Utah Story Archive

Happening in Utah: DFI Commissioner, G. Edward “Ed” Leary Announces His Retirement

February 4, 2022 —  After 45 years with the Utah Department of Financial Institutions, G. Edward “Ed” Leary has announced his retirement as Commissioner.

After working in a Utah community bank for three years, he joined the Utah DIF in 1977 as an examiner. He rose through the ranks, holding positions as an industry supervisor and chief examiner before being appointed commissioner in June 1992.

“It is difficult to leave the agency where I have served almost all of my professional life,” Commissioner Leary said. “I will sorely miss the association and daily contact with the extraordinary people that are serving and have served at the Utah Department of Financial Institutions.”

Leary serves as Chairman of the Utah Board of Financial Institutions and is a Utah Housing Corporation board member. He is the past Chairman of NASCUS and CSBS; he was also Chairman of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s (FFIEC) State Liaison Committee.

Under Commissioner Leary’s leadership, the Department became accredited by the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS). He fostered the development of the Industrial Loan Corporation (Industrial Banks) industry development in Utah, and the Department celebrated its Centennial anniversary in 2013.

“The impact Commissioner Leary has had on the state’s financial institutions cannot be overstated,” Governor Spencer J. Cox said. “Ed is one of the most well-respected people involved in financial regulation in the nation, hands down. He earned that reputation through an incredible track record of success, including facilitating interstate banking, updating ATM law, initiating reduced regulatory fees, restructuring Utah trust laws, supporting industrial banking in Utah, and so much more. We thank him for his vision and leadership and wish him a wonderful and well-deserved retirement.”

The entire NASCUS family would like to wish Ed and his wife JoAnn a happy and healthy retirement.


Learning from Top-Performing Credit Unions: Strategic Do’s & Don’ts

December 14, 2021 —  In 2008, the bottom fell out of the economy. The Great Recession devastated world financial markets, the banking industry and real estate. During this time of great economic upheaval, CUNA Mutual Group launched what would become a series of informational presentations to raise thought-provoking questions and share strategic insights to help inform Credit Unions’(CU) strategies for surviving the recession and thriving beyond. Some of the topics explored included “Why the Credit Union System is Needed Now More Than Ever” and “Battle for the American Consumer”. As a member of the team that produced and delivered these early thought leadership presentations, I conducted much of the secondary research on these topics and helped create this content.

Fast forward 13-years. The COVID-19 global pandemic ushered in a new worldwide recession. And I now lead CUNA Mutual’s annual thought leadership research effort to help inform CU strategies.

According to research cited in CUNA Mutual Group’s newest study titled, “Making Strategic Choices for Growth,” the CU value proposition is under attack as evidenced by:

  • Three in five CUs with total assets of less than $1 billion lost members between 2017 and 2020.
  • Credit Union’s share of total Primary Financial Institution relationships declined from 21% in 2018 to 12% in 2020.
  • Credit Union’s market share for certain loan classes has declined in recent years. For example, CUs’ share of total new and used vehicle financing declined from 22.7% in Q2 2018 to 18.2% in Q2 2021 according to Experian.

It’s enough to make you feel like the sky is falling! And when you feel like the sky is falling the last thing you want to do is look up. But’s that exactly what you should do. You should look up and learn from those (in this case CUs) that are successful. Fortunately, CUNA Mutual’s research this year explored the strategic choices of these top-performing CUs. Based on top performers’ strategic choices, you may want to consider these three strategic do’s and don’ts.

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By: Steve Heusuk, CUNA Mutual Group, Sr. Manager, Customer Intelligence


Pandemic Forces Seismic Shift in Financial Protection Mindset
By Michael Herman, AdvantEdge Digital President

August 25, 2021 – While the economic impact of COVID-19 on individuals and families has been about as divergent as possible, most people experienced a financial awakening of one form or another. Whether it was the financial devastation of a job loss or the influx of savings from going nowhere and doing nothing, unprecedented times forced most Americans to confront entirely new household economics.

Anyone who’s had to adjust a family budget knows the exercise conjures up the need to choose. Most often, decisions around budgeting come in the form of trade-offs: Do we drive a new car and cook meals at home or drive used and enjoy the occasional meal out? Obviously, there are Americans facing much more difficult, even unfathomable, trade-offs, like the choice between food or shelter, medicine or clothing. Those are circumstances no one should have to face. For the financially well, however, trade-offs are a manageable way of living within an individual’s or family’s means.

