A widow invests her late husband’s insurance proceeds with the helpful insurance lady who picks up her prescriptions and drives her to doctors’ appointments. A widower allows the gentleman who drives him to church and mows his lawn to move into his house. An elderly couple’s tax preparer convinces them to invest in a bill-paying business started by his friend. What do these three people have in common? They were all victims of investment fraud in cases investigated by the Division of Securities in the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). 

These scenarios are real, and unfortunately, most victims are unlikely to recover any money, even if after the successful prosecution of the deception. Investors must cautiously watch for red flags of fraud in any investment. 

Red Flags of Investment Fraud

  • High-pressure sales tactics, such as asking you to make an investment decision right away, without time to read the documentation (if they even offer you any) or get a second opinion.
  • The person offering the investment is promising high returns with little or no risk. 
  • There is no written information, or what is provided is riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors.
  • The person asking you to invest tells you to keep the opportunity quiet, since it is only being offered to a few carefully chosen people, or they ask you to misrepresent your assets and income on a form. 
  • The opportunity is unsolicited, and you are told to invest by wiring money overseas, using prepaid gift cards, or bitcoin. 
  • The most significant red flag is that the person selling the investment is not registered with DFI to offer securities.

Please check out the salesperson by using BrokerCheck.FINRA.org or adviserinfo.sec.gov, or call our Examiner of the Day at (608) 266-2139. Our staff can help explain the information in BrokerCheck or IARD.  Choosing to work with a registered financial professional can decrease the risk of fraud, but you should be aware that red flags may also exist in transactions involving registered professionals. 

If you believe you are a victim of investment fraud, please report it right away to the Division of Securities. Do not be embarrassed—many intelligent, wealthy, and famous people have been victimized (just think of the Madoff case), and scam artists are good at what they do. The sooner a scam is reported, the better the chances are that it can be shut down while there is still money to repay victims and prevent the scammer from defrauding others. We work closely with local law enforcement and other state and federal agencies, including the Office of the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance (OCI), the FBI, and the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. If we cannot handle a matter, we take steps to direct you to the appropriate agency to review your case.

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Elder Abuse encompasses a range of behaviors including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, unreasonable confinement or restraint, and financial exploitation. In 2019, Dane County Adult Protective Services investigated 389 calls of elder abuse, with 81% of those calls substantiated as elder abuse.  Of those calls, 141 (36%-highest of all abuse categories) were for reports of financial exploitation.  Nationally, it is estimated that individuals over age 60 lose $36.5 billion each year as victims of financial exploitation. In 2020, the Securities Division opened approximately 58 investigations, and issued 28 orders against 53 perpetrators of investment fraud, with losses exceeding $24 million. Senior victims can be found in at least one-third of those cases.

Financial exploitation of seniors is a growing problem in Wisconsin, and we all need to work together to put a stop to it. That is why we recognize the importance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and have partnered with our colleagues at the Dane County Adult Protective Services, the Elder Rights Project at Legal Action of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to share these important tips with you.

To report suspected abuse or neglect of adults age 60 and older, please call Wisconsin Elder Abuse Hotline at (toll-free) 1-833-586-0107 or Dane County Elder Abuse and Neglect Helpline at 608-261-9933.

Kathy Blumenfeld PortraitAbout DFI Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld

Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld is a leader with extensive experience in the financial services industry, business, and government.

In January 2019, Secretary Blumenfeld was appointed by Governor Tony Evers to her current role as the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, commonly referred to as DFI.

Before taking this position, she served as Executive Vice President of Special Operations at TASC – the Total Administrative Services Corporation. There she led a federal contract modernizing the workplace charitable giving program for all federal employees and retirees.

Prior to her work at TASC, Secretary Blumenfeld was Vice President of Lending & Payment Security for CUNA Mutual Group, where she worked for 26 years. She began her career in the financial realm as a Certified Public Accountant and has also been active in her community serving on a variety of non-profit and business boards.

