SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
⌧ ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
◻ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission file number: 001-39085
HBT Financial, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
401 North Hershey Road
Bloomington, Illinois 61704
(Address of principal executive offices,
(Registrant’s telephone number,
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share
The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
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 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
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 voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates on the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter was $128.7 million, determined using a per share closing price for the registrant’s common stock on that date of $13.33, as quoted on The Nasdaq Global Select Market.
As of February 28, 2021, there were 27,411,281 shares outstanding of the registrant’s common stock, $0.01 par value.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of Part III incorporate information by reference from the definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders of HBT Financial, Inc. to be filed within 120 days of December 31, 2020.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
HBT Financial, Inc.
Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Securities
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure.
Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements may include statements relating to our plans, strategies and expectations, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and our future financial results, near-term loan growth, net interest margin, mortgage banking profits, wealth management fees, expenses, asset quality, capital levels, continued earnings and liquidity. Forward looking statements are generally identifiable by use of the words "believe," "may," "will," "should," "could," "expect," "estimate," "intend," "anticipate," "project," "plan" or similar expressions. Forward looking statements are frequently based on assumptions that may or may not materialize and are subject to numerous uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results anticipated or projected and which could materially and adversely affect our operating results, financial condition or prospects include, but are not limited to:
|●||our asset quality and any loan charge-offs;|
|●||the composition of our loan portfolio;|
|●||time and effort necessary to resolve nonperforming assets and the loans modified or deferred as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;|
|●||the length and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact of the pandemic on our operations and the operations of our customers and the communities that we serve;|
|●||environmental liability associated with our lending activities;|
|●||the effects of the current low interest rate environment or changes in interest rates on our net interest income, net interest margin, our investments, and our loan originations, and our modeling estimates relating to interest rate changes;|
|●||changes in and uncertainty related to benchmark interest rates used to price our loans, including the expected elimination of LIBOR;|
|●||our access to sources of liquidity and capital to address our liquidity needs;|
|●||our inability to receive dividends from the Bank, pay dividends to our common stockholders or satisfy obligations as they become due;|
|●||the effects of problems encountered by other financial institutions;|
|●||our ability to achieve organic loan and deposit growth and the composition of such growth;|
|●||our ability to attract and retain skilled employees or changes in our management personnel;|
|●||any failure or interruption of our information and communications systems;|
|●||our ability to identify and address cybersecurity risks;|
|●||the effects of the failure of any component of our business infrastructure provided by a third party;|
|●||our ability to keep pace with technological changes;|
|●||our ability to successfully develop and commercialize new or enhanced products and services;|
|●||current and future business, economic and market conditions in the United States generally or in Illinois in particular;|
|●||the geographic concentration of our operations in the State of Illinois;|
|●||our ability to effectively compete with other financial services companies and the effects of competition in the financial services industry on our business;|
|●||our ability to attract and retain customer deposits;|
|●||our ability to maintain the Bank’s reputation;|
|●||severe weather, natural disasters, pandemics, acts of war or terrorism or other external events;|
|●||possible impairment of our goodwill and other intangible assets;|
|●||the impact of, and changes in applicable laws, regulations and accounting standards and policies;|
|●||our prior status as an S Corp;|
|●||possible changes in trade, monetary and fiscal policies of, and other activities undertaken by, governments, agencies, central banks and similar organizations;|
|●||the effectiveness of our risk management and internal disclosure controls and procedures;|
|●||market perceptions associated with certain aspects of our business;|
|●||the one-time and incremental costs of operating as a standalone public company;|
|●||our ability to meet our obligations as a public company, including our obligations under Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley; and|
|●||damage to our reputation from any of the factors described above, in Part I, Item 1A “Risk Factors”, Part II, Item 7 "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations", or elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.|
These risks and uncertainties, as well as the factors discussed in Part I, Item 1A "Risk Factors," should be considered in evaluating forward-looking statements and undue reliance should not be placed on such statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. We do not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement in the future, or to reflect circumstances and events that occur after the date on which the forward-looking statement was made.
HBT Financial, Inc. (the “Company”), a Delaware corporation incorporated in 1982, is a bank holding company headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois that has elected to be regulated as a financial holding company. As of December 31, 2020, we had total assets of $3.7 billion, loans held for investment of $2.2 billion, and total deposits of $3.1 billion. Through our bank subsidiary, Heartland Bank and Trust Company (“Heartland Bank” or the “Bank”), we provide a comprehensive suite of business, commercial and retail banking products and services to consumers, businesses, and municipal entities throughout Central and Northeastern Illinois. The Company’s common stock is traded on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol “HBT.”
The roots of our Company can be traced back to 1920 when M.B. Drake, the grandfather of our current Chairman and CEO, Fred Drake, helped found a community bank in Cornland, Illinois. The Drake family operated several banks throughout Central Illinois, and eventually, in 1982, George Drake (M.B.'s son and Fred's father) incorporated the Company as one of the first multi-bank holding companies in Illinois. Since that time, we have grown both organically and through the successful integration of more than a dozen community bank acquisitions.
The foundation for our success has been built upon a steadfast commitment to our core operating principles:
|●||Prioritize safety and soundness. We engage in safe and sound banking practices that preserve the asset quality of our balance sheet and protect our deposit base.|
|●||Maintain strong profitability. We have produced consistently strong earnings – before, during, and since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.|
|●||Continue disciplined growth. We have a strong track record of organic and acquisitive growth with our seasoned senior management team.|
|●||Uphold our Midwestern values. We convey the values of the Midwest through hard work, perseverance and doing the right things. We serve our customers well; provide employment, challenges and rewards for our staff; and generate good returns for our stockholders.|
PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Our products and services are primarily deposit, lending, and ancillary products that offer a broad range of options to meet the needs of consumers, businesses, and municipal entities. We continue to enhance our digital banking suite of products so that all consumer and commercial customers can do their banking at their convenience, through their channels of choice.
Additionally, we provide traditional trust and investment services, farmland management and farmland sales through our Wealth Management division.
Lending Products and Services
We offer a broad range of lending products with a focus on regulatory commercial real estate ("CRE"), which includes non-owner occupied CRE, construction and land development (“C&D”) and multi-family; commercial and industrial ("C&I") and owner-occupied CRE; agricultural and farmland; and one-to-four family residential loans. We also provide municipal, consumer and other loans.
We have a strong credit culture that is conservative, favors asset quality first, and balances local lenders' knowledge of their marketplace with a strong centralized credit process. We maintain a well-diversified portfolio of loans and control concentrations related to loan types and specific industries or businesses.
We provide financing for a wide variety of property types including multi-family, senior living, retail, warehouse, manufacturing, office, and hotel/motel. Our C&D portfolio includes both ground up construction projects and renovation projects in addition to some developed and undeveloped land. We focus on borrowers with successful backgrounds in owning, managing, and developing real estate projects.
C&I and Owner-occupied CRE
We make loans to a wide variety of businesses with no material concentration in any one industry. C&I loans primarily include loans for working capital and equipment needs. Owner-occupied CRE primarily includes amortizing first mortgage loans on properties occupied by our C&I customers. We focus on small and middle market businesses in the communities that we serve.
Agriculture and Farmland
With our roots in smaller communities throughout Central Illinois, we have a long history of financing agriculture production and land. We originate loans to agriculture producers for input costs, equipment and land. Most of our agriculture loans are to family farms growing corn and soybeans.
One-to-Four Family Residential
These loans include both owner-occupied and non-owner occupied one-to-four family homes and condominiums. They consist of first mortgage amortizing loans, second mortgage amortizing loans and home equity lines of credit. These loans primarily consist of loans originated by our lenders through our branch network on properties in the communities that we serve.
Deposit Products and Services
We offer traditional bank deposit account services as well as digital banking services tailored to meet the needs of today's deposit consumers. Our deposit accounts consist of noninterest-bearing demand deposits, interest-bearing transaction accounts, money market accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposits, HSA, and IRA accounts. Our digital banking services include online banking, mobile banking, digital payments, and personal financial management tools. We also provide commercial checking accounts and related services such as treasury management.
Our wealth management division provides financial planning to consumers, trusts and estates; trustee and custodial services; investment management; corporate retirement plan consulting and administration; and retail brokerage services. Further, our agriculture services department operates under our wealth management division and provides farm management services and brokers farmland sales and crop insurance throughout our markets.
Residential Mortgage Origination and Servicing
We originate one-to-four family residential mortgage loans and generally sell those loans in the secondary market. Loans are originated by our mortgage lenders within our branch network. To a lesser extent, we purchase loans originated by other banks that are in turn sold into the secondary market. We sell conventional
loans to both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and retain the servicing for substantially all those loans. We also originated FHA, VA and Rural Development loans, which are typically sold servicing released.
MERGER OF STATE BANK OF LINCOLN INTO HEARTLAND BANK
On October 20, 2020, Heartland Bank and State Bank of Lincoln, both wholly-owned bank subsidiaries of the Company on that date, entered into a Bank Merger Agreement providing for the merger of State Bank of Lincoln into Heartland Bank. The merger was consummated on December 31, 2020, resulting in Heartland Bank being our sole bank subsidiary, with the branch locations in Lincoln, Illinois operating as “State Bank of Lincoln, a division of Heartland Bank and Trust Company.”
We currently operate 60 full-service and three limited-service branch locations across 18 counties in Central and Northeastern Illinois, including the Chicago metropolitan market. We hold a leading deposit market share in many of our markets in Central Illinois, which we define as a top three deposit share rank, providing the foundation for our strong deposit base. The stability provided by this low-cost funding is a key driver of our strong track record of financial performance. Our long history of providing relationship-based, personal banking services; the successful integration of several strategic in-market acquisitions; and a relatively small presence of money center and super-regional banks in our mid-sized markets has enabled us to maintain meaningful market share in these markets.
Our management team believes our diverse footprint in both urban and rural markets positions us well relative to our competition in terms of access to both high quality, stable funding sources and a wealth of loan growth opportunities in attractive markets. We consider ourselves to be well positioned to meet the needs of commercial and retail customers through our branch network, comprehensive suite of banking and wealth management products, and our commitment to high-touch customer service.
We intend to pursue the following strategies that we believe will continue to drive growth while maintaining our high levels of asset quality and profitability:
Preserve Strong Ties to our Communities
Our community banking approach stems from our Midwestern values—hard work; perseverance; and doing the right things for our customers, staff, stockholders and communities. Our senior management team lives and works in the communities we serve, and our commitment to delivering banking products and services that support the needs of our target customers enables us to preserve and grow share in our markets. The quality of our comprehensive suite of products and services coupled with our relationship-based approach to banking contribute meaningfully to our growth and success.
Deploy Excess Deposit Funding into Loan Growth Opportunities
Our strong market share in our core mid-sized markets provide a stable source of attractive funding. Our management believes our scale in these mid-sized markets and the relative scarcity of money center banking institutions operating in them creates a highly defensible market position whereby we can continue to maintain our funding cost advantage relative to our peer groups. We believe the Chicago MSA provides significant opportunities for loan growth. Many competitors in this market are money center or super-regional banks, and we believe our responsive, local decision-making provides a competitive advantage over these larger, more bureaucratic institutions. Further, we expect to continue to benefit from continued market disruption in the Chicago MSA, caused by recent significant bank acquisitions, by acquiring talent and customers experiencing displacement.
Maintain a Prudent Approach to Credit Underwriting
Robust underwriting and pricing standards have been a hallmark of the Company and continue to serve as a central tenet of our banking strategy even as we grow our loan portfolio in newer markets. We intend to prudently deploy our excess funding and liquidity into assets that optimize risk-adjusted returns with minimal losses. Further, we believe our history of maintaining strong asset quality and minimal levels of problem assets even through the Great Recession confirms the effectiveness of our strong credit underwriting.
Pursue Strategic Acquisitions
Our management team has a history of successfully integrating strategic acquisitions over several decades. We believe this track record will position the Company to be an attractive acquirer for many potential partners. We continue to opportunistically seek acquisitions that are either located within our market footprint, in adjacent markets or provide a new growth opportunity that is strategically and financially compelling and consistent with our culture.
HUMAN CAPITAL RESOURCES
At December 31, 2020, we had 747 full-time equivalent employees. Our employees are not represented by a collective bargaining unit, and we consider our working relationship with our employees to be good. At December 31, 2020, our average tenure was 9.1 years.
Employee Engagement and Retention
We recognize that the fulfillment of our mission requires attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse group of highly qualified employees. To support these objectives, our human resources programs are designed to identify, reward, and recognize excellent performance and loyalty. We utilize regular employee engagement surveys to seek feedback on a variety of topics, including but not limited to, confidence in Company leadership, competitiveness of compensation and benefits, career growth opportunities, corporate culture, and communications. We provide a variety of employee recognition programs and an open, social work environment that encourages employees be engaged and inclusive.
We understand the importance of offering employees a career path and career development opportunities. By doing so, we are well-positioned to retain our talent, support our communities, and produce needed results. We provide required and self-directed job and career development training to cultivate talent throughout the Company, from entry-level to leadership.
Compensation & Benefits
To attract and retain high-performing, skilled individuals, we offer competitive base pay and benefits. Utilizing various industry specific compensation surveys and member associations, we analyze pay practices for jobs and job families on a regular basis to ensure we remain competitive in the markets we operate and to maintain internal pay equity.
To support the well-being of our employees and their families, we provide access to a variety of flexible and convenient healthcare programs for physical and mental health, long-term and short-term disability, paid time off, and a Company-matched 401(k) plan.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and complying with federal, state, and local guidelines, we enhanced cleaning protocols and other safety measures at all locations, enabled work from home for many employees, and adjusted branch services to ensure a safe environment. Benefit changes were made to enhance coverage for employees during the pandemic, including waiving costs associated with testing and treatment, as well as
expanding telehealth services. Additional paid time off was granted to all employees specifically for COVID-19 related issues, including childcare, to limit financial hardships. We also elected not to eliminate any positions during 2020 due to the pandemic.
Our profitability and growth are affected by the highly competitive nature of the financial services industry. We compete with community banks in all of our markets and, to a lesser extent, with money center banks, primarily in the Chicago MSA. Additionally, we compete with non-bank financial services companies and other financial institutions operating within the areas we serve.
Our competition for loans comes principally from commercial banks, savings banks, mortgage banking companies, the U.S. Government, credit unions, leasing companies, insurance companies, real estate conduits and other companies that provide financial services to businesses and individuals.
Our most direct competition for deposits has historically come from commercial banks and credit unions. We face increasing competition for deposits from online financial institutions and non-depository competitors such as the mutual fund industry, securities and brokerage firms and insurance companies.
We seek to meet this competition by emphasizing personalized service and efficient decision-making tailored to individual needs. We do not rely on any individual, group, or entity for a material portion of our loans or our deposits.
We continue to see increased competitive pressures on loan rates and terms and increased competition for deposit customers. Continued loan pricing pressure may affect our financial results in the future.
The Company maintains a website at ir.hbtfinancial.com. The contents of this website are not a part of this report. All periodic and current reports of the Company and amendments to these reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) can be accessed, free of charge, through this website and at www.sec.gov as soon as reasonably practicable after these materials are filed with the SEC.
INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING
On October 11, 2019, we priced our initial public offering (the “IPO”). In the IPO, we issued and sold 9,429,794 shares of common stock and received proceeds, net of offering costs, of approximately $138 million. The proceeds were used to fund a $170 million special dividend, or $9.43 per share, to stockholders of record prior to the initial public offering.
SUPERVISION AND REGULATION
We and the Bank are subject to extensive supervision, regulation and examination under federal and state banking laws, which impose a comprehensive system of supervision, regulation and enforcement on our operations. We are also subject to the disclosure and regulatory requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) and the Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), both as administered by the SEC, as well as the corporate governance rules that apply to companies with securities listed on the Nasdaq.
