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Table of Contents

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Mark One)

 

Form 10-K

 

 

 

 

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended           December 31, 2020     

      OR

 

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                              to                           

Commission file number 000-26481

 

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York

 

16-0816610

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

 

 

220 LIBERTY STREET, WARSAW, New York

 

14569

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(ZIP Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code:     (585) 786-1100

Securities registered under Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of exchange on which registered

Common stock, par value $0.01 per share

FISI

Nasdaq Global Select Market

Securities registered under Section 12(g) of the Exchange Act:                 NONE

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

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

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

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

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

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

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal 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     No 

The aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock, par value $0.01 per share, held by non-affiliates of the registrant, as computed by reference to the June 30, 2020 closing price reported by Nasdaq, was approximately $292,245,000.

As of February 28, 2021, there were outstanding, exclusive of treasury shares, 15,816,318 shares of the registrant’s common stock.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s proxy statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 


Table of Contents

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

PART I

 

PAGE

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

 

19

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

31

 

 

 

 

 

Item 2.

 

Properties

 

31

 

 

 

 

 

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

32

 

 

 

 

 

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

32

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of
Equity Securities

 

33

 

 

 

 

 

Item 6.

 

Selected Financial Data

 

34

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7.

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

39

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

62

 

 

 

 

 

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

65

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

138

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

138

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

 

138

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

139

 

 

 

 

 

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

139

 

 

 

 

 

Item 12.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder
Matters

 

139

 

 

 

 

 

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

139

 

 

 

 

 

Item 14.

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

139

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

140

 

 

 

 

 

Item 16.

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

141

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signatures

 

142

 

 

 


Table of Contents

 

 

PART I

FORWARD LOOKING INFORMATION

Statements and financial analysis contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K that are based on other than historical data are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements provide current expectations or forecasts of future events and include, among others:

 

statements with respect to the beliefs, plans, objectives, goals, guidelines, expectations, anticipations, and future financial condition, results of operations and performance of Financial Institutions, Inc. (the “Parent” or “FII”) and its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Company,” “we,” “our” or “us”); and

 

statements preceded by, followed by or that include the words “may,” “could,” “should,” “would,” “believe,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “projects” or similar expressions.

These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, nor should they be relied upon as representing management’s views as of any subsequent date. Forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties and actual results may differ materially from those presented, either expressed or implied, in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including, but not limited to, those presented in the Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. Factors that might cause such material differences include, but are not limited to:

 

The COVID-19 pandemic, and governmental and individual efforts to contain the pandemic, have had a significant negative impact on the U.S. and global economy which has and will continue to adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations;

 

If we experience greater credit losses than anticipated, earnings may be adversely impacted;

 

Geographic concentration may unfavorably impact our operations;

 

Our commercial business and mortgage loans increase our exposure to credit risks;

 

Our indirect and consumer lending involves risk elements in addition to normal credit risk;

 

Lack of seasoning in portions of our loan portfolio could increase risk of credit defaults in the future;

 

We accept deposits that do not have a fixed term, and which may be withdrawn by the customer at any time for any reason;

 

We are subject to environmental liability risk associated with our lending activities;

 

We operate in a highly competitive industry and market area;

 

Changes to and replacement of the LIBOR Benchmark Interest Rate may adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations;

 

Legal and regulatory proceedings and related matters, such as the action brought by a putative class of consumers against us

 

as described in Part I, Item 3, “Legal Proceedings,” could adversely affect us and the banking industry in general;

 

Any future FDIC insurance premium increases may adversely affect our earnings;

 

We are highly regulated, and any adverse regulatory action may result in additional costs, loss of business opportunities, and reputational damage;

 

The policies of the Federal Reserve have a significant impact on our earnings;

 

Our insurance brokerage subsidiary is subject to risk related to the insurance industry;

 

Our investment advisory and wealth management operations are subject to risk related to the regulation of the financial services industry and market volatility;

 

We make certain assumptions and estimates in preparing our financial statements that may prove to be incorrect, which could significantly impact our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and we are subject to new or changing accounting rules and interpretations, and the failure by us to correctly interpret or apply these evolving rules and interpretations could have a material adverse effect;

 

The value of our goodwill and other intangible assets may decline in the future;

 

We may be unable to successfully implement our growth strategies, including the integration and successful management of newly-acquired businesses;

 

Acquisitions may disrupt our business and dilute shareholder value;

 

Our tax strategies and the value of our deferred tax assets and liabilities could adversely affect our operating results and regulatory capital ratios;

 

Liquidity is essential to our businesses;

 

We rely on dividends from our subsidiaries for most of our revenue;

 

If our risk management framework does not effectively identify or mitigate our risks, we could suffer losses;

 

We face competition in staying current with technological changes and banking alternatives to compete and meet customer demands;

 

We rely on other companies to provide key components of our business infrastructure;

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A breach in security of our or third party information systems, including the occurrence of a cyber incident or a deficiency in cybersecurity, or a failure by us to comply with New York State cybersecurity regulations, may subject us to liability, result in a loss of customer business or damage our brand image;  

 

We are subject to interest rate risk, and a rising rate environment may reduce our income and result in higher defaults on our loans, whereas a falling rate environment may result in earlier loan prepayments than we expect, which may reduce our income;

 

The soundness of other financial institutions could adversely affect us;

 

We may need to raise additional capital in the future and such capital may not be available on acceptable terms or at all;

 

We may not pay or may reduce the dividends on our common stock;

 

We may issue debt and equity securities or securities convertible into equity securities, any of which may be senior to our common stock as to distributions and in liquidation, which could dilute our current shareholders or negatively affect the value of our common stock;

 

Our certificate of incorporation, our bylaws, and certain banking laws may have an anti-takeover effect;

 

The market price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly in response to a number of factors;

 

We may not be able to attract and retain skilled people;

 

We use financial models for business planning purposes that may not adequately predict future results;

 

We depend on the accuracy and completeness of information about or from customers and counterparties;

 

Our business may be adversely affected by conditions in the financial markets and economic conditions generally; and

 

Severe weather, natural disasters, public health emergencies and pandemics, acts of war or terrorism, and other external events could significantly impact our business.

We caution readers not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made, and advise readers that various factors, including those described above, could affect our financial performance and could cause our actual results or circumstances for future periods to differ materially from those anticipated or projected. See also Item 1A, Risk Factors, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further information. Except as required by law, we do not undertake, and specifically disclaim any obligation to publicly release any revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statements.

 

ITEM 1.    BUSINESS

 

GENERAL

The Parent is a financial holding company organized in 1931 under the laws of New York State (“New York” or “NYS”). The principal office of the Parent is located at 220 Liberty Street, Warsaw, New York 14569 and its telephone number is (585) 786-1100. The Parent was incorporated on September 15, 1931, but the continuity of the Company’s banking business is traced to the organization of the National Bank of Geneva on March 28, 1817. Except as the context otherwise requires, the Parent and its direct and indirect subsidiaries are collectively referred to in this report as the “Company.” Five Star Bank is referred to as “FSB” or “the Bank,” SDN Insurance Agency, LLC is referred to as “SDN,” Courier Capital, LLC is referred to as “Courier Capital” and HNP Capital, LLC is referred to as “HNP Capital.” The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of the Parent, the Bank, SDN, Courier Capital and HNP Capital. The Parent’s common stock is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “FISI.”

At December 31, 2020, the Company had consolidated total assets of $4.91 billion, deposits of $4.28 billion and shareholders’ equity of $468.4 million.

The Parent’s primary business is the operation of its subsidiaries. It does not engage in any other substantial business activities. The Parent’s four direct wholly-owned subsidiaries are: (1) the Bank, which provides a full range of banking services to consumer, commercial and municipal customers in Western and Central New York; (2) SDN, which sells various premium-based insurance policies on a commission basis to commercial and consumer customers; and (3) Courier Capital and (4) HNP Capital, which both provide customized investment advice, wealth management, investment consulting and retirement plan services to individuals, businesses, institutions, foundations and retirement plans. At December 31, 2020, the Bank represented 99.3%, SDN represented 0.3% and Courier Capital and HNP Capital combined represented 0.4% of the consolidated assets of the Company.

Five Star Bank

The Bank is a New York-chartered bank that has its headquarters at 55 North Main Street, Warsaw, NY, and a total of 47 full-service banking offices in the New York State counties of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Steuben, Wyoming and Yates counties.

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At December 31, 2020, the Bank had total assets of $4.88 billion, investment securities of $900.0 million, net loans of $3.54 billion, deposits of $4.31 billion and shareholders’ equity of $479.0 million. The Bank offers deposit products, which include checking and NOW accounts, savings accounts, and certificates of deposit, as its principal source of funding. The Bank’s deposits are insured up to the maximum permitted by the Bank Insurance Fund (the “Insurance Fund”) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”). The Bank offers a variety of loan products to its customers, including commercial and consumer loans.

SDN Insurance Agency, LLC

SDN is a full-service insurance agency founded in 1923 and headquartered in Amherst, NY. SDN offers personal, commercial and financial services products. For the year ended December 31, 2020, SDN had total revenue of $4.3 million. On February 1, 2021, SDN completed the acquisition of the assets of Landmark Group, an independent insurance brokerage firm.

Most lines of personal insurance are provided, including automobile, homeowners, boat, recreational vehicle, landlord, and umbrella coverage. Commercial insurance products are also provided, consisting of property, liability, automobile, inland marine, workers compensation, bonds, crop and umbrella insurance. SDN also provides the following financial services products: life and disability insurance, Medicare supplements, long-term care, annuities, mutual funds, retirement programs and New York State disability.

Courier Capital, LLC

Courier Capital is an SEC-registered investment advisory and wealth management firm founded in 1967 and based in Western New York, with offices in Buffalo and Jamestown. With $2.05 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2020, Courier Capital offers customized investment advice, wealth management, investment consulting and retirement plan services to individuals, businesses and institutions. For the year ended December 31, 2020, Courier Capital had total revenue of $5.3 million.

HNP Capital, LLC

Acquired in June 2018, HNP Capital is an SEC-registered investment advisory and wealth management firm founded in 2009 and based in Western New York, with offices in Rochester, New York. With $631.9 million in assets under management as of December 31, 2020, HNP Capital offers customized investment advice, wealth management, investment consulting and retirement plan services to individuals, businesses and institutions. For the year ended December 31, 2020, HNP Capital had total revenue of $3.0 million.

Other Subsidiaries

Five Star REIT, Inc. Five Star REIT, Inc. (“Five Star REIT”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank, operates as a real estate investment trust that holds residential mortgages and commercial real estate loans. Five Star REIT provides additional flexibility and planning opportunities for the business of the Bank.

Business Strategy

Our business strategy has been to maintain a community bank philosophy, which consists of focusing on and understanding the individualized banking and other financial services needs of individuals, municipalities and businesses of the local communities surrounding our primary service area. We believe this focus allows us to be more responsive to our customers’ needs and provide a high level of personal service that differentiates us from larger competitors, resulting in long-standing and broad-based banking relationships. Our core customers are primarily small- to medium-sized businesses, individuals and community organizations who prefer to build banking, insurance and wealth management relationships with a community bank that offers high quality, competitively-priced products and services with personalized service. Because of our identity and origin as a locally operated bank, we believe that our level of personal service provides a competitive advantage over larger banks, which tend to consolidate decision-making authority outside local communities.

A key aspect of our current business strategy is to foster a community-oriented culture where our customers and employees establish long-standing and mutually beneficial relationships. We believe that we are well-positioned to be a strong competitor within our market area because of our focus on community banking needs and customer service, our comprehensive suite of deposit, loan, insurance and wealth management products typically found at larger banks, our highly experienced management team and our strategically located banking centers. We have also broadened our service offerings to include financial advice and insurance solutions along with traditional banking needs.

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We have evolved to meet changing customer needs by opening what we refer to as financial solution center branches. These financial solution centers have a smaller footprint than our traditional branches, focus on technology to provide solutions that fit our customer preferences for transacting business with us, and these branches are staffed by certified personal bankers who are trained to meet a broad array of customer needs. In recent years, we have opened four financial solution centers in the Rochester and Buffalo markets, and in February 2020, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the New York State Department of Financial Services approved our application to open two additional financial solution centers in Buffalo which are scheduled to open in 2021. We believe that the foregoing factors all help to grow our core deposits, which supports a central element of our business strategy - the growth of a diversified and high-quality loan portfolio.

Acquisition Strategy

We will continue to explore market expansion opportunities in or near our current market areas as opportunities arise. Our primary focus will be on increasing market share within existing markets, while taking advantage of potential growth opportunities within our insurance and wealth management lines of business by acquiring new businesses that can be added to existing operations. We believe our capital position remains strong enough to support an active merger and acquisition strategy, and expansion of our core financial service businesses of banking, insurance and wealth management. Consequently, we continue to explore acquisition opportunities in these activities. In evaluating acquisition opportunities, we will balance the potential for earnings accretion with maintaining adequate capital levels, which could result in our common stock being the predominant form of consideration and/or the need for us to raise capital.