As secretary, she has been committed to developing caring and diverse teams that are passionate about their jobs and providing great customer service. A few of her top priorities at DFI include financial literacy and capability at all life stages, protecting consumers from financial fraud – particularly financial abuse of our seniors, entrepreneurship, and college affordability.

By, Cassie Krause

North Shore Bank announced that zoos and humane societies across the state will be the focus of the bank’s second community give-back program “Bank on Kindness,” a campaign to support local efforts of Wisconsin non-profit organizations. Beginning May 1 until May 31, the public has been able to donate to the local animal-focused community partner(s) of their choice through a community-focused website created by North Shore Bank. 

Following the success of the February Bank on Kindness program, through which the community and North Shore Bank donated over $23,000 to local food pantries, the bank has next chosen “For the Love of Animals” to support zoos and humane societies located within their service markets. The program’s online donation portal offers a simple way for the public to donate to any or all of the nonprofits, and North Shore Bank will match all donations up to $500 for each organization.   

May donations will benefit the following community partners: 

  • Door County Humane Society 
  • Elmbrook Humane Society 
  • Green Bay Humane Society 
  • Milwaukee County Zoo 
  • Wisconsin Humane Society (Milwaukee, WI)  
  • NEW Zoo & Adventure Park (Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo, Green Bay, WI)  
  • Ozaukee Humane Society  
  • Racine Humane Society 
  • Racine Zoo 
  • Safe Harbor Humane Society (Kenosha, WI)  
  • Washington County Humane Society 

“We received such positive feedback following our February Bank on Kindness campaign that we are thrilled to be announcing our May campaign ‘For the Love of Animals,’” said Susan T. Doyle, senior vice president of retail banking at North Shore Bank. “As a community bank, our partners reflect the interests of our customers and community, so throughout the years, we’ve developed strong relationships with many of these zoos and humane societies. We encourage everyone to donate so that our animal friends across the state can continue to be supported.” 

To participate in the “For the Love of Animals” campaign, the public can text “Kindness” to 77948 to receive a link to the website via text or visit https://give.mastercard.com/p/northshorebank. Individuals do not need to be a North Shore Bank customer or Mastercard cardholder to donate. 

North Shore Bank also offered a special incentive during National Pet Week to encourage “For the Love of Animals” donations. From May 2 through May 8, the bank donated $1 for every image of a pet shared on social media that tags North Shore Bank, up to a total additional contribution of $1,000 to the participating non-profits. 

Additionally, in celebration of National Endangered Species Day, for every image of a zoo animal shared on May 21 and May 22 that tagged North Shore Bank, the bank donated $2, up to a total additional contribution of $1,000. 

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By, Alex Paniagua

One Community Bank welcomes Jonathan Schalow to the bank as the director of client experience. Schalow’s primary focus at the bank will be to oversee the daily administration and leadership of the Client Contact Center and Virtual Bank, embracing change and seeking out opportunities to continually improve the client experience. 

Schalow has been in the banking industry since 2011 working to continue to support his clients and associates. He has a track record of providing exceptional customer service throughout his career. Schalow also proudly supports Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Dane County. 

“Jonathan has a wealth of client experience knowledge and will be a huge asset to all of our clients here at One Community Bank. We are thrilled to have him directing our client experience,” Liz Deihs, chief experience officer, stated. 

“I am delighted to join One Community Bank as I admire the organization's steadfast commitment to serving its clients, colleagues, and local communities” exclaimed Schalow. 

Schalow currently resides in Evansville, and outside of work he enjoys spending time with his family, competitive bowling, and boating on the many local lakes. 

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By, Alex Paniagua

Statement on the release of first-quarter 2021 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) numbers from Rose Oswald Poels, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Bankers Association

  • The numbers demonstrate banks' financial strength and an improving economy.
  • Wisconsinites continue to save money as deposits have increased over the prior year (17%) and loan volume grew slightly.
  • A decrease in noncurrent loans and leases compared to last year (11%) shows more customers are up to date on their payments.
  • Banks continue to demonstrate their health through strong earnings and positive growth.