Banking laws, regulations and policies are continually under review by Congress, state legislatures and federal and state regulatory agencies. In addition, federal and state bank regulatory agencies may issue policy statements, interpretive letters and similar written guidance applicable to us and our subsidiaries. This regulatory framework has a significant effect on our growth and financial performance and is intended primarily for the protection of bank depositors, bank customers, the Deposit Insurance Fund (the “DIF”), the U.S. banking
and financial system and financial markets as a whole, and not for the protection of our stockholders and creditors.
Both the scope of the laws and regulations and the intensity of the supervision to which we are subject have increased in response to the global financial crisis of 2008, as well as other factors such as technological and market changes. Regulatory enforcement and fines have also increased across the banking and financial services sector. Many of these changes have occurred as a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) and its implementing regulations, most of which are now in place. While the regulatory environment has entered a period of tailoring and rebalancing of the post financial crisis framework, we expect that our business will remain subject to extensive regulation and supervision.
The following discussion describes certain elements of the comprehensive bank regulatory framework applicable to us, which descriptions are qualified in their entirety by reference to the subject laws, regulations and written guidance. This discussion is not intended to describe all laws and regulations applicable to us and the Bank.
We are a bank holding company under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (the “BHCA”), subject to supervision and regulation by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve”). We have elected to be regulated as a financial holding company, although we currently do not conduct any non-banking activities or have any non-bank subsidiaries. Heartland Bank is chartered as a commercial bank under the laws of Illinois with its deposits insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) and is not a member of the Federal Reserve System. Consequently, the primary banking regulators of the Bank are the FDIC and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (the “IDFPR”). As the owner of an Illinois-chartered bank, we also are subject to the supervision of the IDFPR.
We and the Bank are subject to regular examination by our respective banking regulators, which result in examination reports and ratings that can impact the conduct and growth of our operations. Examination results and many related supervisory matters are confidential. These examinations consider compliance with applicable banking laws and regulations, capital levels, asset quality and risk, ability and performance of management, earnings, liquidity, and various other factors.
The banking agencies generally have broad discretion to impose restrictions and limitations on the operations of a bank or bank holding company if they determine that the financial condition, capital resources, asset quality, earnings prospects, management, liquidity or other aspects of a banking organization's operations are unsatisfactory, unsafe, unsound or fail to comply with applicable law, or are otherwise inconsistent with laws and regulations or with the supervisory policies of the agency. Further, the banking agencies have great flexibility and powers to undertake enforcement actions against bank holding companies, banks, and their respective officers, directors and institution-affiliated parties, including the power to impose a capital plan and capital directive, impose nonpublic supervisory agreements, issue cease and desist orders, impose civil money penalties, appoint a conservator or receiver or the termination of deposit insurance.
Federal law requires us, as a bank holding company, to act as a source of financial and managerial strength to the Bank. Under this requirement, we are expected to commit resources to support the Bank, even if we may not be in a financial position to provide such resources or if it may not be in our stockholders' or creditors' best interests to do so. In the event of our bankruptcy, any commitment by us to a banking agency to maintain the capital of the Bank will be assumed by the bankruptcy trustee and entitled to priority of payment.
In general, the BHCA limits the business of bank holding companies to banking, managing or controlling banks and other activities that the Federal Reserve has determined to be so closely related to banking as to be a proper incident thereto. Bank holding companies that qualify and elect to be treated as "financial holding
companies" may engage in a broader range of additional activities than bank holding companies, may obtain regulatory approval for certain proposed acquisitions or mergers more quickly and, in certain circumstances, may complete acquisitions without prior regulatory approval. In particular, financial holding companies may engage in activities that are (i) financial in nature or incidental to such financial activities or (ii) complementary to a financial activity and do not pose a substantial risk to the safety and soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally.
The Federal Reserve has the power to order a bank holding company or any of its subsidiaries to terminate any activity or to terminate ownerships or control of any subsidiary if the Federal Reserve has reasonable grounds to believe that continuing such activity, ownership or control constitutes a serious risk to the financial soundness, safety or stability of any bank subsidiary of the bank holding company.
As an Illinois-chartered commercial bank, the Bank’s business is generally limited to activities permitted by Illinois law and applicable federal laws. Under the Illinois Banking Act, the Bank generally may engage in all usual banking activities, including accepting deposits, making commercial and consumer loans and buying and selling certain investment securities. However, Illinois law also imposes restrictions on the activities of the Bank which are intended to promote their safety and soundness. For example, the Bank is restricted under the Illinois Banking Act from investing in certain types of investment securities and is generally limited in the amount that it can lend to a single borrower or invest in securities issued by a single issuer.
Acquisitions and Branching
The BHCA, Section 18(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (the "Bank Merger Act"), the Illinois Banking Act, the Illinois Bank Holding Company Act and other federal and state statutes regulate acquisitions of banks and bank holding companies. Federal law permits state and national banks to merge with banks in other states, subject to applicable regulatory approvals, deposit concentration limits, and any state law limitations requiring the merging bank to have been in existence for a minimum period of time (not to exceed five years). We must obtain the prior approval of the Federal Reserve before (i) acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of any voting shares of any bank or bank holding company, if after such acquisition, we will directly or indirectly own or control 5% or more of any class of voting shares of the institution, (ii) acquiring all or substantially all of the assets of any bank or bank holding company (other than directly through the Bank) or (iii) merging or consolidating with any other bank holding company. Under the Bank Merger Act, the prior approval of the FDIC is required for the Bank to merge with another bank or purchase all or substantially all of the assets or assume any of the deposits of another bank. In reviewing applications seeking approval of merger and acquisition transactions, banking agencies consider, among other things, the competitive effect and public benefits of the transactions, the capital position and managerial resources of the combined organization, the risks to the stability of the U.S. banking or financial system, the applicant's performance record under the CRA, the applicant's compliance with fair housing and other consumer protection laws and the effectiveness of all organizations involved in combating money laundering activities. In addition, failure to implement or maintain adequate compliance programs could cause bank regulators not to approve an application in connection with an acquisition, or to prohibit any further acquisition activity of a bank or bank holding company, whether or not approval is required.
Illinois state-chartered banks have the authority under Illinois law to establish branches anywhere in the State of Illinois, subject to receipt of all required regulatory approvals. Under federal law, the Bank may, with the approval of the FDIC, open a branch in any state if the law of that state would permit a state bank chartered in that state to establish the branch.
Acquisitions of Control of the Company
Acquisitions of our voting stock above certain thresholds are subject to prior regulatory notice or approval under federal banking laws, including the BHCA and the Change in Bank Control Act of 1978 (the “CBCA”). Under the CBCA, a person or entity generally must provide prior notice to the Federal Reserve before acquiring the power to vote 10% or more of our outstanding common stock. Investors should be aware of these requirements
when acquiring shares in our stock. In addition, under the Illinois Banking Act, any acquisition of our stock that results in a change in control of the Company would require prior approval of the IDFPR.
Dividends, Share Repurchases and Redemptions
We are a legal entity separate and distinct from our subsidiaries and, because substantially all of our net income comes from the Bank, our ability to pay dividends or repurchase or redeem shares depends upon our receipt of dividends or other distributions from the Bank. There are limitations on the payment of dividends by the Bank to the Company, as well as by the Company to its stockholders, under applicable banking laws and regulations.
Federal banking agencies are authorized to determine, under certain circumstances relating to the financial condition of a bank holding company or a bank, that the payment of dividends would be an unsafe or unsound practice and to prohibit payment thereof. In particular, the banking agencies have stated that paying dividends that deplete a banking organization's capital base to an inadequate level would be an unsafe and unsound banking practice and that banking organizations should generally pay dividends only out of current operating earnings. Under the Basel III Capital Rules, the Company and the Bank must maintain the applicable Capital Conservation Buffer to avoid becoming subject to restrictions on capital distributions, including dividends. For more information on these financial measures at the Company and Heartland Bank, see Note 21 to our audited consolidated financial statements included in Item 8, "Financial Statements and Supplementary Data," of this Form 10-K.
In addition, Federal Reserve policy provides that bank holding companies, such as the Company, should generally pay dividends to stockholders only if (i) the organization's net income available to common stockholders over the past year has been sufficient to fully fund the dividends; (ii) the prospective rate of earnings retention appears consistent with the organization's capital needs, asset quality and overall financial condition and (iii) the organization will continue to meet minimum capital adequacy ratios. The policy also provides that a bank holding company should inform the Federal Reserve reasonably in advance of declaring or paying a dividend that exceeds earnings for the period for which the dividend is being paid or that could result in a material adverse change to the bank holding company's capital structure. In addition, the Federal Reserve could prohibit or limit the payment of dividends by a bank holding company if it determines that payment of the dividend would constitute an unsafe or unsound practice.
As an Illinois-chartered bank, the Bank, may pay dividends without the approval of its banking regulators only if it meets applicable regulatory capital requirements before and after the payment of the dividends and total dividends do not exceed an amount equal to the accumulated retained earnings of the Bank after giving effect to any unrecognized losses and bad debts. For the purpose of determining the amount of dividends that an Illinois bank may pay, bad debts are defined as debts upon which interest is past due and unpaid for a period of six months or more unless such debts are well secured and in the process of collection.
Further, under the BHCA, we may be required to provide the Federal Reserve with prior written notice of any purchase or redemption of our outstanding equity securities if the gross consideration for the purchase or redemption, when combined with the net consideration paid for all such purchases or redemptions during the preceding twelve months, is equal to 10% or more of our consolidated net worth. The Federal Reserve may disapprove such a purchase or redemption if it determines that the proposal would constitute an unsafe or unsound practice or would violate any law, regulation, Federal Reserve order, or any condition imposed by or written agreement with the Federal Reserve. This prior notice requirement does not apply to any bank holding company that meets certain well-capitalized and well-managed standards and is not subject to any unresolved supervisory issues.
Regulatory Capital Requirements
The Federal Reserve monitors our capital adequacy on a consolidated basis, and the FDIC and the IDFPR monitor the capital adequacy of the Bank. The Company and the Bank are required to maintain minimum capital ratios, as well as a capital conservation buffer, pursuant to final rules approved by federal bank regulators (the
"Basel III Capital Rules") based on the Basel III framework set forth by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (the "Basel Committee") as well as certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act.
Under the Basel III Capital Rules, the Company and the Bank are required to have minimum capital ratios of (i) Common Equity Tier 1 (“CET1”) capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 4.5%, (ii) Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 6.0%, (iii) total capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 8.0%, and (iv) Tier 1 capital to average assets (known as the “leverage ratio”) of at least 4.0%.
In addition to meeting the minimum capital requirements, the Company and the Bank must also maintain the required capital conservation buffer to avoid becoming subject to restrictions on capital distributions and certain discretionary bonus payments to management. The capital conservation buffer is calculated as a ratio of CET1 capital to risk-weighted assets, and it effectively increases the required minimum risk-based capital ratios.
The capital conservation buffer requirement became fully phased-in on January 1, 2019 and is now 2.5%. Therefore, the minimum capital requirements the Company and the Banks must satisfy to avoid limitations on capital distributions and certain discretionary bonus payments (i.e., the required minimum capital ratios plus the capital conservation buffer) were (i) CET1 capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 7.0%, (ii) Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 8.5%, and (iii) total capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 10.5%. The leverage ratio is not impacted by the capital conservation buffer.
The ratios described above are minimum standards in order for banking organizations to be considered “adequately capitalized.” Bank regulatory agencies uniformly encourage banks to hold more capital and be “well-capitalized” and, to that end, federal law and regulations provide various incentives for banking organizations to maintain regulatory capital at levels in excess of minimum regulatory requirements. For example, a banking organization that is well-capitalized may: (i) qualify for exemptions from prior notice or application requirements otherwise applicable to certain types of activities; (ii) qualify for expedited processing of other required notices or applications; and (iii) accept, roll-over or renew brokered deposits. Higher capital levels could also be required if warranted by the particular circumstances or risk profiles of individual banking organizations. The Federal Reserve’s capital guidelines contemplate that additional capital may be required to take adequate account of, among other things, interest rate risk, or the risks posed by concentrations of credit, nontraditional activities, securities trading activities, or significant or anticipated growth.
In order to be considered well capitalized, the Bank must maintain minimum capital ratios of (i) CET1 capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 6.5%, (ii) Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 8.0%, (iii) total capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 10.0%, and (iv) leverage ratio of at least 5.0%. A banking institution may be considered well-capitalized while remaining out of compliance with the capital conservation buffer.
Failure to be well-capitalized or to meet minimum capital requirements could result in certain mandatory and possible additional discretionary actions by regulators that, if undertaken, could have an adverse material effect on our operations or financial condition. Failure to be well-capitalized or to meet minimum capital requirements could also result in restrictions on the Company's or the Bank’s ability to pay dividends or otherwise distribute capital or to receive regulatory approval of applications.
Community Bank Leverage Ratio
Pursuant to the Regulatory Relief Act, banks and bank holding companies with assets of less than $10 billion and that are not determined to be ineligible by their primary federal regulator due to their risk profile (a "Qualifying Community Bank") may choose to satisfy their regulatory capital requirements by maintaining a certain "community bank leverage ratio," which is equal to tangible equity capital divided by average total consolidated assets. Under the final rule, effective January 1, 2020, a Qualifying Community Bank with a community bank leverage ratio that exceeds 9.0% would be considered to be "well-capitalized" and to have met generally applicable leverage and risk-based capital requirements. The community bank leverage ratio
framework is an optional framework that is designed to reduce burden by removing the requirements for calculating and reporting risk-based capital ratios for qualifying community banking organizations that opt into the framework. We have not elected to be subject to the Community Bank Leverage Ratio.
Prompt Corrective Action Framework
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 (the "FDIC Improvement Act") requires the banking agencies to take prompt corrective action with respect to banks that fall below minimum capital standards, and prohibits any bank from making any capital distribution that would cause it to be undercapitalized. Banks that are not adequately capitalized may be subject to a variety of supervisory actions, including restrictions on growth, investment activities, capital distributions and affiliate transactions, and will be required to submit a capital restoration plan which, to be accepted by the banking agencies, must be guaranteed in part by any company having control of the institution. The FDIC Improvement Act also provides for enhanced supervisory authority with respect to banks that fall below minimum capital standards, including greater authority for the appointment of a conservator or receiver for critically undercapitalized institutions. Acting as a conservator or receiver, the FDIC would have broad powers to transfer any assets or liabilities of the institution without the approval of the institution's creditors or stockholders. Banks that are less than well-capitalized are also subject to restrictions under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (the "FDI Act") relating to accepting and renewing brokered deposits, as well as deposit rate restrictions.
Under the Basel III Capital Rules, a bank qualifies as (i) "well capitalized" if it has a total risk-based capital ratio of 10% or greater, a CET1 capital ratio of 6.5% or greater, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 8% or greater and a Leverage Ratio of 5% or greater, and is not subject to any order or written directive by any such regulatory authority to meet and maintain a specific capital level for any capital measure; (ii) "adequately capitalized" if it has a total risk-based capital ratio of 8% or greater, a CET1 capital ratio of 4.5% or greater, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 6% or greater and a Leverage Ratio of 4% or greater and is not "well capitalized"; (iii) "undercapitalized" if it has a total risk-based capital ratio that is less than 8%, a CET1 capital ratio less than 4.5%, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of less than 6% or a Leverage Ratio of less than 4%; (iv) "significantly undercapitalized" if it has a total risk-based capital ratio of less than 6%, a CET1 capital ratio less than 3%, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of less than 4% or a Leverage Ratio of less than 3%; and (v) "critically undercapitalized" if its tangible equity is equal to or less than 2% of average quarterly tangible assets.
As of December 31, 2020, the Bank qualified as “well capitalized”.
