Posts

By Wisconsin Bankers Association President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels 

In a deal announced yesterday, Summit Credit Union will acquire West Bend’s Commerce State Bank. This marks the sixth acquisition of a taxpaying Wisconsin bank by a tax-exempt credit union in a decade, continuing a concerning trend of taxpaying community banks being bought by large, growth-oriented credit unions. The acquisition will bring Summit Credit Union to nearly $6 billion in assets with 54 locations. With Commerce State Bank’s $837 million in assets, this is one of the largest credit union acquisitions of a bank nationwide to date.

Wisconsin taxpayers should be very concerned about this transaction as the state alone will lose over $1 million annually in future tax revenues with this sale because credit unions do not pay any state or federal income tax. With large credit unions becoming indistinguishable from tax-paying banks, it is time for the public and elected officials to question the public policy rationale for this significant tax benefit. Why should the 14 Wisconsin-based credit unions over $1 billion in asset size pay nothing in state income tax to support social services, law enforcement, schools, and other public services? Individuals, families, and tax-paying businesses are left to shoulder these growing expenses. Not only is tax revenue lost in these transactions, but jobs in the state are often lost when the acquirer is an out-of-state credit union and/or when certain functions are consolidated. This type of consolidation is not in the public’s interest.  

While Wisconsin now has two pending bank acquisition transactions by credit unions, credit unions are also actively seeking expansionist powers from the legislature and their regulator that, among other things, would permit credit unions to raise capital from private equity investors. The days of small, employer- or neighborhood-focused credit unions are long gone. Elected officials should carefully scrutinize this legislation and strongly oppose Wisconsin AB 478/SB451 as it is in direct conflict with the public policy intent behind the tax exemption granted by this same body decades ago.  

It is time for growth-oriented credit unions to be paying their fair share of taxes. Competition in any industry is fair and healthy, but only when the playing field is level. Taking a tax-paying business off the tax roll by a “not-for-profit,” tax-exempt entity directly harms the citizens of this state and threatens the vibrancy and diversity of our state’s financial system.

Yellow triangle background

Indicators reflect a healthy financial environment for Wisconsin consumers and banks 

Wisconsin banks demonstrated a strong performance at the end of 2021, while navigating the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Total assets were up 8.45% year over year from December 2020 to December 2021 and 1.16% quarter over quarter from September 2021. The financial health of consumers was evidenced by a 10.88% year-over-year increase in deposits as well as a 24.75% decrease in noncurrent loans and leases. 

Notable indicators include: 

  • Residential lending slowed slightly as the housing market began to stabilize. 
  • Commercial lending saw only a slight quarter-over-quarter increase. Some business owners had fewer borrowing needs, while others remained hesitant to borrow as their growth was hindered by supply chain issues and worker shortages. 
  • Credit quality trends continued, with borrowers largely keeping up to date on their loans and leases. 

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

“Wisconsin’s banking industry remains in a solid position as the economy continues to steadily rebound from the onset of the pandemic. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine casts uncertainty on the 2022 global economy, the overall financial outlook is positive.” 

FDIC-Reported Wisconsin Numbers (Dollar Figures in Thousands)

    

Nearly 100 Employers Have Joined Statewide Effort to Encourage Employees to Save Automatically at Work 

America Saves Logo Wisconsin Saves Logo

In an increasingly competitive labor market, Wisconsin business owners are working to set themselves apart from other employers by offering a financial wellness benefit to employees: the ability to save automatically through their paycheck using the established practice of split deposit.  Nearly 100 small to mid-size employers in Wisconsin representing approximately 14,000 employees are now part of a statewide campaign to encourage workers to save automatically through their paycheck.  The Wisconsin Saves Automatic Saving Initiative encourages the use of split deposit in order to prepare for unexpected expenses including home repairs and car maintenance as well as fun opportunities like last minute travel.

The campaign was launched in April 2021 and is led by Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski; Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Secretary-designee Cheryll Olson-Collins; President and CEO of Wisconsin Bankers Association Rose Oswald Poels; Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Cooperation (WWBIC) President Wendy Baumann; and America Saves, the leading national campaign in promoting savings.

