|TEV||73||TEV/EBIT||3||TTM 2019-09-30, in MM, except price, ratios|
|Item 1. Business|
|Item 1A. Risk Factors|
|Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments|
|Item 2. Properties|
|Item 3. Legal Proceedings|
|Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures|
|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 Disclosures|
|Item 9A. Controls and Procedures|
|Item 9B. Other Information|
|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 Accounting Fees and Services|
|Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules|
|Item 16. Form 10 - K Summary|
|Balance Sheet||Income Statement||Cash Flow|
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20429
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES
EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended
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:
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
Name of Exchange on Which Registered
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. ☐Yes ☒
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 ☒
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. ☒
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). ☒
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 definitions 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 ☐
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 has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 USC. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).
The approximate aggregate market value of voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant is $
As of March 25, 2021 there were
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement, to be filed with the Commission no later than 120 days after December 31, 2020 in connection with the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K
FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2020
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Meridian Corporation (the “Corporation” or “Meridian”) may from time to time make written or oral “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include statements with respect to Meridian Corporation’s strategies, goals, beliefs, expectations, estimates, intentions, capital raising efforts, financial condition and results of operations, future performance and business. Statements preceded by, followed by, or that include the words “may,” “could,” “should,” “pro forma,” “looking forward,” “would,” “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” or similar expressions generally indicate a forward-looking statement. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that are subject to change based on various important factors (some of which, in whole or in part, are beyond Meridian Corporation’s control). Numerous competitive, economic, regulatory, legal and technological factors, risks and uncertainties including, without limitation: the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic and government responses thereto, on the U.S. economy, including the markets in which we operate; actions that we and our customers take in response to these factors and the effects such actions have on our operations, products, services and customer relationships; and the risk that the Small Business Administration may not fund some or all Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan guaranties, among others, could cause Meridian Corporation’s financial performance to differ materially from the goals, plans, objectives, intentions and expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements. Meridian Corporation cautions that the foregoing factors are not exclusive, and neither such factors nor any such forward-looking statement takes into account the impact of any future events. All forward-looking statements and information set forth herein are based on management’s current beliefs and assumptions as of the date hereof and speak only as of the date they are made. For a more complete discussion of the assumptions, risks and uncertainties related to our business, you are encouraged to review Meridian Corporation’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 and subsequently filed quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K that update or provide information in addition to the information included in the Form 10-K and Form 10-Q filings, if any. Meridian Corporation does not undertake to update any forward-looking statement whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time by Meridian Corporation or by or on behalf of Meridian Bank.
Item 1. Business
Meridian Corporation is a bank holding company engaged in banking activities through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Meridian Bank (the “Bank”), a full-service, state-chartered commercial bank with offices in the Delaware Valley tri-state market, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, in addition to Maryland. We have a financial services business model with significant non-interest income streams from mortgage lending, small business (“SBA”) lending and wealth management services. We provide services to small and middle market businesses, professionals and retail customers throughout our market area. We have a modern, progressive, consultative approach to creating innovative solutions for our customers. We are technology driven, with a culture that incorporates significant use of customer preferred alternative delivery channels, such as mobile banking, remote deposit capture and bank-to-bank ACH. Our ‘Meridian everywhere’ philosophy of community presence, along with our strategic business footprint, allows us to provide the high degree of service, convenience and products our customers need to achieve their financial objectives. We provide this service through three principal business line distribution channels, described further below.
Corporate Structure and Business Lines
The Corporation is the parent to the Bank. The Bank is the parent to four wholly-owned subsidiaries: Meridian Land Settlement Services, LLC, which provides title insurance services; Apex Realty, LLC, a real estate holding company; Meridian Wealth Partners, LLC, a registered investment advisory firm, (“Meridian Wealth”); and Meridian Equipment Finance, LLC, an equipment leasing company. With these subsidiaries, the Corporation is organized into the following three lines of business.
The first line of business is our traditional banking operations, serving both commercial and consumer customers via deposits and treasury management, commercial and industrial lending and leasing, commercial real estate lending, small business lending, consumer and home equity lending, private banking, merchant services, and title and land settlement services.
We have a strong credit culture that promotes diversity of lending products with a focus on commercial businesses. We have no particular credit concentration. Our commercial loans have been proactively managed in an effort to achieve a balanced portfolio with no unusual exposure to one industry.
Our commercial and industrial lending department supports our small business and middle market borrowers with a comprehensive selection of loan products including financing solutions for wholesalers, manufacturers, distributors, service providers, importers and exporters, among others. Our portfolio includes business lines of credit, term loans, small business lending (“SBA”), lease financing and shared national credits (“SNCs”).
