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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the Transition Period from to
Commission File Number 001-35077
Wintrust Financial Corporation
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Illinois
 
36-3873352
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
 
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
9700 W. Higgins Road, Suite 800
Rosemont, Illinois 60018
(Address of principal executive offices)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (847939-9000
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
 
Trading Symbol(s)
 
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Stock, no par value
 
WTFC
 
The NASDAQ Global Select Market
Series D Preferred Stock, no par value
 
WTFCM
 
The NASDAQ Global Select Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. þ Yes ¨ No

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. ¨ Yes þ No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. þ Yes ¨ No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). þ Yes ¨ No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Accelerated filer
Non-Accelerated filer
 
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
 
 
 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes No

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 28, 2019 (the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second quarter), determined using the closing price of the common stock on that day of $73.16, as reported by the NASDAQ Global Select Market, was $4,110,584,294.

As of February 26, 2020, the registrant had 57,373,345 shares of common stock outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the Proxy Statement for the Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 28, 2020 are incorporated by reference into Part III.

 
 
 

 
 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
 
 
 
 
Page
 
PART I
 
ITEM 1
Business
ITEM 1A.
Risk Factors
ITEM 1B.
Unresolved Staff Comments
ITEM 2.
Properties
ITEM 3.
Legal Proceedings
ITEM 4.
Mine Safety Disclosures
 
PART II
 
 
 
 
ITEM 5.
Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
ITEM 6.
Selected Financial Data
ITEM 7.
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
ITEM 7A.
Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
ITEM 8.
Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
ITEM 9.
Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
ITEM 9A.
Controls and Procedures
ITEM 9B.
Other Information
 
 
 
 
PART III
 
 
 
 
ITEM 10.
Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
ITEM 11.
Executive Compensation
ITEM 12.
Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
ITEM 13.
Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
ITEM 14.
Principal Accountant Fees and Services
 
 
 
 
PART IV
 
 
 
 
ITEM 15.
Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules
ITEM 16.
Form 10-K Summary
 
Signatures

 
 
 

 
 
 

PART I

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

Overview
 
Wintrust Financial Corporation, an Illinois corporation (“we,” “Wintrust” or “the Company”), which was incorporated in 1992, is a financial holding company based in Rosemont, Illinois, with total assets of approximately $36.6 billion as of December 31, 2019. We conduct our businesses through three primary segments: community banking, specialty finance and wealth management. We provide community-oriented, personal and commercial banking services to customers located in the Chicago metropolitan area, southern Wisconsin and northwest Indiana (“our market area”) through our fifteen wholly-owned-banking subsidiaries (collectively, the “banks”), as well as the origination and purchase of residential mortgages for sale into the secondary market through Wintrust Mortgage, a division of Barrington Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Barrington Bank”). In addition, we provide specialty finance services, including financing for the payment of commercial insurance premiums and life insurance premiums (“premium finance receivables”) on a national basis through FIRST Insurance Funding (“FIRST Insurance Funding”), a division of our wholly-owned subsidiary Lake Forest Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Lake Forest Bank”), and Wintrust Life Finance (“Wintrust Life Finance”), a division of Lake Forest Bank, and in Canada through our premium finance company, First Insurance Funding of Canada (“FIFC Canada”), lease financing and other direct leasing opportunities through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Wintrust Asset Finance, Inc. ("Wintrust Asset Finance"), and short-term accounts receivable financing and outsourced administrative services through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Tricom, Inc. of Milwaukee (“Tricom”). Further, we provide a full range of wealth management services primarily to customers in our market area through four separate subsidiaries, The Chicago Trust Company, N.A. (“CTC”), Wintrust Investments, LLC (“Wintrust Investments”), Great Lakes Advisors, LLC (“Great Lakes Advisors”) and Chicago Deferred Exchange Company, LLC ("CDEC").

Our Business and Reporting Segments

As set forth in Note 24, “Segment Information,” our operations consist of three primary segments: community banking, specialty finance and wealth management. The three reportable segments are strategic business units that are separately managed as they offer different products and services and have different marketing strategies. In addition, each segment’s customer base has varying characteristics and each segment has a different regulatory environment. While the Company’s management monitors each of the fifteen bank subsidiaries’ operations and profitability separately, these subsidiaries have been aggregated into one reportable operating segment due to the similarities in products and services, customer base, operations, profitability measures and economic characteristics. All segment measurements discussed below are based on the reportable segments and do not reflect intersegment eliminations.

Community Banking

Through our community banking segment, our banks provide community-oriented, personal and commercial banking services to customers located in our market area. Our customers include individuals, small to mid-sized businesses, local governmental units and institutional clients residing primarily in the banks' local service areas. The banks have a strategy to provide comprehensive community-focused banking services. In keeping with this strategy, the banks provide highly personalized and responsive service, a characteristic of locally-owned and managed institutions. As such, the banks compete for deposits principally by offering depositors a variety of deposit programs, convenient office locations, hours and other services, and for loan originations primarily through the interest rates and loan fees they charge, the efficiency and quality of services they provide to borrowers and the variety of their loan and cash management products. Using our multiple bank charter corporate structure to our advantage, we offer our MaxSafe® deposit accounts, which provide customers with expanded Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) insurance coverage by spreading a customer's deposit across our fifteen banks. This product differentiates our banks from many of our competitors that have consolidated their bank charters into branches. We also have downtown Chicago and Milwaukee offices that work with each of our banks to capture commercial and industrial business. Our commercial and industrial lenders in our downtown offices operate in close partnership with lenders at our community banks. By combining our expertise in the commercial and industrial sector with our high level of personal service and a full suite of banking products, we believe we create another point of differentiation from both our larger and smaller competitors. Our banks also offer home equity, consumer, and real estate loans, safe deposit facilities, ATMs, online and mobile banking and other innovative and traditional services specially tailored to meet the needs of customers in their market areas.

We developed our banking franchise through a combination of de novo organization and the purchase of existing bank franchises. The organizational efforts began in 1991, when a group of experienced bankers and local business people identified an unfilled niche in the Chicago metropolitan area retail banking market. As large banks acquired smaller ones and personal service was

 
3
 

 
 
 

subjected to consolidation strategies, the opportunity increased for locally owned and operated, highly personal service-oriented banks. As a result, Lake Forest Bank was founded in December 1991 to service the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communities.

As of December 31, 2019, we owned fifteen banks, including thirteen nationally chartered banks: Lake Forest Bank, Barrington Bank,Wintrust Bank, N.A. (“Wintrust Bank”), Libertyville Bank and Trust Company, N.A. (“Libertyville Bank”), Northbrook Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Northbrook Bank”), Village Bank & Trust, N.A. (“Village Bank”), Wheaton Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Wheaton Bank”), State Bank of the Lakes, N.A., Crystal Lake Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Crystal Lake Bank”), Schaumburg Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Schaumburg Bank”), Beverly Bank & Trust Company, N.A. (“Beverly Bank”) , Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A. (“Old Plank Trail Bank”) and Town Bank, N.A. (“Town Bank”). In addition, we owned two Illinois-chartered banks, Hinsdale Bank and Trust Company (“Hinsdale Bank”) and St. Charles Bank & Trust Company (“St. Charles Bank”), which converted to nationally chartered banks effective January 1, 2020. As of December 31, 2019, we had 187 banking locations. Each nationally-chartered bank is subject to regulation, supervision and regular examination by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”).