Other budgeting decisions come in the form of risk assessment. Insurance is a prime example. How likely is it that our home will sustain storm damage? How much life insurance makes sense based on our ages and the family’s income needs?

These are the basic budgeting choices families have been making for decades. But during the pandemic, even the basic became complex. As the day-to-day grind came to a grinding halt, we were faced with a whole new set of choices, risks and worries. Seemingly overnight, trade-off and risk-mitigation decisions we’d grown accustomed to making were upended. This left many, including credit union members, understandably anxious about their financial situations.

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Credit Unions Fare Well in the 2021 Utah Legislative Session

March 12, 2021–Read the introduction and entire summary here.

Effort to tax a non-profit
Early in the session our contract lobbyists picked up a rumor that the senate president was going to stick it to Intermountain Healthcare by revoking their tax exemption. While not directly connected to us, it was entirely plausible that we, through our tax exemption, could get pulled into a public dialogue we would prefer to avoid. After a little more sniffing around, we connected with the senate president, who confirmed his intent—and who, I should state, has no intention of harming us. We had a chance to discuss our proximity concern and mentioned a few distinctions.  We spent most of the session expecting that to unfold, and got word that the tax would eventually just apply to real property—something much less threatening to us. Ultimately, nothing materialized. That sort of gamesmanship and unexpected outcome is standard fare for lawmaking.

HB370 Earned Wage Access Services Act
There’s a rising industry that literally makes every day… a payday. Essentially, an employee is paid every day a wage is earned. There are employer-sponsored versions of this, made popular by new economy companies like Uber or GrubHub. Of more concern are the 3rd party providers who essentially advance pay to a person every day and then ACH the person’s account on their traditional payday. If that last part sounds like payday lending, it should, because it’s very close. Like the previous sandbox bill, we watched this bill to make sure that this new product type would have similar regulatory treatment as similar industry. It’s not so much that we care about this product in particular, but there’s the overarching policy philosophy that we’re always trying to cultivate. This bill died on the vine. It did not receive a final vote.

SB200 Consumer Privacy Amendments
This bill is Utah’s answer to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).  We first saw it in the waning days of last year’s session where it died. As an industry that was germinated as consumer protection, and already subject to heavy regulation (CFPB), we’ve actively tried to steer this bill. Proponents of this bill wanted to regulate privacy by product. We, on the other hand, wanted our entire business category addressed in a carveout so future product delivery would not be impeded by this bill.  We made that case, with the banks, and the sponsor agreed and amended the bill to exclude institutions already subject to Graham-Leach-Bliley.  In spite of that intermediate success, the bill died on the vine at the end of the session—which is also ultimately success.

HB217 Regulatory Sandbox Program Amendments
This sandbox is the government’s attempt to create a near-regulation-free space where innovation and entrepreneurship can meet—which makes great economic development sense.  We believe this sandbox could give life to a direct credit union competitor (fintech) that isn’t subject to the same regulatory pressures as us. Should those consequences be addressed? We worked to make sure DFI had a role in the sandbox monitoring for just that reason. This bill passed with our concerns tackled.

 


Square Financial Services, Inc. Commences Operations as Utah’s Sixteenth Industrial Bank

March 1, 2021 — Today, the Department of Financial Institutions for the State of Utah authorized Square Financial Services, Inc. to open for business as a state-chartered industrial bank.

On September 17, 2017, Square, Inc. submitted an application to the Department to establish Square Financial Services, Inc. as a Utah-chartered, FDIC-insured, industrial bank. The application was materially amended on December 18, 2018. The Commissioner of Financial Institutions granted conditional approval of the application in an Order dated March 17, 2020. Having satisfied all opening requirements, the Department authorized the bank to open for business effective today’s date.

Square Financial Services, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Square, Inc., a publicly traded corporation headquartered in San Francisco, California. Square Financial Services, Inc., located in Salt Lake City, Utah, will offer banking products and services, including deposits, primarily to a nationwide market of small businesses, including those who operate as merchants on Square’s payment processing platform.

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