Our SBA team and their alliances with local economic development councils provide SBA and other financing options to help grow local businesses, create and retain jobs and stimulate our local economy. In addition, Meridian understands that connections with the local professional industries benefit us, not only with these individuals as customers or investors, but also given the proven potential for business referrals.
The commercial real estate division offers permanent/amortizing loans, owner-occupied commercial real estate loans and land development and construction loans for residential and commercial projects. Our approach is to apply disciplined and integrated standards to underwriting, credit and portfolio management. The extensive backgrounds of our commercial real estate lending team, not only in banking, but also directly in the builder/developer fields, bring a unique perspective and ability to communicate and consider all elements of a project and related risk from the clients’ viewpoint as well as ours.
The second line of business is mortgage banking. Our mortgage consultants guide our clients through the complex process of obtaining a loan to meet individual specific needs. Originations consist of consumer for-sale mortgage lending, loans to be held within our portfolio, and wholesale mortgage lending services. Clients include homeowners and smaller scale investors. The mortgage division operates and originates mortgage loans in the Delaware Valley tri-state market, in addition to the Maryland markets, most typically for 1-4 family dwellings, with the intention of selling substantially all of these loans in the secondary market to qualified investors, while retaining the servicing rights on these loans. Mortgages are originated through sales and marketing initiatives, as well as realtor, builder, bank, advertising and customer referral resources. The mortgage division performs origination, processing, underwriting, closing and post-closing functions both from our Blue Bell mortgage headquarters with 8 other production/processing offices in the Delaware Valley tri-state market, and from Maryland through our expanded footprint of 7 other production/processing offices in the state starting in early 2020.
Wealth Management and Advisory Services
Meridian Wealth, a registered investment advisor and wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank, provides a comprehensive array of wealth management services and products and the trusted guidance to help its clients and our banking customers prepare for the future. Such clients include professionals, higher net worth individuals, companies seeking to provide benefits plans for their employees, and more. Acquiring and sustaining wealth is a gradual progression, one that requires a considerable amount of thought and planning. Our process takes a comprehensive approach to financial planning and encompasses all aspects of retirement, with an emphasis on sustainability. Meridian Wealth offers a significant enhancement to both our capacity and the variety of tools we can use to help bring effective financial planning and wealth management services to a broad segment of customers.
Meridian is headquartered in Malvern, PA and has six full-service branches. Its main branch, in Paoli, serves the Main Line. The West Chester and Media branches serve Chester and Delaware counties, respectively, while the Doylestown and Blue Bell branches serve Bucks and Montgomery counties, respectively. Our sixth branch is in Philadelphia. These branches provide “Relationship Hubs” for our regional lending groups and allow Meridian to proceed in its plan for serving markets in each of the central (at or near the county seat) townships of the counties in and surrounding Philadelphia. In addition to our deposit taking branches, there are currently 17 other locations, including headquarters for Corporate, and the Wealth Division and the Mortgage Divisions.
Demographic information for the five county Philadelphia metropolitan area shows our primary market to be stable, with moderate population growth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau – Quick Facts 2015 – 2019, the median household income in the area is $80,261 compared to the national average of $62,843. Unemployment in the five county Philadelphia metropolitan area is 6.2%, compared to the national average of 6.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for November 2020.
Overall, the banking business in the suburban Philadelphia market area is highly competitive. Meridian Bank faces substantial competition both in attracting deposits and in originating loans. Meridian Bank competes with local, regional and national commercial banks, savings banks, and savings and loan associations. Other competitors include money market mutual funds, mortgage bankers, insurance companies, stock brokerage firms, regulated small loan companies, credit unions, and issuers of commercial paper and other securities.
Meridian Bank seeks to compete for business principally on the basis of high quality, personal service to customers, customer access to our decision-makers, and customer preferred electronic delivery channels while providing an attractive banking platform and competitive interest rates and fees.
Human Capital Resources
At December 31, 2020, we employed 381 individuals, nearly all of whom are full-time. None of these employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements, and the Corporation believes it enjoys good relations with its personnel. In December of 2020, the Bank was named by the Independent Community Bankers of American (“ICBA”) as one of their ‘Best Community Banks to Work For’ in 2020. As an integrated full-service financial institution, approximately 41% of our employees are employed through our banking segment, 56% through our mortgage segment, and 3% for our wealth segment. We encourage and support the development of our employees and, whenever possible, strive to fill vacancies with internal candidates.
Our Current Capital Stock Structure
As of December 31, 2020 Meridian had 6,135,566 shares of common stock, $1 par value, issued and outstanding. There is no preferred stock outstanding.
