchase shares at favorable prices. The repurchase program may be suspended or terminated at any time and, even if fully implemented, the repurchase program may not enhance long-term shareholder value.
COVID-19 Pandemic Related Risks
The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to an economic recession and had other severe effects on the U.S. economy and has disrupted our operations. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has also adversely impacted certain industries in which our clients operate and impaired their ability to fulfill their financial obligations to us. The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business remains uncertain but may have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact the United States and the world. The spread of COVID-19 has negatively impacted the U.S. economy at large, and small businesses in particular, and has disrupted our operations. The responses on the part of the U.S. and global governments and populations have created a recessionary environment, reduced economic activity and caused significant volatility in the global stock markets. We have experienced significant disruptions across our business due to these effects, which may in future periods lead to decreased earnings, significant loan defaults and slowdowns in our loan collections. We expect increased unemployment and recessionary concerns will adversely affect loan originations in future periods. The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business remains uncertain but may have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in a decline in the businesses of certain of our clients, a decrease in consumer confidence, an increase in unemployment and a disruption in the services provided by our vendors. Continued disruptions to our clients’ businesses could result in increased risk of delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures and losses on our loans, negatively impact regional economic conditions, result in declines in local loan demand, liquidity of loan guarantors, the value of loan collateral (particularly in real estate), loan originations and deposit availability and negatively impact the implementation of our growth strategy. Although the U.S. government introduced a number of programs designed to soften the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, our borrowers may still be unable to satisfy their financial obligations to us.
In addition, COVID-19 has impacted and likely will continue to impact the financial ability of businesses and consumers to borrow money, which would negatively impact loan volumes. Certain of our borrowers are in or have exposure to the hospitality and restaurant industries and are located in areas that are or were quarantined or under stay-at-home orders. COVID-19 may also have an adverse effect on our commercial real estate portfolio, particularly with respect to real estate with exposure to affected industries, and our consumer loan portfolio. As COVID-19 cases have begun to surge in recent months, any new or prolonged quarantine or stay-at-home orders would have a negative adverse impact on these borrowers and their revenue streams, which consequently impacts their ability to meet their financial obligations to us and could result in loan defaults.
The ultimate extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on our business will depend on many factors, primarily including the speed and extent of any recovery from the related economic recession. Among other things, this will depend on the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in our markets, the development, distribution and supply of vaccines, therapies and other public health initiatives to control the spread of the disease, the nature and size of federal economic stimulus and other governmental efforts, and the possibility of additional state lockdown or stay-at-home orders in our markets in response to the recent surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.
The initial distribution of vaccines has been slow, and there may continue to be challenges with producing and distributing sufficient quantities of the vaccines. If the general public is unwilling or unable to access effective vaccines and therapies, this may also prolong the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, new variants of COVID-19 may increase the spread or severity of COVID-19 and previously developed vaccines and therapies may not be as effective against new COVID-19 variants.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic we may experience adverse financial consequences due to a number of other factors, including, but not limited to:
|●||a sustained decline in our stock price or the occurrence of what management would deem to be a triggering event that could, under certain circumstances, cause management to perform impairment testing on our goodwill and other intangible assets that could result in an impairment charge being recorded for that period, and adversely impact our results of operations and the ability of the Bank to pay dividends to us;|
|●||the negative effect on earnings resulting from the Bank modifying loans and agreeing to loan payment deferrals due to the COVID-19 crisis;|
|●||increased demand on our liquidity as we meet borrowers’ needs and cover expenses related to our business continuity plan;|
|●||the potential for reduced liquidity and its negative effect on our capital and leverage ratios;|
|●||the modification of our business practices, including with respect to branch operations, employee travel, employee work locations, participation in meetings, events and conferences, and related changes for our vendors and other business partners;|
|●||increases in federal and state taxes as a result of the effects of the pandemic and stimulus programs on governmental budgets;|
|●||an increase in FDIC premiums if the agency experiences additional resolution costs relating to bank failures;|
|●||increased cyber and payment fraud risk due to increased online and remote activity; and|
|●||other operational failures due to changes in our normal business practices because of the pandemic and governmental actions to contain it.|
Overall, we believe that the economic impact from COVID-19 will be severe and could have a material and adverse impact on our business and result in significant losses in our loan portfolio, all of which would adversely and materially impact our earnings and capital. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, we may continue to experience materially adverse impacts to our business as a result of the global economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the availability of credit, adverse impacts on liquidity and any recession that has occurred or may occur in the future. There are no comparable recent events that provide guidance as to the effect the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic may have, and, as a result, the ultimate impact of the pandemic is highly uncertain and subject to change.
