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Thune Leads Colleagues in Protecting Ag Industry from Biden’s Radical Environmental Agenda

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) on Wednesday led his colleagues in raising concerns about the Biden administration’s use of the financial regulatory system to advance its radical environmental agenda under the guise of mitigating banks’ and credit unions’ exposure to climate risks. The senators emphasize that the administration’s current efforts could harm farmers’ and ranchers’ access to capital and compromise our nation’s food security.

“The viability of farms and ranches across the nation are essential to the viability of rural America and our nation’s food security,” the senators wrote. “That is why the rhetoric and actions taken by your administration to use the financial regulatory system as a back-door approach to set agriculture policy and advance such overreach is so concerning, as this downward pressure from Washington bureaucrats is not only felt by Wall Street firms, but by our nation’s smallest banks and credit unions as well.

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ABA to Host Webinar on What Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Means for U.S. Banks

ABA will host a second free webinar April 4 at 1 p.m. CDT for ABA bank members and state association staff on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine affects banks and the financial sector. The webinar will feature ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols and K2 Integrity’s Juan Zarate and Danny Glaser. Attendees will hear the latest updates on Ukraine, the financial costs being imposed on Russia beyond sanctions, and the challenges U.S. banks should prepare for next. Register for the webinarView ABA’s resources on the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

“It really needs dedication,” Almeida says, noting that the DEI goals of the $2.5 billion Massachusetts mutual bank required more than a cross-departmental committee but rather the focused attention of full-time bank professionals. Almeida discusses how her role as a community bank CDO facilitates DEI partnerships and initiatives both within and outside of the bank. She shares advice for individuals transitioning into community bank CDO jobs and talks about BayCoast’s pilot program to boost diverse talent through a three-year bachelor’s program that provides a full scholarship and part-time bank job.

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Consumer Confidence Rises in March

The Consumer Confidence Index increased slightly in March to 107.2 from 105.7 the month prior, the Conference Board said yesterday. “Consumer confidence was up slightly in March after declines in February and January,” said the Conference Board’s Lynn Franco. “Meanwhile, purchasing intentions for big-ticket items like automobiles have softened somewhat over the past few months as expectations for interest rates have risen.” Read more here.

605 Strong: Mental Health Voucher Program

The SDBA is partnering with the SD Department of Ag and Natural Resources (SD DANR) to highlight and promote a new program that provides free mental health vouchers to farmers and ranchers in need. We all know the farm economy has been a tough one and farm stressors can come from many directions, including the agricultural system, farm and family finances, mental and physical health challenges, and relationship difficulties. But there are services and resources, many of which are free, that are available to our producers during these troubling times.

If you click here, we've uploaded two flyers, provided by 605Strong, that you may utilize to support your staff, customers, friends, family and yourself. You may also contact Mr. Brian Pontious, Policy Advisor, SD DANR, to coordinate the quantity of brochures and delivery arrangements directly to your banking organization! Again, all brochures are provided by SD DANR at no cost to your bank.

Brian Pontious. Policy Advisor
Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources
523 E. Capitol Ave. Pierre, SD 57501
Phone: 605.773.4073
Email: [email protected]
Web: danr.sd.gov

Please utilize the 211 Helpline, available 24/7. Be well, seek assistance, and together, we're #605Strong.

This is How We Roll: SDBA is Hitting the Open Road!

Ever wonder, "what is the SDBA up to these days?" The answer to that question is coming to a town near you! The SDBA team will be hitting the open road, making stops in Pierre, Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Rapid City, to discuss with our members, partners and legislators, about what the SDBA has going on, our plans for going forward, and how to engage as we move the needle forward in South Dakota’s banking industry. These meetings will be FREE to attend, however, we are requesting registration ahead of time so we can order the appropriate number of lunches. Click here to view the schedule and register.

Podcast: What Banks Need to Know about Russia Sanctions Compliance

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, western governments have imposed unprecedented financial sanctions on individuals, businesses, banks and governments in Russia, Belarus and Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. With new sanctions continuing to be announced and a rolling series of compliance deadlines, the latest episode of the ABA Banking Journal Podcast — sponsored by IntraFi Network — features ABA VP Rob Rowe for a discussion of:

  • The overall view of sanctions and what banks should be anticipating in the near future.
  • How banks of all sizes, including small banks, can have exposure to sanctionable transactions.
  • The role of software — and regular updates to it — as well as correspondent banking relationships in facilitating sanctions compliance.
  • Red flags for sanctions evasion bankers should watch out for.

