Triangle Background

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

As the 2021–2022 legislative sessions come to a close next month, our Government Relations team at the Wisconsin Bankers Association have been working tirelessly to ensure that the voices and needs of our member banks are heard by our legislators both in Madison and in Washington, D.C.

Grassroots advocacy is foundational to our work at WBA. On January 18, over 100 bankers from across the state met at the State Capitol in Madison for WBA’s annual Capitol Day. Along with advocating for our legislative agenda, bankers had the opportunity to hear from the elected leadership from both parties and several insiders regarding the remainder of the 2021–2022 session and the upcoming November election. I want to thank all of the 2022 Cap Day attendees for your grassroots advocacy for our industry and continued efforts in keeping our legislators informed.

Along with your general advocacy in support of issues affecting our industry, the efforts of WBA-member bankers specifically on the WBA-led banking modernization bill directly helped in this bill clearing two significant hurdles just last week. On Tuesday, the full State Senate unanimously passed SB 596 on a voice vote. Then on Wednesday, the Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions recommended the bill for passage on a 9–0 vote. I am incredibly grateful to bill authors Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg) for their efforts in advancing this important legislation. The bill is now eligible to be voted on by the full State Assembly, the final step before it would head to Gov. Evers for signature.

This spring, WBA will also be joining both the American Bankers Association (ABA) and Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) for our spring Washington, D.C. visits. These summits, taking place March 7–9 and May 1–4 respectively, are critical in making your voice heard by policymakers in Washington, D.C. Please let me know if you are interested in attending one of these two key summits at your earliest convenience.

2022 is off to a fast start on policy matters and the hectic pace is only expected to continue as we approach several high-profile elections later this year. As always, I know that your grassroots involvement will not only help us shape the future of our industry, but, also, assist us in advocating successfully for the banking industry throughout the remainder of the year.

Wisconsin DFI sets escrow interest rate at 0.09% for 2022

By Scott Birrenkott

Q: Has the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions set the Interest Rate on Required Residential Mortgage Loan Escrow Accounts for 2022?

A: Yes. The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Banking (DFI), has calculated the interest rate required to be paid on escrow accounts for residential mortgage loans subject to Wisconsin Statute Section 138.052(5) to be 0.09% for 2022. The interest rate shall remain in effect through December 31, 2022.

Note that while Wisconsin Section 138.052 previously required financial institutions to pay interest on the balance on any required escrow accounts, Wisconsin Act 340 modified this requirement so that it only applies to loans originated prior to the effective date of the Act (April 18, 2018). Thus, financial institutions must continue to pay interest on required escrow accounts prior to April 18, 2018. Any escrow account associated with a loan originated after the effective date of Act 340, 138.052 no longer requires payment of interest. Wis. Stat. Section 138.052 applies to loans secured by a first lien or first lien equivalent in a 1-4 family dwelling that is used as the borrower’s principal residence.

The escrow rate notice may be found here.

Allen J. Prochnow, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Concordia University Wisconsin, has been elected to the board of directors of The Equitable Bank S.S.B. and its affiliates effective February 1, 2022. Mr. Prochnow brings 50 years of business experience to the role including the last 20 years of overseeing the operations at Concordia. Prior to Concordia, he spent 20 years in the manufacturing industry, overseeing 5 divisions at Stevens International/Zerand Corporation, located in New Berlin, Wis.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Al, both professionally and personally, for many years,” stated John Matter, Chairman of the Board for The Equitable Bank. “He brings a wide breadth of experience to our board that includes accounting, manufacturing, and higher education. We are extremely fortunate to have him join us.”

He brings extensive board experience that includes service for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, Lutheran Bible Translators, Lutheran Counseling and Family Services, Living Word Lutheran High School, and for Stevens International/Zerand Corporation.

Mr. Prochnow is a Graduate of The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Wisconsin. He will work with the current board to help lead the Bank to achieving its mission of serving retail and commercial deposit and loan customers through oversight of bank activities.

Charter Bank is proud to announce that six employees were recently promoted from within. We are proud of the commitment these employees have shown to our valued customers over the years and pleased to have the opportunity to promote talent within our organization.

Melissa Carlson, vice president branch manager – Chaska and Chanhassen offices

Carlson was promoted from branch manager to vice president. She is responsible for managing the retail banking area at both Minnesota offices. She is active in business development and works closely with our business bankers to strengthen relationships with our valued customers. She also supervises the teller and personal banking staff, as well as supporting the bank by reinforcing core values and achieving departmental goals consistent with the strategic plan. Carlson will celebrate her 15th anniversary with Charter Bank this August.

Carla Leuck, vice president – marketing officer

Leuck has been with Charter Bank for three years. She began as the marketing officer and was promoted to a vice president. She oversees strategic brand management, market research, and all digital and traditional marketing including social media, media placement, and the website. Leuck also manages all charitable contributions and community sponsorships.

Stephanie Morken, personal banking officer

Morken has been with Charter Bank for over five years and began as a personal banker. She was promoted to a personal banking officer. In this role she assists our valued customers by opening personal and business accounts, account maintenance, and retail lending (car loans, HELOCS, etc.). Morken also assists as a teller when needed.

Chad Plath, vice president branch manager – Eau Claire office

Plath has been with Charter Bank for over three years as a branch manager at our Eau Claire office. He is responsible for the growth and development of our personal banking and teller staff. Plath takes pleasure in seeing the team engaged with our customers and providing an experience they enjoy.