We also engage in the retail origination and correspondent purchase of residential mortgages through Wintrust Mortgage as well as consumer direct lending primarily to veterans through our Veterans First brand. Certain originated loans are sold to unaffiliated companies or the Company's banks with servicing remaining within Wintrust Mortgage operations. Wintrust Mortgage maintains retail mortgage offices in a number of states, with the largest concentration located in the Chicago, Minneapolis and Los Angeles metropolitan areas.

We also offer several niche lending products through several of the banks. These include Barrington Bank's Community Advantage program, which provides lending, deposit and cash management services to condominium, homeowner and community associations; Hinsdale Bank's mortgage warehouse lending program, which provides loan and deposit services to mortgage brokerage companies located predominantly in the Chicago metropolitan area; and Lake Forest Bank's franchise lending program, which provides lending to restaurant franchisees. Other niches offered throughout our banking franchise include Wintrust Commercial Finance, which offers direct leasing opportunities; Wintrust Business Credit, which specializes in asset-based lending for middle-market companies; Wintrust SBA Lending, which is dedicated to offering expertise in Small Business Administration loans; Wintrust Commercial Real Estate, which concentrates on real estate lending solutions including commercial mortgages and construction loans; and Wintrust Government, Non-Profit & Hospital, which focuses on financial solutions for mission-based organizations such as hospitals, non-profits, educational institutions and local government operations.

For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, the community banking segment had net revenues of $1.1 billion, $1.0 billion and $889 million, respectively, and net income of $238 million, $241 million and $175 million, respectively. The community banking segment had total assets of $29.6 billion, $25.4 billion and $22.8 billion as of December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. The community banking segment accounted for approximately 75% of our consolidated net revenues, excluding intersegment eliminations, for the year ended December 31, 2019.

Specialty Finance

Through our specialty finance segment, we offer financing of insurance premiums for businesses and individuals; accounts receivable financing, value-added, out-sourced administrative services; and other specialty finance businesses. FIRST Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance engage in the premium finance receivables business, our most significant specialized lending niche, including commercial insurance premium finance and life insurance premium finance. We also engage in commercial insurance premium finance in Canada through our wholly-owned subsidiary FIFC Canada.

In their commercial insurance premium finance operations, FIRST Insurance Funding and FIFC Canada make loans to businesses to finance the insurance premiums they pay on their commercial insurance policies. Approved medium and large insurance agents and brokers located throughout the United States and Canada assist FIRST Insurance Funding and FIFC Canada, respectively, in arranging each commercial premium finance loan between the borrower and FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada, as the case may be. FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada evaluates each loan request according to its own underwriting criteria including the amount of the down payment on the insurance policy, the term of the loan, the credit quality of the insurance company providing the financed insurance policy, the interest rate, the borrower's previous payment history, if any, and other factors deemed appropriate. Upon approval of the loan by FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada, as the case may be, the borrower makes a down payment on the financed insurance policy, which is generally done by providing payment to the agent or broker, who then forwards it to the insurance company. FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada may either forward the financed amount of the remaining policy premiums directly to the insurance carrier or to the agent or broker for remittance to the insurance carrier on FIRST Insurance Funding's or FIFC Canada's behalf. In some cases the agent or broker may hold our collateral, in the form of the proceeds of the unearned insurance premium from the insurance company, and forward it to FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada in the event of a default by the borrower. This lending involves relatively rapid turnover of the loan portfolio and high

 
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volume of loan originations. Because the agent or broker is the primary contact to the ultimate borrowers who are located nationwide and because proceeds and our collateral may be handled by the agent or brokers during the term of the loan, FIRST Insurance Funding and FIFC Canada may be more susceptible to third party (i.e., agent or broker) fraud. The Company performs various controls and procedures including ongoing credit and other reviews of the agents and brokers as well as performs various internal audit steps to mitigate against the risk of material fraud.

The commercial and property premium finance business is subject to regulation in the majority of states. Regulation typically governs notices to borrowers prior to cancellation of a policy and required communication to insurance agents and insurance companies. FIRST Insurance Funding offers financing of commercial insurance policies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  FIRST Insurance Funding’s legal department regularly monitors changes to regulations and updates policies and programs accordingly.

Wintrust Life Finance finances life insurance policy premiums generally used for estate planning purposes of high net-worth borrowers. These loans are originated directly with the borrowers with assistance from life insurance carriers, independent insurance agents, financial advisors and legal counsel. The cash surrender value of the life insurance policy is the primary form of collateral. In addition, these loans often are secured with a letter of credit, marketable securities or certificates of deposit. In some cases, Wintrust Life Finance may make a loan that has a partially unsecured position.

The life insurance premium finance business is subject to banking regulations but is not subject to additional regulatory regimes (e.g. additional state regulation). Wintrust Life Finance's compliance department regularly monitors the regulatory environment and the company's compliance with existing regulations. Wintrust Life Finance maintains a policy prohibiting the known financing of stranger-originated life insurance and has established procedures to identify and prevent the company from financing such policies. While a carrier could potentially put at risk the cash surrender value of a policy, which serves as Wintrust Life Finance's primary collateral, by challenging the validity of the insurance contract for lack of an insurable interest, Wintrust Life Finance believes it has strong counterclaims against any such claims by carriers, in addition to recourse to borrowers and guarantors as well as to additional collateral in certain cases.

Premium finance loans made by FIRST Insurance Funding, Wintrust Life Finance and FIFC Canada are primarily secured by the insurance policies financed by the loans. These insurance policies are written by a large number of insurance companies geographically dispersed throughout the United States and Canada. Our premium finance receivables balances finance insurance policies that are spread among a large number of insurers, however one of the insurers represents approximately 13% of such balances and two additional insurers represent approximately 3% each of such balances. FIRST Insurance Funding, Wintrust Life Finance and FIFC Canada consistently monitor carrier ratings and financial performance of our carriers. In the event ratings fall below certain levels, most of Wintrust Life Finance's life insurance premium finance policies provide for an event of default and allow Wintrust Life Finance to have recourse to borrowers and guarantors as well as to additional collateral in certain cases. For the commercial premium finance business, the term of the loans is sufficiently short such that in the event of a decline in carrier ratings, FIRST Insurance Funding or FIFC Canada, as the case may be, can restrict or eliminate additional loans to finance premiums to such carriers. The majority of premium finance receivables are purchased by the banks in order to more fully utilize their lending capacity as these loans generally provide the banks with higher yields than alternative investments.

Through our wholly-owned subsidiary Wintrust Asset Finance, we provide equipment financing through structured loan and lease products to customers in a variety of industries throughout the United States. Wintrust Asset Finance provides financing of fixed assets consisting of property, plant and equipment, transportation (trucks, trailers, rail, marine, buses), construction, manufacturing equipment, technology, oil and gas, restaurant equipment, medical and healthcare. During 2019, Wintrust Asset Finance contributed approximately $49.2 million to our revenue, which does not reflect intersegment eliminations.

Through our wholly-owned subsidiary Tricom, we provide high-yielding, short-term accounts receivable financing and value-added, outsourced administrative services, such as data processing of payrolls, billing and cash management services to the temporary staffing industry. Tricom’s clients, located throughout the United States, provide staffing services to businesses in diversified industries. During 2019, Tricom processed payrolls with associated client billings of approximately $592 million and contributed approximately $10.3 million to our revenue, net of interest expense. Net revenue is based on our reportable segments and does not reflect intersegment eliminations.