Conversations with potential strategic partners occur on a regular basis. The evaluation of any potential opportunity will favor a transaction that complements our core competencies and strategic intent, with a lesser emphasis being placed on geographic location or size. Additionally, we remain committed to maintaining a diversified revenue stream. Our senior management team has experience in acquisitions and post-acquisition integration of operations and is prepared to act promptly should a potential opportunity arise but will remain disciplined with its approach. We believe this experience positions us to successfully acquire and integrate additional financial services and banking businesses.

HUMAN CAPITAL RESOURCES STRATEGY

In order to continue to deliver on our mission of financial inclusion for all, it is crucial that we attract and retain talent who desire to enable financial equality through delivery of capable solutions, thoughtful innovation and equitable consumer options in the markets that we serve. To facilitate talent attraction and retention, we strive to make the Company an inclusive, safe and healthy workplace, with opportunities for our employees to grow and develop in their careers, supported by strong compensation, benefits, health and welfare programs.

 

Employee Profile

As of December 31, 2020, we had 613 employees in locations across the United States. This represents a decrease of 109 employees or 15.1% from December 31, 2019 due primarily to the consolidation of eleven Bank branches into five, resulting in six branch closings and a reduction in staffing as announced in July 2020, and with an additional Bank branch closure and related reduction in staffing as announced in October 2020.

 

As of December 31, 2020, approximately 66.8% of our current workforce is female, 33.2% male, and our average tenure is 7.77 years, an increase of 13.3% from an average tenure of 6.85 years as of December 31, 2019.

 

Total Rewards

As part of our compensation philosophy, we believe that we must offer and maintain market competitive total rewards programs for our employees in order to attract and retain superior talent. In addition to market competitive base wages, our rewards programs include performance-based bonus opportunities, equity compensation, Company-sponsored retirement plans, healthcare and insurance benefits, health savings and flexible spending accounts, paid time off, family leave, family care resources, remote work arrangements, flexible work schedules, adoption assistance, and employee assistance programs.

 

Health and Safety

The success of our business is fundamentally connected to the well-being of our people. Accordingly, we are committed to the health, safety and wellness of our employees. We provide our employees and their families with access to a variety of flexible and convenient health and welfare programs, including benefits that support their physical and mental health by providing tools and resources to help them improve or maintain their health status and that offer choice where possible so they can customize their benefits to meet their needs and the needs of their families. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we implemented significant operating environment

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changes that we determined were in the best interest of our employees, as well as the communities in which we operate, and which comply with government regulations. This includes supporting a majority of our employees to work from home or remotely, while implementing additional safety measures for employees continuing critical on-site work.

 

Talent

A core tenet of our talent system is to both develop talent from within and supplement with external hires. This approach has yielded loyalty and commitment among our employees which in turn grows our business, our products, and our customers, while also adding new talent, skillsets and ideas to support a continuous improvement mindset and our goals of a diverse and inclusive workforce. We believe that our average tenure — 7.77 years as of December 31, 2020 — reflects the engagement of our employees in this core talent system tenet.

 

Our talent acquisition team uses internal and external resources to recruit highly skilled and talented workers, and we incent employee referrals for open positions.

 

Our performance management framework positions our leaders as coaches who continuously develop and grow talent through ongoing performance and development discussions, formal talent and development assessments, goal setting and feedback and performance-based compensation programs.

 

Diversity and Inclusion

We strive toward having a powerful and diverse team of employees, knowing we are better together with our combined wisdom and intellect. With a commitment to equality, inclusion and workplace diversity, we focus on understanding, accepting, and valuing the differences between people. To accomplish this, we have established a Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council made up of 16 employee representatives throughout our operating footprint. We continued our commitment to equal employment opportunity through a robust affirmative action plan which includes annual compensation analyses and ongoing reviews of our selection and hiring practices alongside a continued focus on building and maintaining a diverse workforce.

MARKET AREAS AND COMPETITION

We provide a wide range of banking and financial services to individuals, municipalities and businesses through a network of over 45 offices and an extensive ATM network throughout Western and Central New York. The region includes the counties of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties. Our banking activities, though concentrated in the communities where we maintain branches, also extend into neighboring counties. In addition, our consumer indirect lending presence includes the Capital District of New York and Northern and Central Pennsylvania.

Our market area is economically diversified in that we serve both rural markets and the larger markets in and around Rochester and Buffalo. Rochester and Buffalo are the two largest metropolitan areas in New York outside of New York City, with a combined population of over two million people. We anticipate continuing to increase our presence in and around these metropolitan statistical areas in the coming years. For example, in February 2020, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the New York State Department of Financial Services approved our application to open two additional financial solution centers in Buffalo which are scheduled to open in 2021.

We face significant competition in both making loans and attracting deposits, as Western and Central New York have a high density of financial institutions. Our competition for loans comes principally from commercial banks, savings banks, savings and loan associations, mortgage banking companies, credit unions, and other financial services companies. Our most direct competition for deposits has historically come from commercial banks, savings banks and credit unions. We face additional competition for deposits from non-traditional fintech firms and non-depository competitors such as the mutual fund industry, securities and brokerage firms and insurance companies. We generally compete with other financial service providers on factors such as level of customer service, responsiveness to customer needs, availability and pricing of products, and geographic location. Our industry frequently experiences merger activity, which affects competition by eliminating some institutions while potentially strengthening the franchises of others.

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The following table presents the Bank’s market share percentage for total deposits as of June 30, 2020, in each county where we have operations. The table also indicates the ranking by deposit size in each market. All information in the table was obtained from S&P Global Market Intelligence, which compiles deposit data published by the FDIC as of June 30, 2020 and updates the information for any bank mergers and acquisitions completed subsequent to the reporting date.

 

County

 

Market

Share

 

 

Market

Rank

 

 

Number of

Branches (1)

 

Allegany

 

7.8%

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

Cattaraugus

 

23.9%

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

4

 

Cayuga

 

5.1%

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

1

 

Chautauqua

 

1.6%

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

1

 

Chemung

 

12.9%

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

2

 

Erie

 

0.4%

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

4

 

Genesee

 

20.3%

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

 

Livingston

 

34.3%

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

5

 

Monroe

 

2.0%

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

8

 

Ontario

 

13.5%

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

4

 

Orleans

 

25.6%

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

 

Seneca

 

25.9%

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

2

 

Steuben

 

33.1%

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

5

 

Wyoming

 

58.3%

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

4

 

Yates

 

36.9%

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

2

 

 

(1)

Number of branches current as of December 31, 2020.

INVESTMENT ACTIVITIES

Our investment policy is contained within our overall Asset-Liability Management and Investment Policy. This policy dictates that investment decisions will be made based on the safety of the investment, liquidity requirements, potential returns, cash flow targets, need for collateral and desired risk parameters. In pursuing these objectives, we consider the ability of an investment to provide earnings consistent with factors related to quality, maturity, marketability, pledgeable nature and risk diversification. Our Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, guided by our Asset-Liability Committee (“ALCO”), is responsible for investment portfolio decisions within the established policies.

Our investment securities strategy is focused on providing liquidity to meet loan demand and redeeming liabilities, meeting pledging requirements, managing credit risks, managing overall interest rate risks and maximizing portfolio yield. Our current policy generally limits security purchases to the following:

 

U.S. treasury securities;

 

U.S. government agency securities, which are securities issued by official Federal government bodies (e.g., the Government National Mortgage Association (“GNMA”) and the Small Business Administration (“SBA”)), and U.S. government-sponsored enterprise securities, which are securities issued by independent organizations that are in part sponsored by the federal government (e.g., the Federal Home Loan Bank (“FHLB”) system, the Federal National Mortgage Association (“FNMA”), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“FHLMC”) and the Federal Farm Credit Bureau);

 

Mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”), which include mortgage-backed pass-through securities, collateralized mortgage obligations and multi-family MBS issued by GNMA, FNMA and FHLMC;

 

Investment grade municipal securities, including revenue, tax and bond anticipation notes, statutory installment notes and general obligation bonds;

 

Certain creditworthy unrated securities issued by municipalities;

 

Certificates of deposit;

 

Equity securities at the holding company level;

 

Derivative instruments; and

 

Limited partnership investments.

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LENDING ACTIVITIES

General

We offer a broad range of loans including commercial business and revolving lines of credit, commercial mortgages, equipment loans, residential mortgage loans and home equity loans and lines of credit, home improvement loans, automobile loans and personal loans. Newly originated and refinanced fixed rate residential mortgage loans are either retained in our portfolio or sold to the secondary market with servicing rights retained.

We continually evaluate and update our lending policy. The key elements of our lending philosophy include the following:

 

To ensure consistent underwriting, employees must share a common view of the risks inherent in lending activities as well as the standards to be applied in underwriting and managing credit risk;

 

Pricing of credit products should be risk-based;

 

The loan portfolio must be diversified to limit the potential impact of negative events; and

 

Careful, timely exposure monitoring through dynamic use of our risk rating system is required to provide early warning and assure proactive management of potential problems.

Commercial Business and Commercial Mortgage Lending

We primarily originate commercial business loans in our market areas and underwrite them based on the borrower’s ability to service the loan from operating income. We offer a broad range of commercial lending products, including term loans and lines of credit. Short and medium-term commercial loans, primarily collateralized, are made available to businesses for working capital (including inventory and receivables), business expansion (including acquisition of real estate, expansion and improvements) and the purchase of equipment. We offer commercial business loans to customers in the agricultural industry for short-term crop production, farm equipment and livestock financing. As a general practice, where possible, a first position collateral lien is placed on any available real estate, equipment or other assets owned by the borrower and a personal guarantee of the owner is obtained. As of December 31, 2020, $411.5 million, or 52%, of our aggregate commercial business loan portfolio were at fixed rates, while $382.6 million, or 48%, were at variable rates.

We also offer commercial mortgage loans to finance the purchase of real property, which generally consists of real estate with completed structures. Commercial mortgage loans are secured by first liens on the real estate and are typically amortized over a 10 to 20-year period. The underwriting analysis includes credit verification, appraisals and a review of the borrower’s financial condition and repayment capacity. As of December 31, 2020, $602.8 million, or 48%, of the loans in our aggregate commercial mortgage portfolio were at fixed rates, while $651.1 million, or 52%, were at variable rates.

We utilize government loan guarantee programs where available and appropriate.

Government Guarantee Programs

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act established the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”), an expansion of the SBA’s 7(a) loan program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (“EIDL”), administered directly by the SBA. As of December 31, 2020, we had PPP loans with an aggregate principal balance of $253.1 million that were covered by guarantees under this program.

We participate in other government loan guarantee programs offered by the SBA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Economic and Community Development and Farm Service Agency, among others. As of December 31, 2020, we had loans with an aggregate principal balance of $29.6 million that were covered by guarantees under these programs. The guarantees typically only cover a certain percentage of these loans. By participating in these programs, we are able to broaden our base of borrowers while reducing credit risk.

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Residential Real Estate Lending

We originate fixed and variable rate one-to-four family residential mortgages collateralized by owner-occupied properties located in our market areas. We offer a variety of real estate loan products, including home improvement loans, closed-end home equity loans, and home equity lines of credit, which are generally amortized over periods of up to 30 years. Loans collateralized by one-to-four family residential real estate generally have been originated in amounts of no more than 80% of appraised value or have mortgage insurance. Mortgage title insurance and hazard insurance are normally required. We sell certain one-to-four family residential mortgages to the secondary mortgage market and typically retain the right to service the mortgages. We typically follow the underwriting and appraisal guidelines of the secondary market, including the FHLMC and the Federal Housing Administration, and service the loans in a manner that satisfies the secondary market agreements. As of December 31, 2020, our residential mortgage servicing portfolio totaled $241.7 million, the majority of which has been sold to the FHLMC. As of December 31, 2020, our residential real estate loan portfolio totaled $599.8 million, or 17% of our total loan portfolio. As of December 31, 2020, our residential real estate lines portfolio totaled $89.8 million, or 3% of our total loan portfolio. As of December 31, 2020, $533.1 million, or 89%, of the loans in our residential real estate loan portfolio were at fixed rates, while $66.7 million, or 11%, were at variable rates. The residential real estate lines portfolio primarily consists of variable rate lines. Approximately 92% of the loans and lines in our residential real estate portfolios were in first lien positions at December 31, 2020. We do not engage in sub-prime or other high-risk residential mortgage lending as a line-of-business.

Consumer Lending

We offer a variety of loan products to our consumer customers, including automobile loans, secured installment loans and other types of secured and unsecured personal loans. At December 31, 2020, outstanding consumer loan balances were concentrated in indirect automobile loans.

