December 16, 2020
IBANYS Weekly E-Newsletter
  • Visit our website at www.ibanys.net to review all our daily updates on COVID-19 beginning on March 16.
The President's Message
By John Witkowski, President & CEO

With just two weeks left in 2020, the issues just keep on coming.

In Washington, Congress is working overtime in a lame duck session to seek agreement on crucial legislation to provide the next round of much needed coronavirus relief and to fund the federal government. The Senate also voted to pass a compromise defense spending bill that includes a key step toward long-sought relief from "beneficial ownership" disclosure mandates. The fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act would create a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network database of company beneficial ownership information for use by law enforcement. The president must decide whether to sign or veto, but Congress passed it with veto proof majorities.

In Albany, there is still a possibility the Legislature could convene before year-end for a special virtual "lame duck" session of its own to address such issues as raising taxes on the state's highest earners and passing a blanket moratorium that prevents all residential evictions.

We cover all these federal and state issues in detail in today's newsletter.

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Meanwhile, there was an announcement about a cyber attack on the SolarWinds Orion Platform and the federal government is coordinating important informational calls and seeking feedback from financial institutions. Here's the latest information we have on this subject:

  • The Department of Homeland Security and FS-ISAC are holding calls this week on the supply chain attack on the SolarWinds Orion Platform. The DHS call is scheduled for noon (Eastern time) tomorrow, Dec. 17, followed by the FS-ISAC call at 3 p.m.
 
  • The Treasury Department is seeking feedback from financial institutions that have ever run the SolarWinds Orion versions compromised in the attack. Respondents can contact Treasury's Office of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection at OCCIP-Coord@treasury.gov or anonymously through FS-ISAC at sharingops@fsisac.com.
 
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency this week issued an alert with information on the attack and an emergency directive on mitigating the compromise. CISA is encouraging affected organizations to read advisories with more information and detection countermeasures.
 
  • The massive SolarWinds attack has pushed malicious code to an estimated 18,000 customers, including federal agencies and many private companies. The attack took place between March and June and is the source of the breach disclosed last week at U.S. cybersecurity company FireEye.
 
  • SolarWinds said it suspects an outside nation-state conducted the attack, with media reports pointing to Russian hackers. The Krebs on Security blog reported that Microsoft took possession of a key domain name used by the attackers, which is expected to give it more information on who was directly affected.

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. . .As we prepare to close out this unprecedented year, and move into what we hope will be a safer 2021 and a return to some semblance of normalcy, we hope you are all staying healthy, and as always we thank you all for all you do for community banking in our state.
IBANYS Welcomes our newest member bank.
After the Civil War, returning veterans were eager to get a new start and put their lives back together. Although there was already a bank in uptown Kingston, Cornell and other business leaders felt Rondout, now much busier than the older village of Kingston, needed its own bank. He saw it as a bank where workers could safely save their money and a few could borrow. So, on May 1, 1868 (or shortly thereafter), on the second floor of the Masonic Building down by the creek (at the corner of Broadway and East Strand) the bank opened its doors.
 
When Rondout Savings Bank opened its doors, it had a little over $61,000 in capital.
 
The success of Rondout’s industries in moving coal, bluestone, and Rosendale cement to the cities on the Eastern seaboard helped ensure the bank’s success.
 
In 1890, with assets a little less than $1 million, Rondout Savings Bank moved to a storefront office in the Cornell Steamboat Company Building at the foot of Broadway.
 
In 1928, with assets at $5 million, the bank moved to its first freestanding building at 26 Broadway.
By the 1960s, the industries that had built Rondout had long since died out and many of its commercial buildings were vacant. An Urban Renewal program forced Rondout Savings Bank to relocate. We stayed close to our roots by moving just up the hill to our present location at 300 Broadway.
 
Since 1967 when we moved in, we’ve grown from $22 million to over $383 million in assets.
 
The geographical community that we serve has grown from a village (which long ago was combined into the City of Kingston) to include all of Ulster County and the town/villages of Hyde Park, Rhinebeck and Red Hook located in Dutchess County.

IBANYS 2021 Virtual Education Meetings
Save the Dates
IBANYS 2021 HR Update -
Live Webinar
This program will provide updates on New York and federal employment laws. Topics will include New York’s Paid Sick Leave Law, complicated leave issues for COVID-19 absences, travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for employees, COVID-19 accommodations, mandatory vaccinations for employees, and legal issues for remote employees. 

Mark Your Calendars & Save these dates -- More information coming soon!!
  • Thursday, February 4, 2021 - Compliance Webinar - 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 2, 2021 - Directors Webinar - 8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Watch your emails and the weekly newsletter for more information on these programs and additional dates to be added.
IBANYS Preferred Partners & Associate Members
Our Credit Lives on Main Street
Not Wall Street
By David Ruffin, Principal
The banking industry, like most of us, is focused on signs of light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. With promising vaccines and therapeutics on the horizon, the quick return of the Dow to record territory, the massive federal stimulus, and the regulatory reliefs afforded bankers, it’s easy to miss the fact that our credit world is dominated by the economics of Main Street­ — not Wall Street. And the economic health of Main Street is far more precarious. How will this reality affect our loan portfolios in the coming months? And what steps can we take to stay on top of managing credit risk and ensuring any degree of reasonable loan growth?