In 2019, our commercial premium finance operations, life insurance premium finance operations, leasing operations and accounts receivable finance operations accounted for 42%, 34%, 20% and 4%, respectively, of the total revenues of our specialty finance business. For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017 the specialty finance segment had net revenues of $241 million, $203 million and $179 million, respectively, and net income of $89 million, $82 million and $66 million, respectively. The specialty finance segment had total assets of $5.9 billion, $5.1 billion and $4.5 billion as of December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.

 
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The specialty finance segment accounted for 16% of our consolidated net revenues, excluding intersegment eliminations, for the year ended December 31, 2019.

Wealth Management

Through our wealth management segment, we offer a full range of wealth management services through four separate subsidiaries (Wintrust Investments, CTC, Great Lakes Advisors and CDEC): trust and investment services, tax-deferred like-kind exchange services, asset management, securities brokerage services and 401(k) and retirement plan services.

Wintrust Investments, our registered broker/dealer subsidiary which has been operating since 1931, provides a full range of private client and securities brokerage services to clients located primarily in the Midwest. Wintrust Investments is headquartered in downtown Chicago, operates an office in Appleton, Wisconsin, and has established branch locations in offices at a majority of our banks. Wintrust Investments also provides a full range of investment services to clients through a network of relationships with community-based financial institutions primarily located in Illinois. Wintrust Investments is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) as a registered broker-dealer, as well as by the SEC as a registered investment adviser.

CTC, our trust subsidiary, offers trust and investment management services to clients through offices located in downtown Chicago and at various banking offices of our fifteen banks. CTC is subject to regulation, supervision and regular examination by the OCC.

Great Lakes Advisors, our registered investment adviser with locations in downtown Chicago and Tampa, Florida as well as in various banking offices of our fifteen banks, provides money management services and advisory services to individuals, institutions, and municipal and tax-exempt organizations. Great Lakes Advisors also provides portfolio management and financial advisory services for a wide range of pension and profit-sharing plans as well as money management and advisory services to CTC. Great Lakes Advisors is regulated by the SEC as a registered investment adviser.

CDEC, our provider of tax-deferred like-kind exchange services, provides Qualified Intermediary services (as defined by U.S. Treasury regulations) for taxpayers seeking to structure tax-deferred like-kind exchanges under Internal Revenue Code ("IRC") Section 1031. Under IRC Section 1031, a taxpayer may defer the gain on the sale of certain investment property if the taxpayer utilizes the services of a Qualified Intermediary. These transactions typically generate customer deposits during the period following the sale of the property until such proceeds are used to purchase a replacement property.  These deposit flows result in a source of low-cost deposits. CDEC is the subsidiary of Elektra Holding Company, LLC ("Elektra"), which was acquired by the Company in December of 2018.

As of December 31, 2019, the Company’s wealth management subsidiaries had approximately $27.6 billion of assets under administration, which included $4.2 billion of assets owned by the Company and its subsidiary banks. For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, the wealth management segment had net revenues of $130 million, $109 million and $103 million, respectively, and net income of $28 million, $20 million and $17 million, respectively. The wealth management segment had total assets of $1.1 billion, $733 million and $618 million as of December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. The wealth management segment accounted for 9% of our consolidated net revenues, excluding intersegment eliminations, for the year ended December 31, 2019.


 
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Strategy and Competition

The Company has employed certain strategies since 2013 to achieve strong net income amid an environment characterized by low interest rates and increased competition. In general, the Company has taken a steady and measured approach to grow strategically and manage expenses. Specifically, the Company has:

Leveraged its internal loan pipeline and external growth opportunities to grow earnings assets to increase net interest income;
Continued efforts to reduce interest costs by improving our funding mix;
Written call option contracts on certain securities as an economic hedge to mitigate overall interest rate risk and enhance the securities' overall return by using fees generated from these options;
Entered into mirror-image swap transactions to both satisfy customer preferences and maintain variable rate exposure;
Completed strategic acquisitions to expand our presence in existing and complimentary markets;
Focused on cost control and leveraging our current infrastructure to grow without a commensurate increase in operating expenses; and
Expanded the Wintrust Asset Finance direct leasing niche.

Our strategy and competitive position for each of our business segments is summarized in further detail, below.

Community Banking

We compete in the commercial banking industry through our banks in the communities they serve. The commercial banking industry is highly competitive and the banks face strong direct competition for deposits, loans and other financial related services. The banks compete with other commercial banks, thrifts, credit unions, stockbrokers, government-sponsored entities, mutual fund companies, insurance companies, factoring companies and other commercial entities offering financial services products, including non-bank financial companies and entities commonly known as financial technology companies. Some of these competitors are local, while others are statewide or nationwide.

As a $36 billion asset financial services company, we expect to benefit from greater access to financial and managerial resources than our smaller local competitors while maintaining our commitment to local decision-making and to our community banking philosophy. In particular, we are able to provide a wider product selection and larger credit facilities than many of our smaller competitors, and we believe our service offerings help us in recruiting talented staff. We continue to add lenders throughout the community banking organization, many of whom have joined us because of our ability to offer a range of products and level of services which compete effectively with both larger and smaller market participants. We have continued to expand our product delivery systems, including a wide variety of electronic banking options for our retail and commercial customers which allow us to provide a level of service typically associated with much larger banking institutions. Consequently, management views technology as a great equalizer to offset some of the inherent advantages of its significantly larger competitors. Additionally, we have access to public capital markets whereas many of our local competitors are privately held and may have limited capital-raising capabilities.

We also believe we are positioned to compete effectively with other larger and more diversified banks, bank holding companies and other financial services companies due to the multi-chartered approach that pushes accountability for building a franchise and a high level of customer service down to each of our banking franchises. Additionally, we believe that we provide a relatively complete portfolio of products that is responsive to the majority of our customers' needs through the retail and commercial operations supplied by our banks, and through our mortgage and wealth management operations. The breadth of our product mix allows us to compete effectively with our larger competitors, while our multi-chartered approach with local and accountable management provides for what we believe is superior customer service relative to our larger and more centralized competitors. We continue to grow our digital service offerings while maintaining our expectations of high quality, more traditional banking services.

Wintrust Mortgage competes with large mortgage brokers as well as other banking organizations. Consolidation, on-going investor push-backs, enhanced regulatory guidance and the promise of equal oversight for both banks and independent lenders have created challenges for small and medium-sized independent mortgage lenders. Wintrust Mortgage's size, bank affiliation, regulatory competency, branding, technology, business development tools and reputation make the firm well positioned to compete in this environment. We continue to increase the amount of loans sold with servicing retained, including those loans sold to the Company's banks with servicing remaining within Wintrust Mortgage operations. While earnings will fluctuate with the rise and fall of long-term interest rates, we expect that mortgage banking revenue will be a continuous source of revenue for us and our mortgage lending relationships will continue to provide franchise value to our other financial service businesses.


 
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In 2019, the Company opened six new branch locations in the Chicago metropolitan area as well as one new branch location in Florida (in addition to the branches acquired in the Company's acquisitions during the year). We believe this strategic branch expansion will allow us to grow into markets that we currently do not service and expand our footprint.