We originate indirect consumer loans for a mix of new and used vehicles through franchised new car dealers. The consumer indirect loan portfolio is primarily comprised of loans with terms that typically range from 36 to 84 months. We have developed relationships with franchised new car dealers in Western, Central and the Capital District of New York, and Northern and Central Pennsylvania. As of December 31, 2020, our consumer indirect portfolio totaled $840.4 million, or 23% of our total loan portfolio. The consumer indirect loan portfolio primarily consists of fixed rate loans with relatively short durations.

We also originate, independently of the indirect loans described above, consumer automobile loans, recreational vehicle loans, boat loans, personal loans (collateralized and uncollateralized) and deposit account collateralized loans. The terms of these loans typically range from 12 to 60 months and vary based upon the nature of the collateral and the size of loan. A portion of the consumer lending program is underwritten on a secured basis using the customer’s financed automobile, mobile home, boat or recreational vehicle as collateral. The other loans in our consumer portfolio totaled $17.1 million as of December 31, 2020, all of which were fixed rate loans.

Credit Administration

Our loan policy establishes standardized underwriting guidelines, as well as the loan approval process and the committee structures necessary to facilitate and ensure the highest possible loan quality decision-making in a timely and businesslike manner. The policy establishes requirements for extending credit based on the size, risk rating and type of credit involved. The policy also sets limits on individual lending authority and various forms of joint lending authority, while designating which loans are required to be approved at the committee level.

Our credit objectives are to:

 

Compete effectively and service the legitimate credit needs of our target market;

 

Enhance our reputation for superior quality and timely delivery of products and services;

 

Provide pricing that reflects the entire relationship and is commensurate with the risk profiles of our borrowers;

 

Retain, develop and acquire profitable, multi-product, value added relationships with high quality borrowers;

 

Focus on government guaranteed lending to meet the needs of the small businesses in our communities;

 

Develop efforts to serve minority and other traditionally underserved communities; and

 

Comply with all relevant laws and regulations.

Our policy includes loan reviews, under the supervision of the Audit and Risk Oversight committees of our Board of Directors and directed by our Chief Risk Officer, in order to render an independent and objective evaluation of our asset quality and credit administration process.

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We assign risk ratings to loans in the commercial business and commercial mortgage portfolios. We use those risk ratings to:

 

Profile the risk and exposure in the loan portfolio and identify developing trends and relative levels of risk;

 

Identify deteriorating credits;

 

Reflect the probability that a given customer may default on its obligations; and

 

Assist with risk-based pricing.

Through the loan approval process, loan administration and loan review program, management seeks to continuously monitor our credit risk profile and assess the overall quality of the loan portfolio and adequacy of the allowance for credit losses.

We have several procedures in place to assist in maintaining the overall quality of our loan portfolio. Delinquent loan reports are monitored by credit administration to identify adverse levels and trends. Loans, including loans individually analyzed for impairment, are generally classified as non-accruing if they are past due as to maturity or payment of principal or interest for a period of more than 90 days, unless such loans are well-collateralized and in the process of collection. Loans that are on a current payment status or past due less than 90 days may also be classified as non-accruing if repayment in full of principal and/or interest is uncertain.

Allowance for Credit Losses

The allowance for credit losses is established through charges to earnings in the form of a provision for credit losses. The allowance reflects management’s estimate of the amount of probable credit losses in the portfolio, based on factors including, but not limited to:

 

Specific allocations for individually analyzed credits;

 

Segmentation of credit exposures by similar credit characteristics;

 

Historical net charge-off experience by segment;

 

Correlation of segmented historical losses to a loss driver;

 

Evaluation of historical loss emergence by segment;

 

Evaluation and establishment of look-back periods by segment;

 

Evaluation of prepayment and curtailment experience by segment;

 

Evaluation of average life for each segment;

 

Levels and trends in delinquent and non-accruing loans;

 

Trends in volume and terms of loans;

 

Effects of changes in lending policy;

 

National and local economic trends and conditions excluding the loss driver;

 

Regulatory environment;

 

Portfolio administration;

 

Potential funding of unfunded commitments;

 

Evaluation of held to maturity investments; and

 

Evaluation of deferred interest receivable.

Our methodology for estimating the allowance for credit losses includes the following:

 

1.

Collateral dependent commercial business and commercial mortgage loans, as well as, non-collateral dependent criticized loans of two-million dollars and greater are typically reviewed individually and assigned a specific loss allowance, if considered necessary, in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”). In addition, reflective of the heightened risk resulting from long-term deferrals afforded under the CARES Act of certain commercial business and commercial mortgage loans and individual analysis was performed on certain of the most at risk longer term deferrals and a specific loss allowance was placed on them. Collectively, this is referred to as the Individually Analyzed component of the allowance for credit losses estimate.

 

2.

Loans not analyzed for a specific reserve are segmented into “pools” of loans based upon similar risk characteristics. This is referred to as the Pooled Loan component of the allowance for credit losses estimate. The Company has identified six portfolio segments of loans including Commercial Loans/Lines, Commercial Mortgage, Indirect Loans, Direct Loans, Residential Lines of Credit, and Residential Loans. Each segment, or pool, is quantitatively analyzed using a discounted cash flow approach over the life of the loan. The Pooled Loans estimate is based upon periodic review of the collectability of the loans quantitatively correlating historical loan experience with reasonable and supportable forecasts using forward looking information. Adjustments to the quantitative evaluation may be made for differences in current or expected qualitative risk characteristics such as changes in: underwriting standards, delinquency level, regulatory environment, economic condition, Company management and the status of portfolio administration including the Company’s Credit Risk Review function.

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3.

The Company’s held to maturity (“HTM”) debt securities are also required to utilize the current expected credit losses approach to estimate expected credit losses. The Company’s HTM debt securities included securities that are issued by U.S. government or U.S. government-sponsored enterprises. These securities carry the explicit and/or implicit guarantee of the U.S. government, are widely recognized as “risk free,” and have a long history of zero credit loss. The Company also carries a portfolio of HTM municipal bonds. The Company measures its allowance for credit losses on HTM debt securities on a collective basis by major security type. The estimate is based on historical credit losses, if any, adjusted for current conditions and reasonable and supportable forecasts. The Company considers the nature of the collateral, potential future changes in collateral values and available loss information.

 

4.

The Company had made the election with the adoption of ASU 2016-13 of not measuring an allowance for credit losses for accrued interest receivable due to the Company’s policy of writing off uncollectible accrued interest receivable balances in a timely manner, as described above.

 

5.

The reserve for unfunded commitments (the “Unfunded Reserve”) represents the expected credit losses on off-balance sheet commitments such as unfunded commitments to extend credit and standby letters of credit. However, a liability is not recognized for commitments unconditionally cancellable by the Company. The Unfunded Reserve is recognized as a liability (other liabilities in the consolidated statements of financial condition), with adjustments to the reserve recognized as a provision for credit loss expense in the consolidated statements of income. The Unfunded Reserve is determined by estimating expected future fundings, under each segment, and applying the expected loss rates. Expected future fundings are based on historical averages of funding rates (i.e., the likelihood of draws taken). To estimate future fundings on unfunded balances, current funding rates are compared to historical funding rates.

Management presents a quarterly review of the adequacy of the allowance for credit losses to the Audit Committee of our Board of Directors based on the methodology described above. See also the section titled “Allowance for Credit Losses” in Part II, Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

SOURCES OF FUNDS

Our primary sources of funds are deposits and borrowed funds.

Deposits

We maintain a full range of deposit products and accounts to meet the needs of the residents and businesses in our primary service area. Products include an array of checking and savings account programs for individuals and businesses, including money market accounts, certificates of deposit, sweep investment capabilities as well as Individual Retirement Accounts and other qualified plan accounts. We rely primarily on competitive pricing of our deposit products, customer service and long-standing relationships with customers to attract and retain these deposits and seek to make our services convenient to the community by offering a choice of several delivery systems and channels, including telephone, mail, online, automated teller machines (“ATMs”), debit cards, point-of-sale transactions, automated clearing house transactions (“ACH”), remote deposit, and mobile banking via telephone or wireless devices. We also take advantage of the use of technology by offering business customers banking access via the Internet and various advanced cash management systems.

We also participate in reciprocal deposit programs, which enable depositors to receive FDIC insurance coverage for deposits exceeding the maximum insurable amount. Through these programs, deposits in excess of the maximum insurable amount are placed with multiple participating financial institutions. Reciprocal deposits totaled $612.3 million at December 31, 2020.

Borrowings

We have access to a variety of borrowing sources and use both short-term and long-term borrowings to support our asset base. Borrowings from time-to-time include federal funds purchased, securities sold under agreements to repurchase, FHLB advances and borrowings from the discount window of the FRB, as defined below.

Other sources of funds include scheduled amortization and prepayments of principal from loans and mortgage-backed securities, maturities and calls of investment securities and funds provided by operations.

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OTHER INFORMATION

We also make available, free of charge through our website, all reports filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K, as well as any amendments to those reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after those documents are filed with or furnished to the SEC. These filings may be viewed by accessing the SEC Filings subsection of the Financials section of our website (www.fiiwarsaw.com). Information available on our website is not a part of, and is not incorporated into, this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

All of the reports we file with the SEC, including this Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K, as well as any amendments thereto may be accessed at www.sec.gov.

SUPERVISION AND REGULATION

We are subject to extensive regulation under federal and state laws. The regulatory framework is intended primarily for the protection of depositors, federal deposit insurance funds and the banking system as a whole and not for the protection of shareholders and creditors.

Elements of the laws and regulations applicable to the Company and material to our operations are described below. The description is qualified in its entirety by reference to the full text of the statutes, regulations and policies that are described. Also, such statutes, regulations and policies are continually under review by Congress, state legislatures, and federal and state regulatory agencies. A change in statutes, regulations or regulatory policies applicable to the Company could have a material effect on the business, financial condition and results of operations of the Company.

Holding Company Regulation. We are subject to comprehensive regulation by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, frequently referred to as the Federal Reserve Board (“FRB” or “Federal Reserve”), under the Bank Holding Company Act (the “BHC Act”), as amended by, among other laws, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (the “Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act”) and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”). We are registered with the Federal Reserve as a financial holding company (“FHC”). We must file reports with the FRB and such additional information as the FRB may require, and our holding company and non-banking affiliates are subject to examination by the FRB. Under FRB policy, a financial holding company must serve as a source of strength for its subsidiary banks. Under this policy, the FRB may require, and has required in the past, a holding company to contribute additional capital to an undercapitalized subsidiary bank. The BHC Act provides that a financial holding company must obtain FRB approval before:

 

Acquiring, directly or indirectly, ownership or control of any voting shares of another bank, financial holding company or bank holding company if, after such acquisition, it would own or control more than 5% of such shares (unless it already owns or controls the majority of such shares);

 

Acquiring all or substantially all of the assets of another bank, financial holding company or bank holding company, or

 

Merging or consolidating with another financial holding company or bank holding company.

The BHC Act generally prohibits a bank holding company from acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of more than 5% of the voting shares of any company which is not a bank or bank holding company, or from engaging directly or indirectly in activities other than those of banking, managing or controlling banks, or providing services for its subsidiaries. However, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act amended portions of the BHC Act to authorize financial holding companies, such as us, to directly or through non-bank subsidiaries engage in securities, insurance and other activities that are financial in nature or incidental to a financial activity. In order to undertake and maintain these activities, a financial holding company must certify that all of the depository institutions controlled by the company are well capitalized and well managed.

The Dodd-Frank Act. The Dodd-Frank Act significantly changed the regulation of financial institutions, such as community banks, thrifts, and small bank and thrift holding companies, and the financial services industry. Among other things, the Dodd-Frank Act abolished the Office of Thrift Supervision and transferred its functions to the other federal banking agencies, relaxed rules regarding interstate branching, allowed financial institutions to pay interest on business checking accounts, and imposed new capital requirements on bank and thrift holding companies.

The Dodd-Frank Act has affected our business in substantial ways, including by causing us to incur higher operating costs to comply with the Dodd-Frank Act. Certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act have yet to be fully implemented and may be impacted by future legislation, rulemaking or executive orders. Our management continues to monitor the ongoing implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act and as new regulations are issued, will assess their effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In May 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (“Economic Growth Act”), which impacted several of the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. The enactment of the Economic Growth Act provided certain regulatory relief to community banks, like us, with less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets. This relief

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includes an exemption from the Volcker Rule, as implemented by final regulations published by the federal banking regulators discussed below.

The Volcker Rule. The Dodd-Frank Act prohibits banks and their affiliates from engaging in proprietary trading and from investing and sponsoring hedge funds and private equity funds. The statutory provision implementing these restrictions is commonly called the “Volcker Rule.” The Economic Growth Act exempts banks with less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets that does not engage in any covered activities other than trading in certain government, agency, state or municipal obligations, from any significant compliance obligations under the Volcker Rule. Because the Bank falls within the category of exempted banks, the Volcker Rule will not have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. We cannot predict whether we may become subject to the Volcker Rule, or a similar rule, following additional legislative or regulatory action concerning community banks.