The 99 employers are: Adams Transit Inc. ■ Aloekui Handmade Soap ■ Amcor Flexibles North America, Inc. ■ Apache Stainless Equipment Company ■ Apple Tree Educational Svc LLC ■ AppleTree Credit Union ■ AstroJun LLC ■ Badger Globe Credit Union ■ Bank of Kaukauna ■ Beaver Dam Chamber of Commerce ■ Bierock ■ Blumenfeld & Associates ■ Bluff View Bank ■ Breaking Barriers Mentoring Inc. ■ BSI ■ Cesarz Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home ■ City of Mayville ■ Class A Cleaning ■ Clinicare Corporation ■  Community First Credit Union ■ Cream City Caramels and Confections ■ CultureCon ■ Dairy State Bank ■ Dane County Credit Union ■ DCC ■ Don Johnson Motors ■ Edmund Mitchell Corporation ■ en.courage Nutrition ■ Evergreen Credit Union ■ F&M Bank – Kendall ■ First Community Bank ■ First State Bank ■  Fond du Lac Credit Union ■ Food is Fuel LLC ■ Fort Community Credit Union ■ Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce ■ GreenLeaf Bank ■ Heartland Credit Union ■ Hometown Pharmacy ■ Horizon Electric Company ■ Hurley Burish, S.C. ■ Indianhead Community Action Ag ■ Jan Pro Cleaning ■ Johnsville  ■ Kathy’s 2nd Chance Plants ■ Johnsville ■ lac courte oreilles ojibwe college ■ Lawrence University ■ Lee Hemp Farm, LLC ■ Los Parbulitos Daycare ■ MACHA ■ Madison Development Corporation ■ Madison Innovation Labs, LLC ■ Marie Hunt Beauty ■ Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry ■ Marquette County ■ Mound City Bank ■ Mount Horeb Area School District ■ North Shore Fire Department ■ Organic Valley ■ Office of the Wisconsin State Treasurer ■ PCM Credit Union ■ Pindel Global Precision ■  Port Washington State Bank ■ Qlink  ■ Ripco Credit Union ■ Royal Credit Union ■ School District of Bayfield ■ School District of North Fond du Lac ■ Schuk Law, LLC ■ Securitas ■ Serigraph, Inc. ■  Specialty Coating Systems, Inc. ■ Summit Credit Union ■ TechLogix Networx ■ The American Deposit Management Co. ■ The Galleria of Tile ■ The Human Service Center ■ The QTI Group ■ The Stephenson National Bank & Trust ■ The Wisconsin Credit Union League ■ Town of Grand Chute ■ Train Up a Child Learning Center, LLC ■ UnitedOne Credit Union ■ Valley Packaging ■ Vesta Memory Care ■ Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin ■ Village of Frederic ■ Village of Saukville ■ Waukesha County Business Alliance, Inc. ■ Westbury Bank ■ Westby Coop Credit Union ■ WICPA ■ WiLS ■ Wisconsin Bankers Association ■ Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions ■ Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce ■ Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation

Recognizing that employers can serve as a powerful source of information for their workers, Wisconsin Saves helps support small to mid-size employers as they promote the ease and benefits of split deposit to their employees.  Often, these businesses have limited resources to focus on issues outside of their core business.  This effort empowers employers by equipping them with easy-to-use resources for their employees.

“Our goal with Wisconsin Saves is to help more Wisconsinites build emergency savings and save for the future,” said DFI Secretary-designee Olson-Collins.  “We know that saving automatically is the easiest and most effective way to save.  That’s why we enlisted the support of employers from all over Wisconsin to help promote saving automatically through split deposit.  This helps financially prepare more Wisconsinites for unexpected expenses and build financial security.”

Employers can sign up to participate in the Wisconsin Saves Automatic Saving Initiative at autosave.wisconsinsaves.org.

