Triangle Background

By Fahad Nazer, Official Spokesperson, Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia entered a new era on February 14, 1945, when King Abdulaziz Al-Saud met President Franklin Delano Roosevelt aboard the USS Quincy. In the 76 years since, relations between our two nations have continued to deepen and to broaden. Indeed, our partnership is rich and multilayered. It has political, security, cultural, and importantly, economic dimensions that have served the interests of both nations and our peoples. Strong bilateral ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have helped advance stability across the Middle East and have led to decades of economic strength for both Saudis and Americans.

Saudi Arabia’s economic relationship with the U.S. is a critical component of this partnership. The U.S. is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest and most important trading partners. In 2019, there was over $17 billion in trade between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. While much of the attention on trade has focused on the critical role that Saudi Arabia plays as the world’s biggest exporter of crude oil, the economic partnership between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia has steadily diversified over the years. Today, our economic relationship includes cooperation across high-tech sectors, Artificial Intelligence (AI), sustainable development and green technologies, and even tourism and entertainment that bring our two countries closer together. This economic diversification will further strengthen the relationship and will undoubtedly provide opportunities for companies in both Saudi Arabia and the U.S., including in Wisconsin.

This rapid economic diversification is a key pillar of the historic transformation currently underway in Saudi Arabia known as Vision 2030. Under the leadership of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, Vision 2030 was unveiled in 2016 to serve as a blueprint for developing Saudi Arabia’s potential and achieving our ambitions for the 21st century. While Vision 2030 has impacted all facets of Saudi life, it seeks to develop a thriving economy for the Kingdom through innovation, diversification, and utilizing the Kingdom’s youth power to create a sustainable economy for the future.

For Wisconsin companies, Vision 2030 is an opportunity for generating continued growth and developing new partnerships. Saudi Arabia and Wisconsin companies have already established strong ties. For example, Fincantieri Marinette Marine currently has a multi-billion-dollar contract to build four ships for the Saudi Navy, the Oshkosh Corporation has a joint venture with a Saudi company called Al Tadrea, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Wisconsin in 2020 exported $234,237,738 worth of commodities to Saudi Arabia and imported $1,641,938 of commodities that same year. Both of our countries benefit from these business relationships.

Additional opportunities and expanding the existing trade relationship between Wisconsin and Saudi Arabia are essential to the future of the U.S.-Saudi partnership. Our bond with the U.S. is strengthened and improved when every region and state in America is included and prospers because of the partnership. I would encourage Wisconsin business leaders to consider Saudi Arabia as not just a new market for expansion but as a long-term economic partner that can become an important ally for The Badger State, through collaboration, investment, and trade.

Finally, while I hope that my description of the historic transformation occurring in Saudi Arabia is informative, there is no substitute to visiting the Kingdom. I would invite all the newsletter’s readers, all those interested in learning more about Saudi Arabia, our people, and the significant investment and economic opportunities in the Kingdom, to come visit us and to see this exciting transformation for themselves.

For more information, please contact Info.was@mofa.gov.sa.

Triangle Background

By Scott Birrenkott

Q: Does RESPA Prohibit Kickbacks for Referrals Related to Settlement Services?

A: Yes. WBA has received a few inquiries recently regarding Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act’s prohibition against kickbacks and unearned fees, and has created this summary as a quick refresher.

RESPA Section 8 prohibits certain actions related to federally related mortgage loans, including a prohibition against giving or accepting a fee, kickback, or thing of value pursuant to an agreement or understanding (oral or otherwise), for referrals of business incident to or part of a settlement service involving a federally related mortgage loan. There are definitions within that prohibition which help determine what might be covered.

“Thing of value” is defined broadly and can include a number of arrangements. “Settlement service” is also defined broadly and includes any service provided in connection with a real estate settlement. Referrals include oral or written action directed to a person that has the effect of affirmatively influencing a person’s selection of a provider of a settlement service or business incident to or part of a settlement service. For example, if a settlement service provider gives referral sources tickets to attend professional sporting events in exchange for referrals as part of an agreement or understanding, such conduct violates RESPA Section 8.

Certain arrangements, such as affiliated business arrangements and marketing services agreements are not violations of RESPA Section 8. Such determinations are fact-specific, however, and may require discussion with a bank’s legal counsel.