Depository Institution Regulation. The Bank is subject to regulation by the FDIC. This regulatory structure includes:

 

Real estate lending standards, which provide guidelines concerning loan-to-value ratios for various types of real estate loans;

 

Risk-based capital rules, including accounting for interest rate risk, concentration of credit risk and the risks posed by non-traditional activities;

 

Rules requiring depository institutions to develop and implement internal procedures to evaluate and control credit and settlement exposure to their correspondent banks;

 

Rules restricting types and amounts of equity investments; and

 

Rules addressing various safety and soundness issues, including operations and managerial standards, standards for asset quality, earnings and compensation standards.

Capital Requirements. The Company and the Bank are each required to comply with applicable capital adequacy standards established by the Federal Reserve. The current risk-based capital standards applicable to the Company and the Bank are based on the final capital framework for strengthening international capital standards, known as Basel III, of the Basel Committee.

The Basel III Rules, among other things, (i) introduce a new capital measure called CET1, which consists primarily of retained earnings and common stock, (ii) specify that Tier 1 capital consists of CET1 and “Additional Tier 1 capital” instruments, such as preferred stock and certain convertible securities, meeting certain revised requirements, (iii) define CET1 narrowly by requiring that most deductions/adjustments to regulatory capital measures be made to CET1 and not to the other components of capital, and (iv) expand the scope of the deductions/adjustments to capital as compared to existing regulations.

Under the Basel III Rules, the current minimum capital ratios, including an additional capital conservation buffer applicable to the Company and the Bank, are:

 

7.0% CET1 to risk-weighted assets;

 

8.5% Tier 1 capital (that is, CET1 plus Additional Tier 1 capital) to risk-weighted assets; and

 

10.5% Total capital (that is, Tier 1 capital plus Tier 2 capital) to risk-weighted assets.

Banking institutions that do not hold capital above the required minimum levels, including the capital conservation buffer, will face constraints on dividends and compensation based on the amount of the shortfall.

The Basel III Rules provide for a number of deductions from and adjustments to CET1. These include, for example, the requirement that mortgage-servicing rights (“MSRs”), certain deferred tax assets and significant investments in non-consolidated financial entities be deducted from CET1 to the extent that any one such category exceeds 10% of CET1 or all such items, in the aggregate, exceed 15% of CET1.

The Basel III Rules prescribe a standardized approach for risk weightings for a variety of asset classes that, depending on the nature of the assets, generally ranging from 0% for U.S. government and agency securities, to 600% for certain equity exposures.

The Economic Growth Act provided for a potential exception from the Basel III Rules for community banks that maintain a Community Bank Leverage Ratio (“CBLR”) of at least 8.0% to 10.0%. The CBLR is calculated by dividing Tier 1 capital by the bank’s average total consolidated assets. In the final rules approved by the FDIC in September 2019, qualifying community banking organizations that opt in to using the CBLR are considered to be in compliance with the Basel III Rules as long as the bank maintains a CBLR of greater than 9.0%. If a bank is not a qualifying community banking organization, does not opt in to using the CBLR, or cannot maintain a CBLR of greater than 9.0%, the bank would have to comply with the Basel III Rules. We are currently evaluating the CBLR framework and the potential impact CBLR adoption would have on the Company and the Bank, respectively.

Leverage Requirements. BHCs and banks are also required to comply with minimum leverage ratio requirements. These requirements provide for a minimum ratio of Tier 1 capital to total consolidated quarterly average assets (as defined for regulatory purposes), net of the loan loss reserve, goodwill and certain other intangible assets (the “leverage ratio”), of 4.0%.

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Liquidity Regulation. The liquidity coverage ratio (“LCR”), provided for in the Basel III liquidity framework, is designed to ensure that a bank maintains an adequate level of unencumbered high quality liquid assets equal to the bank’s expected net cash outflows for a thirty-day time horizon under an acute liquidity stress scenario. The rules as adopted apply in their most comprehensive form only to advanced approaches financial or bank holding companies and depository institution subsidiaries of such financial or bank holding companies and, in a modified form, to banking organizations having $50 billion or more in total consolidated assets. Accordingly, they do not apply to either the Company or the Bank.

Similarly, the Basel III framework included a standard, referred to as the net stable funding ratio (“NSFR”), which is designed to promote more medium-and long-term funding of the assets and activities of banks over a one-year time horizon. In October 2020, the U.S. banking agencies finalized the NSFR for application to U.S. banking organizations beginning in July 2021. The NSFR standard requires large financial institutions to maintain a 1.0 ratio of available stable funding to required stable funding. The scope of financial institutions to which this standard applies is consistent with the LCR standard, and accordingly, neither the Company nor the Bank is required to comply with this standard. As a result, we do not manage our balance sheet to be compliant with these rules.

Prompt Corrective Action. The Federal Deposit Insurance Act, as amended (“FDIA”), requires, among other things, the federal banking agencies to take “prompt corrective action” in respect of depository institutions that do not meet minimum capital requirements. The FDIA establishes five capital categories for FDIC-insured banks: well capitalized, adequately capitalized, under-capitalized, significantly under-capitalized and critically under-capitalized. A depository institution is deemed to be “well-capitalized” if the institution has a total risk-based capital ratio of 10.0% or greater, a CET 1 ratio of 6.5% or greater, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 8.0% or greater, and a leverage ratio of 5.0% or greater and the institution is not subject to an order, written agreement, capital directive or prompt corrective action directive to meet and maintain a specific level for any capital measure.

The FDIA imposes progressively more restrictive constraints on operations, management and capital distributions, depending on the capital category in which an institution is classified.

For further information regarding the capital ratios and leverage ratio of the Company and the Bank see the section titled “Capital Resources” in Part II, Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The current requirements and the actual levels for the Company and the Bank are detailed in Note 15, Regulatory Matters, of the notes to consolidated financial statements, included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Dividends. The FRB policy is that a financial holding company should pay cash dividends only to the extent that its net income for the past year is sufficient to cover both the cash dividends and a rate of earnings retention that is consistent with the holding company’s capital needs, asset quality and overall financial condition, and that it is inappropriate for a financial holding company experiencing serious financial problems to borrow funds to pay dividends. Furthermore, a bank that is classified under the prompt corrective action regulations as “undercapitalized” will be prohibited from paying any dividends.

The primary source of cash for dividends we pay is the dividends we receive from the Bank. The Bank is subject to various regulatory policies and requirements relating to the payment of dividends, including requirements to maintain capital above regulatory minimums. Approval of the New York State Department of Financial Services (the “NY DFS”) is required prior to paying a dividend if the dividend declared by the Bank exceeds the sum of the Bank’s net profits for that year and its retained net profits for the preceding two calendar years. At January 1, 2021, the Bank could declare dividends of $53.0 million from retained net profits of the preceding two years. The Bank declared dividends of $23.0 million and $20.0 million in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Federal Deposit Insurance Assessments. The Bank is a member of the FDIC and pays an insurance premium to the FDIC based upon its assessable assets on a quarterly basis. Deposits are insured up to applicable limits by the FDIC and such insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, a permanent increase in deposit insurance was authorized to $250,000. The coverage limit is per depositor, per insured depository institution for each account ownership category.

The Dodd-Frank Act also set a new minimum Deposit Insurance Fund (“DIF”) reserve ratio at 1.35% of estimated insured deposits. The Dodd-Frank Act required the FDIC to define the deposit insurance assessment base for an insured depository institution as an amount equal to the institution’s average consolidated total assets during the assessment period minus average tangible equity. Premiums for the Bank are now calculated based upon the average balance of total assets minus average tangible equity as of the close of business for each day during the calendar quarter. As of September 30, 2018, the FDIC had exceeded the minimum reserve ratio of 1.35%. We received credits for the portion of our regular assessments that contributed to growth in the reserve ratio to 1.35%, which applied to reduce regular assessments for quarters when the reserve ratio is at least 1.38%. We used these credits to reduce our regular assessments through the first quarter of 2020.

The FDIC has the flexibility to adopt actual rates that are higher or lower than the total base assessment rates adopted without notice and comment, if certain conditions are met.

DIF-insured institutions paid a Financing Corporation (“FICO”) assessment in order to fund the interest on bonds issued in the 1980s in connection with the failures in the thrift industry. These assessments ceased in 2019 following the maturity of the bonds.

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The FDIC is authorized to conduct examinations of and require reporting by FDIC-insured institutions. It is also authorized to terminate a depository bank’s deposit insurance upon a finding by the FDIC that the bank’s financial condition is unsafe or unsound or that the institution has engaged in unsafe or unsound practices or has violated any applicable rule, regulation, order or condition enacted or imposed by the bank’s regulatory agency. The termination of deposit insurance for the Bank would have a material adverse effect on our earnings, operations and financial condition.

Consumer Laws and Regulations. In addition to the laws and regulations discussed herein, the Bank is also subject to certain consumer federal and state laws and regulations that are designed to protect consumers in transactions with banks. While the list set forth herein is not exhaustive, these laws and regulations include, among others, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Truth in Lending Act, the Truth in Savings Act, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, the Expedited Funds Availability Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Service Members Civil Relief Act and these laws’ respective state-law counterparts, as well as state usury laws and laws regarding unfair and deceptive acts and practices. These and other federal and state laws, among other things, require disclosures of the cost of credit and terms of deposit accounts, provide substantive consumer rights, prohibit discrimination in credit transactions, regulate the use of credit report information, provide financial privacy protections, prohibit unfair, deceptive and abusive practices, restrict the Company’s ability to raise interest rates and subject the Company to substantial regulatory oversight. Violations of applicable consumer protection laws can result in significant potential liability from litigation brought by customers, including actual damages, restitution and attorneys’ fees. Federal and state bank regulators, federal law enforcement agencies, state attorneys general and state and local consumer protection agencies may also seek to enforce consumer protection requirements and obtain these and other remedies, including regulatory sanctions, customer rescission rights, fines and civil money penalties. Failure to comply with consumer protection requirements may also result in our failure to obtain any required bank regulatory approval for merger or acquisition transactions the Company may wish to pursue or our prohibition from engaging in such transactions even if approval is not required.

The Dodd-Frank Act centralized responsibility for consumer financial protection by creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), and giving it responsibility for implementing, examining and enforcing compliance with federal consumer protection laws. The CFPB focuses on:

 

Risks to consumers and compliance with the federal consumer financial laws, when it evaluates the policies and practices of a financial institution;

 

The markets in which firms operate and risks to consumers posed by activities in those markets;

 

Depository institutions that offer a wide variety of consumer financial products and services or a more specialized focus; and

 

Non-depository companies that offer one or more consumer financial products or services.

The CFPB has broad rulemaking authority for a wide range of consumer financial laws that apply to all banks, including, among other things, the authority to prohibit “unfair, deceptive or abusive” acts and practices. Abusive acts or practices are defined as those that materially interfere with consumers’ ability to understand a term or condition of a consumer financial product or service or take unreasonable advantage of consumers’ (i) lack of financial savvy, (ii) inability to protect themselves in the selection or use of consumer financial products or services, or (iii) reasonable reliance on a covered entity to act in their interests. The CFPB can issue cease-and-desist orders against banks and other entities that violate consumer financial laws. The CFPB may also institute a civil action against an entity in violation of federal consumer financial law in order to impose a civil penalty or injunction. The CFPB has examination and enforcement authority over all banks with more than $10 billion in assets, as well as their affiliates.

Banking regulators take into account compliance with consumer protection laws when considering approval of a proposed transaction.

Community Reinvestment Act. Pursuant to the Community Reinvestment Act (the “CRA”), under federal and New York State law, the Bank is obligated, consistent with safe and sound banking practices, to help meet the credit needs of its entire community, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The FRB of New York and NY DFS periodically assess the Bank’s record of performance under the CRA and issue one of the following ratings: “Outstanding,” “Satisfactory,” “Needs to Improve,” or “Substantial Noncompliance.”

The most recently completed evaluation of the Bank’s performance under the CRA was conducted by the NY DFS from January 1, 2012 through September 30, 2017 and resulted in an overall rating of “Satisfactory.” In reaching this rating, the NY DFS considered the Bank’s lending practices by the areas served, the geographic distribution of loans, borrower characteristics and use in community development projects, along with testing the ability of the Bank’s investment and service activities to meet community credit needs.

The last CRA evaluation completed by the FRB of New York was for the time period October 2013 to September 2018. This performance evaluation resulted in an overall rating by the FRB of New York of “Satisfactory.” In reaching this rating the FRB of New York considered several factors, including the geographic distribution of loans we made from October 2013 to September 2018 in the Buffalo and Rochester metropolitan areas, the accessibility of our retail delivery systems and our level of compliance during the time period with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act.

Privacy Rules. Federal banking regulators, as required under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, have adopted rules limiting the ability of banks and other financial institutions to disclose nonpublic information about consumers to non-affiliated third parties. The rules require disclosure of privacy policies to consumers and, in some circumstances, allow consumers to prevent disclosure of certain

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personal information to non-affiliated third parties. The privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act affect how consumer information is transmitted through diversified financial services companies and conveyed to outside vendors.