America Saves is a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America that uses the principles of behavioral economics and social marketing to motivate, encourage, and support low-to-moderate income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. America Saves encourages individuals and families to take the America Saves pledge and organizations to promote savings year-round and during America Saves Week. Since its inception, over 12,000 organizations have participated in America Saves Week to promote savings to their communities. Learn more at americasaves.org.

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski Proclaims Wisconsin Saves Week to Encourage Wisconsinites to Build Emergency Savings and Save for the Future

A coalition of Wisconsin organizations are encouraging Wisconsinites to participate in Wisconsin Saves Week and take steps toward securing their financial futures. Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski officially proclaimed February 21–25, 2022 as Wisconsin Saves Week in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA), the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), and America Saves, the leading national campaign in promoting savings. Wisconsin Saves Week is part of the national America Saves Week, an annual campaign focusing on helping Americans build financial resilience.

“Wisconsin Saves Week is a great opportunity for Wisconsinites to start laying the groundwork for achieving their savings goals, whether that’s buying a car, paying for college, purchasing a home, or planning for retirement,” said Treasurer Godlewski. “By promoting tools and tips to help set a savings goal or make a plan to save, we can assist individuals and families as they build savings habits and become regular savers.”

As part of this week of action, a coalition of Wisconsin organizations led by Treasurer Godlewski, DFI Secretary-designee Cheryll Olson-Collins, WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels, WWBIC President Wendy Baumann, and America Saves are encouraging Wisconsinites to strengthen their personal financial security by promoting resources to build financial resilience.

“Being financially resilient is more than having access to money, it includes individuals being conscious of their own financial landscape, being aware of available resources, and being willing to seek out and take advantage of opportunities that will support and increase their financial wellness,” said DFI Secretary-designee Olson-Collins. “Our goal with Wisconsin Saves Week is to help more Wisconsinites start to build emergency savings and save for the future.”

Wisconsinites are encouraged to evaluate their personal finances and savings habits by taking the America Saves Pledge. Through this pledge, individuals complete a financial check-in that allows them to get a clear view of their finances, set savings goals, and create a plan to achieve them. After completing the pledge, America Saves provides tips, resources, and tools through short emails and text reminders to keep individuals on track toward their savings goals.

“Our organization is excited to promote Wisconsin Saves Week because the initiative aligns with the efforts bankers engage in each and every day to help customers achieve their financial goals,” said WBA President Oswald Poels. “Establishing a savings habit creates a strong foundation upon which individuals can build to achieve financial health.”

Together organizations and institutions across Wisconsin will amplify information, resources, and tools to help individuals and families take action toward building financial confidence. Each day of Wisconsin Saves Week centers on one of five critical areas of financial wellness to build financial resilience. The daily topics are as follows: Monday, February 21: Save Automatically; Tuesday, February 22: Save for the Unexpected; Wednesday, February 23: Save for Retirement; Thursday, February 24: Save by Reducing Debt; and Friday, February 25: Save as a Family.

“With so many Wisconsinites still feeling the financial distress from the coronavirus pandemic, this statewide effort is timely and needed,” said WWBIC President Baumann. “We look forward to supporting Wisconsinites in gaining better savings habits and getting key strategies that enhance their financial wellness journey.”

Wisconsin Saves Week is an opportunity for individuals to evaluate their own savings habits and commit to saving by making a plan to achieve better financial stability. The week is also an opportunity for organizations to promote good savings habits to their employees. Launched in May 2021, the statewide Wisconsin Saves Automatic Saving Initiative encourages Wisconsin businesses to work with their employees to save each month through payroll split deposit to establish emergency savings and save for the future.

“Wisconsin Saves is a timely program aimed at helping Wisconsin employers recruit and retain the best talent particularly during this ultra-competitive job market,” said America Saves Senior Program Manager Carolyn Pemberton. “Employers can distinguish themselves from other businesses by offering this easy-to-use financial wellness benefit that helps their employees to save in the easiest and most effective manner by saving automatically through split deposit.”