Transactions with Affiliates and Insiders
Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act and the Federal Reserve's Regulation W impose qualitative standards and quantitative limitations upon certain transactions between FDIC-insured banks, such as the Bank, and its affiliates, including between a bank and its holding company. Transactions covered by these provisions include a loan or extension of credit to an affiliate, a purchase of securities issued by an affiliate, a purchase of assets (unless otherwise exempted by the Federal Reserve) from an affiliate, derivative transactions that create a credit exposure to an affiliate, securities borrowing and lending transactions with an affiliate, the acceptance of securities issued by an affiliate as collateral for a loan, and the issuance of a guarantee, acceptance or letter of credit on behalf of an affiliate. All such transactions with any one affiliate cannot exceed 10% of the bank's total capital, and all such transactions with all affiliates cannot exceed 20% of the bank's total capital. However, if the transaction is a loan or other extension of credit that is fully secured by cash or other prescribed and limited types of collateral in a segregated, earmarked deposit account, it will not be counted for purposes of the 10% and 20% thresholds. In addition, such transactions must be on terms that are at least as favorable to the bank as those that it could obtain in a comparable transaction with a non-affiliate.
The Federal Reserve's Regulation O also places similar restrictions on loans and other extensions of credit by FDIC-insured banks, such as the Bank, to their directors, executive officers and principal stockholders, as well as to entities controlled by such persons. Among other things, extensions of credit to such insiders are required
to be made on terms that are substantially the same as, and follow credit underwriting procedures that are not less stringent than, those prevailing for comparable transactions with unaffiliated persons. Also, the terms of such extensions of credit may not involve more than the normal risk of non-repayment or present other unfavorable features and may not exceed certain limitations on the amount of credit extended to such persons individually and in the aggregate.
Safety and Soundness Standards
The FDIA requires the FDIC, together with the other banking agencies, to prescribe standards of safety and soundness, by regulations or guidelines, relating generally to operations and management, asset growth, asset quality, earnings, stock valuation, and compensation. In addition, the banking agencies have adopted a set of guidelines prescribing safety and soundness standards pursuant to the FDIC Improvements Act which establish general standards relating to internal controls, risk management and information systems, internal audit systems, loan documentation, credit underwriting, interest rate exposure, asset growth, and compensation, fees and benefits. In general, the guidelines require appropriate systems and practices to identify and manage specified risks and exposures. The guidelines prohibit excessive compensation as an unsafe and unsound practice and describe compensation as excessive when the amounts paid are unreasonable or disproportionate to the services performed by an executive officer, employee, director or principal stockholder.
In addition, the banking agencies adopted regulations that authorize, but do not require, the agencies to order an institution that has been given notice that it is not satisfying the safety and soundness guidelines to submit a compliance plan. If after being so notified, an institution fails to submit an acceptable compliance plan or fails in any material respect to implement an accepted compliance plan, the banking agency must issue an order directing action to correct the deficiency and may issue an order directing other actions of the types to which an undercapitalized institution is subject under the "prompt corrective action" provisions of the FDIA described above. If an institution fails to comply with such an order, the banking agency may seek to enforce its order in judicial proceedings and to impose civil money penalties. The banking agencies have also adopted guidelines for asset quality and earning standards. State-chartered banks, including the Bank, may also be subject to a state's statutes, regulations and guidelines relating to safety and soundness.
Source of Strength
The Company is required to serve as a source of financial and managerial strength to the Bank and, under appropriate conditions, to commit resources to support the Bank. This support may be required by the Federal Reserve at times when we might otherwise determine not to provide it or when doing so is not otherwise in the interests of the Company or our stockholders or creditors. The Federal Reserve may require a bank holding company to make capital injections into a troubled subsidiary bank and may charge the bank holding company with engaging in unsafe and unsound practices if the bank holding company fails to commit resources to such a subsidiary bank or if it undertakes actions that the Federal Reserve believes might jeopardize the bank holding company's ability to commit resources to such subsidiary bank.
Under these requirements, the Company may in the future be required to provide financial assistance to the Bank should it experience financial distress. Capital loans by the Company to the Bank would be subordinate in right of payment to deposits and certain other debts of the Bank. In the event of the Company's bankruptcy, any commitment by the Company to a federal bank regulatory agency to maintain the capital of the Bank would be assumed by the bankruptcy trustee and entitled to a priority of payment.
Deposit Insurance, Depositor Preference and Assessments
The deposits of the Bank are insured by the DIF up to the standard maximum deposit insurance amount of $250,000 per depositor. Deposit insurance may be terminated by the FDIC upon a finding that an institution has engaged in unsafe or unsound practices, is in an unsafe or unsound condition to continue operations or has violated any applicable law, regulation, rule, order or condition imposed by the FDIC. If contested, such terminations can only occur following judicial review through the federal courts.
In the event of the liquidation or other resolution of a bank, the claims of depositors of the bank, including the claims of the FDIC as subrogee of insured depositors and certain claims for administrative expenses of the FDIC as a receiver, will have priority in payment ahead of unsecured non-deposit creditors, including depositors whose deposits are payable only outside of the United States and the parent bank holding company with respect to any extensions of credit made to such bank.
The Bank must pay deposit insurance assessments to the FDIC based on average total assets minus average tangible equity, among other factors. As an institution with less than $10 billion in total assets, the assessments for the Bank are based on the level of risk it poses to the FDIC's deposit insurance fund. Pursuant to changes adopted by the FDIC that were effective July 1, 2016, the initial base rate for deposit insurance is between three and 30 basis points. Total base assessments after possible adjustments now range between 1.5 and 40 basis points. For established smaller institutions, like Heartland Bank, supervisory ratings are used to calculate a total base assessment rate, along with an initial base assessment rate, an unsecured debt adjustment (which can be positive or negative), and a brokered deposit adjustment. The Dodd-Frank Act also set a new minimum deposit insurance fund reserve ratio of 1.35% of estimated insured deposits by 2020, which was surpassed ahead of schedule in 2018.
In addition to the amounts paid for FDIC deposit insurance described above, all Illinois state-chartered banks are required to pay supervisory assessments to the IDFPR to fund the operations of that agency. The amount of the assessment is calculated on the basis of the Bank’s total assets.
Consumer Financial Protection
We are subject to a number of federal and state consumer protection laws that extensively govern our relationship with our customers. These laws include the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”), the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), the Truth in Savings Act, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, the Expedited Funds Availability Act, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Service Members Civil Relief Act, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the CAN-SPAM 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 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, restrict our ability to raise interest rates on extensions of credit and subject us 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 banking regulators, 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, action by the state and local attorneys general in each jurisdiction in which we operate 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 we may wish to pursue or our prohibition from engaging in such transactions even if approval is not required.
The Dodd-Frank Act created an independent federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the “CFPB”), which has broad rulemaking, supervisory and enforcement authority over consumer financial products and services, including the ability to require reimbursements and other payments to customers for alleged legal violations. The CFPB has the authority to impose significant penalties, as well as injunctive relief that prohibits lenders from engaging in allegedly unlawful practices. The CFPB is also authorized to engage in consumer financial education, track consumer complaints, request data and promote the availability of financial services to underserved consumers and communities. The CFPB has broad rulemaking authority for a wide range of consumer financial laws that apply to all banks including TILA, ECOA and the authority to prohibit "unfair, deceptive, or abusive" acts and practices. The review of products and practices to prevent such acts and practices is a continuing focus of the CFPB, and of the banking agencies more broadly.
The CFPB also has exclusive supervisory and examination authority and primary enforcement authority with respect to various federal consumer financial laws and regulations for insured depository institutions with $10 billion or more in total assets. Because the Bank currently has less than $10 billion in total assets, the Bank is not subject to the examination and supervisory authority of the CFPB, but are nevertheless required to comply with various federal consumer financial laws and regulations, including laws and regulations implemented by the CFPB. The FDIC is primarily responsible for examining the Bank’s compliance with federal consumer financial laws and regulations, including CFPB regulations. The CFPB also has the authority to require reports from institutions with less than $10 billion in assets, such as the Bank, to support the CFPB in implementing federal consumer protection laws, supporting examination activities, and assessing and detecting risks to consumers and financial markets.
Residential Mortgage Lending
As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB issued a series of final rules in January 2013 amending Regulation Z, implementing TILA, which requires mortgage lenders to make a reasonable and good faith determination, based on verified and documented information, that a consumer applying for a residential mortgage loan has a reasonable ability to repay the loan according to its terms. These final rules prohibit creditors from extending residential mortgage loans without regard for the consumer's ability to repay and add restrictions and requirements to residential mortgage origination and servicing practices. In addition, these rules restrict the imposition of prepayment penalties and restrict compensation practices relating to residential mortgage loan origination. Mortgage lenders are required to determine consumers' ability-to-repay in one of two ways. The first alternative requires the mortgage lender to consider eight underwriting factors when making the credit decision. Alternatively, the mortgage lender can originate "qualified mortgages," which are entitled to a presumption that the creditor making the loan satisfied the ability to repay requirements. In general, a qualified mortgage is a residential mortgage loan that does not have certain high risk features, such as negative amortization, interest-only payments, balloon payments, or a term exceeding 30 years. In addition, to be a qualified mortgage, the points and fees paid by a consumer cannot exceed 3% of the total loan amount and the borrower's total debt-to-income ratio must be no higher than 43% (subject to certain limited exceptions for loans eligible for purchase, guarantee or insurance by a government sponsored enterprise or a federal agency).
The federal banking regulators have adopted rules limiting the ability of banks and other financial institutions to disclose non-public information about consumers to unaffiliated third parties. These limitations require disclosure of privacy policies to consumers and, in some circumstances, allow consumers to prevent disclosure of certain personal information to an unaffiliated third party. These regulations affect how consumer information is transmitted through diversified financial companies and conveyed to outside vendors.
Data privacy and data security are areas of increasing state legislative focus. Some state laws also protect the privacy of information of state residents and require adequate security for such data, and certain state laws may, in some circumstances, require the Bank to notify affected individuals of security breaches of computer databases that contain their personal information. These laws may also require the Bank to notify law enforcement, regulators or consumer reporting agencies in the event of a data breach, as well as businesses and governmental agencies that own data.
In March 2015, the banking agencies issued two related statements regarding cybersecurity. One statement indicates that financial institutions should design multiple layers of security controls to establish lines of defense and to ensure that their risk management processes also address the risk posed by compromised customer credentials, including security measures to reliably authenticate customers accessing internet-based services of the financial institution. The other statement indicates that a financial institution's management is expected to maintain sufficient business continuity planning processes to ensure the rapid recovery, resumption and maintenance of the institution's operations after a cyber-attack involving destructive malware. A financial
institution is also expected to develop appropriate processes to enable recovery of data and business operations and address rebuilding network capabilities and restoring data if the institution or its critical service providers fall victim to this type of cyber-attack. If we fail to observe the regulatory guidance, we could be subject to various regulatory sanctions, including financial penalties.
In the ordinary course of business, we rely on electronic communications and information systems to conduct our operations and to store sensitive data. We employ an in-depth, layered, defensive approach that leverages people, processes and technology to manage and maintain cybersecurity controls. We employ a variety of preventative and detective tools to monitor, block, and provide alerts regarding suspicious activity, as well as to report on any suspected advanced persistent threats. Notwithstanding the strength of our defensive measures, the threat from cyberattacks is severe, attacks are sophisticated and increasing in volume, and attackers respond rapidly to changes in defensive measures. While to-date we have not experienced a significant compromise, significant data loss or any material financial losses related to cybersecurity attacks, our systems and those of our customers and third party service providers are under constant threat and it is possible that we could experience a significant event in the future. Risks and exposures related to cybersecurity attacks are expected to remain high for the foreseeable future due to the rapidly evolving nature and sophistication of these threats, as well as due to the expanding use of internet banking, mobile banking and other technology-based products and services by us and our customers.
The SEC has also issued guidance on public company cybersecurity disclosures as well as ways for companies to enhance their cybersecurity preparedness and operational resiliency. Any SEC guidelines would be in addition to notification and disclosure requirements under state and federal banking law and regulations.
Lending Standards Guidance and Concentrations in Commercial Real Estate
The federal banking agencies have adopted uniform regulations prescribing standards for extensions of credit that are secured by liens or interests in real estate or made for the purpose of financing permanent improvements to real estate. Under these regulations, all insured depository institutions, such as the Bank, must adopt and maintain written policies establishing appropriate limits and standards for extensions of credit that are secured by liens or interests in real estate or are made for the purpose of financing permanent improvements to real estate. These policies must establish loan portfolio diversification standards, prudent underwriting standards (including loan-to-value limits) that are clear and measurable, loan administration procedures, and documentation, approval and reporting requirements. The real estate lending policies must reflect consideration of the federal bank regulators' Interagency Guidelines for Real Estate Lending Policies.
Also, in December 2015, the federal banking regulators released a statement entitled “Interagency Statement on Prudent Risk Management for Commercial Real Estate Lending” (the “CRE Guidance”). In the CRE Guidance, the federal banking regulators (i) expressed concerns with institutions that ease commercial real estate underwriting standards, (ii) directed financial institutions to maintain underwriting discipline and exercise risk management practices to identify, measure and monitor lending risks, and (iii) indicated that they will continue to pay special attention to commercial real estate lending activities and concentrations going forward. The federal banking regulators previously issued guidance in December 2006, entitled “Interagency Guidance on Concentrations in Commercial Real Estate Lending, Sound Risk Management Practices”, which stated that an institution is potentially exposed to significant commercial real estate concentration risk, and should employ enhanced risk management practices, where (1) total commercial real estate loans represent 300% or more of its total capital and (2) the outstanding balance of such institution’s commercial real estate loan portfolio has increased by 50% or more during the prior 36 months.
Leveraged Lending Guidance
In March 2013, the banking agencies jointly issued guidance on leveraged lending, which updates and replaces the guidance for leveraged finance activities issued by the banking agencies in April 2001. The revised leveraged lending guidance describes regulatory expectations for the sound risk management of leveraged lending activities, including the importance for institutions to maintain (i) a credit limit and concentration framework consistent with the institution's risk appetite, (ii) underwriting standards that define acceptable leverage levels, (iii) strong pipeline management policies and procedures and (iv) guidelines for conducting periodic portfolio and pipeline stress tests.
Community Reinvestment Act
Under the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”), which the FDIC and the other banking regulators have indicated will be significantly updated and revised, the Bank has an affirmative and continuing obligation, consistent with safe and sound operations, to help meet the credit needs of the market areas where it operates, which includes providing credit to low- and moderate-income individuals and communities.
In connection with its examination of the Bank, the FDIC is required to assess the Bank's compliance with the CRA. The CRA requires the appropriate federal banking agency to take an insured depository institution's CRA record into account when evaluating certain applications filed by us or the Bank, including applications for charters, branch openings or relocations and applications to acquire, merge or consolidate with another bank or bank holding company. The CRA also requires that all institutions publicly disclose their CRA ratings. The Bank received a rating of "satisfactory" in its most recently completed CRA examination.
Federal Home Loan Bank Membership
The Bank is a member of the FHLB System, an organization created under the Federal Home Loan Bank Act of 1932 to serve as a central credit facility for its members through eleven U.S. government-sponsored banks, including the FHLB of Chicago. The FHLB of Chicago makes loans to member banks in the form of advances, all of which are required to be fully collateralized, as determined by the FHLB of Chicago. In the event that a member financial institution fails, the right of the FHLB of Chicago to seek repayment of funds loaned to that institution will take priority (a super lien) over the rights of all other creditors. To qualify for membership in the FHLB System, and to be eligible to borrow funds from such Federal Home Loan bank under the FHLB System's advance program, the Bank is required to hold a certain amount of common stock in one of the Federal Home Loan banks. There is no secondary market for the FHLB of Chicago 's common stock, but additional purchases from, or repurchases by, the FHLB of Chicago may occur under prescribed circumstances. Specifically, the board of directors of the FHLB of Chicago can increase the minimum investment requirements in the event it has concluded that additional capital is required to allow it to meet its own regulatory capital requirements. Any increase in the minimum investment requirements outside of specified ranges requires the approval of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Because the extent of any obligation to increase the level of investment in the FHLB of Chicago depends entirely upon the occurrence of future events, we are unable to determine the extent of future required potential payments to the FHLB of Chicago at this time.