The NY DFS requires New York State-chartered or licensed banks regulated by the NY DFS, such as us, to adopt broad cybersecurity protections. Specifically, we are now required to establish a program designed to ensure the safety of our information systems, adopt a written cybersecurity policy, designate an information security officer, and comply with NY DFS certification and reporting requirements.

Anti-Money Laundering and the USA Patriot Act. A major focus of governmental policy on financial institutions is combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 substantially broadened the scope of U.S. anti-money laundering laws and regulations by imposing significant new compliance and due diligence obligations, creating new crimes and penalties and expanding the extra-territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Financial institutions are prohibited from entering into specified financial transactions and account relationships and must use enhanced due diligence procedures in their dealings with certain types of high-risk customers and implement a written customer identification program. Financial institutions must take certain steps to assist government agencies in detecting and preventing money laundering and report certain types of suspicious transactions. Regulatory authorities routinely examine financial institutions for compliance with these obligations, and for the failure of a financial institution to maintain and implement adequate programs to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, or to comply with all of the relevant laws or regulations, could have serious legal and reputational consequences for the institution, including causing applicable bank regulatory authorities not to approve merger or acquisition transactions when regulatory approval is required or to prohibit such transactions even if approval is not required. Regulatory authorities have imposed cease and desist orders and civil money penalties against institutions found to be violating these obligations.

Office of Foreign Assets Control Regulation. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions against targeted foreign countries and regimes, under authority of various laws, including designated foreign countries, nationals and others. OFAC publishes lists of specially designated targets and countries. The Company is responsible for, among other things, blocking accounts of, and transactions with, such targets and countries, prohibiting unlicensed trade and financial transactions with them and reporting blocked transactions after their occurrence. Failure to comply with these sanctions could have serious legal and reputational consequences, including causing applicable bank regulatory authorities not to approve merger or acquisition transactions when regulatory approval is required or to prohibit such transactions even if approval is not required.

Interstate Branching. Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, national and state-chartered banks may open an initial branch in a state other than its home state (e.g., a host state) by establishing a de novo branch at any location in such host state at which a bank chartered in such host state could establish a branch. Applications to establish such branches must still be filed with the appropriate primary federal regulator. It is too early to predict whether any presidential or congressional action will result in any change to a bank’s ability to establish a de novo branch in a host state.

Transactions with Affiliates. FII, FSB, Five Star REIT, SDN, Courier Capital and HNP Capital are affiliates within the meaning of the Federal Reserve Act. The Federal Reserve Act imposes limitations on a bank with respect to extensions of credit to, investments in, and certain other transactions with, its parent financial holding company and the holding company’s other subsidiaries. Furthermore, bank loans and extensions of credit to affiliates also are subject to various collateral requirements.

Various governmental requirements, including Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act and the FRB’s Regulation W, limit borrowings by FII and its nonbank subsidiaries from FSB, and also limit various other transactions between FII and its nonbank subsidiaries, on the one hand, and FSB, on the other. For example, Section 23A of the Federal Reserve Act limits the aggregate outstanding amount of any insured depository institution’s loans and other “covered transactions” with any particular nonbank affiliate to no more than 10% of the institution’s total capital and limits the aggregate outstanding amount of any insured depository institution’s covered transactions with all of its nonbank affiliates to no more than 20% of its total capital. “Covered transactions” are defined by statute to include a loan or extension of credit, as well as a purchase of securities issued by an affiliate, a purchase of assets (unless otherwise exempted by the FRB) from the affiliate, the acceptance of securities issued by the affiliate as collateral for a loan, and the issuance of a guarantee, acceptance or letter of credit on behalf of an affiliate. Section 23A of the Federal Reserve Act also generally requires that an insured depository institution’s loans to its nonbank affiliates be, at a minimum, 100% secured, and Section 23B of the Federal Reserve Act generally requires that an insured depository institution’s transactions with its nonbank affiliates be on terms and under circumstances that are substantially the same or at least as favorable as those prevailing for comparable transactions with non-affiliates. The Dodd-Frank Act significantly expanded the coverage and scope of the limitations on affiliate transactions within a banking organization. For example, the Dodd-Frank Act applies the 10% of capital limit on covered transactions to financial subsidiaries and amends the definition of “covered transaction” to include (i) securities borrowing or lending transactions with an affiliate, and (ii) all derivatives transactions with an affiliate, to the extent that either causes a bank or its affiliate to have credit exposure to the securities borrowing/lending or derivative counterparty.

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Insurance Regulation. SDN is required to be licensed or receive regulatory approval in nearly every state in which it does business. In addition, most jurisdictions require individuals who engage in brokerage and certain other insurance service activities to be personally licensed. These licensing laws and regulations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In most jurisdictions, licensing laws and regulations generally grant broad discretion to supervisory authorities to adopt and amend regulations and to supervise regulated activities.

Investment Advisory Regulation. Courier Capital and HNP Capital are providers of investment consulting and financial planning services and, as such, are each considered an “investment adviser” under the U.S. Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (the “Advisers Act”). An investment adviser is any person or entity that provides advice to others, or that issues reports or analyses, regarding securities for compensation. While a FHC is generally excluded from regulation under the Advisers Act, the SEC has stated that this exclusion does not apply to investment adviser subsidiaries of FHCs, such as Courier Capital and HNP Capital. Because Courier Capital and HNP Capital each have over $100 million in assets under management, each is individually considered a “large adviser,” which requires registration with the SEC by filing Form ADV, including Part 3 to Form ADV, or Form CRS, which discloses the material terms of the advisor’s relationship with retail customers. Courier Capital and HNP Capital must update these forms at least once each year and more frequently under certain specified circumstances. This registration covers Courier Capital or HNP Capital and its employees as well as other persons under their control and supervision, such as independent contractors, provided that their activities are undertaken on behalf of Courier Capital or HNP Capital.

In addition to these registration requirements, the Advisers Act contains numerous other provisions that impose obligations on investment advisors. For example, Section 206 includes anti-fraud provisions that courts have interpreted as establishing fiduciary duties extending to all services undertaken on behalf of the client. These duties include, but are not limited to, the disclosure of all material facts to clients, providing only suitable investment advice, and seeking best price execution of trades. Section 206 also has specific rules relating to, among other things, advertising, safeguarding client assets, the engagement of third-parties, the duty to supervise persons acting on the investment adviser’s behalf, and the establishment of an effective internal compliance program and a code of ethics.

Courier Capital and HNP Capital are subject to each of these obligations and, as applicable, restrictions, and are also subject to examination by the SEC’s Office of Compliance, Investigations, and Examinations to assess their overall compliance with the Advisers Act and the effectiveness of their internal controls.

Commencing in October 2013, prior to the Parent’s acquisition of Courier Capital and HNP Capital, the Bank entered into a partnership with LPL Financial, one of the nation’s largest independent financial services companies (“LPL”), to provide investment advisory and broker-dealer services to the Bank’s customers through LPL. This partnership continues and the Bank employs wealth advisors, who are licensed by LPL, to provide investment advisory and broker-dealer services to the Bank’s customers. LPL is an investment adviser registered under the Advisers Act and is subject to its provisions.

Incentive Compensation. Our compensation practices are subject to oversight by the Federal Reserve. The Federal banking agencies’ guidance on incentive compensation policies intend to ensure that the incentive compensation policies of banking organizations do not encourage excessive risk-taking and undermine the safety and soundness of those organizations. The guidance, which covers all employees that have the ability to materially affect the risk profile of an organization, either individually or as part of a group, is based upon the key principles that a banking organization’s incentive compensation arrangements should (i) provide incentives that do not encourage risk-taking beyond the organization’s ability to effectively identify and manage risks, (ii) be compatible with effective internal controls and risk management, and (iii) be supported by strong corporate governance, including active and effective oversight by the organization’s board of directors.

The Dodd-Frank Act requires the federal banking agencies to establish joint regulations or guidelines prohibiting incentive-based payment arrangements at specified regulated entities having at least $1 billion in total consolidated assets (which would include the Company and the Bank) that encourage inappropriate risks by providing an executive officer, employee, director or principal shareholder with excessive compensation, fees or benefits or that could lead to material financial loss to the entity. In addition, the agencies must establish regulations or guidelines requiring enhanced disclosure to regulators of incentive-based compensation arrangements. In May 2016, six federal agencies, including the FRB, the FDIC and the SEC, invited public comments on a proposed rule to accomplish this mandate; no final rule has since been issued, however, and it is uncertain at this time whether the agencies intend to further pursue the rule for the foreseeable future.

The FRB will review, as part of the regular, risk-focused examination process, the incentive compensation arrangements of banking organizations, such as the Company, that are not “large, complex banking organizations.” These reviews will be tailored to each organization based on the scope and complexity of the organization’s activities and the prevalence of incentive compensation arrangements. The findings of the supervisory initiatives will be included in reports of examination. Deficiencies will be incorporated into the organization’s supervisory ratings, which can affect the organization’s ability to make acquisitions and take other actions. Enforcement actions may be taken against a banking organization if its incentive compensation arrangements, or related risk-management control or governance processes, pose a risk to the organization’s safety and soundness and the organization is not taking prompt and effective measures to correct the deficiencies.

Other Future Legislation and Changes in Regulations. In addition to the specific proposals described above, from time to time, various legislative and regulatory initiatives are introduced in Congress and state legislatures, as well as by regulatory agencies. Such initiatives may include proposals to expand or contract the powers of financial holding companies and depository institutions or proposals to substantially change the financial institution regulatory system. Such legislation could change banking statutes and/or our

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operating environment in substantial and unpredictable ways. If enacted, such legislation could increase or decrease the cost of doing business, limit or expand permissible activities or affect the competitive balance among banks, savings associations, credit unions, and other financial institutions. We cannot predict whether any such legislation will be enacted, and, if enacted, the effect that it, or any implementing regulations, would have on our financial condition or results of operations. A change in statutes, regulations or regulatory policies applicable to us or our subsidiaries could have a material effect on our business.

Regulatory and Economic Policies

Our business and earnings are affected by general and local economic conditions and by the monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government, its agencies and various other governmental regulatory authorities. The FRB regulates the supply of money in order to influence general economic conditions. Among the instruments of monetary policy available to the FRB are (i) conducting open market operations in U.S. government obligations, (ii) changing the discount rate on financial institution borrowings, (iii) imposing or changing reserve requirements against financial institution deposits, and (iv) restricting certain borrowings and imposing or changing reserve requirements against certain borrowings by financial institutions and their affiliates. These methods are used in varying degrees and combinations to directly affect the availability of bank loans and deposits, as well as the interest rates charged on loans and paid on deposits. For that reason, the policies of the FRB could have a material effect on our earnings.

Impact of Inflation and Changing Prices

Our financial statements included herein have been prepared in accordance with GAAP, which requires us to measure financial position and operating results principally using historic dollars. Changes in the relative value of money due to inflation or recession are generally not considered. The primary effect of inflation on our operations is reflected in increased operating costs. We believe changes in interest rates affect the financial condition of a financial institution to a far greater degree than changes in the inflation rate. While interest rates are generally influenced by changes in the inflation rate, they do not necessarily change at the same rate or in the same magnitude. Interest rates are sensitive to many factors that are beyond our control, including changes in the expected rate of inflation, general and local economic conditions and the monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government, its agencies and various other governmental regulatory authorities.

 

ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS

 

 

An investment in our common stock is subject to risks inherent to our business. The material risks and uncertainties that management believes could affect us are described below. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information included or incorporated by reference herein. This Annual Report on Form 10-K is qualified in its entirety by these risk factors. Further, to the extent that any of the information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K constitutes forward-looking statements, the risk factors set forth below also are cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of us.

If any of the following risks occur, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. If this were to happen, the value of our common stock could decline significantly, and you could lose all or part of your investment.

Risks Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic, and governmental and individual efforts to contain the pandemic, have had a significant negative impact on the U.S. and global economy which has and will continue to adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn, the Federal Reserve reduced the target federal funds rate to a range of 0.00% to 0.25% and has stated that it intends to keep the rate near 0.00% until signs of higher inflation and a tighter labor market emerge. This lower rate reduces the rate of interest we earn on loans and pay on borrowings and interest-bearing deposits and can affect the value of financial instruments we hold. In an environment with lower interest rates, we will not be able to earn as much on our interest-earning assets, which will likely reduce net interest margin. In addition, our ability to earn interest and receive dividend income from investment securities will be reduced. If interest rates remain low for an extended period of time, our results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

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The U.S. economy generally and our customers and employees in particular have been directly impacted by governmental orders reducing travel and in-person interactions. Executive orders from the Governor of the State of New York may impact our ability to keep our bank branch locations open. We expect we and our customers will continue to be impacted by social distancing efforts for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant proportion of our employees are working remotely, which may slow response times to customers’ inquiries or preclude providing the level of service our employees are typically able to offer in person. Our reputation and results of operations may be impacted if our competitors are better able to adjust to the restrictions on in-person interactions and remote work. Furthermore, as our employees continue to work from home, our operational risk, including data security risk, is higher than it would otherwise be, as cybercriminal activity has increased in an attempt to profit from the disruption to typical operations. The cybersecurity-related risks we face include more phishing, malware, and other cybersecurity attacks, vulnerability to disruptions of our information technology infrastructure and telecommunications systems for remote operations, and unauthorized dissemination, misuse or destruction of confidential or valuable information.