We'd like to introduce our newest associate member who can offer the New York banking community a great solution! Upgrade recently joined the Independent Bankers Association of New York State Association as an associate member. Upgrade partners with community banks to provide access to prime credit quality consumer assets. Upgrade is a marketplace platform, founded in 2016. Upgrade currently employs 357 nationwide and has facilitated origination of ~$3 billion in loans since inception. Upgrade offers affordable and responsible credit products to mainstream consumers through personal loans, auto refi and lines/cards and will be launching a HELOC product next year. Their unsecured assets yield 5-6% NET returns to community banks for prime credit borrowers and allows the bank to customize their credit box in either a national or geo-targeted footprint. They also offer free credit monitoring, credit alerts, and credit education to their user base through the Upgrade Credit Health product. Please contact Jim Quinn jquinn@upgrade.com or 415-940-7688 for more information!   

COVID-19 has impacted businesses across the nation, and those in low-to-moderate income (LMI) areas, as well as minority- and women-owned business owners (MWBE), have taken the hardest blow from pandemic-related closures. When your institution needs a partner to help these businesses, you can turn to a Community Development Financial Institute (CDFI), like Pursuit Community Finance.
 
Your bank can support CDFIs through grants for technical assistance, marketing campaigns, interest buy-downs, loan loss reserves, and other general operating support. This support is critical in helping CDFIs reach even more MWBEs and LMI entrepreneurs to provide them with deeper assistance. Our partnership with banks has been critical to our mission. Here’s a brief look at what this support has enabled us to do:
 
  • Through grant support from JPMorgan Chase, Pursuit has served hundreds of entrepreneurs of color and LMI small business owners in NYC’s most distressed neighborhoods, including the South Bronx.
  • Through a partnership with Bank of America that provides us with low-interest loan capital, Pursuit is able to fund loans to veteran entrepreneurs at 5.75%.
 
Your bank’s support can be easily tailored to geographic, demographic, and other parameters set by your institution. And, by providing this support your bank can receive significant CRA credit.
 
While Pursuit is fortunate to have many active bank partnerships, we encourage you to become more engaged with Pursuit and other CDFIs in your community.
 
If you’re interested in learning more, contact Rachel Van Tosh at rvantosh@pursuitlending.com. We look forward to growing our partnership with you.
  
 
-The Pursuit Team 
WEBINARS
IBANYS Webinars

Are you participating in IBANYS webinars? Now is the time! IBANYS webinars provide timely, important information on subjects of interest to New York community bankers including human resources, business development, investment, compliance and security and much more. They are valuable not only for their content, but for their convenience and low-cost. Take part from the comfort and privacy of your office, without leaving the bank. 
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Once you have your Subscription Token code, you can immediately register for webinars by using the code at checkout! (Subscription tokens not applicable for full series registrations, or other specials.)
Albany Update

The New York State Legislature has not yet reached agreement on a potential return for a year-end special "lame duck" session. Negotiations are currently underway over the possibility of holding an unusual end-of-the-year session this month to consider raising taxes on the wealthy, and perhaps extending an eviction moratorium for renters.

  • The State Senate and Assembly have yet to agree on the specifics of increasing taxes on the highest earners in the state, or on providing protections for renters and undocumented immigrants. Ten of the state’s major labor unions are pushing for the tax increase. The state faces a multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall. Governor Cuomo has urged the Legislature to wait until early next year to consider a tax plan for the state budget -- to determine how much New York may receive from the federal government with a new stimulus measure. The Governor is seeking $15 billion in aid from Congress.

  • There were also some reports that the Legislature is divided over extending protections against eviction. Senator Kavanagh (D- Manhattan/Brooklyn) said lawmakers are ready to pass a blanket moratorium that prevents all residential evictions. Initial reports indicated the Assembly may not be on board, but a spokesman for Speaker Heastie said he also supports the moratorium. The move to block all residential evictions would be a departure from the Legislature’s approach in recent months. Legislators have ceded control to Governor Cuomo, who has preferred to extend existing legislation.

  • State Senate Republicans unanimously re-elected Senator  Robert Ortt (R-Niagara and Orleans Counties)  as Senate Minority Leader. The Senate GOP holds   seats in the 63-seat chamber. Ortt, who was initially chosen to lead the GOP conference earlier this year after the resignation of John Flanagan, is the first Republican leader in the State Senate from western New York in half a century. 

  • The NYS Legislature released its session calendar for 2021. The session opens January 6, and is scheduled to adjourn June 10. There are currently 60 session days scheduled. As in 2020, the session will be primarily virtual. This year, the Legislature changed its rules to allow for virtual/remote voting and meetings, and a similar model will likely be used in 2021. As of now, it appears that the State Capitol will remain closed to lobbyists and the general public.