Anti-Money Laundering and Similar Regulations
A major focus of governmental policy on banks and other financial institutions in recent years has been combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) and the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 impose significant obligations on banks and other financial institutions to detect and deter money laundering and terrorist financing. Banks and other financial institutions are required to establish compliance programs designed to implement BSA requirements that include, among other things: verifying customer identification, reporting certain large cash transactions, responding to requests for information by law enforcement, and monitoring, investigating and reporting suspicious transactions or activity. The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals against entities such as targeted foreign countries, terrorists, international narcotics
traffickers, and those engaged in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The banking agencies routinely examine banks for compliance with these obligations, and failure of a bank 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 bank and its bank holding company, including the ability to engage in merger or acquisition transactions. The banking agencies have imposed cease and desist orders and significant civil money penalties against banks found to be violating these obligations and have, in some cases, brought criminal actions against some bank and bank holding companies for these types of violations.
The federal banking agencies have issued joint guidance on incentive compensation designed to ensure that the incentive compensation policies of banking organizations, such as the Company and the Bank, do not encourage imprudent risk taking and are consistent with the safety and soundness of the organization. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act requires the federal banking agencies and the SEC to issue regulations or guidelines requiring covered financial institutions, including the Company and the Bank, to prohibit incentive-based payment arrangements that encourage inappropriate risks by providing compensation that is excessive or that could lead to material financial loss to the institution. Also pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, in 2015, the SEC proposed rules that would direct stock exchanges to require listed companies to implement clawback policies to recover incentive-based compensation from current or former executive officers in the event of certain financial restatements and would also require companies to disclose their clawback policies and their actions under those policies.
Future Legislation and Regulation
Congress may enact legislation from time to time that affects the regulation of the financial services industry, and state legislatures may enact legislation from time to time affecting the regulation of financial institutions chartered by or operating in those states. Federal and state regulatory agencies also periodically propose and adopt changes to their regulations or change the manner in which existing regulations are applied. The substance or impact of pending or future legislation or regulation, or the application thereof, cannot be predicted, although enactment of the proposed legislation could affect the regulatory structure under which we operate and may significantly increase our costs, impede the efficiency of our internal business processes, require us to increase our regulatory capital or modify our business strategy, or limit our ability to pursue business opportunities in an efficient manner. Our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects may be adversely affected, perhaps materially, as a result.
The material risks and uncertainties that management believes affect us are described below. You should carefully consider these risks, together with all of the information included herein. Any of the following risks, as well as risks that we do not know or currently deem immaterial, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The COVD-19 pandemic and the associated economic slowdown has adversely affected our business operations, our financial results, and the financial condition of our borrowers and counterparties. The duration, severity, and ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remain unknown at this time.
Borrowers or counterparties may be unable or unwilling to repay their obligations to us in accordance with the underlying contractual terms which could lead to unexpected losses.
Interest Rate Risks
Fluctuations in interest rates may reduce our earnings or the value of our financial instruments.
Reference Rate Reform
We have financial instruments – including loans, securities, debt, and interest rate swaps – that include LIBOR as a “benchmark” or “reference rate”. The expected phase-out of LIBOR after 2021 may adversely impact the value of, return on, and market for our LIBOR-based financial instruments or lead to disputes or litigation with counterparties.
An inability to obtain liquid funds at a reasonable price to timely meet our financial obligations may have a material adverse impact on our operations and jeopardize our business.
Technology and Cybersecurity Risks
Our business is highly dependent upon secure and uninterrupted information technology systems. A disruption or breach to these systems may have a material adverse impact on our business.
Legal and Regulatory Compliance Risks
The banking industry is highly regulated. Failure to comply with the laws and regulations to which we are subject, or changes in them, may adversely impact us.
Our strategy of pursuing growth via suitable acquisitions exposes us to heightened operational risks and could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations, and growth prospects.
Ownership of Our Common Stock
Our principal stockholder, Heartland Bancorp, Inc. Voting Trust U/A/D 5/4/2016, has significant influence over us, and its interests could conflict with those of our other stockholders.
Adverse changes in the economic conditions, particularly such changes in the Illinois markets we operate, may adversely impact our borrowers and our business.
RISK RELATED TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The COVID-19 pandemic is adversely affecting us, our business, employees, customers, counterparties and third-party service providers, and the ultimate extent of the impacts on our business, financial position, results of operations, liquidity and prospects is uncertain.
The COVID-19 pandemic (“COVID-19”) is causing significant economic disruption in the United States and globally. COVID-19 has resulted in varying mitigation guidelines, such as stay-at-home orders and restrictions on non-essential businesses, the effects of which have had, are currently having, and may continue to have an adverse impact on global, national, and local economic and business activity.
Although the Bank has been deemed an essential business and has maintained business operations since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ultimate extent of the impact of the pandemic on our business, cash flows, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, customer confidence, profitability and growth prospects will depend on continuing and future developments related to the virus, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted. Continued deterioration in general business and economic conditions, including extended closure of non-essential businesses, further increases in unemployment rates, or turbulence in U.S. or global financial markets could adversely affect our revenues and the values of our assets and liabilities, reduce the availability of funding, lead to a tightening of credit, and further increase stock price volatility. These and other potential impacts of COVID-19 could therefore materially and adversely affect our business, revenue, operations, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and prospects. If the COVID-19 pandemic is prolonged or intensifies due to the emergence of additional viral strains or otherwise, any such material adverse effects may be exacerbated.
Our business is dependent upon the willingness and ability of our customers to conduct banking and other financial transactions. The spread of COVID-19 has and is likely to continue to disrupt the business, activities, and operations of our customers and, cause a decline in demand for our products and services, including loans and deposits. This may result in a significant decrease in business and could negatively impact our results of operations, our liquidity position, our growth strategy and our ability to make payments under our subordinated note and junior subordinated debenture obligations as they become due. Our financial results could also be impacted due to an inability of our customers to meet their loan commitments because of their losses associated with impacts of the virus, and could result in an increased risk of loan delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, declining collateral values and a general inability of our borrowers to repay their loans. In addition, the financial and other information we receive from and about our customers that we rely on in extending or renewing credit and monitoring our loan portfolio may have changed significantly and no longer be accurate, which could affect our ability to timely and accurately manage our credit risk. Any or all of these factors could necessitate an increase in our allowance for loan losses, which would negatively impact our earnings and results of operations. Moreover, current and future governmental actions may temporarily require us to conduct business related to foreclosures, repossessions, payments, deferrals and other customer-related transactions differently, which may result in an increase in expenses and a decrease in net income.
Our workforce has been, and may continue to be, impacted by COVID-19. We are taking precautions to protect the safety and well-being of our employees and customers, but no assurance can be given that our actions will be adequate or appropriate. The continued spread of the virus, and the associated mitigation guidelines, could also negatively impact the availability of key personnel and employee productivity, as well as the business and operations of third-party service providers who perform critical services for us. This could adversely impact our ability to deliver products and services to our customers, opportunities to continue to grow our business, and could negatively affect our reputation. Our business continuity plan and the efforts we have taken to adapt our work and business to the current environment has resulted in, and will continue to require us to incur, increased expenses.
As a participating lender in the PPP, we are subject to additional risks of litigation from our customers or other parties regarding our processing of loans for the PPP and risks that the SBA may not fund some of or all PPP loan guarantees.
The Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) initiated the Paycheck Protection Program (the “PPP”) under the Small Business Administration (“SBA”). The PPP was designed to help small businesses maintain their workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing forgivable loans, and we assisted our customers in participating in the program. We understand that these loans are fully guaranteed by the U.S. government and believe the majority of these loans will be forgiven. However, in the event of a loss resulting from a default on a PPP loan or a determination by the SBA that there was a deficiency in the manner in which the PPP loan was originated or serviced by us, the SBA may deny its liability under the guaranty, reduce the amount of the guaranty, or, if it has already been paid under the guaranty, seek recovery of any loss related to the deficiency from us.
Since the opening of the PPP, several larger banks have been subject to litigation regarding the process and procedures that such banks followed in accepting and processing applications for the PPP. We may be exposed to the risk of similar litigation, from both customers and non-customers that contacted the Bank regarding obtaining PPP loans with respect to the processes and procedures we used in processing applications for the PPP. If any such litigation is filed against us and is not resolved in a manner favorable to us, it may result in significant financial liability to us or adversely affect our reputation. In addition, litigation can be costly, regardless of outcome. Any financial liability, litigation costs or reputational damage caused by PPP-related litigation could have a material adverse impact on our reputation, business, financial condition, and results of operations.
We may not be able to adequately measure and limit our credit risk, which could lead to unexpected losses.
Our business depends on our ability to successfully measure and manage credit risk. As a lender, we are exposed to the risk that the principal of, or interest on, a loan will not be repaid timely or at all or that the value of any collateral supporting a loan will be insufficient to cover our outstanding exposure. In addition, we are exposed to risks with respect to the period of time over which the loan may be repaid, risks relating to proper loan underwriting, risks resulting from changes in economic and industry conditions, and risks inherent in dealing with individual loans and borrowers. The creditworthiness of a borrower is affected by many factors including local market conditions and general economic conditions. If the overall economic climate in the U.S., generally, or our market areas, specifically, experiences material disruption, our borrowers may experience difficulties in repaying their loans, the collateral we hold may decrease in value or become illiquid, and the level of nonperforming loans, charge-offs and delinquencies could rise and require significant additional provisions for credit losses. Additional factors related to the credit quality of commercial loans include the quality of the management of the business and the borrower’s ability both to properly evaluate changes in the supply and demand characteristics affecting its market for products and services and to effectively respond to those changes. Additional factors related to the credit quality of commercial real estate loans include tenant vacancy rates and the quality of management of the property.
Our risk management practices, such as monitoring the concentration of our loans within specific industries and our credit approval, review and administrative practices may not adequately reduce credit risk, and our credit administration personnel, policies and procedures may not adequately adapt to changes in economic or any other conditions affecting customers and the quality of the loan portfolio. A failure to effectively measure and limit the credit risk associated with our loan portfolio may result in loan defaults, foreclosures and additional charge-offs, and may necessitate that we significantly increase our allowance for loan losses, each of which could adversely affect our net income. As a result, our inability to successfully manage credit risk could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our allowance for loan losses may prove to be insufficient to absorb potential losses in our loan portfolio.
We establish our allowance for loan losses and maintain it at a level that management considers adequate to absorb probable loan losses based on an analysis of our portfolio and market environment. The allowance for loan losses represents our estimate of probable losses in the portfolio at each balance sheet date and is based upon relevant information available to us. The allowance contains provisions for probable losses that have been identified relating to specific borrowing relationships, as well as probable losses inherent in the loan portfolio and credit undertakings that are not specifically identified. Additions to the allowance for loan losses, which are charged to earnings through the provision for loan losses, are determined based on a variety of factors, including an analysis of the loan portfolio, historical loss experience and an evaluation of current economic conditions in our market areas. The actual amount of loan losses is affected by changes in economic, operating and other conditions within our markets, which may be beyond our control, and such losses may exceed current estimates.
Although management believes that the allowance for loan losses is adequate to absorb losses on existing loans that may become uncollectible, we may be required to take additional provisions for loan losses in the future to further supplement the allowance for loan losses, either due to management’s decision to do so or because our banking regulators require us to do so. Our bank regulatory agencies will periodically review our allowance for loan losses and the value attributed to nonaccrual loans or to real estate acquired through foreclosure and may require us to adjust our determination of the value for these items. These adjustments may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The small to midsized businesses to which we lend may have fewer resources to weather adverse business developments, which may impair a borrower’s ability to repay a loan, and such impairment could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
We target our business development and marketing strategy primarily to serve the banking and financial services needs of small to midsized businesses. These businesses generally have fewer financial resources in terms of capital or borrowing capacity than larger entities, can have less access to capital sources and loan facilities, frequently have smaller market shares than their competition, may be more vulnerable to economic downturns, often need substantial additional capital to expand or compete, and may experience substantial volatility in operating results, any of which may impair a borrower’s ability to repay a loan. In addition, the success of a small and medium-sized business often depends on the management talents and efforts of one or two people or a small group of people, and the death, disability or resignation of one or more of these people could have a material adverse impact on the business and its ability to repay its loan. If general economic conditions negatively impact the markets in which we operate or any of our borrowers otherwise are affected by adverse business developments, our small to medium-sized borrowers may be disproportionately affected and their ability to repay outstanding loans may be negatively affected, resulting in an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
We depend on the accuracy and completeness of information about customers and counterparties.
In deciding whether to extend credit or enter into other transactions, and in evaluating and monitoring our loan portfolio on an ongoing basis, we may rely on information furnished by or on behalf of customers and counterparties, including financial statements, credit reports and other financial information. We may also rely on representations of those customers or counterparties or of other third parties, such as independent auditors, as to the accuracy and completeness of that information. Reliance on inaccurate, incomplete, fraudulent or misleading financial statements, credit reports or other financial or business information, or the failure to receive such information on a timely basis, could result in loan losses, reputational damage or other effects that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The appraisals and other valuation techniques we use in evaluating and monitoring loans secured by real property, other real estate owned ("OREO") and other repossessed assets may not accurately describe the fair value of the asset.
In considering whether to make a loan secured by real property, we generally require an appraisal of the property. However, an appraisal is only an estimate of the value of the property at the time the appraisal is made, and, as real estate values may change significantly in relatively short periods of time (especially in periods of heightened economic uncertainty), this estimate may not accurately describe the fair value of the real property collateral after the loan is made. As a result, we may not be able to realize the full amount of any remaining indebtedness when we foreclose on and sell the relevant property. In addition, we rely on appraisals and other valuation techniques to establish the value of our OREO and personal property that we acquire through foreclosure proceedings and to determine certain loan impairments. If any of these valuations are inaccurate, our consolidated financial statements may not reflect the correct value of our OREO, and our allowance for loan losses may not reflect accurate loan impairments. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We are subject to environmental liability risk associated with lending activities.
A significant portion of our loan portfolio is, and is expected to be, secured by real property and during the ordinary course of business, we may foreclose on and take title to properties securing certain loans. In addition, we own our branch properties. If hazardous or toxic substances are found on our foreclosed or branch properties, we may be liable for remediation costs, as well as for personal injury and property damage. Environmental laws may require us to incur substantial expenses 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.
The majority of our loan portfolio consists of commercial and regulatory CRE loans, which have a higher degree of risk than other types of loans.
Commercial and regulatory CRE loans are often larger and involve greater risks than other types of lending. Because payments on such loans are often dependent on the successful operation or development of the property or business involved, repayment of such loans is often more sensitive than other types of loans to adverse conditions in the real estate market or the general business climate and economy. Accordingly, a downturn in the real estate market and a challenging business and economic environment may increase our risk related to commercial loans, particularly commercial real estate loans. Unlike residential mortgage loans, which generally are made on the basis of the borrowers’ ability to make repayment from their employment and other income and which are secured by real property whose value tends to be more easily ascertainable, commercial loans typically are made on the basis of the borrowers’ ability to make repayment from the cash flow of the commercial venture. Our operating commercial loans are primarily made based on the identified cash flow of the borrower and secondarily on the collateral underlying the loans. Most often, this collateral consists of accounts receivable, inventory and equipment. Inventory and equipment may depreciate over time, may be difficult to appraise and may fluctuate in value based on the success of the business. If the cash flow from business operations is reduced, the borrower’s ability to repay the loan may be impaired. Due to the larger average size of each commercial loan as compared with other loans such as residential loans, as well as collateral that is generally less readily-marketable, losses incurred on a small number of commercial or regulatory CRE loans could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Real estate construction loans are based upon estimates of costs and values associated with the complete project. These estimates may be inaccurate, and we may be exposed to significant losses on loans for these projects.