While we have experienced higher loan origination volume due to the PPP under the CARES Act, there can be no assurance that the borrowers under the CARES Act programs will be able to pay the interest, and principal payments, if applicable, when they are due. If the borrower of a PPP loan fails to qualify for loan forgiveness under the program, we will have to hold the loan at an unfavorable interest rate as compared to a loan we may otherwise have extended to our customer. Even though those loans are guaranteed by the SBA, we may not be able to collect from the SBA as quickly as those payments come due, and our cash flow and earnings may be reduced accordingly. In the event of a loss resulting from a default on a PPP loan and a determination by the SBA that there was a deficiency in the manner in which we originated, funded or serviced the PPP loan, the SBA may deny its liability under the guaranty, reduce the amount of the guaranty, or, if it has already made payment under the guaranty, seek recovery of any loss related to the deficiency from us. Originations for consumer indirect lending, which currently constitutes 23.4% of our total loans, have declined since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. If this trend continues, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

Our loan customers will likely be impacted by the overall decline in the U.S. economy, which may cause them to make late or reduced payments on their loans or default on their loans with us. In particular, our commercial mortgage customers may be experiencing higher rates of tenants not paying rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a lender, we are exposed to the risk that customers will be unable to repay their loans according to their terms and that any collateral securing the payment of their loans may not be sufficient to assure repayment. The collateral securing our indirect loan portfolio in particular may not be sufficient to cover the full value of an outstanding loan because the collateral, namely automobiles, are depreciating assets. Our credit risk has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and related decline in the U.S. economy. In the event of delinquencies, regulatory changes and policies designed to protect borrowers may slow or prevent us from taking certain remediation actions, including foreclosure. We make various assumptions and judgments about the collectability of our loan portfolio, including the creditworthiness of our borrowers and the value of the real estate and other assets serving as collateral, and we provide an allowance for estimated credit losses based on a number of factors. We believe that the allowance for credit losses is adequate. However, if our assumptions or judgments are wrong, the allowance for credit losses may not be sufficient to cover the actual credit losses. We may have to increase the allowance in the future in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting changes to the U.S. economy. The actual amount of future provisions for credit losses may vary from the amount of past provisions. The longer the economic results of the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impact our customers, the more likely our credit quality is to decline and the more likely our customers will be to default on their loans with us. Continued economic disruption and fear of the spread of COVID-19 could result in business shutdowns, limitations on commercial activity and financial transactions, labor shortages, supply chain interruptions, increased unemployment and commercial property vacancy rates and reduced profitability and ability for property owners to make mortgage payments. If a significant proportion of our customers are unable to repay their loans and the collateral securing repayment is insufficient to cover our losses, we may have to increase our allowance for credit losses - loans, the quality of our loan portfolio will decline, our net income will decrease, and our results of operations will be materially adversely impacted. In addition, our capital and leverage ratios may be adversely impacted.

We believe our most significant exposure to COVID‐19-impacted industries is within: (i) retail and retail building, which is 13% of our commercial real estate and commercial loan balances at December 31, 2020; (ii) hotel, motel and lodging, which is 4% of our commercial real estate and commercial loan balances at December 31, 2020; (iii) health care, which is 3% of our commercial real estate and commercial loan balances at December 31, 2020; (iv) restaurants and food services, which is 2% of our commercial real estate and commercial loan balances at December 31, 2020; (v) entertainment and recreation, which is 2% of our commercial real estate and commercial loan balances at December 31, 2020; and (vi) mining, quarrying and oil & gas which is less than 1% of our commercial real estate and commercial loan balances at December 31, 2020.

At December 31, 2020, we held $144.5 million in debt securities that are issued by state and local government agencies, or municipal bonds, that are backed by the credit and taxing power of the issuing jurisdiction. As these state and local governments experience the impacts of the pandemic and stay at home orders, they are earning less sales tax revenue while incurring higher than expected costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may cause the credit rating of the municipal bonds we

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hold to be downgraded, which could in turn cause us to incur credit losses. If these bond issuers are unable to repay us when the bonds mature, we could lose our investment and our results of operations and cash flows could be materially adversely impacted.

The market volatility related to the COVID-19 pandemic has driven market values of publicly traded securities downward. Because the majority of our investment advisory revenue is from fees based on a percentage of assets under management, our investment advisory revenues and profitability have fallen and will continue to fluctuate with the overall market conditions.

The spread of COVID-19 has led to an economic recession and continues to cause severe disruptions in the U.S. economy. Should the COVID-19 pandemic continue for an extended period of time, our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows may likewise continue to be materially adversely impacted for an extended period of time.

Credit Risks and Risks Related to Banking Activities

If we experience greater credit losses than anticipated, earnings may be adversely impacted.

As a lender, we are exposed to the risk that customers will be unable to repay their loans according to their terms and that any collateral securing the payment of their loans may not be sufficient to assure repayment. Credit losses are inherent in the business of making loans and could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations.

We make various assumptions and judgments about the collectability of our loan portfolio, including the creditworthiness of our borrowers and the value of the real estate and other assets serving as collateral, and we provide an allowance for estimated credit losses based on a number of factors. We believe that the allowance for credit losses is adequate. However, if our assumptions or judgments are wrong, the allowance for loan losses may not be sufficient to cover the actual credit losses. We may have to increase the allowance in the future in response to the request of one of our primary banking regulators, to adjust for changing conditions and assumptions, or as a result of any deterioration in the quality of our loan portfolio. The actual amount of future provisions for credit losses may vary from the amount of past provisions.

Geographic concentration may unfavorably impact our operations.

Substantially all of our operations are concentrated in the Western and Central New York region. As a result of this geographic concentration, our results depend largely on economic conditions in these and surrounding areas. Deterioration in economic conditions in our market could:

 

increase loan delinquencies;

 

increase problem assets and foreclosures;

 

increase claims and lawsuits;

 

decrease the demand for our products and services; and

 

decrease the value of collateral for loans, especially real estate, reducing customers’ borrowing power, the value of assets associated with non-performing loans and collateral coverage.

Generally, we make loans to small to mid-sized businesses whose success depends on the regional economy. These businesses generally have fewer financial resources in terms of capital or borrowing capacity than larger entities. Adverse economic and business conditions in our market areas, including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic could reduce our growth rate, affect our borrowers’ ability to repay their loans and, consequently, adversely affect our business, financial condition and performance. For example, we place substantial reliance on real estate as collateral for our loan portfolio. A sharp downturn in real estate values in our market area could leave many of these loans inadequately collateralized. If we are required to liquidate the collateral securing a loan to satisfy the debt during a period of reduced real estate values, the impact on our results of operations could be materially adverse.

Our commercial business and mortgage loans increase our exposure to credit risks.

At December 31, 2020, our portfolio of commercial business and mortgage loans totaled $2,048.0 million, or 57.0% of total loans. We plan to continue to emphasize the origination of these types of loans, which generally expose us to a greater risk of nonpayment and loss than residential real estate or consumer loans because repayment of such loans often depends on the successful operations and income stream of the borrowers. Additionally, such loans typically involve larger loan balances to single borrowers or groups of related borrowers compared to consumer loans or residential real estate loans. A sudden downturn in the economy, or a prolonged downturn for specific industries, could result in borrowers being unable to repay their loans, thus exposing us to increased credit risk.

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Our indirect and consumer lending involves risk elements in addition to normal credit risk.

A portion of our current lending involves the purchase of consumer automobile installment sales contracts from automobile dealers located in Western, Central and the Capital District of New York, and Northern and Central Pennsylvania. These loans are for the purchase of new or used automobiles. We serve customers that cover a range of creditworthiness, and the required terms and rates are reflective of those risk profiles. While these loans have higher yields than many of our other loans, such loans involve risk elements in addition to normal credit risk. Additional risk elements associated with indirect lending include the limited personal contact with the borrower as a result of indirect lending through non-bank channels, namely automobile dealers. While indirect automobile loans are secured, such loans are secured by depreciating assets and characterized by loan-to-value ratios that could result in us not recovering the full value of an outstanding loan upon default by the borrower. If the losses from our indirect loan portfolio are higher than anticipated, it could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, our consumer lending activities are subject to numerous consumer protection laws and regulations, and if we were unable to comply with the regulations applicable to our consumer lending activities, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.

Lack of seasoning in portions of our loan portfolio could increase risk of credit defaults in the future.

As a result of our growth over the past several years, certain portions of our loan portfolio, such as the increased size of our commercial loan portfolio and in particular the PPP loans we originated, are of relatively recent origin. Loans may not begin to show signs of credit deterioration or default until they have been outstanding for some period of time, a process referred to as “seasoning.” As a result, a portfolio of older loans will usually behave more predictably than a newer portfolio. Because these portions of our portfolio are relatively new, 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 an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We accept deposits that do not have a fixed term and which may be withdrawn by the customer at any time for any reason.

At December 31, 2020, we had $3.39 billion of deposit liabilities that have no maturity and, therefore, may be withdrawn by the depositor at any time. These deposit liabilities include our checking, savings, and money market deposit accounts.

Market conditions may impact the competitive landscape for deposits in the banking industry. The low rate environment and future actions the Federal Reserve may take may impact pricing and demand for deposits in the banking industry. The withdrawal of more deposits than we anticipate could have an adverse impact on our profitability as this source of funding, if not replaced by similar deposit funding, would need to be replaced with wholesale funding, the sale of interest-earning assets, or a combination of these two actions. The replacement of deposit funding with wholesale funding could cause our overall cost of funding to increase, which would reduce our net interest income. A loss of interest-earning assets could also reduce our net interest income.

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

A significant portion of our loan portfolio is secured by real property. During the ordinary course of business, we may foreclose on and take title to properties securing certain loans. There is a risk that hazardous or toxic substances could be found on properties we have foreclosed upon. If hazardous or toxic substances are found, we may be liable for remediation costs, as well as for personal injury and property damage regardless of whether we knew, had reason to know of, or caused the release of such substance. Environmental laws may require us to incur substantial expenses 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 financial condition and results of operations.

We operate in a highly competitive industry and market area.

We face substantial competition in all areas of our operations from a variety of different competitors, many of which are larger and may have more financial resources than us. Such competitors primarily include national, regional and internet banks within the markets in which we operate. We also face competition from many other types of financial institutions, including, without limitation, savings and loan associations, credit unions, finance companies, brokerage firms, insurance companies and other financial intermediaries. The financial services industry could become even more competitive as a result of legislative, regulatory and technological changes and continued consolidation. Banks, securities firms and insurance companies can merge under the umbrella of a financial holding company, which can offer virtually any type of financial service, including banking, securities underwriting, insurance (both agency and underwriting), and merchant banking. Also, technology has lowered barriers to entry and made it possible for nonbanks to offer products and services traditionally provided by banks, such as automatic transfer and automatic payment systems. More recently, peer to peer lending has emerged as an alternative borrowing source for our customers and many other non-banks offer lending and payment services in competition with banks. Many of these competitors have fewer regulatory constraints and may have lower cost structures. Additionally, due to their size, many of our larger competitors may be able to achieve economies

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of scale and, as a result, may offer a broader range of products and services as well as better pricing for those products and services than we can.

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

 

the ability to develop, maintain and build upon long-term customer relationships based on top quality service, high ethical standards and safe, sound assets;

 

the ability to expand our market position;

 

the scope, relevance and pricing of products and services offered to meet customer needs and demands;

 

the rate at which we introduce new products and services relative to our competitors;

 

customer satisfaction with our level of service; and

 

industry and general economic trends.

Failure to perform in any of these areas could significantly weaken our competitive position, which could adversely affect our growth and profitability, which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

Changes to and replacement of the LIBOR Benchmark Interest Rate may adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

In 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, a regulator of financial services firms and financial markets in the United Kingdom, stated that it will only support the regulatory oversight of the London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") interest rate indices through 2021. This announcement, and, more generally, financial benchmark reforms and changes in the interbank lending markets, have resulted in uncertainty about the interest rate benchmarks that will be used in the future. In the United States, efforts to identify a set of alternative U.S. dollar reference interest rates are ongoing, and the Alternative Reference Rate Committee has recommended the use of a Secured Overnight Funding Rate (“SOFR”). SOFR is different from LIBOR in that it is a retrospective-looking secured rate rather than a forward-looking unsecured rate. These differences could lead to a greater disconnect between our and the Bank’s costs to raise funds for SOFR as compared to LIBOR. In addition to the discontinuance of LIBOR, there may be future changes in the rules or methodologies used to calculate SOFR or other benchmarks, which may have a material adverse effect on the value of or return on our financial assets and liabilities that are based on or are linked to LIBOR and other benchmarks. The uncertainty related to these changes may have an unpredictable impact on the financial markets and could adversely impact our financial condition or results of operations.