Specialty Finance

FIRST Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance encounter intense competition from numerous other firms, including a number of national commercial premium finance companies, companies affiliated with insurance carriers, independent insurance brokers who offer premium finance services and other lending institutions. Some of our competitors are larger and have greater financial and other resources. FIRST Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance compete with these entities by emphasizing a high level of knowledge of the insurance industry, flexibility in structuring financing transactions, and the timely funding of qualifying contracts. We believe that our commitment to service also distinguishes us from our competitors. FIFC Canada competes with one national commercial premium finance company and a few regional providers.

Wintrust Asset Finance competes with other bank-affiliated, independent, captive and vendor equipment leasing and finance companies.  Wintrust Asset Finance believes a customer-focused origination philosophy, an experienced team, strong underwriting discipline and expert asset management enables them to compete effectively in a growing and dynamic market.

Tricom competes with numerous other firms, including a small number of similar niche finance companies and payroll processing firms, as well as various finance companies, banks and other lending institutions. Tricom's management believes that its commitment to service distinguishes it from competitors.

Wealth Management Activities

Our wealth management companies (CTC, Wintrust Investments, Great Lakes Advisors and CDEC) compete with larger wealth management subsidiaries of other larger bank holding companies as well as with other trust companies, brokerage and other financial service companies, stockbrokers and financial advisors. We believe we can successfully compete for trust, tax services, asset management and brokerage business by offering personalized attention and customer service to small to midsize businesses and affluent individuals. We continue to recruit and hire experienced wealth management professionals from within the larger Chicago metropolitan area as well as Wisconsin, which is expected to help in attracting new customer relationships.

Supervision and Regulation

Regulatory Environment

Our business is heavily regulated by both federal and state agencies. Both the scope of the laws and regulations and the intensity of the supervision to which our business is subject have increased in recent years, in response to the financial crisis as well as other factors such as technological and market changes. Regulatory enforcement and fines have also increased across the banking and financial services sector. Many of these changes have occurred as a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) and its implementing regulations, most of which are now in place. While the regulatory environment has entered a period of rebalancing of the post financial crisis framework, we expect that our business will remain subject to extensive regulation and supervision.

On May 24, 2018, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (the “Economic Growth Act”) was signed into law. Among other regulatory changes, the Economic Growth Act amends various sections of the Dodd-Frank Act, including section 165 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was revised to raise the asset thresholds for determining the application of enhanced prudential standards for bank holding companies (“BHCs”). The effects of these changes on the Company are expected to be limited because the Company was subject to only limited enhanced prudential standards prior to the Economic Growth Act’s enactment. Certain of our competitors, however, will benefit from a more significant reduction in regulatory burdens.

The Company is a bank holding company under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended (the “BHC Act”), subject to regulation, supervision, and examination by the Federal Reserve. The Company is also subject to the disclosure and regulatory requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, both as administered by the SEC, as well as the rules of NASDAQ that apply to companies with securities listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. Each nationally-chartered bank is subject to regulation, supervision and regular examination by the OCC. The deposits of all of our subsidiary banks are insured by the Deposit Insurance Fund (“DIF”) and, as such, the FDIC has additional oversight authority over the banks. The supervision, regulation and examination of banks and bank holding companies by bank regulatory agencies are intended primarily for the protection of depositors, the DIF, and the banking system as a whole, rather than shareholders of banks and bank holding companies, and in some instances may be contrary to shareholders' interests.

 
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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has broad rulemaking authority over a wide range of federal consumer protection laws applicable to the business of our subsidiary banks and some other operating subsidiaries. Because each of our subsidiary banks has less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets, our subsidiary banks’ federal banking agency, not the CFPB, is responsible for examining and supervising the subsidiary banks’ compliance with federal consumer protection laws and regulations. Our non-bank subsidiaries are subject to regulation by their functional regulators, including applicable state finance and insurance agencies, the applicable exchanges, the SEC, FINRA, and the OCC, as well as by the Federal Reserve.

Federal and state laws, and the regulations of the bank regulatory agencies issued under them, affect the scope of business, the kinds and amounts of investments banks may make, reserve requirements, capital levels, the nature and amount of collateral for loans, the establishment of branches, the ability to merge, consolidate and acquire, dealings with insiders and affiliates and the payment of dividends. The regulatory agencies have broad discretion to impose restrictions and limitations on the operations of a regulated entity where the agencies determine, among other things, that such operations are unsafe or unsound, fail to comply with applicable law or are otherwise inconsistent with laws and regulations or with the supervisory policies of these agencies.

The following is a description of some of the laws and regulations that affect our business. By necessity, the descriptions below are summaries that do not purport to be complete, and that are qualified in their entirety by reference to those statutes and regulations discussed, and all regulatory interpretations thereof. Any changes in applicable laws, regulations, or the interpretations thereof could have a material adverse effect on our business or the business of our subsidiaries.

Bank Holding Company Regulation

The Company is a bank holding company that has elected to be treated as a financial holding company. The activities of bank holding companies generally are limited to the business of banking, managing or controlling banks, and certain other activities determined by the Federal Reserve to be closely related to banking. As a financial holding company, we may engage in an expanded range of activities, including activities that are considered to be financial in nature. Financial holding companies may also engage in activities incidental or complementary to financial activities, if the Federal Reserve determines that such activities pose no substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system in general. Impermissible activities for financial holding companies and their subsidiaries include activities that are related to commerce, such as sales of nonfinancial products or manufacturing. As a result, subject to certain exceptions, the BHC Act generally prohibits us from acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of voting shares of any company engaged in activities that are not permissible for us to engage in.

Maintaining our financial holding company status requires that the Company and each of our subsidiary banks remain “well-capitalized” and “well-managed” as defined by regulation and that each of our subsidiary banks maintain at least a “satisfactory” rating under the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”). If we or our subsidiary banks fail to continue to meet these requirements, we could be subject to restrictions on new activities and acquisitions, and/or be required to cease and possibly divest operations that conduct existing activities that are not permissible for a bank holding company that is not a financial holding company.

The BHC Act generally requires us to obtain prior approval from the Federal Reserve before acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of more than 5% of the voting shares of an additional bank or bank holding company, or to merge or consolidate with another bank holding company. The Bank Merger Act generally requires our subsidiary banks to obtain prior regulatory approval to merge or consolidate with, or acquire substantially all of the assets of or assume deposits of, another bank. We must also be well-capitalized and well-managed, in order to acquire a bank located outside of our home state.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Act (“FDIA”) and Federal Reserve regulations and policy require us to serve as a source of financial and managerial strength for our subsidiary banks, and to commit resources to support the banks. This support may be required even if doing so may adversely affect our ability to meet other obligations.

Acquisitions of Ownership of the Company

Acquisitions of the Company’s voting stock above certain thresholds may be subject to prior regulatory notice or approval under applicable federal banking laws. Investors are responsible for ensuring that they do not, directly or indirectly, acquire shares of our stock in excess of the amount that can be acquired without regulatory approval or notice under the BHC Act and the Change in Bank Control Act.