Click here to listen.

Podcast: Step-by-Step IT Transformation at a Community Bank

March is Women's History Month and the ABA has curated useful tools and tips for women in the banking industry. One item, a podcast with Pinkaj Klokkenga, Chief Technology Officer, Old Point National Bank. At a community bank with limited staff and resources, tech transformation is all about setting priorities. Klokkenga discusses how she is setting and advancing these priorities at her Hampton Roads area community bank. In the episode, Klokkenga discusses:

  • Her experience in IT and at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond before joining a community bank.
  • Early IT wins for Old Point National Bank in the COVID era, including online scheduling, ATM upgrades to be ITM-compatible and revamping online account opening.
  • How to identify the tech skillsets a community bank needs and rely on vendors for support.
  • How to balance responsibility for client solutions with the lines of business.
  • In a job-seeker’s market, the importance of offering top IT talent a range of engaging and creative work opportunities.

Click here to listen.

Treasury Announces Additional Sanctions against Russia

The Treasury Department last Friday issued a new round of sanctions against individuals who have supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, including the management board of VTB Bank, which was also previously sanctioned. The sanctions followed an executive order signed by President Biden that established several additional steps to limit imports, exports and new investment with Russia in light of the ongoing conflict.

Additionally, the Office of Foreign Assets Control issued new guidance aimed at preventing sanctions evasion, including through the use of cryptocurrencies. “This guidance continues to make clear that Treasury’s expansive sanctions actions against Russia require all U.S. persons to comply with OFAC regulations, regardless of whether a transaction is denominated in traditional fiat currency or virtual currency,” Treasury said.

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Raskin Withdraws Fed Nomination

Sarah Bloom Raskin, President Biden’s nominee to serve as the next vice chairwoman for supervision at the Federal Reserve, withdrew her nomination on Wednesday after failing to secure support from several key lawmakers, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). According to news reports, Raskin was not expected to receive support from any GOP senators, which meant that in the evenly divided Senate, Manchin’s opposition would have prevented her confirmation.

During her confirmation hearing in the Senate Banking Committee, Raskin faced tough questions about her previous writings and speeches in which she seemed to support using the regulatory apparatus to redirect investment away from industries that, in her view, are contributing to climate change.

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Mitigating Threats Posed by Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors' Exploitation of Default Multifactor Authentication Protocol and "PrintNightmare" Vulnerability

WASHINGTON – The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a joint cybersecurity advisory on Tuesday with technical details, mitigations, and resources regarding previously demonstrated ability of Russian state-sponsored cyber actors to gain network access through exploitation of default multifactor authentication (MFA) protocols and a known vulnerability in Windows Print Spooler, “PrintNightmare.”

As early as May 2021, the Russian state-sponsored cyber actors took advantage of a misconfigured account set to default MFA protocols at a non-governmental organization, allowing them to enroll a new device for MFA and access the victim’s network. The actors then exploited a critical vulnerability “PrintNightmare” (CVE-2021-34527) to run arbitrary code with system privileges, and then were able to access cloud and email accounts for document exfiltration.

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Biden Signs Executive Order to Advance Digital Assets, Explore CBDC

President Biden yesterday signed a long-awaited executive order directing government agencies to take “concrete steps” to advance the use of digital assets, including further exploration of a possible U.S. central bank digital currency, or CBDC. The order calls on the Fed to continue its ongoing work in this area, and calls for “placing urgency on research and development of a potential United States CBDC, should issuance be deemed in the national interest.”

In addition, the order directs the Treasury Department and other agencies to develop policy recommendations to address the growing digital asset sector and ensure consumer protection, directs the Financial Stability Oversight Council to identify and mitigate systemic risks related to digital assets, and calls for a whole of government approach to direct “unprecedented focus” to mitigate illicit finance and national security risks posed by illicit use of digital assets.

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Tester: Libor Fix Legislation Is in Must-Pass Spending Bill

A bipartisan, ABA-advocated bill to address “tough legacy” Libor contracts is included in the omnibus spending bill that Congress is expected to pass in the coming days, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said at the ABA Washington Summit yesterday. “We did get it put in the omnibus bill, which means by the end of this week, by tomorrow, it should be passed,” Tester said.