Further resources are available in CFPB’s helpful Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act FAQs.

If you have any questions on this topic or other matters of compliance, contact WBA’s legal call program at 608-441-1200 or wbalegal@wisbank.com.

Note: The above information is not intended to provide legal advice; rather, it is intended to provide general information about banking issues. Consult your institution’s attorney for special legal advice or assistance. 

Triangle Background

North Shore Bank announced it has been named as Newsweek’s Best Small Bank in Wisconsin 2022. The community bank has been providing financial services to local residents for nearly 100 years.

Newsweek’s award winners are selected from among 2,508 financial institutions and assessed on more than 30 separate factors, covering the overall health of the bank, customer service performance and features, digital and branch presence, account and loan options, interest rate offerings and fees. To identify America’s Best Banks, Newsweek worked in partnership with Lending Tree.

“We’re honored to be named by Newsweek as the best small bank in Wisconsin, especially following the hard work and dedication of our employees during this challenging year,” says Susan T. Doyle, senior vice president of retail banking for North Shore Bank. “For the past nearly 100 years we’ve been putting our customers first, ensuring they receive the best choices for lending and banking services along with top-quality customer service, and we’re thrilled to have our commitment recognized in this way.”

According to Newsweek for Best Banks 2022, it recognized that with current low interest rates, it’s all the more important for consumers to seek out institutions that pay a decent rate, while also keeping fees to a minimum, so they keep more of what they earn.

In addition to the 2022 Newsweek honor, North Shore Bank has also received past best-in-banking distinctions from Forbes multiple times.

Founded in 1923 and headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin, North Shore Bank, is a mutual savings bank with assets of over $2.5 billion and 45 offices throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Wisconsin locations are in metro Milwaukee, Germantown, Ozaukee County, Racine, Kenosha, Appleton, Menasha, Green Bay and surrounding areas, Burlington, Union Grove, Muskego, and Door County. Locate a North Shore Bank office. You can also connect with the bank on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube.

Badger Bank is pleased to announce the promotion of Sydney Algiers as Branch Manager/Loan Operations Manager. Algiers will assist with loan operations functions in addition to her responsibilities as a branch manager.
Algiers recently celebrated her 5th anniversary with the bank. She started as a part-time teller in August 2016 and became a full-time teller in December 2016. In June 2018 she joined the loan processing department. She has been located at the Johnson Creek branch for her entire career with the bank, and as native of Johnson Creek has been in the area much longer than that!

“Sydney has demonstrated her talents and capabilities during her first five years with the bank, and we are very proud of her career progress.” Stated CFO of Badger Bank, Craig Keleher.

“Our team has really flourished through this pandemic adversity and Sydney will keep that progress going”, said Steve Dehnert, President & CEO of Badger Bank. “I am proud to support the growth of Sydney’s career in her new role.”

We invite the community to join us in welcoming and congratulating Sydney.

Vaccination Card

By Jennifer Mirus, Boardman Clark, a WBA Gold Associate Member

On September 24, 2021, the Biden Administration released guidance regarding the scope of Executive Order 14042 which mandates that employees of covered federal contractors demonstrate proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 by December 8, 2021That guidance is available here.

The guidance lists several categories which, if applicable to an employer, will trigger its obligation to ensure its employees have been fully vaccinated. The guidance defines “contract” broadly to include: “all contracts and any subcontracts of any tier thereunder, whether negotiated or advertised, including any procurement actions, lease agreements, cooperative agreements, provider agreements, intergovernmental service agreements, service agreements, licenses, permits, or any other type of agreement, regardless of nomenclature, type, or particular form, and whether entered into verbally or in writing.” 

This broad guidance left certain questions unanswered regarding which entities qualify as a covered federal contractor. Notably, it is unclear whether banks are considered federal contractors due to their FDIC relationship with the federal government. Because the guidance is written in broad terms, it could be construed to mean that banks are considered federal contractors because they obtain a “service” from the federal government in the form of FDIC insurance and thus have a “service agreement” for the purposes of the vaccination requirement. However, this is a very literal reading of the guidance which may not be how the Executive Order and guidance are intended to be interpreted. Additionally, an earlier executive order regarding minimum wage used a similar definition of “contract,” and there is no clear guidance or rulings that banks were subject to that order.  