 
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Volcker Rule

We are prohibited under the Volcker Rule from (1) engaging in short-term proprietary trading for our own account, and (2) having certain ownership interests in and relationships with hedge funds or private equity funds. The fundamental prohibitions of the Volcker Rule apply to banking entities of any size, including the Company and its bank subsidiaries. The Volcker Rule regulations contain exemptions for market-making, hedging, underwriting, trading in U.S. government and agency obligations and also permit certain ownership interests in certain types of funds to be retained. They also permit the offering and sponsoring of funds under certain conditions. The Volcker Rule regulations impose significant compliance and reporting obligations on banking entities. The Company has put in place the compliance programs required by the Volcker Rule and has either divested or received extensions for any holdings in illiquid funds.

As of October 2019, the five regulatory agencies charged with implementing the Volcker Rule finalized amendments to the Volcker Rule's proprietary trading and compliance provisions. These amendments tailor the Volcker Rule’s compliance requirements to the amount of a firm’s trading activity, revise the definition of trading account, clarify certain key provisions in the Volcker Rule, and modify the information companies are required to provide the federal agencies. In early 2020, the five regulatory agencies proposed additional amendments to the Volcker Rule related to the restrictions on ownership interests in and relationships with covered funds. The Company will continue to monitor the Volcker Rule-related developments and assess their impact on its operations as necessary.

Capital Requirements of the Company and Subsidiary Banks

We and our subsidiary banks are required to maintain minimum risk-based and leverage capital ratios, as well as a capital conservation buffer ("Capital Conservation Buffer"), pursuant to regulations adopted by the Federal Reserve and the OCC to implement the Basel III capital framework (“U.S. Basel III Rule”).

Regulatory Capital and Risk-weighted Assets

Regulatory capital requirements apply to Common Equity Tier 1 capital, Tier 1 capital and total capital.

Common Equity Tier 1 capital consists primarily of common stock and related surplus (net of treasury stock), retained earnings, and certain minority interests, subject to certain regulatory adjustments. For us and our subsidiary banks, Common Equity Tier 1 capital does not include most elements of accumulated other comprehensive income (“AOCI”) because we exercised an opt-out election that was available to us with respect to certain changes in the capital treatment of AOCI. We made this election to avoid variations in the level of our capital depending on fluctuations in the fair value of our securities and derivatives portfolio.
Tier 1 capital is composed of Common Equity Tier 1 capital and Additional Tier 1 capital. Additional Tier 1 capital consists primarily of non-cumulative perpetual preferred stock and related surplus, certain minority interests and, subject to certain regulatory limits, certain grandfathered cumulative perpetual preferred stock and certain grandfathered trust preferred securities.
Total capital is composed of Tier 1 capital and Tier 2 capital. Tier 2 capital consists primarily of capital instruments and related surplus meeting specified requirements, and may include cumulative preferred stock and long-term perpetual preferred stock, mandatory convertible securities, intermediate preferred stock, certain trust preferred securities and subordinated debt. Also included in Tier 2 capital is the allowance for loan and lease losses limited to a maximum of 1.25% of risk-weighted assets (“RWAs”) and, for institutions that have exercised the opt-out election regarding the treatment of AOCI up to 45% of net unrealized gains on available-for-sale equity securities with readily determinable fair market values.

Certain adjustments to and deductions from capital are required for purposes of calculating these regulatory capital measures, including with respect to goodwill, intangible assets, certain deferred tax assets, AOCI and investments in the capital instruments of unconsolidated financial institutions. Certain of these adjustments and deductions were subject to phase-in periods that began on January 1, 2015 and ended on January 1, 2018. In July 2019, the U.S. bank regulators finalized changes to certain aspects of the U.S. Basel III capital rules that simplified, for certain bank holding companies and banks, including us and our subsidiary banks, the framework for capital deductions for mortgage servicing assets, certain deferred tax assets and investments in the capital instruments of unconsolidated financial institutions, and the recognition of minority interests in regulatory capital. These amendments are effective as of April 1, 2020, but banking organizations may adopt them as of January 1, 2020. The final rule also supersedes the transition rule that the U.S. bank regulators adopted in 2017 to allow certain banking organizations to continue to apply the transition treatment in effect in 2017 while the U.S. bank regulators considered the capital simplification proposals.


 
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In addition, in December 2018, the U.S. federal banking agencies finalized rules that permit BHCs and banks to phase in, for regulatory capital purposes, the day-one impact of Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) 2016-13 Financial Instruments - Credit Losses (Topic 326) (“CECL”) on retained earnings over a period of three years. For further discussion of the new CECL accounting standard, including the Company's implementation of such guidance, see “Summary of Critical Accounting Policies” under Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in Item 7 and Note 2 “Recent Accounting Pronouncements,” of the Consolidated Financial Statements presented under Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Capital Ratio Requirements

Under the U.S. Basel III Rule, we and our subsidiary banks are required to maintain the following minimum capital ratios:

Common Equity Tier 1 capital to RWAs ratio (“Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratio”) of 4.5%;
Tier 1 capital to RWAs ratio (“Tier 1 Capital Ratio”) of 6.0%;
Total capital to RWAs ratio (“Total Capital Ratio”) of 8.0%; and
Tier 1 capital to quarterly average assets (net of goodwill, certain other intangible assets and certain other deductions) ratio (“Tier 1 Leverage Ratio”) of 4.0%.

To be well-capitalized, our subsidiary banks must maintain the following capital ratios:

Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratio of 6.5% or greater;
Tier 1 Capital Ratio of 8.0% or greater;
Total Capital Ratio of 10.0% or greater; and
Tier 1 Leverage Ratio of 5.0% or greater.
 
The Federal Reserve has not yet revised the well-capitalized standard for bank holding companies to reflect the higher capital requirements imposed under the U.S. Basel III Rule. For purposes of the Federal Reserve’s Regulation Y, including determining whether a bank holding company meets the requirements to be a financial holding company, bank holding companies, such as the Company, must maintain a Tier 1 Capital Ratio of 6.0% or greater and a Total Capital Ratio of 10.0% or greater to be well-capitalized. If the Federal Reserve were to apply the same or a very similar well-capitalized standard to bank holding companies as that applicable to our subsidiary banks, the Company’s capital ratios as of December 31, 2019 would exceed such revised well-capitalized standard. The Federal Reserve may require bank holding companies, including us, to maintain capital ratios substantially in excess of mandated minimum levels, depending upon general economic conditions and a bank holding company’s particular condition, risk profile and growth plans.

Failure to be well-capitalized or to meet minimum capital requirements could result in certain mandatory and possible additional discretionary actions by regulators, including restrictions on our or our subsidiary banks’ ability to pay dividends or otherwise distribute capital or to receive regulatory approval of applications, or other restrictions on growth. Such actions, if undertaken, could have an adverse material effect on our operations or financial condition.

In addition to meeting the minimum capital requirements, under the U.S. Basel III Rule we and our banking subsidiaries must also maintain the required Capital Conservation Buffer to avoid becoming subject to restrictions on capital distributions and certain discretionary bonus payments to management. The Capital Conservation Buffer is calculated as a ratio of Common Equity Tier 1 capital to RWAs and it effectively increases the required minimum risk-based capital ratios. The Capital Conservation Buffer requirement was phased in over a three-year period that began in January 1, 2016. The phase-in period ended on January 1, 2019, and the Capital Conservation Buffer was then at its fully phased-in level of 2.5%. The Tier 1 Leverage Ratio is not impacted by the Capital Conservation Buffer, and a banking institution may be considered well-capitalized while remaining out of compliance with the Capital Conservation Buffer.