“Wisconsin banks maintained a strong financial position throughout the last year as they assisted with the financial stresses of their customers through the pandemic. Commercial and industrial loans grew nearly 20 percent year over year in part due to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lending, providing businesses with critical money to ensure employees were paid. Looking ahead, strong capital and liquidity levels position Wisconsin banks well to respond to customers' lending needs.” 

FDIC-Reported Wisconsin Numbers*  

  

 3/31/2021

 3/31/2020

 YoY Change 

Net loans and leases  

 92,216,891

 88,536,369

 +4.16%

Total deposits  

 111,104,235 

 94,965,014

 +16.99%

Commercial and industrial loans  

 18,592,639

 15,494,730

 +19.99% 

Residential loans  

 22,702,118

 24,007,126

 -5.44%

Farmland loans  

 3,490,057

 3,568,243

 -2.19%

Farm loans  

 3,690,631

 3,970,903

 -7.06%

Total assets  

 136,441,222

 121,634,760 

 +12.17%

Noncurrent loans and leases  

 610,802

 689,260

 -11.38%

 * dollar figures in thousands 

###

About the Wisconsin Bankers Association
Founded in 1892, WBA is the state’s largest financial industry trade association, representing more than 200 commercial banks and savings institutions, their branches, and over 21,000 employees. The Association represents banks of all sizes in Wisconsin, and nearly 98 percent of banks in the state are WBA members. 

By, Cassie Krause

By Rose Oswald Poels

With Tuesday’s conclusion of our 2021 Empowering Women in Banking Series, I want to thank all of you who made the decision to invest in your women leaders. Many of you mark this event as an annual one to participate in, while others joined us for the first time to empower women through personal and professional development. Whichever category you may be a part of, I hope you and your team benefited greatly from the variety of critical topics addressed by this year’s keynote speakers as well as Erica Dhawan‘s book, Digital Body Language that each attendee received.

The series began with Rachel Sheerin, CPBA, discussing the importance of managing burnout, setting expectations, and placing boundaries in the workplace. During the following week, Erica Dhawan, founder and CEO of Cotential offered insight into connectional intelligence, the communication of your mind, and the value of thoughtfulness. The final day closed the summit with a presentation by Laura Mael, director of business development for Lift Consulting LLC, on building leadership presence, providing effective feedback, and developing beneficial strategies. To read more on these three presentations, one of WBA’s Associate Members, Lerdahl Business Interiors, has documented summaries and reactions from attendees on each day of the conference.

Even through this shift to virtual learning, over 260 people from a total of seven states signed up to attend this event. Thank you to FHLBank Chicago, Bankers’ Bank, Bell Bank, and Wipfli LLP for sponsoring this conference. Thank you to our presenters for sharing their knowledge and experience, and thank you for supporting this program aimed at empowering our women in banking.

As this exclusively virtual event comes to a close, I am excited to watch our hybrid events expand, see our new Engagement Center filled with bankers, and experience a return to normalcy that feels closer with each day. I’ve been getting out to visit bankers as people are more comfortable and I look forward to seeing more of you at your bank or at WBA events over this next year.

The WBA Legal Team was particularly busy this fiscal year. Attorneys Heather MacKinnon, Scott Birrenkott, and President/CEO Rose Oswald Poels wrote 27 comment letters in response to federal agencies’ requests for comment on rulemaking affecting the banking industry, significantly more than last year’s 16 letters. 

The Process

Congress delegates authority to federal agencies to develop regulations (or rules). Part of the rulemaking process within the Administrative Procedure Act requires that the public receive opportunity to comment on proposed rules for a prescribed period (minimally 30 days). Agencies then use those comments to determine how, or whether, to proceed.

