The Biden administration has already picked financial regulatory nominees who are polar opposites from their Trump-appointed predecessors. But the White House's choice to run the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency could be its most left-leaning selection so far. Cornell University law professor Saule Omarova, who was named as the OCC nominee Thursday, is a noted cryptocurrency skeptic, proposed moving customer deposits to the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve, and even questioned a recent acquisition spree by JPMorgan Chase. "Omarova is likely to be Biden's most polarizing pick for a top financial regulatory job," Ian Katz, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners, said in a research note. "That's saying something in a group that includes SEC Chairman Gary Gensler and still-waiting-for-confirmation [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] nominee Rohit Chopra." As an academic, Omarova has argued for substantial restructurings of the financial system.
As part of its ongoing efforts to help customers better navigate their financial lives, Citizens announced several initiatives designed to make banking more worry-free, transparent and accessible, including a new way to avoid overdraft fees and a commitment to helping ensure that underserved communities have access to banking services. The bank introduced Citizens Peace Of Mind™, a new deposit feature providing customers with the ability to avoid the expense of unexpected overdraft fees. This feature -- which was added to all Citizens Checking accounts on Oct. 1 – allows customers who unexpectedly overdraw their accounts the ability to deposit or transfer enough funds to bring their account to a positive available balance prior to the close of business the following business day, which will automatically reverse all overdraft fees. "Citizens Peace of Mind™ empowers customers by helping them to avoid unnecessary fees," said Brendan Coughlin, head of Consumer Banking at Citizens. "Life can be hectic, and we believe a bank should operate as a transparent and trusted financial partner, helping customers keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets." This new feature will complement the $5 Overdraft Pass, a customer protection that the bank has offered for several years on all checking and money market accounts. If a customer overdraws their account with a transaction of $5 or less, Citizens does not charge an overdraft fee.
Renegade Capital is the activist's podcast for finance and investments. The hosts, Leah Fremouw of Virginia Community Capital, Andrea Longton of OFN, and Ebony Perkins of Self-Help Credit Union, interview thought leaders who go into the ring every day to fight against the racist, sexist, and exclusive norms established by traditional financial and capital systems. Listeners walk away inspired by the guests and armed with actionable tips and tools to use money to create the world in which they want to live. The first episode was released on Tuesday, featuring special guest Cat Berman of CNote
Financial giant JPMorgan Chase has increased its direct equity investments in Minority Depository Institutions and Community Development Financial Institutions to $100 million and has added 10 new institutions as recipients. JPMorgan Chase has announced investments in the following Black- and Latino- led MDIs and CDFIs: Arkadelphia, Arkansas-based Southern Bancorp; Savannah, Georgia-based Carver State Bank; Atlanta-based Citizens Trust Bank; Baltimore-based The Harbor Bank of Maryland; Detroit-based First Independence Bank; Columbia, South Carolina-based Optus Bank; McAllen, Texas-based Rio Bank; Houston-based Unity National Bank; Washington, D.C.-based Industrial Bank; and Miami-based Sunstate Bank. JPMorgan Chase’s latest round of direct equity investments more than doubles the $50 million it originally pledged to invest in MDIs and CDFIs. The bank's initial round of investments, which was dispersed earlier this year, included the holding companies for New Orleans-based Liberty Bank and Trust; Durham, North Carolina-based M&F Bank; New York City-based Carver Federal Savings Bank; and Los Angeles-based Broadway Federal Bank.
It's a far cry from the postal banking system that progressives favor and bankers dislike, but the U.S. Postal Service's entry into the check-cashing space is still making a big splash. Loud responses Monday from both boosters and critics reflected a widespread perception that the pilot program could be a first step toward a wider implementation of postal banking. The modest scope of the program contrasted with the size of the reaction it generated. The recently launched program is only operating in four offices — in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Falls Church, Virginia and the Bronx, New York — out of the Postal Service's more than 30,000 locations nationwide. The USPS is only accepting business and payroll checks of $500 or less, shutting out larger checks and any personal checks. The post office will not provide cash in exchange for the checks, and will instead let customers purchase a single-use gift card of up to $500.
Five witnesses testified to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services' Subcommittee on on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions in a hearing entitled "The Future of Banking: How Consolidation, Nonbank Competition, and Technology are Reshaping the Banking System." Among the witnesses was Desiree Jackson, Assistant Vice President for Treasury Management at Beneficial State Bank. Click "read more" to read the committee memorandum and watch a recording of the hearing.
BancPlus Corporation, parent of Ridgeland, Mississippi-based BankPlus, said Wednesday that it is buying New Orleans-based First Trust Corporation, which owns First Bank and Trust. The terms of the deal were not disclosed but the banks said in a news release that First Trust Corporation shareholders will receive a combination of shares of BancPlus' common stock and cash. The takeover will have a total of 93 branches, combining BancPlus' 79 branches with First Bank and Trust's 14, across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. Assets will total $6.4 billion: $5.1 billion from BancPlus together with $1.3 billion from First Bank and Trust.
The release of 2020 Census population data provided much-anticipated insight into the demographic trends reshaping our nation, but it also unleashed a wave of predictable headlines touting the demise of "shrinking rural America." The familiar narrative of "two Americas"—one diverse, metropolitan, and successful and one white, rural, and declining—cropped up once more, often explicitly equating "rural" with "white" or, even more simplistically, with white Trump voters. While this narrative provides an easy way to think about America in binary terms, it obscures the far more complicated trends shaping rural America: most notably, its growing demographic diversity over the last decade. While it is true that the population of nonmetropolitan America fell by about half a percentage point between 2010 and 2020, the future of rural America is increasingly marked by growing diversity and expanding inequity within and across regions—creating an intricate picture that binary thinking can't capture. Here, we present three demographic trends from the 2020 Census that upend outdated assumptions about nonmetropolitan America and conclude with a call to embrace a more inclusive future for increasingly diverse and dynamic rural towns and regions.
The Economic Mobility Corps (EMC) is a joint initiative of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) and AmeriCorps that places full-time national service members in Certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to enhance their capacity to provide financial literacy, financial planning, budgeting, saving, and other financial counseling activities. Economic Mobility Corps members placed in Certified CDFIs will receive training on the principles of financial counseling and financial literacy and assist CDFIs in promoting access to capital and credit in distressed and underserved areas. A total of $1.9 million is available for awards to EMC recipients. Applications are due to AmeriCorps by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, January 5, 2022. Successful applicants will be notified by AmeriCorps by mid May 2022.
Amalgamated Financial in New York is acquiring Amalgamated Investments Co., the parent of Amalgamated Bank of Chicago, for $98.1 million in cash. While their names and missions are similar, the two companies are not affiliated. Both companies emphasize environmental, social and governance missions, serving nonprofit organizations and unions. Together, the companies said they would also serve political organizations and philanthropies that support environmental sustainability and social enterprises. "This acquisition aligns with our disciplined strategy of pursuing accretive opportunities that allow us to expand geographically, strengthen our financial resources and increase our customer base while leveraging our unique expertise in operating as an ESG-driven bank," Priscilla Sims Brown, Amalgamated Financial's president and CEO, said in a press release Wednesday.