Employers can sign up at AutoSave.WisconsinSaves.org to receive a suite of ready-to-use resources to help them promote split deposit as a way they support their employees in reaching their personal savings goals. Any employer in Wisconsin is eligible to use the information as long as they pay their employees using direct deposit. For more information on Wisconsin Saves, contact America Saves Senior Program Manager Carolyn Pemberton at cpemberton@consumerfed.org.

“I am proud that this coalition from across the state has come together to provide resources and information to Wisconsinites so that they can take action for their financial well-being,” said Treasurer Godlewski. “We also know that employers have a role to play, and this week I encourage all Wisconsin employers to promote good savings habits by signing up for the Wisconsin Saves program. Together we can work to make a positive impact on the financial lives of Wisconsinites and build a more economically secure future.”

For more information, visit AmericaSaves.org and become part of a nationwide community of savers.

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation has awarded UW-Platteville senior Alexis Boston and UW-River Falls junior Joseph Schlies with the 2021 Agricultural Banking Scholarship. The scholarship is given to two students who plan to go into a career in agriculture finance and who demonstrate in their application a strong understanding of the importance of financial literacy.

Boston is a declared agribusiness major expected to graduate this December. She has worked as an agribusiness professor assistant at UW-Platteville and currently is involved in many on-campus and community organizations including UW-Platteville’s Agribusiness Club, the Collegiate Farm Bureau, and the National Agri-Marketing Association.

Schlies is a declared agricultural business major. He currently holds two positions at the college as a teaching assistant in the Agricultural Economics Department and as a residential assistant. Previously, Schlies was the state president for the Wisconsin Association of FFA State Officers. He is also actively involved on his campus as the vice chair of the Finance Committee and at-large senator of the Student Government Association.

“Joseph and Alexis’s passion for agricultural finance and making an impact on their community is foundational to the qualifications for the Foundation’s Agricultural Banking Scholarship,” said Foundation Chair Rose Oswald Poels. “I am pleased that we are able to honor their achievements with this scholarship and wish them each much success in their future agribusiness careers.”

Joseph Schlies (center) accepts 2021 Agricultural Banking Scholarship from WBF Chair Rose Oswald Poels (second from left). Also pictured are: Dr. Dale Gallenberg, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (far left); Dr. Brenda Boetel, professor and chair of the Agricultural Economics Department (third from the right); Dr. Sierra Howry, associate professor of agricultural economics (second from right); and Tony Betley, vice president – senior agricultural banker at Nicolet Bank.

Alexis Boston (center) accepts 2021 Agricultural Banking Scholarship from WBF Chair Rose Oswald Poels (far left). Also pictured are: Nicholas Felder, vice president – commercial/ag banking at MidWestOne Bank (second from left); Chad Bahr, assistant vice president – agribusiness lending officer at Mound City Bank (second from right); and Donna Hoppenjan, president and CEO of Mound City Bank (far right).

Triangle Background

National Bank of Commerce President and CEO Steve Burgess

The Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) is pleased to announce the 2021 Banker of the Year award winner: Steve Burgess, president and CEO of National Bank of Commerce.  

National Bank of Commerce is a community bank headquartered in Superior, Wis. with ten locations in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin. Burgess has nearly 40 years of banking experience and has been president and CEO of National Bank of Commerce for almost 10 years. 

“I would like to congratulate Steve on being selected as the 2021 Banker of the Year,” said Rose Oswald Poels, WBA president and CEO. “Steve is known for creating a strong bank culture through respect for others, integrity, and professional excellence.” 

Burgess has made many contributions to the banking industry and the economy in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He served on the WBA Board and chaired the WBA Government Relations Committee. He has served as chairman of APEX, on the La Crosse Area Economic Development Committee, as president of the Neillsville Economic Development Association, president of the Neillsville Chamber of Commerce, and as chairman of the Marshfield Economic Development Association. 

Burgess also serves on the College of St. Scholastica and Essentia Health Duluth Clinic Foundation boards. He is an active member of Duluth Rotary Club 25. His past service includes his roles as vice chairman of the St. Joseph Hospital (Marshfield, Wis.), Board member of the Washburn Academy (Neillsville, Wis.), and chair of Neillsville Assisted Living, Inc. 