WBA monitors rulemaking developments at the federal level and compiles that information in the monthly WBA Compliance Journal. You will find descriptions of proposed rules, public comment deadlines, and key information to track the rule in the Federal Register (https://www.federalregister.gov).

The WBA Legal Team is always on the lookout for issues that merit comment and, because it’s important that the agencies hear directly from the industry, encourages members to compose a letter of their own, or use a template created by WBA when available. Filing the letter is a simple process outlined in a tip sheet which can be found here.

To find detailed FAQs on the process, visit https://www.regulations.gov/faq.

Why Comment Letters Matter and Where to Find Them

Comment letters are an excellent opportunity for the banking industry to inform the federal agencies about the impact of rulemaking, and provide examples.

It is crucial that WBA represent the best interests of members at the federal level, whether that means pointing out potentially onerous, unfair, or burdensome rules, suggesting tweaks or improvements, or expressing satisfaction when positive changes are implemented. The goal is to advocate on behalf of members by conveying information in an impactful, yet concise manner.

Information about comment letters is typically shared in the Wisconsin Banker Daily soon after filing, with a brief summary, including a link to the letter. Reading the letters, or the synopses, can help you stay abreast of important issues and engage in WBA’s advocacy efforts on the always evolving regulations your bank faces.

Below, you will find some of the topics addressed in comment letters filed between June 2020 – May 2021.

7 Comment Letters Filed With CFPB

Over the past year, WBA filed seven comments with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). CFPB was active in a variety of areas including COVID-19 matters and adjusting certain Regulation Z provisions to prepare for the LIBOR transition. CFPB also undertook a series to rules related to its Ability to Repay and Qualified Mortgage (ATR/QM) rules. CFPB took actions to extend the temporary QM category, revise the General QM definition, and create an entirely new category of QM known as a seasoned QM. WBA commented on all aspects of this process, providing valuable industry perspectives shared by the membership.

5 Comment Letters Filed With FRB

One of WBA’s five comment letters to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) supported the deletion of the six-transfer limit from the definition of “savings deposit.” The deletion reflected a shift in FRB’s monetary policy, and eases outdated consumer burden while permitting flexibility for banks to administer accounts as appropriate.

3 Comment Letters Filed With OCC

WBA filed three letters with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), one of which related to a proposal regarding the new CRA performance standards. The letter recognized Wisconsin banks’ commitment to meeting the needs of LMI communities, but highlighted some of the burdens presented by implementation costs with the new CRA rules. WBA also urged all three banking agencies (OCC, FDIC, and FRB) to develop a CRA rule on an interagency basis.

3 Comment Letters Filed With FDIC

In one of three letters filed with the Federal Deposit Insurance (FDIC), WBA commented on the agency’s proposal to modernize its brokered deposit rules. WBA recognized the effort as a step in the right direction, but joined the other trades in pointing out that broad definitions of “facilitation” and “deposit broker” would improperly increase the scope of deposits classified as brokered. WBA supplied more precise definitions and urged FDIC to provide examples of persons not considered deposit brokers.

2 Comment Letters Filed With FinCen

WBA wrote two letters to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), one of which addressed an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to existing customer due diligence (CDD) requirements. The letter identified various aspects of the CDD rule which remain unclear, and recommendations for clarifications.

3 Comment Letters Filed With NCUA

WBA vigilantly monitored proposals from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and filed three letters. In early 2021, WBA opposed a proposed rule that sought to expand the field of membership for multiple common bond credit unions. Recently, WBA also commented that NCUA should withdraw its proposal to allow credit union service organizations to engage in broader lending and investments.

4 Comment Letters Filed With Interagency

Some rulemakings are issued on an interagency basis. In one example, the FRB, FDIC, and OCC proposed to allow deferral of obtaining appraisals, to which WBA expressed appreciation of the agencies’ proactive efforts, but cautioned against too narrowly defining certain terms. WBA filed four interagency letters total.