The table below summarizes the capital requirements that we and our subsidiary banks must satisfy to avoid limitations on capital distributions and certain discretionary bonus payments (i.e., the required minimum capital ratios plus the Capital Conservation Buffer):
 
 
Minimum Regulatory Capital Ratio Plus Capital Conservation Buffer
Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratio
 
7.00
%
Tier 1 Capital Ratio
 
8.50

Total Capital Ratio
 
10.50


 
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As of December 31, 2019, our and our subsidiary banks’ regulatory capital ratios were above the well-capitalized standards and met the Capital Conservation Buffer. Based on current estimates, we believe that we and our subsidiary banks will continue to exceed all applicable well-capitalized regulatory capital requirements and the Capital Conservation Buffer. Please refer to the table below for a summary of our regulatory capital ratios as of December 31, 2019, calculated using the regulatory capital methodology applicable to us during 2019.

 
 
Company Regulatory Capital Ratios
 
 
Minimum Regulatory Capital Ratio for the Company
 
Minimum Ratio + Capital Conservation Buffer(1)
 
Well-Capitalized Minimum
for the Company(2)
 
The Company
Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratio
 
4.50
%
 
7.00
%
 
N/A

 
9.2
%
Tier 1 Capital Ratio
 
6.00

 
8.50

 
6.00

 
9.6

Total Capital Ratio
 
8.00

 
10.50

 
10.00

 
12.2

Tier 1 Leverage Ratio
 
4.00

 
N/A

 
N/A

 
8.7

(1)
Reflects the Capital Conservation Buffer of 2.50% applicable during 2019.
(2)
Reflects the well-capitalized standard applicable to the Company for purposes of the Federal Reserve’s Regulation Y. The Federal Reserve has not yet revised the well-capitalized standard for BHCs to reflect the higher capital requirements imposed under the U.S. Basel III Rule or to add Common Equity Tier 1 capital ratio and Tier 1 leverage ratio requirements to this standard.  As a result, the Common Equity Tier 1 capital ratio and Tier 1 leverage ratio are denoted as “N/A” in this column.  If the Federal Reserve were to apply the same or a very similar well-capitalized standard to BHCs as the standard applicable to our subsidiary banks, the Company’s capital ratios as of December 31, 2019 would exceed such revised well-capitalized standard.

In addition to the above, as a result of participation in mortgage programs with certain government-sponsored entities as well as other investors, the Company has specific net worth requirements for continued participation.  As of December 31, 2019, the Company remained in compliance with such requirements.

Liquidity Requirements

Large financial firms are subject to the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (“LCR”) rule, which requires them to meet certain liquidity measures by holding an adequate amount of unencumbered high-quality liquid assets, such as Treasury securities and other sovereign debt. In addition, in May 2016 the federal banking agencies proposed a Net Stable Funding Ratio (“NSFR”) rule, which would require large financial firms to meet certain net stable funding measures by funding themselves with adequate amounts of medium- and long-term funding.

In October 2019, the federal banking agencies finalized a rule that, among other things, increased the asset thresholds at which large financial firms would be subject to the LCR and the proposed NSFR. We and our subsidiary banks are not subject to the LCR and would not be subject to the NSFR as proposed. Instead, monitoring of the Company’s and our banking subsidiaries’ liquidity is addressed as a supervisory matter by our federal and state banking regulators, without required formulaic measures set by regulation.

Capital Planning and Stress Testing Requirements

Pursuant to the Economic Growth Act, which increased the asset thresholds at which company-run stress test requirements apply, we are no longer required to conduct annual company-run stress tests. While none of our subsidiary banks met the previous asset thresholds or meet the current increased asset thresholds that would cause them to be subject to stress testing requirements under this rule, we run periodic capital stress testing on the consolidated entity and the banks and use those results to inform management on appropriate levels of capital needed.

Payment of Dividends and Share Repurchases

We are a legal entity separate and distinct from our banking and non-banking subsidiaries. Since our consolidated net income consists largely of net income of our bank and non-bank subsidiaries, our ability to pay dividends and repurchase shares depends upon our receipt of dividends from our subsidiaries. There are various federal and state law limitations on the extent to which our banking subsidiaries can declare and pay dividends to us, including regulatory capital requirements, general regulatory oversight to prevent unsafe or unsound practices and federal and state banking law requirements concerning the payment of dividends out

 
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of net profits or surplus. Applicable banking laws also prohibit, without prior regulatory approval, insured depository institutions, such as our bank subsidiaries, from making dividend distributions if such distributions are not paid out of available earnings. In addition, our right, and the right of our shareholders and creditors, to participate in any distribution of the assets or earnings of our bank and non-bank subsidiaries is further subject to the prior claims of creditors of our subsidiaries. No assurances can be given that the banks will, in any circumstances, pay dividends to the Company.

We and our bank subsidiaries must maintain the applicable Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Conservation Buffer to avoid becoming subject to restrictions on capital distributions, including dividends. The Capital Conservation Buffer is currently at its fully phased-in level of 2.5%. For more information on the Capital Conservation Buffer, see above.

Our ability to declare and pay dividends to our shareholders is similarly limited by federal banking law and Federal Reserve regulations and policy. Federal Reserve policy provides that a bank holding company should not pay dividends unless (1) the bank holding company’s net income over the last four quarters (net of dividends paid) is sufficient to fully fund the dividends, (2) the prospective rate of earnings retention appears consistent with the capital needs, asset quality and overall financial condition of the bank holding company and its subsidiaries and (3) the bank holding company will continue to meet minimum required capital adequacy ratios. The policy also provides that a bank holding company should inform the Federal Reserve reasonably in advance of declaring or paying a dividend that exceeds earnings for the period for which the dividend is being paid or that could result in a material adverse change to the bank holding company’s capital structure. Bank holding companies also are required to consult with the Federal Reserve before materially increasing dividends. The Federal Reserve could prohibit or limit the payment of dividends by a bank holding company if it determines that payment of the dividend would constitute an unsafe or unsound practice.

FDICIA and Prompt Corrective Action

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 (“FDICIA”) requires the federal bank regulatory agencies to take “prompt corrective action” regarding FDIC-insured depository institutions that do not meet certain capital adequacy standards. A depository institution’s treatment for purposes of the prompt corrective action provisions depends upon its level of capitalization and certain other factors. An institution that fails to remain well-capitalized becomes subject to a series of restrictions that increase in severity as its capital condition weakens. Such restrictions may include a prohibition on capital distributions, restrictions on asset growth or restrictions on the ability to receive regulatory approval of applications. The FDICIA also provides for enhanced supervisory authority over undercapitalized institutions, including authority for the appointment of a conservator or receiver for the institution. In certain instances, a bank holding company may be required to guarantee the performance of an undercapitalized subsidiary bank’s capital restoration plan.

As of December 31, 2019, each of the Company’s banks was categorized as “well-capitalized” and, in addition, met additional requirements under the Capital Conservation Buffer.

Enforcement Authority

The federal bank regulatory agencies have broad authority to issue orders to depository institutions and their holding companies prohibiting activities that constitute violations of law, rule, regulation, or administrative order, or that represent unsafe or unsound banking practices, as determined by the federal banking agencies. The federal banking agencies also are empowered to require affirmative actions to correct any violation or practice; issue administrative orders that can be judicially enforced; direct increases in capital; limit dividends and distributions; restrict growth; assess civil money penalties against institutions or individuals who violate any laws, regulations, orders, or written agreements with the agencies; order termination of certain activities of holding companies or their non-bank subsidiaries; remove officers and directors; order divestiture of ownership or control of a non-banking subsidiary by a holding company; or terminate deposit insurance and appoint a conservator or receiver.