Danny Pohnl, vice president business banking

Pohnl was promoted from assistant vice president to vice president business banking at our Eau Claire branch. Danny manages commercial loan and deposit relationships with our business customers. He also works to develop new business relationships within our community. Pohnl has been with Charter Bank for over three years.

Craig Severud, assistant vice president business banking

Severud has been with Charter Bank for just over a year. He was promoted from a business banker to an assistant vice president business banking. Severud manages commercial loan and deposit relationships with our business customers. He strives to provide excellent service to Charter Bank’s valued business clients.

Ken Thompson Headshot By Kenneth D. Thompson, WBA Board chair, president and CEO of Capitol Bank, Madison

After the challenges of the last several years, I believe I speak for everyone when I say I am continually amazed by the optimism that Wisconsin bankers hold not only for the growth of our industry, but for our economy and communities as well. Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc, I expect 2022 to be a year of immense growth and transition within our industry.

As bankers, we are fortunate to have a unique perspective on our economy and communities. As many member CEOs highlighted in WBA’s recent Economic Conditions survey, despite recent obstacles, a majority of Wisconsin bankers rate the current health of the economy as ‘good’ and predict this to stay the same well into 2022.

Our work in providing flexibility to our staff and customers, as well as exceeding expectations of managing liquidity and technological growth in 2021, has absolutely aided in our efforts to provide stability in times of uncertainty. Our industry will continue to be challenged into 2022 as we face inflation; ongoing COVID protocols surrounding vaccinations, boosters, and possible mandates; as well as talent retention.

However, as mentioned repeatedly by Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President and CEO Neel Kashkari during WBA’s annual Midwest Economic Forecast Forum, Wisconsin’s economy and our region as a whole has been on par with the recovery of the nation. Efforts by our community banks have not gone unnoticed and have played, and will continue to play, a substantial role in rebounding our economy.

Of course, innovation will remain the name of the game as banks navigate uncertainty. The next eleven months will certainly show the flexibility, creativity, and expertise of banks in Wisconsin and set our industry apart.

Triangle Background

Tomahawk Community Bank has announced the hiring of Jesica Witte as their marketing director and business development officer. Witte will oversee the bank’s marketing strategy, including advertising and branding, public relations, business outreach, and marketing services.

Witte brings more than 20 years of experience as a leader in marketing, communications, and community development. With her focus on strategy, brand, and new business and product development, she will help raise brand awareness and create a sustainable marketing strategy for continued growth of the organization.

Witte is well-known in the region recently serving as the executive director of the Tomahawk Regional Chamber of Commerce for six years. Prior to her time with the Chamber, Witte led
successful marketing teams and strategies at two University of Wisconsin institutions. As a former broadcast journalist and news director, Witte brings years of writing and storytelling experience to Tomahawk Community Bank.

“We are ecstatic to have Jesica joining our team! Jesica brings an in-depth knowledge, and most importantly, a love for our area. She comes with endless experience in the marketing and business development arena and we are excited for her to lead the way into a new level of service and commitment to our customers and businesses,” says Kathy Rankin, president.

Waterstone Financial, Inc. (NASDAQ: WSBF) (the “Company”) announced that on January 24, 2022, William Bruss was elected president of the Company and its wholly owned subsidiary WaterStone Bank SSB (the “Bank”). Douglas Gordon will continue to lead both the Company and the Bank as chief executive officer, a role he has served since 2007. The Company further announced that Julie Glynn and Ryan Gordon were each elected executive vice presidents of the Company and the Bank, joining Chief Financial Officer Mark Gerke in that capacity. “The promotions of Bill, Julie and Ryan exhibits the strength and depth of the management team at Waterstone Financial,” said CEO Doug Gordon. “Their experience and expertise will continue to lead us in our strategic initiatives.”

Bruss began as the Bank’s in-house counsel in 1997 and has served as executive vice president, COO, and secretary of the Company and the Bank since 2013 with management responsibility for the Bank’s legal, operational, and support areas; Bruss chairs the Bank’s Executive Committee and is a member of the Bank’s Officers’ Loan Committee and the board of directors of Waterstone Mortgage Corporation. Glynn joined the Bank in 2018 with over 30 years of retail banking leadership experience and steers the Bank’ retail banking initiatives as its chief retail officer; Glynn is also a member of the Bank’s Executive and Asset/Liability Committees. Ryan Gordon began his career with the Bank in 2008 with a focus on credit administration and was named the Bank’s chief credit officer in 2018; Gordon also serves as chair of the Bank’s Officers’ Loan Committee and is a member of its Executive Committee and the board of directors of Waterstone Mortgage Corporation.

Pictured left to right are Mayville Savings Bank Board of Directors: Rick Larson, Bank president/CEO; Mike Schuett; Glen Helmbrecht; Curt Schmidt; Rose Oswald Poels, WBA president/CEO; Tom Malesevich, Board Chairman; Grant Larson; John Storck; Jeff LaBomascus; Mike Bonnett, retired bored member.

On February 1, 2022, Mayville Savings Bank celebrates 100 years of service to the Mayville community. What began in 1922 as a way to promote housing through affordable home loans and place to safely save money, continues to provide the most recent banking services to generations of families. In celebration, WBA presented a 100 year anniversary plaque to Mayville Savings Bank during their celebration on January 28.