Legal and Regulatory Risks

Legal and regulatory proceedings and related matters could adversely affect us and the banking industry in general.

We have been, and may in the future be, subject to various legal and regulatory proceedings, including class action litigation. It is inherently difficult to assess the outcome of these matters, and there can be no assurance that we will prevail in any proceeding or litigation. Legal and regulatory matters of any degree of significance could result in substantial cost and diversion of our efforts, which by itself could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and operating results.

As disclosed in Part I, Item 3, “Legal Proceedings,” an action has been brought against us by four individuals seeking to represent a putative class of consumers who are alleged to have obtained direct or indirect financing from us for the purchase of vehicles that we later repossessed. If we settle these claims or the litigation is not resolved in our favor, we may suffer reputational damage and incur legal costs, settlements or judgments that exceed the amounts covered by our existing insurance policies. We can provide no assurances that our insurer will insure the legal costs, settlements or judgements we incur in excess of our deductible. If we are not successful in defending ourselves from these claims, or if our insurer does not insure us against legal costs we incur in excess of our deductible, the result may materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. Further, adverse determinations in such matters could result in actions by our regulators that could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. There can be no guarantee that proceedings that may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition will not arise in the near or long-term future.

We establish reserves for legal claims when payments associated with the claims become probable and the costs can be reasonably estimated. We may still incur legal costs for a matter even if we have not established a reserve. In addition, due to the inherent subjectivity of the assessments and unpredictability of the outcome of legal proceedings, the actual cost of resolving a legal claim may be substantially higher than any amounts reserved for that matter. The ultimate resolution of a pending legal proceeding, depending on the remedy sought and granted, could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

Any future FDIC insurance premium increases may adversely affect our earnings.

The amount that is assessed by the FDIC for deposit insurance is set by the FDIC based on a variety of factors. These include the depositor insurance fund’s reserve ratio, the Bank’s assessment base, which is equal to average consolidated total assets minus average tangible equity, and various inputs into the FDIC’s assessment rate calculation.

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If there are financial institution failures, we may be required to pay higher FDIC premiums. Such increases of FDIC insurance premiums may adversely impact our earnings. See the section captioned “Supervision and Regulation” included in Part I, Item 1 “Business” for more information about FDIC insurance premiums.

We are highly regulated, and any adverse regulatory action may result in additional costs, loss of business opportunities, and reputational damage.

As described in the section captioned “Supervision and Regulation” included in Part I, Item 1, “Business,” both our Banking and Non-Banking segments are subject to extensive supervision, regulation and examination. The various regulatory authorities with jurisdiction over us have significant latitude in addressing our compliance with applicable laws and regulations including, but not limited to, those governing consumer credit, fair lending, anti-money laundering, anti-terrorism, capital adequacy, asset quality and risk, management ability and performance, earnings, liquidity, and various other factors affecting us. As part of this regulatory structure, we are subject to policies and other guidance developed by the regulatory agencies with respect to, among other things, capital levels, the timing and amount of dividend payments, the classification of assets and the establishment of adequate loan loss reserves for regulatory purposes. Our regulators have broad discretion to impose monetary fines or restrictions and limitations on our operations if they determine, for any reason, that our operations are unsafe or unsound, fail to comply with applicable law or are otherwise inconsistent with laws and regulations or with the supervisory policies of these agencies.

This supervisory framework could materially impact the conduct, growth and profitability of our operations. Any failure on our part to comply with current laws, regulations, other regulatory requirements or safe and sound banking, insurance, or investment advisory practices or concerns about our financial condition, or any related regulatory sanctions or adverse actions against us, could increase our costs or restrict our ability to expand our business and result in damage to our reputation.

In March 2018, we were notified by the FRB of New York that its most recent evaluation of the Bank’s CRA performance for the period January 2011 through September 2013, resulted in an overall rating of “Needs to Improve.” This rating may subject the Bank to enhanced scrutiny in any application for business expansion it files with the Federal Reserve or the NY DFS, which may result in a delay in approving or the denial of such application. In addition, the publication of the “Needs to Improve” rating may damage our reputation, making it more difficult for us to achieve our business goals and objectives, particularly in the Buffalo and Rochester metropolitan areas.

The policies of the Federal Reserve have a significant impact on our earnings.

The policies of the Federal Reserve impact us significantly. The Federal Reserve regulates the supply of money and credit in the United States. Its policies directly and indirectly influence the rate of interest earned on loans and paid on borrowings and interest-bearing deposits and can also affect the value of financial instruments we hold. Those policies determine, to a significant extent, our cost of funds for lending and investing and impact our net interest income, our primary source of revenue. Changes in those policies are beyond our control and are difficult to predict. Federal Reserve policies can also affect our borrowers, potentially increasing the risk that they may fail to repay their loans. For example, a tightening of the money supply by the Federal Reserve could reduce the demand for a borrower’s products and services. This could adversely affect the borrower’s earnings and ability to repay its loan, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Non-Banking Activities

Our insurance brokerage subsidiary is subject to risk related to the insurance industry.

SDN derives the bulk of its revenue from commissions and fees earned from brokerage services. SDN does not determine the insurance premiums on which its commissions are based. Insurance premiums are cyclical in nature and may vary widely based on market conditions. As a result, insurance brokerage revenues and profitability can be volatile. As insurance companies outsource the production of premium revenue to non-affiliated brokers or agents such as SDN, those insurance companies may seek to further minimize their expenses by reducing the commission rates payable to insurance agents or brokers, which could adversely affect SDN’s revenues.    In addition, there have been and may continue to be various trends in the insurance industry toward alternative insurance markets including, among other things, increased use of self-insurance, captives, and risk retention groups. While SDN has been able to participate in certain of these activities and earn fees for such services, there can be no assurance that we will realize revenues and profitability as favorable as those realized from SDN’s traditional brokerage activities.

Our investment advisory and wealth management operations are subject to risk related to the regulation of the financial services industry and market volatility.

The financial services industry is subject to extensive regulation at the federal and state levels. It is very difficult to predict the future impact of the legislative and regulatory requirements affecting our business. The securities laws and other laws that govern the activities of our registered investment advisor are complex and subject to change. The activities of our investment advisory and wealth management operations are subject primarily to provisions of the Advisers Act and the Employee Retirement Income Act of

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1940, as amended (“ERISA”). We are a fiduciary under ERISA. Our investment advisory services are also subject to state laws including anti-fraud laws and regulations.

In addition, the broker-dealer services provided by Courier Capital and HNP Capital are subject to Regulation Best Interest, which requires a broker-dealer to act in the best interest of a retail customer when making a recommendation to that customer of any securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities. The regulation imposes heightened standards on broker-dealers and will require us to review and modify the policies and procedures of our wealth management operations, as well as associated supervisory and compliance controls.

Any claim of noncompliance, regardless of merit or ultimate outcome, could subject us to investigation by the SEC or other regulatory authorities. Our compliance processes may not be sufficient to prevent assertions that we failed to comply with any applicable law, rule or regulation. If our investment advisory and wealth management operations are subject to investigation by the SEC or other regulatory authorities or if litigation is brought by clients based on our failure to comply with applicable regulations, our results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

In addition, the majority of our investment advisory revenue is from fees based on the percentage of assets under management. The value of the assets under management is determined, in part, by market conditions that can be volatile. As a result, investment advisory revenues and profitability can fluctuate with market conditions.

Strategic and Operational Risks

We make certain assumptions and estimates in preparing our financial statements that may prove to be incorrect, which could significantly impact our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and we are subject to new or changing accounting rules and interpretations, and the failure by us to correctly interpret or apply these evolving rules and interpretations could have a material adverse effect.

Accounting principles generally accepted in the United States require us to use certain assumptions and estimates in preparing our financial statements, including in determining credit loss reserves and reserves related to litigation, among other items. Certain of our financial instruments, including available-for-sale securities and certain loans, require a determination of their fair value in order to prepare our financial statements. Where quoted market prices are not available, we may make fair value determinations based on internally developed models or other means, which ultimately rely to some degree on management judgment. Some of these and other assets and liabilities may have no direct observable price levels, making their valuation particularly subjective, as they are based on significant estimation and judgment. In addition, sudden illiquidity in markets or declines in prices of certain loans and securities may make it more difficult to value certain balance sheet items, which may lead to the possibility that such valuations will be subject to further change or adjustment. If assumptions or estimates underlying our financial statements are incorrect, we may experience material losses that would impact our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.

As indicated in Note 1, Summary of Significant Accounting Policies - Recent Accounting Pronouncements, to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the regulations, rules, standards, policies, and interpretations underlying GAAP are constantly evolving and may change significantly over time. In particular, effective January 1, 2020, we have implemented FASB’s Accounting Standards Update 2016-13, Financial Instruments – Credit Losses (Topic 326) – Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments, which requires us to recognize an allowance for credit losses based on historical experience, current conditions and reasonable and supportable forecasts, as opposed to recognizing an allowance when it is probable that a loss has been incurred. This change in GAAP increased our allowance for credit losses and created more volatility in the level of our allowance for credit losses, and has been, and will continue to be, impacted by the Company’s loan and securities portfolios’ composition, attributes and quality. If we fail to interpret any one or more of these GAAP provisions correctly, or if our methodology in applying them to our financial reporting or disclosures is at all flawed, our financial statements may contain inaccuracies that, if severe enough, could warrant a later restatement by us, which in turn could result in a material adverse event.

The value of our goodwill and other intangible assets may decline in the future.

As of December 31, 2020, we had $66.1 million of goodwill and $7.7 million of other intangible assets. Although we did not record any impairment to our goodwill during 2020, significant and sustained declines in our stock price and market capitalization, significant declines in our expected future cash flows, significant adverse changes in the business climate or slower growth rates, any or all of which could be materially impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, may necessitate our taking charges in the future related to the impairment of our goodwill. If the recent capital markets downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic continues for an extended period of time, or the capital markets continue to experience increased volatility, we may record an impairment to our goodwill in subsequent fiscal periods. Future regulatory actions could also have a material impact on assessments of goodwill for impairment. If the fair value of our net assets improves at a faster rate than the market value of our reporting units, or if we were to experience increases in book values of a reporting unit in excess of the increase in fair value of equity, we may also have to take charges related to the impairment of our goodwill. If we were to conclude that a future write-down of our goodwill is necessary, we would record the appropriate charge, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

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Identifiable intangible assets other than goodwill consist of core deposit intangibles and other intangible assets (primarily customer relationships). Adverse events or circumstances could impact the recoverability of these intangible assets including loss of core deposits, significant losses of customer accounts and/or balances, increased competition or adverse changes in the economy, such as those related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To the extent these intangible assets are deemed unrecoverable, a non-cash impairment charge would be recorded which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

During the fourth quarter of 2018, we determined that the carrying value of our SDN reporting unit exceeded its fair value and recorded a $2.4 million impairment charge. For further discussion, see Note 1, Summary of Significant Accounting Policies, and Note 8, Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets, to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

We may be unable to successfully implement our growth strategies, including the integration and successful management of newly-acquired businesses.

Our current growth strategy is multi-faceted. We seek to expand our branch network into nearby areas, make strategic acquisitions of loans, portfolios, other regional banks and non-banking firms whose businesses we feel may be complementary with ours, and to continue to organically grow our core deposits. Any failure by us to effectively implement any one or more of these growth strategies could have several negative effects, including a possible decline in the size or the quality, or both, of our loan portfolio or a decrease in profitability caused by an increase in operating expenses.

We hope to continue an active merger and acquisition strategy. However, even if we use our common stock as the predominant form of consideration, we may need to raise capital to negotiate a transaction on terms acceptable to us and there can be no assurance that we will be able to raise a sufficient amount of capital to enable us to complete an acquisition. It is also possible that even with adequate capital we may still be unable to complete an acquisition on favorable terms, causing us to miss opportunities to increase our earnings and expand or diversify our operations.

Our growth strategy is also dependent upon the successful integration of new businesses and any future acquisitions into our existing operations. While our senior management team has had extensive experience in acquisitions and post-acquisition integration, there is no guarantee that our current or future integration efforts will be successful, and if our senior management is forced to spend a disproportionate amount of time on integrating recently-acquired businesses, it may distract their attention from operating our business or pursuing other growth opportunities.

Acquisitions may disrupt our business and dilute shareholder value.