Safety and Soundness

The federal bank regulatory agencies have adopted a set of guidelines prescribing safety and soundness standards relating to internal controls and information systems, informational security, internal audit systems, loan documentation, credit underwriting, interest rate exposure, asset growth, and compensation, fees and benefits. The guidelines prohibit excessive compensation as an unsafe and unsound practice, and describe compensation as excessive when the amounts paid are unreasonable or disproportionate to the services performed by an executive officer, employee, director or principal shareholder.

During the past decade, properly managing risks has been identified as critical to the conduct of safe and sound banking activities and has become even more important as new technologies, product innovation, and the size and speed of financial transactions have changed the nature of banking markets.  The agencies have identified a spectrum of risks facing banking institutions including, but not limited to, credit, market, liquidity, operational, legal, and reputational risk. Some of the regulatory pronouncements have

 
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focused on operational risk, which arises from the potential that inadequate information systems, operational problems, breaches in internal controls, fraud, or unforeseen catastrophes will result in unexpected losses. New products and services, third-party risk management and cybersecurity are critical sources of operational risk that financial institutions are expected to address in the current environment. Our subsidiary banks are expected to have active board and senior management oversight; adequate policies, procedures, and limits; adequate risk measurement, monitoring, and management information systems; and comprehensive and effective internal controls.

Cross-Guarantee

Under the cross-guarantee provision of the FDIA, insured depository institutions such as our subsidiary banks may be liable to the FDIC for any losses incurred, or reasonably expected to be incurred, by the FDIC resulting from the default of, or FDIC assistance to, any other commonly controlled insured depository institution. An FDIC cross-guarantee claim against a depository institution is superior in right of payment to claims of the holding company and its affiliates against such depository institution. All of our subsidiary banks are commonly controlled within the meaning of the cross-guarantee provision.

Insurance of Deposit Accounts

The deposits of each of our subsidiary banks are insured by the Depositors Insurance Fund ("DIF") up to the standard maximum deposit insurance amount of $250,000 per depositor. Each of our subsidiary banks is subject to deposit insurance assessments based on the risk it poses to the DIF, as determined by the capital category and supervisory category to which it is assigned. The FDIC has authority to raise or lower assessment rates on insured deposits in order to achieve statutorily required reserve ratios in the DIF and to impose special additional assessments. Until September 30, 2018, insured depository institutions with total consolidated assets of $10 billion or more were required to pay an assessment surcharge. None of our bank subsidiaries were subject to this surcharge. However, there is a risk that our subsidiary banks’ deposit insurance premiums will increase if failures of insured depository institutions deplete the DIF or if the FDIC were to change its view of the risk that they pose to the DIF.

In addition, the Deposit Insurance Fund Act of 1996 authorized the Financing Corporation (“FICO”) to impose assessments on DIF assessable deposits in order to service the interest on FICO’s bond obligations. The FICO assessment rate was adjusted quarterly through the final collection in the second quarter of 2019. The rate was approximately 0.120 basis points for the second quarter of 2019 (12 cents per $10,000 of assessable deposits).

Limits on Loans to One Borrower and Loans to Insiders

Federal banking laws impose limits on the amount of credit a bank can extend to any one person (or group of related persons). For national banks, this limit includes credit exposures arising from derivative transactions, repurchase agreements, and securities lending and borrowing transactions.

Applicable banking laws and regulations also place restrictions on loans by FDIC-insured banks and their affiliates to their directors, executive officers and principal shareholders.

Lending Standards and Guidance

The federal banking agencies have adopted uniform regulations prescribing standards for extensions of credit that are secured by liens or interests in real estate or made for the purpose of financing permanent improvements to real estate. Under these regulations, all insured depository institutions, such as our subsidiary banks, must adopt and maintain written policies establishing appropriate limits and standards for extensions of credit that are secured by liens or interests in real estate or are made for the purpose of financing permanent improvements to real estate. These policies must establish loan portfolio diversification standards, prudent underwriting standards (including loan-to-value limits) that are clear and measurable, loan administration procedures, and documentation, approval and reporting requirements. The real estate lending policies must reflect consideration of the federal bank regulators’ Interagency Guidelines for Real Estate Lending Policies.

Transaction Account Reserves

The Dodd-Frank Act eliminated prohibitions under federal law against the payment of interest on demand deposits, thus allowing businesses to have interest-bearing checking accounts.

Federal Reserve regulations require depository institutions to maintain reserves against their transaction accounts (primarily NOW and regular checking accounts). For 2020, the first $16.9 million of otherwise reservable balances are exempt from the reserve requirements; for transaction accounts aggregating more than $16.9 million to $127.5 million, the reserve requirement is 3% of

 
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total transaction accounts; and for net transaction accounts in excess of $127.5 million, the reserve requirement is 10% of the aggregate amount of total transaction accounts in excess of $127.5 million. These reserve requirements are subject to annual adjustment by the Federal Reserve. Our banks are in compliance with these requirements.

De Novo Branching and De Novo Banks

With the approval of applicable regulators, national banks and state banks may establish de novo branches in states other than their home state as if such state was the bank’s home state.

For a three-year period, newly chartered banks are subject to enhanced supervisory procedures, including higher capital requirements, more frequent examinations and other requirements.

Anti-Tying Provisions

Each of our subsidiary banks is prohibited from conditioning the availability of any product or service, or varying the price for any product or service, on the requirement that the customer obtain some additional product or service from the bank or any of its affiliates, other than loans, deposits and trust services.

Transactions with Affiliates

Certain transactions between a bank and its holding company or other non-bank affiliates are subject to various restrictions imposed by state and federal law and regulation. Such “covered transactions” include loans and other extensions of credit by the bank to the affiliate, investments in securities issued by the affiliate, purchases of assets from the affiliate, certain derivative transactions that create a credit exposure to an affiliate, the acceptance of securities issued by the affiliate as collateral for a loan, and the issuance of a guarantee, acceptance or letter of credit on behalf of the affiliate. In general, these affiliate transaction rules limit the amount of covered transactions between an institution and a single affiliate, as well as the aggregate amount of covered transactions between an institution and all of its affiliates. In addition, covered transactions that are credit transactions must be secured by acceptable collateral, and all affiliate transactions, including those that do not qualify as covered transactions, must be on terms that are at least as favorable to the bank as then-prevailing in the market for comparable transactions with unaffiliated entities. Transactions between affiliated banks may be subject to certain exemptions under applicable federal law.

Community Reinvestment Act

Under the CRA, insured depository institutions, including our subsidiary banks, have a continuing and affirmative obligation to help meet the credit needs of its entire community, including low and moderate-income neighborhoods. The CRA does not establish specific lending requirements or programs for insured depository institutions nor does it limit an insured depository institution’s discretion to develop the types of products and services that it believes are best suited to its particular community, consistent with the CRA. However, insured depository institutions are rated on their performance in meeting the needs of their communities. The CRA requires each federal banking agency to take an insured depository institution’s CRA record into account when evaluating certain applications by the insured depository institution or its holding company, including applications for charters, branches and other deposit facilities, relocations, mergers, consolidations, acquisitions of assets or assumptions of liabilities, and bank and savings association acquisitions. An unsatisfactory record of performance may be the basis for denying or conditioning approval of an application by an insured depository institution or its holding company. The CRA also requires that all institutions publicly disclose their CRA ratings. Each of our subsidiary banks received a “satisfactory” or better rating from the Federal Reserve or the OCC on its most recent CRA performance evaluation.