Washington Update
Latest On Coronavirus Relief Negotiations
This morning, Congressional leaders were reportedly nearing a deal on a $900 billion coronavirus relief package that would include direct payments to Americans and bypass contentious issues such as state and local assistance and a liability shield for businesses. The development comes after leaders cited progress in yesterday's talks for additional coronavirus aid, which would likely be attached to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending measure to fund government agencies through Sept. 30. The deal, which may be announced today, leaves aside a lot of the leadership’s priorities and doesn’t include everything either side wants. Democrats say they fought to include enhanced unemployment and direct stimulus checks. Republicans say they fought to limit state and local money and include support for small business programs. Among the headlines as of mid-afternoon in the package:
-- Stimulus checks in the $600-$700 range.
-- Unemployment extension (gig and pandemic) and a weekly boost of $300.
-- Small business money ($325 billion; PPP: $257 billion.


Stimulus Push Urgent During Capitol Crunch Time
As congressional stimulus negotiations become increasingly urgent, ICBA and IBANYS are calling on community bankers to make a final push for an economic relief package with key stimulus priorities.
ICBA is urging community bankers to:
Community bankers can enlist small-business customers on the EIDL push by passing along this link and letting them know the time to act is now.


  • The Senate voted 84-13 to pass a compromise defense spending bill that includes a key step toward ICBA-advocated relief from "beneficial ownership" disclosure mandates. The fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act would create a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network database of company beneficial ownership information for use by law enforcement. While President Trump has threatened to veto the bill, the Senate and House have passed it with veto-proof majorities. In a recent letter to House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders, ICBA said the provision would deter the use of shell companies while marking a good start toward needed relief from onerous reporting requirements. ICBA worked closely with lawmakers to include the beneficial owner language in the defense bill as part of its push to modernize the BSA/AML regime.

  • Many banks are seeking to persuade Washington policymakers to extend the Dec. 31 expiration of an accounting waiver that has allowed lenders to give struggling borrowers more leeway on their loans. If Congress fails to extend the relief as part of a new stimulus package being discussed, many lenders are reportedly likely to curtail loan modification programs, which could impact up to 12 million Americans whose unemployment benefits are due to expire around the same time. ICBA has asked for an extension until Jan. 1, 2022, noting extending the relief would cost the taxpayer nothing and should be a bipartisan matter: “Banks have set aside substantial loan loss reserves, but if you can work out the loan with the business until they get over this pandemic, it’s better for everyone.”

  • The FDIC finalized a rule to codify its capital, liquidity, and source-of-strength requirements for industrial loan company parent companies. It will require covered parent companies to enter into written agreements with the FDIC and the ILC on the company relationship, require capital and liquidity support from the parent to the industrial bank, and establish recordkeeping and reporting requirements. ICBA said the final rule fails to ensure the safety and soundness of these companies because it stops short of establishing consolidated capital requirements that would ensure ILC parents are a source of strength for their subsidiaries. ICBA also opposes allowing commercial firms to own a bank or ILC, which violates the longstanding separation of banking and commerce and leaves dangerous gaps in oversight, noting: "Ultimately, Congress should close this loophole."


  • According to press reports, former NYS Banking Superintendent Diana Taylor (under Governor partake) may be under consideration for a position in the Biden administration, perhaps to head up the Small Business Administration. However, no decision has been made.

Additional Information
News Release | NR 2020-170 December 15, 2020
 
WASHINGTON—Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks today issued the following statement with his vote to support the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) new brokered deposits rule.
 
The rule regarding brokered deposits approved today by the FDIC Board helps modernize the concept of brokered deposits in ways that give consumers more choices and control over their financial decisions and promote innovation between commercial banks and the financial technology industry.
 
Under the previous status quo, the broad definition of brokered deposits discouraged bank and fintech partnerships by imposing unnecessary burden and costs—specifically, by deeming app-based fintech services that facilitate consumer savings accounts potential deposit-brokering activity. This rule recognizes that fintech partnerships help banks reach new customers and extend their services to previously unbanked and underserved populations without triggering onerous regulatory requirements.
 
The new rule makes three basic improvements over the previous status quo. First, fintechs that partner exclusively with a single bank deposit platform are not considered brokered-deposit arrangements under the rule; only arrangements where a broker has discretion to place deposits at any of multiple banks would trigger deposit-broker regulation. Second, companies that simply facilitate consumers’ deposits into a bank via a more convenient interface and never take possession of the consumers’ funds will no longer be deemed brokered-deposit arrangements. Third, companies that accept deposits as part of a suite of services focused on consumer lending will not be considered deposit brokers under the new rule’s “primary purpose” exception.
 
These improvements to the brokered-deposit rule help promote greater access to financial services by supporting fintech and bank partnerships and allowing a wider array of services to be available in the market, especially for unbanked and underbanked Americans for whom the easier user interface of fintech apps is a gateway to the mainstream financial system.
 
Rules such as these take an extraordinary amount of work by staff. I congratulate them on their good work and I am proud to support the rule today.