In a statement, ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols welcomed the inclusion of the provision, noting that “with this action today, Congress continues to express overwhelming support for a federal solution to ensure investors, consumers and issuers of securities avoid years of uncertainty and unexpected economic losses from Libor’s cessation.”

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Sen. Moran Stresses Importance of Keeping Rural Banks Competitive

Speaking at the Washington Summit, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) reiterated his support for the Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America (ECORA) Act and other legislation intended to bolster the competitiveness of rural and agriculture-focused banks. “ECORA would provide borrowers—ranchers and farmers—with access to credit at less expensive rates,” he said.

Under ECORA, interest from loans to farmers secured by agricultural real estate would be exempt from federal income tax. ECORA also would level the playing field between banks and the tax-advantaged Farm Credit System. “It would help ensure that small community banks are competitive and have the tools to best meet the unique needs of the rural customers they serve," Moran said. ECORA remains an important issue for ABA, and the association continues to advocate for its passage.

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SDBA to Hold Regional Meetings this Spring

The SDBA’s mission is to help educate, advocate and grow a diverse mix of financial institutions throughout the state. As part of that commitment to our members, the SDBA is coming soon to a city near you!

One outcome of the SDBA’s strategic planning session last fall was that the SDBA hit the road and re-instate regional meetings. The SDBA never shies away from a new challenge, so we will be “Takin’ it to the Streets” later this spring.

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Sponsor, Display, Advertise at NDBA/SDBA Annual Convention

The industry’s business partners work hard to meet the needs of banks and bank customers while supporting the proud tradition of banking. Their knowledge, ideas and involvement are needed at this year’s NDBA/SDBA Annual Convention.

The 2022 NDBA/SDBA Annual Convention will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, June 14-15, at the Radisson Hotel and Belle Mehus Auditorium in Bismarck, N.D. The conference is the largest gathering of South Dakota and North Dakota bank executives you will see in 2022. More than 250 bankers and business partners are expected to register for this conference.

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South Dakota Bankers Foundation Re-Opens Scholarship Application Deadline

The South Dakota Bankers Foundation is excited to re-open the scholarship application deadline for member bank scholarships one final time.

If you missed out on applying for an opportunity for a $2,000 scholarship (no match required) that you may award to a student of your choice, here’s your chance. Applications will be accepted until March 18.

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SDBA Seeking Candidates for Board Elections

Elections for the SDBA’s Board of Directors are scheduled for April. Two seats are up for election: Group I and Group III.

The Group I seat is currently held by John McGrath, First PREMIER Bank, Sioux Falls, and the Group III seat is currently held by Dusty Pinske, First Interstate Bank, Rapid City. Both were appointed in 2021 to fill vacancies and are eligible to run for a full, three-year term in their respective group.

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SDSU Extension 2022 Ag Land Value Survey Now Open

Ag lenders are invited to take part in South Dakota State University Extension's 2022 South Dakota Farm Real Estate Market Survey.  SDSU Extension is requesting select groups of individuals to complete the survey including appraisers, assessors, realtors, agricultural lenders and Extension field specialists.

The principal purpose of the survey is to obtain market value and cash rental rate information, by type of agricultural land, in different regions of South Dakota. Farmers, landowners, investors, lenders, real estate professionals and public officials are the majority users of the data provided by the survey.

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ABA, Trade Groups Urge Congress to Raise Small Business Program Cap

ABA and a coalition of trade groups yesterday urged congressional leaders to increase the authorization level for the Small Business Administration’s 504 loan program. Demand is expected to reach the program’s authorization cap of $7.5 billion in early summer, likely June, the groups said. Without congressional action, the program would be unavailable to small businesses for an entire quarter of the fiscal year until the authorization level resets, they added.

The program previously reached its congressionally authorized cap on Sept. 7, 2021, and SBA was unable to approve new 504 loans until the program’s authorization level reset on Oct. 1. That three-week shutdown of the program caused a number of issues for small-business borrowers, including the loss of real estate and endangered escrow, the groups wrote. Read the letter.

FSB: Crypto Assets Could be Threat to Global Financial Stability

The crypto-asset market could reach a point where it presents a threat to global financial stability, according to a new report released yesterday by the Basel, Switzerland-based Financial Stability Board.

The fast-evolving nature of crypto assets, scale, as well as structural vulnerabilities and “increasing interconnectedness” with the traditional financial system could threaten global financial stability, the FSB warned. The international nature of crypto markets “also raise the potential for regulatory gaps, fragmentation or arbitrage,” according to the report.

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