The U.S. government and banking regulators, including the Federal Reserve, have taken a number of unprecedented actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which could ultimately have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which established a $2.0 trillion economic stimulus package, including cash payments to individuals, supplemental unemployment insurance benefits and a $349.0 billion loan program administered through the SBA, referred to as the PPP. In addition, on December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, a $900.0 billion COVID-19 relief package that includes an additional $284.0 billion in PPP funding. In addition to implementing the programs contemplated by these acts, the federal bank regulatory agencies have issued a steady stream of guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and have taken a number of unprecedented steps to help banks navigate the pandemic and mitigate its impact. These include, without limitation:
|●||requiring banks to focus on business continuity and pandemic planning;|
|●||adding pandemic scenarios to stress testing;|
|●||encouraging bank use of capital buffers and reserves in lending programs;|
|●||permitting certain regulatory reporting extensions;|
|●||reducing margin requirements on swaps;|
|●||permitting certain otherwise prohibited investments in investment funds;|
|●||issuing guidance to encourage banks to work with customers affected by the pandemic and encourage loan workouts; and|
|●||providing credit under the CRA for certain pandemic-related loans, investments and public service.|
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the financial markets, and the Federal Reserve has taken a number of actions in response. In March 2020, the Federal Reserve dramatically reduced the target federal funds rate and announced a $700 billion quantitative easing program in response to the expected economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Federal Reserve reduced the interest that it pays on excess reserves. We expect that these reductions in interest rates, especially if prolonged, could adversely affect our net interest income, our net interest margin and our profitability. The Federal Reserve also launched the Main Street Lending Program, which offers
deferred interest on four-year loans to small and mid-sized businesses. The Main Street Lending Program terminated on January 8, 2021. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business activities as a result of new government and regulatory laws, policies, programs and guidelines, as well as market reactions to such activities, remains uncertain but may ultimately have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
COVID-19 has disrupted banking and other financial activities in the areas in which we operate and could potentially create widespread business continuity issues for us.
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the ability of our employees and clients to engage in banking and other financial transactions in the geographic area in which we operate and could create widespread business continuity issues for us. We also could be adversely affected if key personnel or a significant number of employees were to become unavailable due to the effects and restrictions of an outbreak or escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic in our market area, including because of illness, quarantines, government actions or other restrictions in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we have a business continuity plan and other safeguards in place, there is no assurance that such plan and safeguards will be effective. Further, we rely upon our third-party vendors to conduct business and to process, record, and monitor transactions. If any of these vendors are unable to continue to provide us with these services, it could negatively impact our ability to serve our clients.
As a participating lender in the PPP, we are subject to additional risks of litigation from our clients or other parties regarding our processing of loans for the PPP and risks that the SBA may not fund some of or all PPP loan guarantees.
The CARES Act included a $349.0 billion loan program administered through the SBA referred to as the PPP. Under the PPP, small businesses and other entities and individuals could apply for loans from existing SBA lenders and other approved regulated lenders that enrolled in the program, subject to numerous limitations and eligibility criteria. The Bank participated as a lender in the PPP. The PPP opened on April 3, 2020; however, because of the short timeframe between the passing of the CARES Act and the opening of the PPP, there was some ambiguity in the laws, rules, and guidance regarding the operation of the PPP, which exposed us to risks relating to noncompliance with the PPP. On April 24, 2020, an additional $310.0 billion in funding for PPP loans was authorized, and such funds became available for PPP loans beginning on April 27, 2020. In addition, on December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, a $900.0 billion COVID-19 relief package that includes an additional $284.0 billion in PPP funding.
Since the opening 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 and claims related to agent fees. If any such litigation is filed against us and is not resolved in a manner favorable to us, it may result in significant financial liability or adversely affect our reputation. In addition, litigation can be costly, regardless of outcome. Any financial liability, litigations costs, or reputational damage caused by the PPP related litigation could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations. Also, it has been reported that many borrowers fraudulently obtained PPP loans through the program. We may be subject to regulatory and litigation risk if any of our PPP borrowers used fraudulent means to obtain a PPP loan.