As discussed above, industry comment is a critical aspect to the rulemaking process. It is an opportunity for the industry’s voice to be heard, and it is important that the agencies hear from banks about how rulemaking affects you. WBA welcomes your feedback on comment letters because it is key that we, and the agencies, hear directly from members. For more information on the rulemaking process, comments, and upcoming rules, contact the WBA Legal Department at wbalegal@ wisbank.com. For a full list of the comment letters filed during the 2020-21 fiscal year, visit www.wisbank.com/commentlibrary.

By, Alex Paniagua

First State Bank recently announced the addition of Tony Abney to its business banking team as vice president – business banking. Abney will be providing financial solutions to small and mid-sized businesses throughout the region. 

Abney has 34 years of banking and commercial/agricultural lending experience throughout the Marathon, Clark, and Taylor Counties region. For the past five years, he has also been a local business owner and entrepreneur. 

“Tony has significant personal connections within our community and region,” said First State Bank executive vice president, Jeff Whitrock. “His wealth of community banking experience is a really nice fit with our organization and for our business customers who are looking for solutions that will help them be successful.” 

Abney joins Rob Posteluk as a member of First State Bank’s business banking team in Marshfield and replaces John Baur who is retiring on June 1 after a 38-year career in banking. 

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By, Alex Paniagua

One Community Bank was proud to host a community food drive in each of the communities they serve. Oregon, McFarland, Stoughton, Waunakee, Sun Prairie, Middleton, Adams, Oxford, and Grand Marsh were all participants in the food drive. 

After the week-long food drive event, One Community Bank was ecstatic to donate a total of 3,436 pounds of food and other requested items to our communities’ food pantries! The food drive consisted of donations from clients and colleagues. In order to promote donations, the bank locations had a competition in order to see who could donate the most, in pounds, of food drive items. OCB also provided an incentive for clients to donate by entering them into a drawing to win a $25 gift card to a local business in the community. There were three winners from each community. 

“One Community Bank is very proud to support our communities in any way that we can,” Steve Peotter, president and CEO stated. “Power of ONE community week was just an additional opportunity for us to show our support and investment in the communities we serve.” 

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By, Alex Paniagua

As my term as WBA Board Chair comes to an end, I am reflecting on the dramatic shift in our world in the past year. It has been, to say the least, a time that none of us as bankers have experienced or could ever fathom. We sent our employees home to work remotely with virtually zero notice, we closed our lobbies as the nation and world shut down to battle the pandemic, and we delivered much-needed PPP loans to our clients in times of challenge and desperation. All of this, while staying committed to our mission of service to our communities.  

The pandemic was a defining moment that taught us to evolve; I'm proud to say WBA was there for us providing the tools, resources, and information to help us support the clients and communities we serve. One of my goals for the past year was evolving education. I believe we delivered on that goal by providing the information and programming bankers needed during this time of crisis.  

I would like to thank Rose Oswald Poels and her entire staff for the tremendous job they did this year. I know, firsthand, Rose and the team worked around the clock. This support certainly proved the value of the WBA membership. I would also like to thank the team at Charter Bank and my family for their support during my time as board chair. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to serve our organization. Stay safe and healthy, and I look forward to meeting in person again. 

By, Alex Paniagua

Strengthening its commitment to the Door County community, Bank of Luxemburg opened its doors at a new location in Fish Creek this month. 

The new location is in the “Top of the Hill Shops” at 9331 Spring Road, B20 in Fish Creek. With on-site local staff—including a mortgage lender—the branch offers full-service banking offering the ability to make deposits, investments, apply for loans, and much more.

“We look forward to having a positive impact on the lives of people in Fish Creek,” shared Bank of Luxemburg President Tim Treml. “This new location not only strengthens our commitment to Door County but gives us an opportunity to show friends and neighbors what true local banking can do for the community.” 

The new branch is Bank of Luxemburg’s second Door County location and eighth location overall. 

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By, Alex Paniagua