During Burgess’ nearly decade-long tenure at National Bank of Commerce, the bank has performed at the top of the performance metrics, achieving the top quartile for annual ROA and ROE for all but two of those years. Burgess has led the bank’s growth in assets from $400 million to $1.2 billion. He initiated a residential real estate origination department, including servicing. Under Burgess’ leadership, the bank converted software operating systems to new and more efficient processing. He instituted an enterprise risk management department and led a successful re-branding of the bank’s image. 

Burgess’ professional experience includes serving as president and CEO of State Bank Financial (La Crosse, Wis.) for 11 years, president and CEO of M&I Central Bank and Trust (Marshfield, Wis.) for seven years, and president and CEO of the First National Bank of Neillsville for 12 years. 

Burgess and his wife of 40 years, Kathy Burgess, reside at their “sugarhouse” in Duluth, Minn., where the family runs a syrup-producing business. The couple has five adult children.  

The Wisconsin Bankers Association’s Banker of the Year award is presented to one Wisconsin banker each year. The recipient must be a Wisconsin bank CEO or president who has demonstrated outstanding service to their bank, to the continued vitality of their community, and to the banking profession. Burgess was honored at WBA’s Bank Executives Conference in Wisconsin Dells, the largest banking event in Wisconsin, on February 10, 2022. 

Oswald Poels and Burgess

Rose Oswald Poels, Wisconsin Bankers Association president and CEO, presents the 2021 Banker of the Year award to Steve Burgess, president and CEO of National Bank of Commerce, on February 10, 2022 at the WBA Bank Executives Conference in Wisconsin Dells.

Triangle Background

Wisconsin Bankers Foundation Recognizes Multimedia Financial Education Initiatives

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) presented its prestigious 2021 Financial Education Innovation Award to Bank Five Nine. The award ceremony was held on Thursday, February 10 in Wisconsin Dells during a special luncheon at the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) Bank Executives Conference, the largest banking event in Wisconsin. Mark W. Mohr, president and CEO of Bank Five Nine, accepted the award for the bank’s multimedia financial education initiatives. 

“Bank Five Nine’s financial education efforts are truly unique and equip consumers with tools to improve their financial wellbeing,” said Rose Oswald Poels, WBF Board chair and WBA president and CEO. “The program uses different mediums to provide answers to financial questions many people have but may be too afraid to ask.”  

Bank Five Nine’s omnichannel approach weaves together a weekly, local radio show and podcast with corresponding blog posts and Pinterest pins. Jeff McCarthy, marketing director at Bank Five Nine, and Becky Miller, marketing manager at Bank Five Nine, co-host a Sunday morning radio show called That’s So Money on AM-1130 WISN. The first two segments of the show are dedicated to educating listeners on topics including: Senior Discounts and Savings, Ways to Financially Prepare to Leave Your Job, Women and Finances, Money Matters to Discuss Before Marriage, How to Freeze Your Credit, and Everything You Need to File Your Taxes. The second half of the show features a guest from a local small business or non-profit organization who wishes to tell their story and talk to the show’s listeners about their products or mission.  

After the radio show airs, the segments are produced into separate podcasts, which are housed on the iHeart Media website. Many of the topics discussed on the radio show/podcast are turned into blog posts housed on the Bank Five Nine website. More than 90 blog posts are available and are organized in six categories: All Things Community, Everyday Money, Family Matters, Let’s Get Down to Business, Living Quarters, and Recipes for Success.  

Blog topics and podcasts are featured regularly on social media through Bank Five Nine’s Pinterest account. Pinterest is a highly visual site on which users can browse pieces of information and “pin” them to refer back to later.  

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation is pleased to recognize Bank Five Nine for these initiatives, which provide important financial education and demonstrate the role of banks as trusted partners in consumers’ financial success. 

Oswald Poels and Mohr

Rose Oswald Poels presents the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation 2021 Financial Education Innovation Award to Mark W. Mohr at the WBA Bank Executives Conference on February 10, 2022.