Thus, at this time, it is a reasonable conclusion that banking institutions are not covered federal contractors that must comply with the vaccination mandate. More guidance and clarification will be needed before it is clear whether banks are considered federal contractors under the Executive Order.  Banks that have explicit contracts with the federal government likely do qualify as federal contractors, even if they are not federal contractors by virtue of FDIC programs.  

Banks with 100 or more employees might be subject to the anticipated emergency temporary standard under the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) that will require COVID-19 testing or vaccination. Details on OSHA’s standard are anticipated in the near future. 

Toni Posto has been promoted to a Personal Banker Team Leader at the National Exchange Bank & Trust office located on West Johnson Street in Fond du Lac.

Posto joined the bank in 2014 and brought with her more than five years of banking and management experience. She will continue to ensure smooth and efficient deposit account set-up and customer service while taking on additional responsibilities as a team resource and trainer.

Posto grew up in St. Louis, Mich. where she attended St. Louis High School. She then went on to earn her Criminal Justice Certificate from Montcalm Community College in Sidney, Mich. Today, Posto resides in Omro and is an active member of the Oshkosh Elks Lodge.

National Exchange Bank & Trust is an independent bank with convenient locations throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. For more information, visit the bank’s website at nebat.com.

Triangle Background

First Federal Bank of Wisconsin is proud to announce that Brian McManus, a 22-year banking industry veteran and most recently Senior Vice President (SVP) of Lending, has been promoted to Chief Banking Officer.

In his role as Chief Banking Officer and part of the Bank’s executive leadership team, McManus is responsible for the management, leadership, and growth of the Bank’s commercial lending, consumer banking, and residential lending divisions as well as the credit administration and deposit operations teams.

McManus joined First Federal Bank in 2018 as SVP of Commercial Lending and was promoted to Executive Officer and SVP of Lending in 2019.

McManus serves as Trustee-Treasurer for Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, a member of the Community Development Authority for the City of St. Francis, and as a youth soccer coach. He is the past Chairman of both the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy Advisory Board and the City of St. Francis Economic Development Committee.

Jed Keller, vice president-lending, retired from National Exchange Bank & Trust on October 1, after 22 years of service to the greater Fond du Lac area from the office located on West Johnson Street in Fond du Lac.

Keller has held various lending roles over his 38 years in banking. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Wyoming. Additionally, he completed the Graduate School of Banking program in Madison.

Keller grew up in Kohler, Wisconsin. He now resides in Fond du Lac with his wife, Cindy. He is active in the community as a part of his church and Brooke Industries. In the past, he has been a part of Noon Rotary, a Team Captain for the Fond du Lac Area United Way, and a board member of the City of Fond du Lac Housing Authority.

LEAD360_Banner

Join Us for the WBA LEAD360 Conference on November 16-17 in Wisconsin Dells!

By Hannah Flanders

When Josh Mabus founded Mabus Agency in 2008, customer relationships with banks had already begun evolving. What started as general services creative agency soon morphed into a bank-focused marketing agency with a mission to both help people and raise the creative bar. Mabus and his team have reimagined marketing with banks and their customers in mind.

This year at the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s LEAD360 Conference, Mabus will be hosting a session that will assist banks in creating strong customer relationships through branding.

“Attendees will gain new perspectives in how an overarching brand can affect all areas of a customer’s life. I’ll share Mabus Agency’s unique perspective of the five key components of bank marketing, and how they work together to build effective and efficient strategies,” said Mabus.

LEAD360 is an annual conference that gathers retail bankers, sales/marketing bankers, and financial literacy bankers from across Wisconsin for two days of comprehensive breakout sessions and networking among peers.

“I love the focused learning that comes from smaller groups like these,” said Mabus. “Not only is it easier to communicate to smaller groups, but everyone in the room has similar experiences marketing to shared customers.”

If you are interested in learning more, make sure you’re registered for LEAD360 in Wisconsin Dells November 16–17. For more details on Josh’s LEAD360 session and the full agenda, visit the event page.