Real estate construction lending involves additional risks because funds are advanced upon the security of the project, which is of uncertain value prior to its completion, and costs may exceed realizable values in declining real estate markets. Because of the uncertainties inherent in estimating construction costs and the realizable market value of the completed project and the effects of governmental regulation of real property, it is relatively difficult to evaluate accurately the total funds required to complete a project and the related loan-to-value ratio. As a result, construction loans often involve the disbursement of substantial funds with repayment dependent, in part, on the success of the ultimate project and the ability of the borrower to sell or lease the property, rather than the ability of the borrower or guarantor to repay principal and interest. If our appraisal of the value of the completed project proves to be overstated or market values or rental rates decline, we may have inadequate security for the repayment of the loan upon completion of construction of the project. If we are forced to foreclose on a project prior to or at completion due to a default, we may not be able to recover all of the unpaid balance of, and accrued interest on, the loan as well as related foreclosure and holding costs. In addition, we may be required to fund additional amounts to complete the project and may have to hold the property for an unspecified period of time while we attempt to dispose of it.
We provide loans and services to the agriculture industry and the health of this industry is impacted by factors outside our control and the control of our customers.
Our loan portfolio includes loans to agricultural producers and loans secured by farmland. In addition, our commercial loan portfolio includes loans to farm implement dealerships, grain elevators and other businesses that provide products and services to agricultural producers. We also provide farm management advice, engage in farm sale services and arrange for crop insurance. Our agriculture loans generally consist of (i) real estate loans secured by farmland, (ii) crop input loans primarily focused on corn and soybeans and (iii) equipment financing for specific agriculture equipment. Decreases in commodity prices may negatively affect both the cash flows of the borrowers and the value of the collateral supporting such loans, and could decrease the fees from our other agricultural services. Although we attempt to account for the possibility of such commodity price fluctuations in underwriting, structuring and monitoring our agriculture loans, there is no guarantee that our efforts will be successful and we may experience increased delinquencies or defaults in this portfolio or be required to increase our provision for loan losses, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our agricultural loans are dependent on the profitable operation and management of the farmland securing the loan and its cash flows. The success of our agricultural loans may be affected by many factors outside the control of the borrower, including:
|●||adverse weather conditions (such as hail, drought and floods), restrictions on water supply or other conditions that prevent the planting of a crop or limit crop yields, or that affect crop harvesting;|
|●||loss of crops or livestock due to disease or other factors;|
|●||declines in the market prices or demand for agricultural products (both domestically and internationally), for any reason;|
|●||increases in production costs (such as the costs of labor, rent, feed, fuel and fertilizer);|
|●||adverse changes in interest rates, currency exchange rates, agricultural land values or other factors that may affect delinquency levels and credit losses on agricultural loans;|
|●||the impact of government policies and regulations (including changes in price supports, subsidies, government-sponsored crop insurance, minimum ethanol content requirements for gasoline, tariffs, trade barriers and health and environmental regulations);|
|●||access to technology and the successful implementation of production technologies; and|
|●||changes in the general economy that could affect the availability of off-farm sources of income and prices of real estate for borrowers.|
INTEREST RATE RISKS
Fluctuations in interest rates may reduce net interest income and otherwise negatively impact our financial condition and results of operations.
The majority of our banking assets are monetary in nature and subject to risk from changes in interest rates. Like most financial institutions, our earnings and cash flows depend to a great extent upon the level of our net interest income, or the difference between the interest income we earn on loans, investments and other interest-earning assets, and the interest we pay on interest-bearing liabilities, such as deposits and borrowings. Changes in interest rates can increase or decrease our net interest income, because different types of assets and liabilities may react differently, and at different times, to market interest rate changes. When interest-bearing liabilities mature or reprice more quickly, or to a greater degree than interest-earning assets in a period, an increase in interest rates could reduce net interest income. Similarly, when interest-earning assets mature or reprice more quickly, or to a greater degree than interest-bearing liabilities, falling interest rates could reduce net interest income.
Additionally, an increase in interest rates may, among other things, reduce the demand for loans, increase the cost of deposit and wholesale funding, reduce our ability to originate loans and decrease loan repayment rates. A decrease in the general level of interest rates may, among other things, increase prepayments on our loan and securities portfolios and result in a decrease in our net interest margin, negatively impacting our results. Although our asset-liability management strategy is designed to control and mitigate exposure to the risks related to changes in market interest rates, those rates are affected by many factors outside of our control, including governmental monetary policies, inflation, deflation, recession, changes in unemployment, the money supply, international disorder and instability in domestic and foreign financial markets.
We may seek to mitigate our interest rate risk by entering into interest rate swaps and other interest rate derivative contracts from time to time with counterparties. Our hedging strategies rely on assumptions and projections regarding interest rates, asset levels and general market factors and subject us to counterparty risk. There is no assurance that our interest rate mitigation strategies will be successful and if our assumptions and projections prove to be incorrect or our hedging strategies do not adequately mitigate the impact of changes in interest rates, we may incur losses that could adversely affect our earnings.
The value of the financial instruments we own may decline in the future.
An increase in market interest rates may affect the market value of our securities portfolio, potentially reducing accumulated other comprehensive income and/or earnings.
In addition, we evaluate our investment securities on at least a quarterly basis, and more frequently when economic and market conditions warrant such an evaluation, to determine whether any decline in fair value below amortized cost is the result of an other-than-temporary impairment. The process for determining whether impairment is other-than-temporary usually requires complex, subjective judgments about the future financial performance of the issuer in order to assess the probability of receiving all contractual principal and interest payments on the security. Because of changing economic and market conditions affecting issuers, we may be required to recognize other-than-temporary impairment in future periods, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition.
Monetary policies and regulations of the Federal Reserve could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition to being affected by general economic conditions, our earnings and growth are affected by the policies of the Federal Reserve. An important function of the Federal Reserve is to regulate the money supply and credit conditions. Among the instruments used by the Federal Reserve to implement these objectives are open market purchases and sales of U.S. government securities, adjustments of the discount rate and changes in banks’ reserve requirements against bank deposits. These instruments are used in varying combinations to
influence overall economic growth and the distribution of credit, bank loans, investments and deposits. Their use also affects interest rates charged on loans or paid on deposits.
The monetary policies and regulations of the Federal Reserve have had a significant effect on the operating results of commercial banks in the past and are expected to continue to do so in the future. The effects of such policies upon our business, financial condition and results of operations cannot be predicted.
RISKS RELATED TO REFERENCE RATE REFORM
We may be adversely impacted by the transition from LIBOR as a reference rate.
In 2017, the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (the authority that regulates LIBOR) announced that it will stop compelling banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR after the end of 2021, creating considerable uncertainty regarding the publication of such rates beyond 2021. The transition away from LIBOR to alternative reference rates could have a negative impact on the value of, return on, and trading market for the LIBOR-based loans and securities in our portfolio and an adverse impact on the availability and cost of hedging instruments and borrowings. In addition, we may incur expenses if we are required to renegotiate the terms of existing agreements that govern LIBOR-based products as a result of the transition away from LIBOR, and could be subject to disputes or litigation with counterparties regarding the interpretation and enforceability of provisions in existing LIBOR-based products regarding fallback language or other related provisions, as the economics of various alternative reference rates differ from LIBOR. The impact on the valuation, pricing, and operation of our LIBOR-based financial instruments and the cost of transitioning to the use of alternative reference rates is not yet known and could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.
We have issued fixed-to-floating subordinated notes which include the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) as the reference rate during the floating rate period. SOFR differs fundamentally from, and may not be a comparable substitute for, LIBOR.
In June 2017, the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (the "ARRC") convened by the Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) announced SOFR as its recommended alternative to t LIBOR. However, because SOFR is a broad U.S. Treasury repo financing rate that represents overnight secured funding transactions, it differs fundamentally from LIBOR. For example, SOFR is a secured overnight rate, while LIBOR is an unsecured rate that represents interbank funding over different maturities. In addition, because SOFR is a transaction-based rate, it is backward-looking, whereas LIBOR is forward-looking. Because of these and other differences, there can be no assurance that SOFR will perform in the same way as LIBOR would have done at any time, and there is no guarantee that it is a comparable substitute for LIBOR.
Liquidity risks could affect operations and jeopardize our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Liquidity is essential to our business. An inability to raise funds through deposits, borrowings, the sale of loans and/or investment securities and from other sources could have a substantial negative effect on our liquidity. Our most important source of funds consists of our customer deposits. Such deposit balances can decrease when customers perceive alternative investments, such as the stock market, as providing a better risk/return tradeoff. If customers move money out of bank deposits and into other investments, we could lose a relatively low cost source of funds, which would require us to seek wholesale funding alternatives in order to continue to grow, thereby increasing our funding costs and reducing our net interest income and net income.
In addition to our deposit base, our liquidity is provided by cash from operations and investment maturities, redemptions and sales as well as cash flow from loan prepayments and maturing loans that are not renewed. When needed, additional liquidity is sometimes provided by our ability to borrow from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (the "FHLB"), through federal funds lines with
our correspondent banks, and through other wholesale funding sources including brokered certificates of deposits or deposits placed with the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service. Our access to funding sources in amounts adequate to finance or capitalize our activities or on terms that are acceptable to us could be impaired by factors that affect us directly or the financial services industry or economy in general, such as disruptions in the financial markets or negative views and expectations about the prospects for the financial services industry.
Any decline in available funding could adversely impact our ability to continue to implement our business plan, including originating loans, investing in securities, meeting our expenses or fulfilling obligations such as repaying our borrowings and meeting deposit withdrawal demands, any of which could have a material adverse impact on our liquidity, business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may need to raise additional capital in the future, and such capital may not be available when needed or at all.
We may need to raise additional capital, in the form of debt or equity securities, in the future to have sufficient capital resources to meet our commitments and our regulatory requirements, and to fund our business needs and future growth, particularly if the quality of our assets or earnings were to deteriorate significantly. Our ability to raise additional capital, if needed, will depend on, among other things, conditions in the capital markets at that time, which are outside of our control, and our financial condition. We may not be able to obtain capital on acceptable terms or at all. Any occurrence that may limit our access to capital, such as a decline in the confidence of debt purchasers, depositors of the Bank or counterparties participating in the capital markets or other disruption in capital markets, may adversely affect our capital costs and our ability to raise capital and, in turn, our liquidity. Further, if we need to raise capital in the future, we may have to do so when many other financial institutions are also seeking to raise capital and would then have to compete with those institutions for investors. An inability to raise additional capital on acceptable terms when needed could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We may be adversely affected by changes in the actual or perceived soundness or condition of other financial institutions.
Financial services institutions that deal with each other are interconnected as a result of trading, investment, liquidity management, clearing, counterparty and other relationships. Concerns about, or a default by, one institution could lead to significant liquidity problems and losses or defaults by other institutions, as the commercial and financial soundness of many financial institutions is closely related as a result of these credit, trading, clearing and other relationships. Even the perceived lack of creditworthiness of, or questions about, a counterparty may lead to market-wide liquidity problems and losses or defaults by various institutions. This systemic risk may adversely affect financial intermediaries with which we interact on a daily basis or key funding providers such as the FHLB, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our access to liquidity or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Loss of customer deposits could increase our funding costs.
We rely on deposits as a low cost and stable source of funding. We compete with banks and other financial services companies for deposits. If our competitors raise the rates they pay on deposits, our funding costs may increase, either because we raise our rates to avoid losing deposits or because we lose deposits and must rely on more expensive sources of funding. Higher funding costs could reduce our net interest margin and net interest income and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
TECHNOLOGY AND CYBERSECURITY RISKS
The occurrence of fraudulent activity, breaches or failures of our information security controls or cybersecurity-related incidents could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
As a financial institution, we are susceptible to fraudulent activity, information security breaches and cybersecurity-related incidents that may be committed against us or our customers, which may result in financial losses or increased costs to us or our clients, disclosure or misuse of our information or our client information, misappropriation of assets, privacy breaches against our customers, litigation or damage to our reputation. Such fraudulent activity may take many forms, including check fraud, electronic fraud, wire fraud, phishing, social engineering and other dishonest acts. Information security breaches and cybersecurity-related incidents may include fraudulent or unauthorized access to systems used by us or our customers, denial or degradation of service attacks, and malware or other cyber-attacks. There continues to be a rise in electronic fraudulent activity, security breaches and cyber-attacks within the financial services industry, especially in the commercial banking sector due to cyber criminals targeting commercial bank accounts. Moreover, several large corporations, including financial institutions and retail companies, have suffered major data breaches, in some cases exposing not only confidential and proprietary corporate information, but also sensitive financial and other personal information of their customers and employees and subjecting them to potential fraudulent activity. Some of our customers may have been affected by these breaches, which could increase their risks of identity theft and other fraudulent activity that could involve their accounts with us.
We also face risks related to cyber-attacks and other security breaches in connection with debit card and credit card transactions that typically involve the transmission of sensitive information regarding our customers through various third parties, including retailers and payment processors. Some of these parties have in the past been the target of security breaches and cyber-attacks, and because the transactions involve third parties and environments such as the point of sale that we do not control or secure, future security breaches or cyber-attacks affecting any of these third parties could affect us through no fault of our own. In some cases, we may have exposure and suffer losses for breaches or attacks relating to them, including costs to replace compromised debit and credit cards and to address fraudulent transactions.
Information pertaining to us and our customers is maintained, and transactions are executed, on networks and systems maintained by us and certain third-party partners, such as our digital banking systems. The secure maintenance and transmission of confidential information, as well as execution of transactions over these systems, are essential to protect us and our customers against fraud and security breaches and to maintain our customers’ confidence. Breaches of information security may also occur through intentional or unintentional acts by those having access to our systems or our customers’ or counterparties’ confidential information, including employees. In addition, a number of developments could result in a compromise or breach of the technology, processes and controls that we use to prevent fraudulent transactions and to protect data about us, our customers and underlying transactions, as well as the technology used by our customers to access our systems. These developments include increases in criminal activity levels and sophistication, advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries and vulnerabilities in third-party technologies (including browsers and operating systems).
Although we have developed, and continue to invest in, systems and processes that are designed to detect and prevent security breaches and cyber-attacks and periodically test our security, our or our third-party partners’ inability to anticipate, or failure to adequately mitigate, breaches of security could result in losses to us or our customers, loss of business and/or customers, reputational damage, the incurrence of additional expenses, disruption to our business, our inability to grow our online services or other businesses, additional regulatory scrutiny or penalties, or our exposure to civil litigation and possible financial liability, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We depend on information technology and telecommunications systems of third parties, and any systems failures, interruptions or data breaches involving these systems could adversely affect our operations and financial condition.
Our business is highly dependent on the successful and uninterrupted functioning of our information technology and telecommunications systems, third-party servicers, accounting systems, digital banking platforms and financial intermediaries. We outsource to third parties many of our major systems, such as digital banking, loan servicing, and deposit processing systems. The failure of these systems, or the termination of a third-party software license or service agreement on which any of these systems is based, could interrupt our operations. Because our information technology and telecommunications systems interface with and depend on third-party systems, we could experience service denials if demand for such services exceeds capacity or such third-party systems fail or experience interruptions. If sustained or repeated, a system failure or service denial could result in a deterioration of our ability to process loans or gather deposits and provide customer service, compromise our ability to operate effectively, result in potential noncompliance with applicable laws or regulations, damage our reputation, result in a loss of customer business and/or subject us to additional regulatory scrutiny and possible financial liability, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, failure of third parties to comply with applicable laws and regulations, or fraud or misconduct on the part of employees of any of these third parties, could disrupt our operations or adversely affect our reputation.
It may be difficult for us to replace some of our third-party vendors, particularly vendors providing our core banking, debit card and credit card services and information services, in a timely manner if they are unwilling or unable to provide us with these services in the future for any reason and even if we are able to replace them, it may be at higher cost or result in the loss of customers. Any such events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our operations rely heavily on the secure processing, storage and transmission of information and the monitoring of a large number of transactions on a minute-by-minute basis, and even a short interruption in service could have significant consequences. We also interact with and rely on retailers, for whom we process transactions, as well as financial counterparties and regulators. Each of these third parties may be targets of the same types of fraudulent activity, computer break-ins and other cybersecurity breaches described above or herein, and the cybersecurity measures that they maintain to mitigate the risk of such activity may be different than our own and may be inadequate.