Staff accepting award

Rose Oswald Poels (third from left), WBF Board chair and WBA president and CEO, presents the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation 2021 Financial Education Innovation Award to Mark W. Mohr (fourth from left), Bank Five Nine president and CEO; Jeff McCarthy (fourth from right), marketing director at Bank Five Nine; Becky Miller (third from right), marketing manager at Bank Five Nine; and Bank Five Nine staff members.

WBA Releases Results of Bank CEO Economic Conditions Survey

In the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s biannual Economic Conditions Survey of Wisconsin bank CEOs, 79% of respondents rated Wisconsin’s current economic health as “excellent” or “good.” This marks a significant increase since December 2020, when only 42% of survey respondents gave “excellent” or “good” ratings. Sixty-four percent of Wisconsin bank CEOs who completed the most recent survey predict that the economy will stay the same in the next six months, while 21% predict it will grow and 15% predict it will weaken. 

 
“Wisconsin bank CEOs are in a unique position to gain insights into the microeconomic activities in their markets given the critical roles they play as lenders, advisors, and community leaders. As such, they often see developments occurring before economic trends are widely identified,” said WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels. “As industries rebound — including tourism, manufacturing, construction, and agriculture  economic stability is taking hold. 
 
Many bank CEOs highlighted bright spots in their local economies such as low unemployment rates, strong consumer demand, a strong housing market, high commodity prices, growth in health care technology, and increased manufacturing and constructionAmong the sources of economic concern for bank CEOs were inflation, new variants and waves of COVID-19, and workforce shortages and supply chain issues preventing businesses from realizing growth. 
 
The end-of-year 2021 survey was conducted December 14–24 with 80 respondents. Sums may not equal 100 percent due to rounding. Below is a breakdown of the survey questions and responses. 

Wisconsin Bank CEO Economic Conditions Survey Results 

How would you rate the current health of the Wisconsin economy. . .  End-of-Year 2021  Mid-Year 2021  End-of-Year 2020 
Excellent  6%  15%  4% 
Good  73%  76%  38% 
Fair  20%  10%  58% 
Poor  1%  0%  1% 
         
In the next six months, do you expect the Wisconsin economy to. . .        
Grow  21%  48%  45% 
Weaken  15%  39%  14% 
Stay the same  64%  13%  41% 
         
Rate the current demand in the following loan categories:        
Business         
Excellent  9%  10%  4% 
Good  48%  30%  29% 
Fair  39%  52%  56% 
Poor  5%  8%  12% 
         
Commercial Real Estate        
Excellent  11%  13%  4% 
Good  44%  44%  30% 
Fair  41%  33%  52% 
Poor  4%  10%  14% 
         
Residential Real Estate        
Excellent  25%  40%  63% 
Good  48%  48%  29% 
Fair  24%  12%  8% 
Poor  3%  0%  0% 
         
Agricultural        
Excellent  1%  2%  0% 
Good  22%  34%  19% 
Fair  58%  56%  59% 
Poor  18%  8%  22% 
         
In the next six months, do you anticipate the demand for the following loan categories will. . .        
Business         
Grow  28%  43%  39% 
Weaken  14%  7%  13% 
Stay the same  59%  51%  48% 
         
Commercial Real Estate        
Grow  24%  31%  32% 
Weaken  21%  8%  25% 
Stay the same  55%  31%  43% 
         
Residential Real Estate        
Grow  11%  14%  20% 
Weaken  56%  41%  40% 
Stay the same  33%  46%  39% 
         
Agricultural        
Grow  15%  18%  20% 
Weaken  14%  6%  15% 
Stay the same  71%  76%  65% 
         
In the next six months, are the businesses in your bank’s market area likely to. . .        
Hire employees  68%  82%  30% 
Maintain current staffing levels  33%  15%  62% 
Lay off employees  0%  3%  8% 
         
In the next six months, is your bank likely to. . .        
Hire employees  55%  48%  34% 
Maintain current staffing levels  43%  45%  65% 
Lay off employees  3%  6%  1%