We intend to continue to pursue a growth strategy for our business by expanding our branch network into communities within or adjacent to markets where we currently conduct business. We may consider acquisitions of loans or securities portfolios, lending or leasing firms, commercial and small business lenders, residential lenders, direct banks, banks or bank branches, wealth and investment management firms, securities brokerage firms, specialty finance or other financial services-related companies. We also intend to expand our non-banking subsidiaries, SDN, Courier Capital and HNP Capital, by acquiring smaller insurance agencies and wealth management firms in areas which complement our current footprint. We may be unsuccessful in expanding our non-banking subsidiaries through acquisition because of the growing interest in acquiring insurance brokers and wealth management firms, which could make it more difficult for us to identify appropriate targets and could make such acquisitions more expensive. Even if we are able to identify appropriate acquisition targets, we may not have sufficient capital to fund acquisitions or be able to execute transactions on favorable terms. If we are unable to expand our non-banking operations through smaller acquisitions, we may not be able to achieve all of the expected benefits of the SDN, Courier Capital and HNP Capital acquisitions, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

Acquiring other banks, businesses, or branches involves potential adverse impact to our financial results and various other risks commonly associated with acquisitions, including, among other things:

 

difficulty in estimating the value of the target company;

 

payment of a premium over book and market values that may dilute our tangible book value and earnings per share in the short and long term;

 

potential exposure to unknown or contingent liabilities of the target company;

 

exposure to potential asset quality issues of the target company;

 

volatility in reported income as goodwill impairment losses could occur irregularly and in varying amounts;

 

challenge and expense of integrating the operations and personnel of the target company;

 

inability to realize the expected revenue increases, cost savings, increases in geographic or product presence, and / or other projected benefits;

 

potential disruption to our business;

 

potential diversion of our management’s time and attention;

 

the possible loss of key employees and customers of the target company;

 

potential changes in banking or tax laws or regulations that may affect the target company; and

 

additional regulatory burdens associated with new lines of business.

 

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Our tax strategies and the value of our deferred tax assets and liabilities could adversely affect our operating results and regulatory capital ratios.

Our tax strategies are dependent upon our ability to generate taxable income in future periods. Our tax strategies will be less effective in the event we fail to generate taxable income. Our deferred tax assets are subject to an evaluation of whether it is more likely than not that they will be realized for financial statement purposes. In making this determination, we consider all positive and negative evidence available including the impact of recent operating results, reversals of existing taxable temporary differences, tax planning strategies and projected earnings within the statutory tax loss carryover period. If we were to conclude that a significant portion of our deferred tax assets were not more likely than not to be realized, the required valuation allowance could adversely affect our financial position, results of operations and regulatory capital ratios. In addition, the value of our deferred tax assets could be adversely affected by a change in statutory rates.

Liquidity is essential to our businesses.

Our liquidity could be impaired by an inability to access the capital markets or unforeseen outflows of cash. Reduced liquidity may arise due to circumstances that we may be unable to control, such as a general market disruption or an operational problem that affects third parties or us. Our efforts to monitor and manage liquidity risk may not be successful or sufficient to deal with dramatic or unanticipated reductions in our liquidity. In such events, our cost of funds may increase, thereby reducing our net interest income, or we may need to sell a portion of our investment and/or loan portfolio, which, depending upon market conditions, could result in us realizing a loss.

 

We rely on dividends from our subsidiaries for most of our revenue.

We are a separate and distinct legal entity from our subsidiaries. A substantial portion of our revenue comes from dividends from our Bank subsidiary. These dividends are the principal source of funds we use to pay dividends on our common and preferred stock, and to pay interest and principal on our debt. Federal and/or state laws and regulations limit the amount of dividends that our Bank subsidiary may pay to us. Also, our 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 our Bank subsidiary is unable to pay dividends to us, we may not be able to service debt, pay obligations, or pay dividends on our common and preferred stock. The inability to receive dividends from our Bank subsidiary could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

If our risk management framework does not effectively identify or mitigate our risks, we could suffer losses.

Our risk management framework seeks to mitigate risk and appropriately balance risk and return. We have established processes and procedures intended to identify, measure, monitor and report the types of risk to which we are subject, including credit risk, operations risk, compliance risk, reputation risk, strategic risk, market risk, and liquidity risk. We seek to monitor and control our risk exposure through a framework of policies, procedures and reporting requirements. Management of our risks in some cases depends upon the use of analytical and/or forecasting models. If the models used to mitigate these risks are inadequate, we may incur losses. In addition, there may be risks that exist, or that develop in the future, that we have not appropriately anticipated, identified or mitigated. If our risk management framework does not effectively identify or mitigate our risks, we could suffer unexpected losses and could be materially adversely affected.

Technology and Cybersecurity Risks

We face competition in staying current with technological changes and banking alternatives to compete and meet customer demands.

The financial services market, including banking services, faces rapid changes with frequent introductions of new technology-driven products and services. Our future success may depend, in part, on our ability to use technology to provide products and services that provide convenience to customers and to create additional efficiencies in our operations. Some of our competitors have substantially greater resources to invest in technological improvements than we currently have. We may not be able to effectively implement new technology-driven products and services or be successful in marketing these products and services to our customers. In addition, technology and other changes are allowing consumers to utilize alternative methods to complete financial transactions that have historically involved banks. For example, consumers can now maintain funds in brokerage accounts or mutual funds that would have historically been held as bank deposits. Consumers can also complete transactions such as paying bills and transferring funds directly without using a traditional bank as an intermediary. The process of eliminating banks as intermediaries could result in the loss of customer deposits, the related income generated from those deposits and additional fee income. We may not be able to effectively compete with these banking alternatives for consumer deposits. As a result, our ability to effectively compete to retain or acquire new business may be impaired, and our business, financial condition or results of operations, may be adversely affected.

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We rely on other companies to provide key components of our business infrastructure.

Third party vendors provide key components of our business infrastructure such as internet connections, network access and core application processing. While we have selected these third party vendors carefully, we do not control their actions. Any problems caused by these third parties, including as a result of them not providing us their services for any reason or them performing their services poorly, could adversely affect our ability to deliver products and services to our customers or otherwise conduct our business efficiently and effectively. Replacing these third party vendors could also entail significant delay and expense.

Third parties perform significant operational services on our behalf. These third-party vendors are subject to similar risks as us relating to cybersecurity, breakdowns or failures of their own systems or employees. One or more of our vendors may experience a cybersecurity event or operational disruption and, if any such event does occur, it may not be adequately addressed, either operationally or financially, by the third-party vendor. Certain of our vendors may have limited indemnification obligations or may not have the financial capacity to satisfy their indemnification obligations. Financial or operational difficulties of a vendor could also impair our operations if those difficulties interfere with the vendor’s ability to serve us. If a critical vendor is unable to meet our needs in a timely manner or if the services or products provided by such a vendor are terminated or otherwise delayed and if we are not able to develop alternative sources for these services and products quickly and cost-effectively, it could have a material adverse effect on our business. Federal banking regulators recently issued regulatory guidance on how banks select, engage and manage their outside vendors. These regulations may affect the circumstances and conditions under which we work with third parties and the cost of managing such relationships.

A breach in security of our or third party information systems, including the occurrence of a cyber incident or a deficiency in cybersecurity, or a failure by us to comply with New York State cybersecurity regulations, may subject us to liability, result in a loss of customer business or damage our brand image.

We rely heavily on communications, information systems (both internal and provided by third parties) and the internet to conduct our business. Our business depends on our ability to process and monitor a large volume of daily transactions in compliance with legal, regulatory and internal standards and specifications. In addition, a significant portion of our operations relies heavily on the secure processing, storage and transmission of personal and confidential information of our customers and clients. These risks may increase in the future as our customers continue to adapt to mobile payment and other internet-based product offerings and we expand the availability of web-based products and applications.

In addition, several U.S. financial institutions have experienced significant distributed denial-of-service attacks, some of which involved sophisticated and targeted attacks intended to disable or degrade service or sabotage systems. Other potential attacks have attempted to obtain unauthorized access to confidential information or destroy data, often through the introduction of computer viruses or malware, cyber-attacks and other means. Such security attacks can originate from a wide variety of sources, including persons who are involved with organized crime or who may be linked to terrorist organizations or hostile foreign governments. Those same parties may also attempt to fraudulently induce employees, customers or other users of our systems to disclose sensitive information in order to gain access to our data or that of our customers or clients. We are also subject to the risk that our employees may intercept and transmit unauthorized confidential or proprietary information. An interception, misuse or mishandling of personal, confidential or proprietary information being sent to or received from a customer or third party could result in legal liability, remediation costs, regulatory action and reputational harm, any of which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

We are subject to cybersecurity regulations promulgated by the NY DFS. Any failure by us to comply with these regulations could also result in regulatory sanctions, public disclosure and reputational damage even if we do not experience a significant cybersecurity breach.

Furthermore, as the threat of cyber attacks continue to evolve, we may be required to expend significant additional resources to continue to modify or enhance our systems, or to investigate and remediate vulnerabilities in our systems. Due to the complexity and interconnectedness of information technology systems, the process of enhancing our systems can itself create a risk of systems disruptions and security issues.

Market Risks

We are subject to interest rate risk, and a rising rate environment may reduce our income and result in higher defaults on our loans, whereas a falling rate environment may result in earlier loan prepayments than we expect, which may reduce our income.

Our earnings and cash flows depend largely upon our net interest income. Interest rates are highly sensitive to many factors that are beyond our control, including general economic conditions and policies of governmental and regulatory agencies, particularly the Federal Reserve. Changes in monetary policy, including changes in interest rates, could influence not only the interest we receive on loans and investments and the amount of interest we pay on deposits and borrowings, but such changes could also affect (i) our ability to originate loans and obtain deposits; (ii) the fair value of our financial assets and liabilities; and (iii) the average duration of our mortgage-backed securities portfolio and other interest-earning assets.

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If the interest rates paid on deposits and other borrowings increase at a faster rate than the interest rates received on loans and other investments, our net interest income, and therefore earnings, could be adversely affected. In addition, our net interest margin may contract in a rising rate environment because our funding costs may increase faster than the yield we earn on our interest-earning assets. In a rising rate environment, loans with adjustable interest rates are more likely to experience a higher rate of default. The combination of these events may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

Earnings could also be adversely affected if the interest rates received on loans and other investments fall more quickly than the interest rates paid on deposits and other borrowings. In addition, in a falling rate environment, loans may be prepaid sooner than we expect, which could result in a delay between when we receive the prepayment and when we are able to redeploy the funds into new interest-earning assets and in a decrease in the amount of interest income we are able to earn on those assets. If we are unable to manage these risks effectively, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

Any substantial, unexpected or prolonged change in market interest rates could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Also, our interest rate risk modeling techniques and assumptions likely may not fully predict or capture the impact of actual interest rate changes on our balance sheet.

The soundness of other financial institutions could adversely affect us.

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

We may need to raise additional capital in the future and such capital may not be available on acceptable terms or at all.

We may need to raise additional capital in the future to provide sufficient capital resources and liquidity to meet our commitments and business needs. Our ability to raise additional capital, if needed, will depend on our financial performance and, among other things, conditions in the capital markets at that time, which is outside of our control.

In addition, we are highly regulated, and our regulators could require us to raise additional common equity in the future. We and our regulators perform a variety of analyses of our assets, including the preparation of stress case scenarios, and as a result of those assessments we could determine, or our regulators could require us, to raise additional capital.

We may not be able to access required capital on acceptable terms or at all. Any occurrence that may limit our access to the capital markets, such as a decline in the confidence of debt purchasers, depositors of the Bank or counterparties participating in the capital markets, or a downgrade of our debt rating, may adversely affect our capital costs and ability to raise capital and, in turn, our liquidity. An inability to raise additional capital on acceptable terms when needed could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations or liquidity.

Risks Related to our Common Stock

We may not pay or may reduce the dividends on our common stock.

Holders of our common stock are only entitled to receive such dividends as our Board of Directors may declare out of funds legally available for such payments. Although we have historically declared cash dividends on our common stock, we are not required to do so and may reduce or eliminate our common stock dividend in the future. This could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

We may issue debt and equity securities or securities convertible into equity securities, any of which may be senior to our common stock as to distributions and in liquidation, which could dilute our current shareholders or negatively affect the value of our common stock.

In the future, we may attempt to increase our capital resources by entering into debt or debt-like financing that is unsecured or secured by all or up to all of our assets, or by issuing additional debt or equity securities, which could include issuances of secured or unsecured commercial paper, medium-term notes, senior notes, subordinated notes, preferred stock or securities convertible into or exchangeable for equity securities. In the event of our liquidation, our lenders and holders of our debt and preferred securities would receive a distribution of our available assets before distributions to the holders of our common stock. Because our decision to incur debt and issue securities in our future offerings will depend on market conditions and other factors beyond our control, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing or nature of our future offerings and debt financings. Further, market conditions could require us to accept less favorable terms for the issuance of our securities in the future. We may also issue additional shares of our common

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