Implications of Being an Emerging Growth Company
We qualify as an “emerging growth company” as defined by the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (“JOBS Act”). An emerging growth company may take advantage of reduced reporting requirements and is relieved of certain other significant requirements that are otherwise generally applicable to public companies. As an emerging growth company,
|●||we may present only two years of audited financial statements and only two years of related management discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations;|
|●||we are permitted to provide less extensive disclosure about our executive compensation arrangements; and|
|●||we are not required to give our shareholders non-binding advisory votes on executive compensation or golden parachute arrangements.|
We have elected to take advantage of the scaled disclosure requirements and other relief described above and may take advantage of these exemptions for so long as we remain an emerging growth company. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest of (i) the end of the fiscal year during which we have total annual gross revenues of $1,070,000,000 or more, (ii) the end of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the completion of our initial public offering, (iii) the date on which we have, during the previous three-year period, issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt and (iv) the end of the fiscal year in which the market value of our equity securities that are held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of June 30 of that year.
In addition to scaled disclosure and the other relief described above, the JOBS Act permits us an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards affecting public companies. We have elected to take advantage of this extended transition period, which means that the financial statements included herein, as well as any financial statements that we file in the future, will not be subject to all new or revised accounting standards generally applicable to public companies for the transition period for so long as we remain an emerging growth company or until we affirmatively and irrevocably opt out of the extended transition period under the JOBS Act. If we do so, we will prominently disclose this decision in the first periodic report following our decision, and such decision is irrevocable.
Information about Meridian
Our executive offices are located at 9 Old Lincoln Highway, Malvern, PA 19355 and our telephone number is (484) 568-5000. Our Internet website is www.meridianbanker.com. Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K, and all amendments thereto, from November 7, 2017 through August 18, 2018 have been filed with the FDIC. Since August 19, 2018, all reports on Form 8-K, and Form 10-Q along with this Annual Report on Form 10-K have been filed with the SEC. Also on our website are our Audit Committee and Compensation Committee Charters. The information contained in our website or in any websites linked by our website, is not part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The Corporation’s filings with the SEC can also be accessed at the SEC’s internet website: http://www.sec.gov.
Investors can obtain copies of Meridian’s annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, on Meridian’s website (accessible under “Investor Relations” – “SEC Filings”) as soon as reasonably practicable after Meridian has filed such materials with, or furnished them to, the SEC. Meridian will also furnish a paper copy of such filings free of charge upon request.
We also file reports of our condition and income, known as “Call Reports,” with the FDIC and the Parent Company Only Financial Statement for Small Holding Companies known as the “FR Y-9SP” with the Federal Reserve. These reports are available on the FFIEC Central Data Repository’s Public Data Distribution website at cdr.ffiec.gov/public.
Current Overview of the Impact from the COVID-19 Pandemic
Overview. Our business has been, and continues to be, impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization and a national emergency by the President of the United States. The spread of COVID-19 has created a global public health crisis that has resulted in unprecedented uncertainty, volatility and disruption in financial markets and in governmental, commercial and consumer activity in the United States and globally, including the markets that we serve. Efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 have included shelter-in-place orders, the closure of non-essential businesses, travel restrictions, supply chain disruptions and prohibitions on public gatherings, among other things, throughout many parts of the United States and, in particular, the markets in which we operate. These responses and restrictions have led to a loss of revenues for certain industries and a sudden increase in unemployment, volatility in oil and gas prices and in business valuations, market downturns and volatility, changes in consumer behaviors, related emergency response legislation and an expectation that Federal Reserve policy will maintain a low interest rate environment for the foreseeable future.
Impact on our Operations. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and neighboring states, many jurisdictions declared health emergencies. The resulting closures and/or limited operations of non-essential businesses and related economic disruption have impacted our operations as well as the operations of our customers. Financial services were identified as a Critical Infrastructure Sector by the Department of Homeland Security. Accordingly, our business has remained open throughout the pandemic. To address the issues arising as a result of COVID-19, we implemented the following: implemented our communications plans to ensure our employees, customers and critical vendors are kept abreast of developments affecting our operations; restricted all non-essential travel and large external gatherings and have instituted a mandatory quarantine period for anyone that has traveled to an impacted area; after temporarily closing all of our branches and other corporate facilities to non-employees, except for certain limited cases by appointment only, we reopened our financial center lobbies; Expanded remote-access availability so that nearly all of our workforce has the capability to work from home or other remote locations. All activities are performed in accordance with our compliance and information security policies designed to ensure customer data and other information is properly safeguarded; and instituted mandatory social distancing policies for those employees not working remotely.