As a result of financial entities and technology systems becoming more interdependent and complex, a cyber-incident, information breach or loss, or technology failure that compromises the systems or data of one or more financial entities could have a material impact on counterparties or other market participants, including ourselves. Although we review business continuity and backup plans for our vendors and take other safeguards to support our operations, such plans or safeguards may be inadequate. As a result of the foregoing, our ability to conduct business may be adversely affected by any significant disruptions to us or to third parties with whom we interact.
Our use of third-party vendors and our other ongoing third-party business relationships is subject to increasing regulatory requirements and attention.
Our use of third-party vendors for certain information systems is subject to increasingly demanding regulatory requirements and attention by our bank regulators. Regulatory guidance requires us to enhance our due diligence, ongoing monitoring and control over our third-party vendors and other ongoing third-party business relationships. In certain cases we may be required to renegotiate our agreements with these vendors to meet these enhanced requirements, which could increase our costs. Our regulators may hold us responsible for deficiencies in our oversight and control of our third-party relationships and in the performance of the parties with which we have these relationships. As a result, if our regulators conclude that we have not exercised adequate oversight and control over our third-party vendors or other ongoing third-party business relationships or that such third parties have not performed appropriately, we could be subject to enforcement actions,
including civil money penalties or other administrative or judicial penalties or fines as well as requirements for customer remediation, any of which could have a material adverse effect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We continually encounter technological change and may have fewer resources than many of our larger competitors to continue to invest in technological improvements.
The financial services industry is undergoing rapid technological changes, with frequent introductions of new technology-driven products and services. The effective use of technology increases efficiency and enables financial institutions to better serve customers and to reduce costs. Our future success will depend, in part, upon our ability to address the needs of our customers by using technology to provide products and services that will satisfy customer demands for convenience, as well as to create additional efficiencies in our operations. Many of our competitors have substantially greater resources to invest in technological improvements. We also 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, we expect that new technologies and business processes applicable to the banking industry will continue to emerge, and these new technologies and business processes may be better than those we currently use. The implementation of technological changes and upgrades to maintain current systems and integrate new ones may cause service interruptions, transaction processing errors and system conversion delays and may cause us to fail to comply with applicable laws. Because the pace of technological change is high and our industry is intensely competitive, we may not be able to sustain our investment in new technology as critical systems and applications become obsolete or as better ones become available. A failure to maintain current technology and business processes could cause disruptions in our operations or cause our products and services to be less competitive, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
LEGAL AND REGULATORY COMPLIANCE RISKS
The banking industry is highly regulated, and the regulatory framework, together with any future legislative or regulatory changes, may have a significant adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and future prospects.
As a bank holding company, we and our subsidiaries are subject to extensive examination, supervision and comprehensive regulation under both federal and state laws and regulations that are intended primarily for the protection of depositors, customers, the DIF and the overall financial stability of the United States, not for the protection of our stockholders and creditors. We are subject to regulation and supervision by the Federal Reserve, and the Bank is subject to regulation and supervision by the FDIC and the IDFPR. The banking laws and regulations applicable to us govern a variety of matters, including, among other things, the types of business activities in which we and our subsidiaries can engage; permissible types, amounts and terms of loans and investments we may make; the maximum interest rate that we may charge; the amount of reserves we must hold against deposits we take; the types of deposits we may accept; maintenance of adequate capital and liquidity; changes in the control of us and the Bank; restrictions on dividends or other capital distributions; and establishment of new offices or branches. These requirements may constrain our operations or require us to obtain approval from our regulators before engaging in certain activities, with no assurance that such approvals may be obtained, either in a timely manner or at all. Also, the burden imposed by those federal and state regulations may place banks in general at a competitive disadvantage compared to their non-bank competitors.
Applicable banking laws, regulations, interpretations, enforcement policies, and accounting principles have been subject to significant changes in recent years and may be subject to significant future changes. In addition, regulators may elect to alter standards or the interpretation of the standards used to measure regulatory compliance or to determine the adequacy of liquidity, certain risk management or other operational practices for bank holding companies in a manner that impacts our ability to implement our strategy and could affect us in substantial and unpredictable ways. Compliance with existing and any potential new or changed regulations,
as well as regulatory scrutiny, may significantly increase our costs, impede the efficiency of our internal business processes, require us to increase our regulatory capital and limit our ability to pursue business opportunities in an efficient manner. Our failure to comply with banking laws, regulations and policies, even if the failure follows good faith effort or reflects a difference in interpretation, could subject us to restrictions on our business activities, fines and other penalties, the commencement of informal or formal enforcement actions against us, and other negative consequences, including reputational damage, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, capital base and the price of our securities.
Prior to October 11, 2019, we were treated as an S Corp, and claims of taxing authorities related to our prior status as an S Corp could harm us.
Effective October 11, 2019, the Company revoked its S Corp status and became a taxable entity (C Corp) that is subject to U.S. federal income tax. If the unaudited, open tax years in which we were an S Corp are audited by the Internal Revenue Service (the "IRS") and we are determined not to have qualified for, or to have violated, our S Corp status, we will be obligated to pay back taxes, interest and penalties. The amounts that we would be obligated to pay could include tax on all of our taxable income while we were an S Corp. Any such claims could result in additional costs to us and could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
We could become obligated to make payments to the pre-IPO stockholders for any additional federal, state or local income taxes assessed against such pre-IPO stockholder for tax periods prior to the completion of the IPO.
Prior to October 11, 2019, we were treated as an S Corp for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Because we had been an S Corp, our pre-IPO stockholders had been taxed on our income as individuals. Therefore each pre-IPO stockholder has received certain distributions ("tax distributions") from us that were generally intended to equal the amount of tax such was required to pay with respect to our income. In connection with the IPO, our S Corp status terminated and we are now subject to federal and increased state income taxes. In the event of an adjustment to our reported taxable income for periods prior to termination of our S Corp status, it is possible that each pre-IPO stockholder will be liable for additional income taxes for those prior periods. Pursuant to the Amended Restated Stockholder Agreement, upon our filing any tax return (amended or otherwise), in the event of any restatement of our taxable income or pursuant to a determination by, or a settlement with, a taxing authority, for any period during which we were an S Corp, depending on the nature of the adjustment we may be required to make a payment to each of the pre-IPO stockholders in an amount equal to such pre-IPO stockholder's incremental tax liability, which amount may be material. In addition, we agreed to indemnify each pre-IPO stockholder with respect to unpaid income tax liabilities to the extent that such unpaid income tax liabilities are attributable to an adjustment to our taxable income for any period after our S Corp status terminates. In both cases, the amount of the payment will be based on the assumption that such pre-IPO stockholder is taxed at the highest rate applicable to individuals for the relevant periods. We also agreed to indemnify each pre-IPO stockholder for any interest, penalties, losses, costs or expenses arising out of any claim under the agreement. However, each pre-IPO stockholder agreed to indemnify us with respect to our unpaid tax liabilities (including interest and penalties) to the extent that such unpaid tax liabilities are attributable to a decrease in the shareholder's taxable income for any for tax period and a corresponding increase in the Company's taxable income for any period.
We are subject to capital adequacy requirements and may be subject to more stringent capital requirements and, if we fail to meet these requirements, we will be subject to restrictions on our ability to make capital distributions and other restrictions.
The regulatory capital rules adopted by the U.S. banking agencies to implement the Basel III regulatory capital framework developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (the "Basel III Capital Rules") increased our capital requirements, including by introducing a Common Equity Tier 1 ("CET1") capital ratio and establishing additional criteria for certain capital instruments to be considered Additional Tier 1 and Tier 2 capital. For example, trust preferred securities are generally excluded from being counted as Tier 1 capital
under the Basel III Capital Rules, but our trust preferred securities were grandfathered in as a component of Tier 1 capital because we have less than $15 billion in total consolidated assets. If we were to pursue sufficient balance sheet growth through acquisitions or mergers, we could lose Tier 1 capital treatment of our grandfathered trust preferred securities, although such trust preferred securities likely would continue to be included as a component of Tier 2 capital.
The Basel III Capital Rules require us to maintain a minimum CET1 capital ratio of 4.5%, a minimum total Tier 1 capital ratio of 6%, a minimum total capital ratio of 8% and a minimum Tier 1 leverage ratio of 4%, and a capital conservation buffer of greater than 2.5% of risk-weighted assets (the "Capital Conservation Buffer"). Failure to maintain the Capital Conservation Buffer would result in increasingly stringent restrictions on our ability to make dividend payments and other capital distributions and to pay discretionary bonuses to our executive officers. See "Supervision and Regulation—Regulatory Capital Requirements" for more information on the capital adequacy standards that we must meet and maintain.
While we currently meet the requirements of the Basel III Capital Rules, we may fail to do so in the future and may be unable to raise additional capital to remediate any capital deficiencies. The failure to meet applicable regulatory capital requirements could result in one or more of our regulators placing limitations or conditions on our activities or restricting the commencement of new activities, including our growth initiatives, and could affect customer and investor confidence, our costs of funds and level of required deposit insurance assessments to the FDIC, our ability to pay dividends on our capital stock, our ability to make acquisitions, and our business, results of operations and financial conditions generally.
Future legislative or regulatory change could impose higher capital standards on us or the Bank. The Federal Reserve may also set higher capital requirements for holding companies whose circumstances warrant it. For example, holding companies experiencing internal growth or making acquisitions are expected to maintain strong capital positions substantially above the minimum supervisory levels, without significant reliance on intangible assets.
The Federal Reserve may require us to commit capital resources to support the Bank.
Federal law requires a bank holding company to act as a source of financial and managerial strength to its subsidiary banks, and to commit resources to support such subsidiary banks. Under the "source of strength" doctrine, the Federal Reserve may require a bank holding company to make capital injections into a troubled subsidiary bank and may charge the bank holding company with engaging in unsafe and unsound practices for failure to commit resources to a subsidiary bank. A capital injection may be required at times when the Company may not have the resources to provide it and therefore may be required to borrow the funds or raise capital. Any loans by a holding company to its subsidiary banks are subordinate in right of payment to deposits and to certain other indebtedness of such subsidiary bank. In the event of a bank holding company’s bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee will assume any commitment by the holding company to a federal bank regulatory agency to maintain the capital of a subsidiary bank. Moreover, bankruptcy law provides that claims based on any such commitment will be entitled to a priority of payment over the claims of the institution’s general unsecured creditors, including the holders of its note obligations. Thus, any borrowing that must be done by the Company to make a required capital injection into the Bank could be more difficult and expensive to obtain and could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our risk management framework may not be effective in mitigating risks and/or losses to us.
Our risk management framework is comprised of various processes, systems and strategies, and is designed to manage the types of risk to which we are subject, including, among others, credit, market, liquidity, interest rate and compliance. Our framework also includes financial or other modeling methodologies that involve management assumptions and judgment. Our risk management framework may not be effective under all circumstances or that it will adequately mitigate any risk or loss to us. If our framework is not effective, we could suffer unexpected losses and our business, financial condition, results of operations or growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected. We may also be subject to potentially adverse regulatory consequences.
Federal and state regulators periodically examine our business, and we may be required to remediate adverse examination findings.
The Federal Reserve (with respect to us) and the FDIC and the IDFPR (with respect to the Bank) periodically examine our business, including our compliance with applicable laws and regulations. These regulatory agencies have extremely broad discretion in their interpretation of regulations and laws, and in their interpretation of the quality of our loan portfolio, securities portfolio and other assets. If, as a result of an examination, a banking agency were to determine that our financial condition, capital resources, asset quality, lending practices, investment practices, earnings prospects, management, liquidity or other aspects of any of our operations had become unsatisfactory, or that we were in violation of any law or regulation, it may take a number of different remedial actions as it deems appropriate. These actions include the power to enjoin "unsafe or unsound" practices, to require affirmative action to correct any conditions resulting from any violation or practice, to issue an administrative order that can be judicially enforced, to direct an increase in our capital, to restrict our growth, to assess civil money penalties, to fine or remove officers and directors and, if it is concluded that such conditions cannot be corrected or there is an imminent risk of loss to depositors, to terminate our deposit insurance and place us into receivership or conservatorship. Any regulatory action against us could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Future consumer legislation or regulation could harm our performance and competitive position.
The Dodd-Frank Act established the CFPB as an independent federal agency that has broad rulemaking authority over consumer financial products and services for all financial institutions, including deposit products, residential mortgages, home-equity loans and credit cards. In addition, the CFPB also has exclusive supervisory and examination authority and primary enforcement authority with respect to various federal consumer financial laws and regulations for insured depository institutions with more than $10 billion in total consolidated assets. The Bank is not subject to the examination and supervisory authority of the CFPB because it has less than $10 billion in total assets, but it is required to comply with the rules and regulations issued by the CFPB. The FDIC has the primarily responsible for supervising and examining the Bank’s compliance with federal consumer financial laws and regulations, including CFPB regulations. See "Supervision and Regulation—Consumer Financial Protection" for additional information.
In addition to the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, various state and local legislative bodies have adopted or have been considering augmenting their existing framework governing consumers’ rights. These considerations could also be impacted by the recent changes in federal administration. Such legislative or regulatory changes to consumer financial laws and regulations could result in changes to our pricing, practices, products and procedures; increases in our costs related to regulatory oversight, supervision and examination; or result in remediation efforts and possible penalties. We may be required to add additional compliance personnel or incur other significant compliance-related expenses to meet the demands of these consumer protection laws. We cannot predict whether new legislation or regulation will be enacted and, if enacted, the effect that it would have on our activities, financial condition, or results of operations.
We are subject to numerous laws and regulations designed to protect consumers, including the Community Reinvestment Act and fair lending laws, and failure to comply with these laws could lead to a wide variety of sanctions.
The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 ("CRA") requires the Bank, consistent with safe and sound operations, to ascertain and meet the credit needs of their entire communities, including low and moderate income areas. The Bank’s failure to comply with the CRA could, among other things, result in the denial or delay of certain corporate applications filed by us or the Bank, including applications for branch openings or relocations and applications to acquire, merge or consolidate with another banking institution or holding company. In addition, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act and other fair lending laws and regulations prohibit discriminatory lending practices by financial institutions. The U.S. Department of Justice, federal banking agencies, and other federal agencies are responsible for enforcing these laws and regulations. A challenge to an institution’s compliance with fair lending laws and regulations could result in a wide variety of
sanctions, including damages and civil money penalties, injunctive relief, restrictions on mergers and acquisitions activity, restrictions on expansion, and restrictions on entering new business lines. Private parties may also challenge an institution’s performance under fair lending laws in private class action litigation. Such actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. See "Supervision and Regulation—Community Reinvestment Act".
The expanding body of federal, state and local regulations and/or the licensing of loan servicing, collections or other aspects of our business and our sales of loans to third parties may increase the cost of compliance and the risks of noncompliance and subject us to litigation.
Loan servicing is subject to extensive regulation by federal, state and local governmental authorities as well as to various laws and judicial and administrative decisions imposing requirements and restrictions on those activities. The volume of new or modified laws and regulations has increased in recent years and, in addition, some individual municipalities have begun to enact laws that restrict loan servicing activities including delaying or temporarily preventing foreclosures or forcing the modification of certain mortgages. If regulators impose new or more restrictive requirements, we may incur significant additional costs to comply with such requirements which may adversely affect us. In addition, were we to be subject to regulatory investigation or regulatory action regarding our loan modification and foreclosure practices, our financial condition and results of operation could be adversely affected. We have also sold loans to third parties. In connection with these sales, we, or certain of our subsidiaries, make or have made various representations and warranties, breaches of which may result in a requirement that we repurchase the loans or otherwise make whole or provide other remedies to counterparties. These aspects of our business or our failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could possibly lead to, among other things, civil and criminal liability, loss of licensure, damage to our reputation in the industry or with customers, fines and penalties, litigation (including class action lawsuits) and administrative enforcement actions. Any of these outcomes could materially and adversely affect us.