Leaders of the federal banking agencies recently have indicated their support for revising the CRA regulatory framework, and in December 2019, the OCC and FDIC issued a joint proposed rule that would amend the CRA regulatory framework. It is too early to tell whether and to what extent any changes will be made to applicable CRA requirements.

Compliance with Consumer Protection Laws

Our subsidiary banks and some other operating subsidiaries are subject to a variety of federal and state statutes and regulations designed to protect consumers. The CFPB has broad rulemaking authority over a wide range of federal consumer protection laws that apply to banks and other providers of financial products and services, including the authority to prohibit “unfair, deceptive or abusive” acts and practices, but examination and supervision is carried out by each subsidiary bank’s primary federal banking agency and, where applicable, state banking agency, not the CFPB. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act authorizes state attorneys general and other state officials to enforce consumer protection rules issued by the CFPB. State authorities have recently increased their focus on and enforcement of consumer protection rules.

 
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Interest and other charges collected or contracted for by banks are subject to state usury laws and federal laws concerning interest rates. Loan operations are also subject to federal laws applicable to credit transactions, such as:    

the federal Truth-In-Lending Act and Regulation Z issued by the CFPB, governing disclosures of credit terms to consumer borrowers;
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and Regulation X issued by the CFPB, requiring that borrowers for mortgage loans for one- to four-family residential real estate receive various disclosures, including good faith estimates of settlement costs, lender servicing and escrow account practices, and prohibiting certain practices that increase the cost of settlement services;
the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and Regulation C issued by the CFPB, requiring financial institutions to provide information to enable the public and public officials to determine whether a financial institution is fulfilling its obligation to help meet the housing needs of the community it serves;
the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Regulation B issued by the CFPB, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of various prohibited factors in extending credit;
the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Regulation V issued by the CFPB, governing the use and provision of information to consumer reporting agencies;
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Regulation F issued by the CFPB, governing the manner in which consumer debts may be collected by collection agencies;
the Service Members Civil Relief Act, applying to all debts incurred prior to commencement of active military service (including credit card and other open-end debt) and limiting the amount of interest, including service and renewal charges and any other fees or charges (other than bona fide insurance) that is related to the obligation or liability; and
the guidance of the various federal agencies charged with the responsibility of implementing such federal laws.

Deposit operations are subject to, among others:

the Truth in Savings Act and Regulation DD issued by the CFPB, which require disclosure of deposit terms to consumers;
Regulation CC issued by the Federal Reserve Board, which relates to the availability of deposit funds to consumers;
the Right to Financial Privacy Act, which imposes a duty to maintain the confidentiality of consumer financial records and prescribes procedures for complying with administrative subpoenas of financial records; and
the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and Regulation E issued by the CFPB, which governs automatic deposits to and withdrawals from deposit accounts and customers’ rights and liabilities arising from the use of automated teller machines and other electronic banking services.

There are consumer protection standards that apply to functional areas of operation rather than applying only to loan or deposit products. Our subsidiary banks and some other operating subsidiaries are also subject to certain state laws and regulations designed to protect consumers.

The CFPB has promulgated many mortgage-related final rules since it was established under the Dodd-Frank Act, including rules related to the ability to repay and qualified mortgage standards, mortgage servicing standards, loan originator compensation standards, high-cost mortgage requirements, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requirements and appraisal and escrow standards for higher priced mortgages. Most of the provisions of these mortgage-related final rules are currently effective. In addition, several proposed revisions to mortgage-related rules are pending finalization. The mortgage-related final rules issued by the CFPB have materially restructured the origination, servicing and securitization of residential mortgages in the United States. These rules have impacted, and will continue to impact, the business practices of mortgage lenders, including the Company.

In order to ensure compliance with all mortgage-related rules and regulations, the Company consolidated its consumer mortgage loan origination and loan servicing operations primarily within Wintrust Mortgage. All consumer mortgage applications are taken through Wintrust Mortgage, which has extensively trained loan originators located at many of our branches. While in certain limited cases our banks may offer specialized consumer mortgages to our customers, substantially all consumer mortgages for all of our banks are originated and closed by Wintrust Mortgage. Wintrust Mortgage then sells loans to third parties or to our banks. To the extent that we retain consumer mortgage loans in our bank portfolios, our banks have engaged Wintrust Mortgage to provide loan servicing.

Changes to consumer protection regulations, including those promulgated by the CFPB, could affect our business but the likelihood, timing and scope of any such changes and the impact any such change may have on us cannot be determined with any certainty. See Item 1A. Risk Factors.

 
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Debit Interchange

We are subject to a statutory requirement that interchange fees for electronic debit transactions that are paid to or charged by payment card issuers, including our bank subsidiaries, be reasonable and proportional to the cost incurred by the issuer. Interchange fees for electronic debit transactions are limited to 21 cents plus 0.05% of the transaction, plus an additional one cent per transaction fraud adjustment, impose requirements regarding routing and exclusivity of electronic debit transactions, and generally require that debit cards be usable in at least two unaffiliated networks.

Anti-Money Laundering Programs

The Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) and USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (“USA PATRIOT Act”) contain anti-money laundering (“AML”) and financial transparency provisions intended to detect, and prevent the use of the U.S. financial system for, money laundering and terrorist financing activities. The BSA, as amended by the USA PATRIOT Act, requires depository institutions and their holding companies to undertake activities including maintaining an AML program, verifying the identity of clients, monitoring for and reporting suspicious transactions, reporting on cash transactions exceeding specified thresholds, and responding to requests for information by regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies. Each of our subsidiary banks is subject to the BSA and, therefore, is required to provide its employees with AML training, designate an AML compliance officer and undergo an annual, independent audit to assess the effectiveness of its AML program. We have implemented policies, procedures and internal controls that are designed to comply with these AML requirements. In May 2016, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), which is a unit of the Treasury Department that drafts regulations implementing the USA PATRIOT Act and other AML and BSA legislation, issued final rules governing enhanced customer due diligence. The rules impose several new obligations on covered financial institutions with respect to their “legal entity customers,” including corporations, limited liability companies and other similar entities. For each such customer that opens an account (including an existing customer opening a new account), the covered financial institution must identify and verify the customer’s “beneficial owners,” who are specifically defined in the rules. The rules contain an exemption for certain insurance premium financing transactions. Bank regulators are focusing their examinations on anti-money laundering compliance, and we will continue to monitor and augment, where necessary, our AML compliance programs. The federal banking agencies are required, when reviewing bank and bank holding company acquisition or merger applications, to take into account the effectiveness of the anti-money laundering activities of the applicant.

Office of Foreign Assets Control Regulation

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or “OFAC,” is responsible for administering economic sanctions that affect transactions with designated foreign countries, nationals and others, as defined by various Executive Orders and Acts of Congress.  OFAC-administered sanctions take many different forms.  For example, sanctions may include: (1) restrictions on tra