We also have credit risk on 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 Bank, 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, or if the borrower fraudulently obtained a PPP loan. In the event of a loss resulting from a default on a PPP loan and a determination by the SBA that there is a deficiency in the manner in which the PPP loan was originated, funded, or serviced by us, 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 us.
ITEM 1.B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
Our corporate headquarters is located at 4450 Excelsior Boulevard, Suite 100, St. Louis Park, Minnesota 55416. Including our corporate headquarters, we operate seven full-service branch offices located in the Twin Cities MSA. We currently own three of our branch offices located in Orono, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis (Hennepin Avenue), and lease the remaining four locations. Additional information regarding our locations is set forth below.
Headquarters and St. Louis Park Branch:
4450 Excelsior Boulevard, Suite 100, St. Louis Park, Minnesota 55416
Other Branch Locations:
21500 Highway 7, Greenwood, Minnesota 55331
Northstar Center West, 625 Marquette Avenue, Suite #W0100, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402
2445 Shadywood Road, Orono, Minnesota 55331
3100 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408(1)
370 Wabasha Street N., St. Paul, Minnesota 55102
7831 East Bush Lake Road, Suite 300, Bloomington, Minnesota 55439
|(1)||Does not include the leased drive-up property located adjacent to the branch.|
ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
Neither the Company nor any of its subsidiaries is a party, and no property of these entities is subject, to any material pending legal proceedings, other than ordinary routine litigation incidental to the Bank’s business. The Company does not know of any proceeding contemplated by a governmental authority against the Company or any of its subsidiaries.
ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Our common stock trades on the Nasdaq Stock Market (“Nasdaq”) under the symbol “BWB.” As of March 2, 2021, the Company had 121 holders of record of the Company’s common stock and an estimated 3,283 additional beneficial holders of the Company’s common stock whose stock was held in street name by brokerages or fiduciaries.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
On January 22, 2019, the Company’s board of directors approved a stock repurchase program (the “Program”) which authorized the Company to repurchase up to $15.0 million of its common stock, subject to certain limitations and conditions. The Program was effective immediately and was subsequently expanded. On July 23, 2019 and October 27, 2020, the Company's board of directors approved $10.0 million and $15.0 million increases, respectively, to the Program for a total authorization of $40.0 million. Additionally, on October 27, 2020, the Program duration was extended to run through October 27, 2022. The Program does not obligate the Company to repurchase any shares of its common stock,
and other than repurchases that have been completed to date, there is no assurance that the Company will do so. Under the Program, the Company may repurchase shares of common stock from time to time in open market or privately negotiated transactions. The extent to which the Company repurchases its shares, and the timing of such repurchases, will depend upon a variety of factors, including general market and economic conditions, regulatory requirements, availability of funds, and other relevant considerations, as determined by the Company. The Company may, in its discretion, begin, suspend or terminate repurchases at any time prior to the Program’s expiration, without any prior notice.
The following table presents stock purchases made during the fourth quarter of 2020:
Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)
Average Price Paid Per Share
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs
Maximum Approximate Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs
October 1 - 31, 2020
November 1 - 30, 2020
December 1 - 31, 2020
|(1)||The total number of shares repurchased during the periods indicated includes shares repurchased as part of the Company’s stock repurchase program and shares withheld for income tax purposes in connection with vesting of restricted stock awards. The shares were purchased or otherwise valued at the closing price of the Company’s common stock on the date of purchase and/or withholding.|
The following graph compares the percentage change in the cumulative shareholder return of the Company’s common stock during the period from the date of our initial public offering and listing on Nasdaq through December 31, 2020, with the cumulative return of the Nasdaq Composite Index and the total return of the Nasdaq Bank Index. This comparison assumes $100.00 was invested on March 14, 2018 and assumes the reinvestment of all cash dividends prior to any tax effect and retention of all stock dividends. There is no assurance that the Company's common stock performance will continue in the future with the same or similar results as shown in the graph.
The Company has not historically declared or paid dividends on its common stock and does not intend to declare or pay dividends on its common stock in the foreseeable future. Instead, the Company anticipates that future earnings will be retained to support its operations and to finance the growth and development of its business. Any future determination relating to the Company’s dividend policy will be made by the board of directors and will depend on a number of factors, including historic and projected financial condition, liquidity and results of operations, capital levels and needs, tax considerations, any acquisitions or potential acquisitions that may be pursued, statutory and regulatory prohibitions and other limitations, the terms of any credit agreements or other borrowing arrangements that restrict the ability to pay cash dividends, general economic conditions and other factors deemed relevant by the board of directors. The Company is not obligated to pay dividends on its common stock and is subject to restrictions on paying dividends on its common stock.