Non-compliance with the USA PATRIOT Act, the Bank Secrecy Act (the "BSA"), or other laws and regulations could result in fines or sanctions.
Financial institutions are required under the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and the BSA to develop programs to prevent financial institutions from being used for money-laundering, terrorist financing and other illicit activities. Financial institutions are also obligated to file suspicious activity reports with the Office of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ("FinCEN") of the U.S. Department of the Treasury ("Treasury") if such activities are detected. These rules also require financial institutions to establish procedures for identifying and verifying the identity of customers seeking to open new financial accounts. Failure or the inability to comply with these regulations could result in fines or penalties, curtailment of expansion opportunities, intervention or sanctions by regulators and costly litigation or expensive additional controls and systems. In recent years, several banking institutions have received large fines for non-compliance with these laws and regulations. In addition, FinCEN requires financial institutions to enhance their Customer Due Diligence programs, including verifying the identity of beneficial owners of qualifying business customers. We have developed policies and continue to augment procedures and systems designed to assist in compliance with these laws and regulations, but these policies may not be effective to provide such compliance. If we violate these laws and regulations, or our policies, procedures and systems are deemed deficient, we could face severe consequences, including sanctions, fines, regulatory actions and reputational consequences. Any of these results could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Regulation in the areas of privacy and data security could increase our costs.
We are subject to various regulations related to privacy and data security, and we could be negatively impacted by these regulations. For example, we are subject to the safeguards guidelines under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act ("GLBA"). The safeguards guidelines require that each financial institution develop, implement and maintain a written, comprehensive information security program containing safeguards that are appropriate to the financial institution’s size and complexity, the nature and scope of the financial institution’s activities and the sensitivity of any customer information at issue. Further, there are various other statutes and regulations
relevant to the direct email marketing, debt collection and text-messaging industries including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
In addition to the foregoing enhanced data security requirements, various federal banking regulatory agencies, and all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, have enacted data security regulations and laws requiring varying levels of consumer notification in the event of a security breach and/or requirements to disclose to consumers information collected about them. Also, federal legislators and regulators are increasingly pursuing new guidelines, laws and regulations that, if adopted, could further restrict how we collect, use, share and secure consumer information, which could impact some of our current or planned business initiatives. The interpretation of many of these statutes and regulations is evolving in the courts and administrative agencies and an inability or failure to comply with them may have an adverse impact on our business.
FDIC deposit insurance assessments may materially increase in the future, which would have an adverse effect on earnings.
As an institution with deposits insured by the FDIC, the Bank is assessed a quarterly deposit insurance premium. The failure of banks nationwide during the financial crisis significantly depleted the DIF and reduced the ratio of reserves to insured deposits. The Bank could be required to pay significantly higher premiums or additional special assessments if, among other reasons, future bank failures deplete the DIF. This would adversely affect the Bank’s earnings, thereby reducing its availability of funds to pay dividends to us.
Litigation and regulatory actions, including possible enforcement actions, could subject us to significant fines, penalties, judgments or other requirements resulting in increased expenses or restrictions on our business activities.
Our business is subject to increased litigation and regulatory enforcement risks due to a number of factors, including the highly regulated nature of the financial services industry and the focus of state and federal prosecutors on banks and the financial services industry generally. This focus has only intensified in recent years, with regulators and prosecutors focusing on a variety of financial institution practices and requirements, including foreclosure practices, compliance with applicable consumer protection laws, classification of "held for sale" assets and compliance with anti-money laundering statutes, the BSA and sanctions administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury.
In the normal course of business, from time to time, we have in the past and may in the future be named as a defendant in various legal actions, including arbitrations, class actions and other litigation, arising in connection with our current and/or prior business activities. Legal actions could include claims for substantial compensatory or punitive damages or claims for indeterminate amounts of damages. In addition, while the arbitration provisions in certain of our customer agreements historically have limited our exposure to consumer class action litigation, there can be no assurance that we will be successful in enforcing our arbitration clause in the future. We may also, from time to time, be the subject of subpoenas, requests for information, reviews, investigations and proceedings (both formal and informal) by governmental agencies regarding our current and/or prior business activities. Any such legal or regulatory actions may subject us to substantial compensatory or punitive damages, significant fines, penalties, obligations to change our business practices or other requirements resulting in increased expenses, diminished income and damage to our reputation. Our involvement in any such matters, whether tangential or otherwise and even if the matters are ultimately determined in our favor, could also cause significant harm to our reputation and divert management attention from the operation of our business. Further, any settlement, consent order or adverse judgment in connection with any formal or informal proceeding or investigation by government agencies may result in litigation, investigations or proceedings as other litigants and government agencies begin independent reviews of the same activities. As a result, the outcome of legal and regulatory actions could be material to our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows depending on, among other factors, the level of our earnings for that period, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
RISKS RELATED TO OUR BUSINESS STRATEGY
We may not be able to continue growing our business, particularly if we cannot make acquisitions or increase loans through organic loan growth, either because of an inability to find suitable acquisition candidates, constrained capital resources or otherwise.
We anticipate that much of our future growth will be dependent on our ability to successfully implement our acquisition growth strategy because certain of our market areas are comprised of mature, rural communities with limited population growth. A risk exists, however, that we will not be able to identify suitable additional candidates for acquisitions. In addition, even if suitable targets are identified, we expect to compete for such businesses with other potential bidders, many of which may have greater financial resources than we have, which may adversely affect our ability to make acquisitions at attractive prices. In light of the foregoing, our ability to continue to grow successfully will depend to a significant extent on our capital resources. It also will depend, in part, upon our ability to attract deposits, identify favorable loan and investment opportunities and on whether we can continue to fund growth while maintaining cost controls and asset quality, as well on other factors beyond our control, such as national, regional and local economic conditions and interest rate trends.
Also, as our acquired loan portfolio, which produces higher yields than our originated loans due to loan discount accretion, is paid down, we expect downward pressure on our income to the extent that the run-off is not replaced with other high-yielding loans. The accretable yield represents the excess of the net present value of expected future cash flows over the acquisition date fair value and includes both the expected coupon of the loan and the discount accretion. As a result of the foregoing, if we are unable to replace loans in our existing portfolio with comparable high-yielding loans or a larger volume of loans, we could be adversely affected. We could also be materially and adversely affected if we choose to pursue riskier higher-yielding loans that fail to perform.
Our strategy of pursuing growth via acquisitions exposes us to financial, execution and operational risks that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and growth prospects.
We have been pursuing a strategy of leveraging our human and financial capital by acquiring other financial institutions in our target markets, including acquisitions of failed insured depository institutions with the assistance of the FDIC. We continue to opportunistically seek acquisitions that are either located within our market footprint, in adjacent markets or provide a new growth opportunity that is strategically and financially compelling and consistent with our culture.
Our acquisition activities could require us to use a substantial amount of cash, other liquid assets, and/or issue debt or additional equity. In addition to the general risks associated with any growth plans, acquiring other banks, businesses, or branches involves various risks commonly associated with acquisitions, including, among other things:
|●||the time and expense associated with identifying and evaluating potential acquisitions and negotiating potential transactions;|
|●||inaccuracies in the estimates and judgments used to evaluate credit, operations, management, and market risks with respect to the target institution. If the actual results fall short or exceed our estimates, our earnings, capital and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected;|
|●||the ability to finance an acquisition and possible dilution to existing stockholders;|
|●||compliance and legal risks associated with acquiring unfamiliar customers, products and services, and branches in new geographical markets; and|
|●||risks associated with integrating the operations and personnel of the acquired business in a manner that permits growth opportunities and does not materially disrupt existing customer relationships or result in decreased revenues resulting from any loss of customers.|
With respect to the risks particularly associated with the integration of an acquired business, we may encounter a number of difficulties, such as: (1) customer loss and revenue loss; (2) the loss of key employees; (3) the disruption of its operations and business; (4) the inability to maintain and increase its competitive presence; (5) possible inconsistencies in standards, control procedures and policies; and/or (6) unexpected problems with costs, operations, personnel, technology and credit. In addition to the risks posed by the integration process itself, the focus of management’s attention and effort on integration may result in a lack of sufficient management attention to other important issues, causing harm to our business. Also, general market and economic conditions or governmental actions affecting the financial industry generally may inhibit our successful integration of an acquired business.
Generally, any acquisition of financial institutions, banking centers or other banking assets by us will require approval by, and cooperation from, a number of governmental regulatory agencies, including the Federal Reserve, the IDFPR, and the FDIC. Such regulators could deny our applications based on various prescribed criteria or other considerations, which would restrict our growth, or the regulatory approvals may not be granted on terms that are acceptable to us. For example, we could be required to sell banking centers as a condition to receiving regulatory approvals and such a condition may not be acceptable to us or may reduce the benefit of any acquisition. These regulatory approvals and the factors considered in reviewing such applications are described in greater detail in "Supervision and Regulation—Acquisitions and Branching."
We cannot assure you that we will be successful in overcoming these risks or any other problems encountered in connection with acquisitions. Our inability to overcome risks associated with acquisitions could have an adverse effect on our ability to successfully implement our acquisition growth strategy and grow our business and profitability.
Attractive acquisition opportunities may not be available to us in the future.
While we seek continued organic growth, we anticipate continuing to evaluate merger and acquisition opportunities presented to us in our core markets and beyond. We expect that other banking and financial companies, many of which have significantly greater resources, will compete with us to acquire financial services businesses. In addition, it has yet to be seen what impact the recent changes in federal administration will have on the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the "Regulatory Relief Act") and certain proposed regulations. Currently, there is a regulatory freeze until new department or regulatory agency heads have an opportunity to review and approve new rules, and depending on whether certain rules are ultimately published in the Federal Register. As a result, certain large bank holding companies could more aggressively pursue expansion, including through acquisitions. This competition could increase prices for potential acquisitions, which could reduce our potential returns and reduce the attractiveness of these opportunities to us.
RISKS RELATED TO OWNERSHIP OF OUR COMMON STOCK
Our principal stockholder, Heartland Bancorp, Inc. Voting Trust U/A/D 5/4/2016, has significant influence over us, and its interests could conflict with those of our other stockholders.
As of December 31, 2020, our principal stockholder, Heartland Bancorp, Inc. Voting Trust U/A/D 5/4/2016 (“the Voting Trust”), owned approximately 62.7% of the outstanding shares of our common stock and its trustee is our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. As a result, the Voting Trust is able to influence matters requiring approval by our stockholders, including the election of directors and the approval of mergers or other extraordinary transactions. The Voting Trust may also have interests that differ from yours and may vote in a way with which you disagree and which may be adverse to your interests. The concentration of ownership may also have the effect of delaying, preventing or deterring a change of control of the Company, could deprive our stockholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their common stock as part of a sale of our company and might ultimately affect the market price of our common stock.
The Voting Trust could sell its interest in us to a third-party in a private transaction, which may not lead to your realization of any change of control premium on shares of our common stock and would subject us to the influence of a presently unknown third-party.
The ability of the Voting Trust to sell its shares of our common stock privately, with no requirement for a concurrent offer to be made to acquire all of the shares of our outstanding common stock, could prevent our stockholders from realizing any change of control premium on shares of our common stock that they own that may accrue to the Voting Trust on its private sale of our common stock.
Even if the Voting Trust’s ownership of our shares falls below a majority, the Voting Trust may continue to be able to influence or effectively control out decisions.
We are classified as a "controlled company" for purposes of the Nasdaq Listing Rules and, as a result, we qualify for certain exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements. You do not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to such requirements.
As of the date of this report, the Voting Trust controls a majority of the voting power of our outstanding common stock. As a result, we are a "controlled company" within the meaning of the corporate governance standards of the Nasdaq Listing Rules. Under the Nasdaq Listing Rules, a company of which more than 50% of the outstanding voting power is held by an individual, group or another company is a "controlled company" and may elect not to comply with certain stock exchange corporate governance requirements, including:
|●||the requirement that a majority of the board of directors consists of independent directors;|
|●||the requirement that nominating and corporate governance matters be decided solely by independent directors; and|
|●||the requirement that executive and officer compensation matters be decided solely by independent directors.|
Accordingly, you may not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the Nasdaq corporate governance requirements.
Our ability to continue to pay dividends to our stockholders is restricted by applicable laws and regulations and by the ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends to us.
Holders of our common stock are only entitled to receive such cash dividends as our board, in its sole discretion, may declare out of funds legally available for such payments. Any decision to declare and pay dividends will be dependent on a variety of factors, including our financial condition, earnings, legal requirements, our general liquidity needs, and other factors that our board deems relevant. As a bank holding company, our ability to declare and pay dividends to our stockholders is subject to certain banking laws, regulations, and policies, including minimum capital requirements and, as a Delaware corporation, we are subject to certain restrictions on dividends under the DGCL. In addition, we are a separate legal entity, and, accordingly, our ability to pay dividends depends primarily upon the receipt of dividends or other capital distributions from the Bank. The ability of the Bank to make distributions or pay dividends to us is subject to its earnings, financial condition, and liquidity needs, as well as federal and state laws, regulations, and policies applicable to the Bank, which limit the amount the Bank can pay as dividends or other capital distributions to us. Finally, our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders, or the Bank’s ability to pay dividends or other distributions to us, may be limited by covenants in any financing arrangements that we or the Bank may enter into in the future. See "Dividend Policy" and "Supervision and Regulation—Dividends and Share Repurchases."
As a consequence of these various limitations and restrictions, we may not be able to make, or may have to reduce or eliminate at any time, future dividends on our common stock. Any change in the level of our dividends or the suspension of the payment thereof could have a material adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.
We cannot guarantee that we will be able to pay dividends to our stockholders, or that the board of directors of the Bank will be able to or will elect to pay dividends to us, nor can we guarantee the timing or amount of any such dividends actually paid. As a result, you may not receive any return on an investment in our common stock unless you sell our common stock for a price greater than that which you paid for it.
Future sales of our common stock, or the perception in the public markets that these sales may occur, may depress our stock price.
Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could adversely affect the price of our common stock and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional shares. Following the expiration of the 180-day underwriter lock-up agreed to by each of our executive officers and directors and the trustee of the Voting Trust in connection with our IPO, the shares of our common stock held by these holders may be sold in accordance with the volume, manner of sale, and other limitations under Rule 144, and holders of approximately 17,210,400 shares of our common stock will have the right to require us to register the sales of their shares under the Securities Act, under the terms of an agreement between us and the holders of these securities.
In the future, we may also issue securities in connection with acquisitions or investments. The number of shares of our common stock issued in connection with an acquisition or investment could constitute a material portion of our then-outstanding shares of our common stock.
We are an “emerging growth company” and may elect to comply with reduced public company reporting requirements which could make our common stock less attractive to investors.
We are an emerging growth company, as defined in the JOBS Act. For as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may choose to take advantage of exemptions from various public company reporting requirements. These exemptions include, but are not limited to, (i) not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, (ii) reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports, proxy statements and registration statements, and (iii) exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We could be an emerging growth company for up to five years after our IPO, which fifth anniversary will occur in 2024. However, if certain events occur prior to the end of such five-year period, including if we become a "large accelerated filer," our annual gross revenue exceeds $1.07 billion or we issue more than $1.0 billion of non-convertible debt in any three-year period, we would cease to be an emerging growth company prior to the end of such five-year period. We have taken advantage of certain of the reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation and may elect to take advantage of other reduced disclosure obligations in future filings. As a result, the information that we provide to holders of our common stock may be different than you might receive from other public reporting companies in which you hold equity interests. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive as a result of our reliance on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result of any choice we make to reduce disclosure, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and the price for our common stock may be more volatile.
Under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies may also elect to delay adoption of new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. We have elected to use this extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards and, therefore, we will not be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies.