As a Minnesota corporation, the Company is subject to certain restrictions on dividends under the Minnesota Business Corporation Act, as amended. Generally, a Minnesota corporation is prohibited from paying a dividend if, after giving effect to the dividend the corporation would not be able to pay its debts as the debts become due in the usual course of business, or the corporation's total assets would be less than the sum of its total liabilities, plus the amount that would be needed, if the corporation were to be dissolved at the time of the distribution, to satisfy the preferential rights upon dissolution of shareholders whose preferential rights are superior to those receiving the distribution.
In addition, the Company is subject to certain restrictions on the payment of cash dividends as a result of banking laws, regulations and policies. See "Supervision and Regulation—Supervision and Regulation of the Company—Dividend Payments." Because the Company is a financial holding company and does not engage directly in business activities of a material nature, the ability to pay dividends to shareholders depends, in large part, upon receipt of
dividends from the Bank, which is also subject to numerous limitations on the payment of dividends under federal and state banking laws, regulations and policies. See "Supervision and Regulation—Supervision and Regulation of the Bank—Dividend Payments."
Under the terms of a loan agreement with a third party correspondent lender which the Company entered into in March of 2021, the Company cannot declare or pay any cash dividend or make any other distribution in respect to capital stock, except in accordance with past practices and so long as no default has occurred and is continuing. In addition, under the terms of the subordinated notes issued in July of 2017 and June of 2020, and the related subordinated note purchase agreements, the Company is not permitted to declare or pay any dividends on capital stock if an event of default occurs under the terms of the subordinated notes, excluding any dividends or distributions in shares of, or options, warrants or rights to subscribe for or purchase shares of, any class of our common stock and any declaration of a non-cash dividend in connection with the implementation of a shareholders' rights plan.
ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The following consolidated selected financial data is derived from the Company’s audited consolidated financial statements as of and for the five years ended December 31, 2020. This information should be read in connection with our audited consolidated financial statements, related notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” appearing elsewhere in this report.
As of and for the year ended December 31,
Per Common Share Data (1)
Basic Earnings Per Share
Diluted Earnings Per Share
Book Value Per Share
Tangible Book Value Per Share (2)
Basic Weighted Average Shares Outstanding
Diluted Weighted Average Shares Outstanding
Shares Outstanding at Period End
Selected Performance Ratios
Return on Average Assets (ROA)
Pre-Provision Net Revenue Return on Average Assets (PPNR ROA) (3)
Return on Average Common Equity (ROE)
Return on Average Tangible Common Equity (2)
Average Equity to Average Assets (2)
Yield on Interest Earning Assets
Yield on Total Loans, Gross
Cost of Interest Bearing Liabilities
Cost of Total Deposits
Net Interest Margin (4)
Efficiency Ratio (2)
Adjusted Efficiency Ratio (3)
Noninterest Expense to Average Assets
Adjusted Noninterest Expense to Average Assets (3)
Loan to Deposit Ratio
Core Deposits to Total Deposits
Tangible Common Equity to Tangible Assets (2)
Selected Asset Quality Data
Loans 30-89 Days Past Due
Loans 30-89 Days Past Due to Total Loans
Nonperforming Loans to Total Loans
Nonaccrual Loans to Total Loans
Nonaccrual Loans and Loans Past Due 90 Days and Still Accruing to Total Loans
Nonperforming Assets (5)
Nonperforming Assets to Total Assets (5)
Allowance for Loan Losses to Total Loans
Allowance for Loan Losses to Total Loans, Excluding PPP Loans
Allowance for Loans Losses to Nonperforming Loans
Net Loan Charge-Offs to Average Loans
Capital Ratios (Bank Only)
Tier 1 Leverage Ratio
Tier 1 Risk-based Capital Ratio
Total Risk-based Capital Ratio
Capital Ratios (Consolidated)
Tier 1 Leverage Ratio
Tier 1 Risk-based Capital Ratio
Total Risk-based Capital Ratio
Percentage Change in Total Assets
Percentage Change in Total Loans, Gross
Percentage Change in Total Deposits