Anti-takeover provisions in our charter documents and Delaware law, and the banking laws and regulations to which we are subject, might discourage or delay acquisition attempts for us that you might consider favorable.
Our restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws will contain provisions that may make the acquisition of the Company more difficult without the approval of our board of directors. These provisions:
These anti-takeover provisions and other provisions under Delaware law could discourage, delay or prevent a transaction involving a change in control of the Company, even if doing so would benefit our stockholders. These provisions could also discourage proxy contests and make it more difficult for you and other stockholders to elect directors of your choosing and to cause us to take other corporate actions you desire.
Furthermore, banking laws impose notice, approval and ongoing regulatory requirements on any stockholder or other party that seeks to acquire direct or indirect "control," as defined under applicable law, of an FDIC-insured depository institution. These laws include the BHCA and the CBCA. These laws could, among other things, limit the equity held by certain stockholders, restrain a stockholder’s ability to influence proxy matters, or prevent an acquisition of the Company, in each case without first obtaining regulatory approval. See "Supervision and Regulation—Acquisition of Control."
Our restated certificate of incorporation designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders' ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.
Our restated certificate of incorporation provides that, subject to limited exceptions, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if the Court of Chancery does not have jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware) will be the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers or other employees to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim against us or any of our directors, officers or other employees arising pursuant to any provision of the DGCL, our certificate of incorporation or our by-laws or (iv) any other action asserting a claim against us or any of our directors, officers or other employees that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our capital stock shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to the provisions of our certificate of incorporation described above. This choice of forum provision may limit a stockholder's ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and employees. Alternatively, if a court were to find these provisions of our restated certificate of incorporation inapplicable to, or unenforceable in respect of, one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
Adverse changes in local economic conditions and adverse conditions in an industry on which a local market in which we do business depends could hurt our business in a material way.
Our financial performance generally, and in particular the ability of our borrowers to pay interest on and repay principal of outstanding loans and the value of collateral securing those loans, as well as demand for loans and other products and services we offer, is highly dependent upon the business environment in the markets in which we operate and in the United States as a whole. Unlike larger banks that are more geographically diversified, we provide banking and financial services to customers primarily in the State of Illinois. The economic conditions in our local markets may be different from, or worse than, the economic conditions in the United States as a whole. Some elements of the business environment that affect our financial performance include short-term and long-term interest rates, the prevailing yield curve, inflation and price levels, tax policy, monetary policy, unemployment and the strength of the domestic economy and the local economy in the markets in which we operate.
Unfavorable market conditions can result in a deterioration in the credit quality of our borrowers and the demand for our products and services, an increase in the number of loan delinquencies, defaults and charge-offs, additional provisions for loan losses, adverse asset values and an overall material adverse effect on the quality of our loan portfolio. Unfavorable or uncertain economic and market conditions can be caused by, among other factors, declines in economic growth, business activity or investor or business confidence; limitations on the availability or increases in the cost of credit and capital; changes in inflation or interest rates; increases in real estate and other state and local taxes; high unemployment; natural disasters; pandemics, such as COVID-19; severe weather; acts of terrorism or war; or a combination of these or other factors.
The State of Illinois has experienced significant financial difficulties, and this could adversely impact certain borrowers and our business.
The State of Illinois is experiencing significant financial difficulties, including material pension funding shortfalls and large budget deficits. In addition, the State’s debt ratings have been downgraded. These issues could impact the economic vitality of the State of Illinois and our customers, and could specifically encourage businesses to relocate, and discourage new employers from starting or moving businesses to Illinois. These issues could also result in delays in the payment of accounts receivable owed to borrowers that conduct business with the State of Illinois and Medicaid payments to nursing homes and other healthcare providers in Illinois and impair their ability to repay their loans when due.
Our business is significantly dependent on the real estate markets in which we operate, as a significant percentage of our loan portfolio is secured by real estate.
Many of the loans in our portfolio are secured by real estate as a primary or secondary component of collateral, with substantially all of these real estate loans concentrated in the State of Illinois. Real property values in our market may be different from, and in some instances worse than, real property values in other markets or in the United States as a whole and may be affected by a variety of factors outside of our control and the control of our borrowers. Cook County, in particular, has experienced volatility in real estate values over the past decade. Declines in real estate values, including prices for homes and commercial properties, could result in a deterioration of the credit quality of our borrowers, an increase in the number of loan delinquencies, defaults and charge-offs, and reduced demand for our products and services, generally. Our CRE loans may have a greater risk of loss than residential mortgage loans, in part because these loans are generally larger or more complex to underwrite. In particular, real estate construction and land development loans have certain risks not present in other types of loans, including risks associated with construction cost overruns, project completion risk, general contractor credit risk and risks associated with the ultimate sale or use of the completed construction. In addition, declines in real property values in the states in which we operate could reduce the value of any collateral we realize following a default on these loans and could adversely affect our ability to continue to grow our loan portfolio consistent with our underwriting standards. We may have to foreclose on
real estate assets if borrowers default on their loans, in which case we are required to record the related asset to the then fair market value of the collateral, which may ultimately result in a loss. An increase in the level of nonperforming assets increases our risk profile and may affect the capital levels regulators believe are appropriate in light of the ensuing risk profile. Our failure to effectively mitigate these risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our future growth and success will depend on our ability to compete effectively in a highly competitive environment.
We face substantial competition in all phases of our operations from a variety of different competitors. Our future growth and success will depend on our ability to compete effectively in this highly competitive environment. To date, our competitive strategies have focused on attracting deposits in our local markets and growing our loan portfolio by emphasizing specific loan products in which we have significant experience and expertise, identifying and targeting markets in which we believe we can effectively compete with larger institutions and other competitors, and offering highly competitive pricing to borrowers with appropriate risk profiles. We compete for loans, deposits and other financial services with other commercial banks, credit unions, brokerage houses, mutual funds, insurance companies, real estate conduits, mortgage brokers and specialized finance companies. Many of our competitors offer products and services that we do not offer, and some offer loan structures and have underwriting standards that are not as restrictive as our required loan structures and underwriting standards. Some larger competitors have substantially greater resources and lending limits, name recognition and market presence that benefit them in attracting business. In addition, larger competitors may be able to price loans more aggressively than we do, and because of their larger capital bases, their underwriting practices for smaller loans may be subject to less regulatory scrutiny than they would be for smaller banks. Newer competitors may be more aggressive in pricing their products in order to increase their market share.
Some of the financial institutions and financial services organizations with which we compete are not subject to the extensive regulations imposed on banks insured by the FDIC and their holding companies. As a result, these nonbank competitors have certain advantages over us in accessing funding and in providing various financial services. Additionally, technology and other changes are allowing consumers and businesses to complete financial transactions through alternative methods that historically have involved banks. For example, the wide acceptance of Internet-based commerce has resulted in a number of alternative payment processing systems and lending platforms in which banks play only minor roles. Customers can now maintain funds in prepaid debit cards or digital currencies and pay bills and transfer funds directly without the direct assistance of banks. The diminishing role of banks as financial intermediaries has resulted and could continue to result in the loss of fee income, as well as the loss of customer deposits and the related income generated from those deposits. The loss of these revenue streams and the potential loss of lower cost deposits as a source of funds could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our ability to maintain our reputation is critical to the success of our business, and the failure to do so may materially adversely affect our business and the value of our stock.
We are a community bank, and our reputation is one of the most valuable components of our business. As such, we strive to conduct our business in a manner that enhances our reputation. This is done, in part, by recruiting, hiring and retaining employees who share our core values of being an integral part of the communities we serve, delivering superior service to our customers and caring about our customers and associates. Maintenance of our reputation depends not only on our success in maintaining our service-focused culture, but also on our success in identifying and appropriately addressing issues that may arise in areas such as potential conflicts of interest, anti-money laundering, customer personal information and privacy issues, employee, customer and other third-party fraud, record-keeping, regulatory investigations, and any litigation that may arise from the failure or perceived failure of us to comply with legal and regulatory requirements. If our reputation is negatively affected, by the intentional, inadvertent or unsubstantiated misconduct of our employees, directors, customers, third parties, or otherwise, our business and, therefore, our operating results and the value of our stock may be materially adversely affected.
ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
HBT Financial and Heartland Bank’s headquarters are located at 401 North Hershey Road, Bloomington, Illinois. The Company owns these headquarters, and it also owns or leases other facilities, such as banking centers of Heartland Bank, for business operations.
HBT Financial and its subsidiaries own or lease all of the real property and/or buildings on which each respective entity is located. The Company considers its properties to be suitable and adequate for its present needs.
We are sometimes party to legal actions that are routine and incidental to our business. Management, in consultation with legal counsel, does not expect the ultimate disposition of any or a combination of these matters to have a material adverse effect on our assets, business, cash flow, condition (financial or otherwise), liquidity, prospects and results of operations. However, given the nature, scope and complexity of the extensive legal and regulatory landscape applicable to our business, including laws and regulations governing consumer protection, fair lending, fair labor, privacy, information security and anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism laws, we, like all banking organizations, are subject to heightened legal and regulatory compliance and litigation risk.
ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Market Information and Holders of Record
HBT Financial, Inc.’s common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (the “Nasdaq”) under the symbol “HBT.”
As of February 28, 2021, HBT Financial, Inc. had approximately 36 shareholders of record. A substantially greater number of holders of our common stock are “street name” or beneficial holders, whose shares are held by banks, brokers and other financial institutions.
During 2020, we paid quarterly cash dividends of $0.15 per share on our common stock. We expect to continue our policy of paying quarterly cash dividends. Our board of directors may change or eliminate the payment of future dividends at its discretion, without notice to our stockholders. Any future determination relating to our dividend policy will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on a number of factors, including general and economic conditions, industry standards, our financial condition and operating results, our available cash and current and anticipated cash needs, capital requirements, banking regulations, contractual, legal, tax and regulatory restrictions and implications on the payment of dividends by us to our stockholders or by our subsidiaries to us, and such other factors as our board of directors may deem relevant.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
On November 2, 2020, the Company’s board of directors approved a stock repurchase program that authorizes the Company to repurchase up to $15 million of its common stock. The stock repurchase program will be in effect until December 31, 2021 with the timing of purchases and number of shares repurchased dependent upon a variety of factors including price, trading volume, corporate and regulatory requirements, and market conditions. The Company is not obligated to purchase any shares under the stock repurchase program, and the stock repurchase program may be suspended or discontinued at any time without notice.
The following table sets forth information about the Company’s purchases of its common stock during the fourth quarter of 2020:
Dollar Value of Shares
That May Yet be
Part of Publicly
Purchased Under the
Plans or Programs
October 1 - 31, 2020
November 1 - 30, 2020
December 1 - 31, 2020
Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities
Stock Performance Graph
The performance graph and table below compares the cumulative total return on the Company’s common stock from October 11, 2019 (the date of the Company’s initial public offering and listing on the Nasdaq) through December 31, 2020, with the cumulative total return of: (a) the Russell 2000 Index which reflects a broad equity market index, and (b) the S&P 600 Small Cap Bank Index and (c) the ABA Nasdaq Community Bank Index which reflect published industry or line-of-business indexes. Beginning with this annual report, we are including the S&P 600 Small Cap Bank Index in our comparison of cumulative total return. This index will replace the ABA Nasdaq Community Bank Index in future filings because the ABA Nasdaq Community Bank Index is not available from our service provider. The performance graph and table assume an initial investment of $100 and reinvestment of dividends. Returns are presented on a total return basis.
HBT Financial, Inc.
Russell 2000 Index
S&P 600 Small Cap Bank Index
ABA Nasdaq Community Bank Index
The performance graph and table represent past performance and should not be considered to be an indication of future performance. The information in the preceding paragraph, stock performance graph, and table shall not be deemed to be “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC or subject to Regulation 14A or 14C, other than as provided in Item 201 of Regulation S-K, or to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically request that such information be treated as soliciting material or specifically incorporate it by reference into a filing under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act.
ITEM 6.SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
Consolidated financial information reflecting a summary of the results of operations and financial condition of the Company for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 is presented in the following table. This summary should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements, and accompanying notes thereto, and other financial information included in Item 7, "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," of this Form 10-K.
As of or for the Year Ended December 31,
Statement of Income Information
(dollars in thousands, except per share data)
Total interest and dividend income
Total interest expense
Net interest income
Provision for loan losses
Net income after provision for loan losses
Total noninterest income
Total noninterest expense
Income before income tax expense
Income tax expense
C Corp equivalent net income (2)
Adjusted net income (1)
Net interest income (tax-equivalent basis) (1)
Share and Per Share Information
Earnings per share - Diluted
C Corp equivalent earnings per share - Diluted (2)
Adjusted earnings per share - Diluted (1)
Book value per share
Tangible book value per share (1)
Closing stock price
Ending number shares of common stock outstanding
Weighted average number shares of common stock outstanding
Net interest margin
Net interest margin (tax-equivalent basis) (1)
Yield on loans
Yield on interest-earning assets
Cost of interest-bearing liabilities
Cost of total deposits
Efficiency ratio (tax-equivalent basis) (1)
Return on average assets
Return on average stockholders' equity
Return on average tangible common equity
C Corp equivalent return on average assets (2)
C Corp equivalent return on average stockholders' equity (2)
C Corp equivalent return on average tangible common equity (2)
Adjusted return on average assets (1)
Adjusted return on average stockholders' equity (1)
Adjusted return on average tangible common equity (1)
As of or for the Year Ended December 31,
Balance Sheet Information
(dollars in thousands, except per share data)
Cash and cash equivalents
Securities available-for-sale, at fair value
Loans held for sale
Loans, before allowance for loan losses
Allowance for loan losses
Loans, net of allowance for loan losses
Core deposit intangible assets, net
Securities sold under agreements to repurchase
Junior subordinated debentures
Total Stockholders' Equity
Total Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity
Loans, before allowance for loan losses (originated) (1)
Loans, before allowance for loan losses (acquired) (1)
Core deposits (1)
Credit Quality Ratios
Allowance for loan losses to loans, before allowance for loan losses
Allowance for loan losses to nonperforming loans
Nonperforming loans to loans, before allowance for loan losses
Nonperforming assets to total assets
Nonperforming assets to loans, before allowance for loan losses and foreclosed assets
Net charge-offs to average loans, before allowance for loan losses
Balance Sheet Ratios
Loan to deposit ratio
Core deposits to total deposits (1)
Total stockholders' equity to total assets
Tangible common equity to tangible assets (1)
Regulatory Capital Ratios (Company)
Total capital (to risk weighted assets)
Tier 1 capital (to risk weighted assets)
Common Equity Tier 1 capital (to risk weighted assets)
Tier 1 capital (to average assets)
|(1)||See “Non-GAAP Financial Information” below for reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures to their most comparable GAAP financial measures.|
|(2)||Reflects adjustment to our historical net income for each period to give effect to the C Corp equivalent provision for income tax for such year.|
SELECTED QUARTERLY FINANCIAL DATA
Selected quarterly financial data is presented in the following tables.
Three Months Ended 2020
Statement of Income Information
(dollars in thousands, except per share data)
Total interest and dividend income
Total interest expense
Net interest income
Provision for loan losses
Net income after provision for loan losses
Total noninterest income
Total noninterest expense
Income before income tax expense
Income tax expense
Earnings per share - Basic
Earnings per share - Diluted
Weighted average number shares of common stock outstanding
Three Months Ended 2019
Statement of Income Information
(dollars in thousands, except per share data)
Total interest and dividend income
Total interest expense
Net interest income
Provision for loan losses
Net income after provision for loan losses
Total noninterest income
Total noninterest expense
Income before income tax expense
Income tax expense
Earnings per share - Basic
Earnings per share - Diluted
Weighted average number shares of common stock outstanding
C Corp Equivalent Information (1)
Historical income before income tax expense
C Corp equivalent income tax expense
C Corp equivalent net income
C Corp equivalent earnings per share - Basic