Impact on our Financial Position and Results of Operations. Our financial position and results of operations are particularly susceptible to the ability of our loan customers to meet loan obligations, the availability of our workforce, the availability of our vendors and the decline in the value of assets held by us. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant decrease in commercial and consumer activity throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and neighboring states in our market area, as well as nationally. This decrease in business activity has caused and may continue to cause our customers, vendors and counterparties to be unable to meet existing payment or other obligations to us. The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with certain pre-existing factors, including, but not limited to, international trade disputes, inflation risks and oil price volatility, could further destabilize the financial markets and geographies in which we operate. The resulting economic pressure on consumers and uncertainty regarding the sustainability of any economic improvements has impacted the creditworthiness of potential and current borrowers. Borrower loan defaults that adversely affect our earnings correlate with deteriorating economic conditions, which, in turn, are likely to impact our borrowers' creditworthiness and our ability to make loans. See further information related to the risk exposure of our loan portfolio under the sections captioned “Loans” and “Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses” elsewhere in this discussion.
Legislative and Regulatory Developments. Actions taken by the federal government and the Federal Reserve and other bank regulatory agencies to mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19 have had an impact on our financial position and results of operations. The Federal Reserve lowered the target for the federal funds rate to a range of between zero to 0.25% effective on March 16, 2020. The decline in interest rates has already led to new all-time low yields across the US Treasury maturity curve. In September 2020, the Federal Reserve indicated that it expects to maintain the targeted federal funds rate at current levels until such time that labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Federal Open Market Committee's assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2% and is on track to moderately exceed 2% for some time. This timeframe is currently expected to last through 2023.
To address the economic impact in the U.S., in March and April 2020, the President signed into law four economic stimulus packages to provide relief to businesses and individuals, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act”). Among other measures, the CARES Act created funding for the Small Business Administration ("SBA”) Paycheck Protection Program ("PPP”), which provides loans to small businesses to keep their employees on payroll and make other eligible payments. The original funding for the PPP was fully allocated by mid-April 2020, with additional funding made available on April 24, 2020 under the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
On April 9, 2020, the Federal Reserve took additional steps to bolster the economy by providing additional funding sources for small and mid-sized businesses as well as for state and local governments as they work through cash flow stresses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the Federal Reserve has taken other steps to provide fiscal and monetary stimuli, including reducing the federal funds rate and the interest rate on the Federal Reserve’s discount window, and implementing programs to promote liquidity in certain securities markets. The Federal Reserve, along with other U.S. banking regulators, has also issued interagency guidance to financial institutions that are working with borrowers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In December 2020, the Bipartisan-Bicameral Omnibus COVID Relief Deal, included as a component of appropriations legislation, was enacted to provide economic stimulus to individuals and businesses in further response to the economic distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, the legislation includes (i) payments of $600 for individuals making up to $75,000 per year, (ii) extension of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program to include a $300 weekly enhancement in unemployment benefits beginning after December 26, 2020 up to March 14, 2021, (iii) a temporary and targeted rental assistance program, and extends the eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021, (iv) targeted funding related to transportation, education, agriculture, nutrition and other public health measures and (v) approximately $325 billion for small business relief, including approximately $284 billion for a second round of PPP loans and a new simplified forgiveness procedure for PPP loans of $150,000 or less. We are continuing to monitor the potential development of additional legislation and further actions taken by the U.S. government.
The Federal Reserve created various additional lending facilities and expanded existing facilities to help provide financing in response to the financial disruptions caused by COVID-19. The programs include, among others, the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (the “PPPLF”), which is intended to extend loans to banks making PPP loans. The Federal Reserve announced extensions through March 31, 2021 for several of its lending facilities, including the PPPLF, that were generally scheduled to expire on or around December 31, 2020. As more fully discussed below, we are currently participating in the PPP as a lender and have also participated in the PPPLF.
Pursuant to the CARES Act, Section 1112, Congress determined that all existing borrowers under the SBA Section 7(a) program have been adversely affected by COVID-19, and therefore were entitled to a subsidy in the form of relief payments. Specifically, the CARES Act provides that the SBA was to pay the principal and interest on any existing and current SBA 7(a) loan for a period of nine months. These principal and interest payments were made by the SBA directly to the SBA 7(a) lender, and as such, are separate from any loan modifications made at the direction of the Bank. The Bank is a qualified SBA Section 7(a) lender, and participated in the Section 1112 program. As of December 31, 2020, the Bank had 120 loans eligible for the program, with an aggregate principal amount of $66.1 million.
On January 19, 2021, the SBA extended such payments under Section 1112(c)(1) of the CARES Act, as amended by Section 325 of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act (Economic Aid Act), enacted on December 27, 2020. Of the 120 SBA Section 7(a) loans discussed above, approximately 76 for a total value of $41.7 million are eligible to receive 2 additional monthly payments each from the SBA, with a maximum payment of $9,000 per loan. Additionally, all SBA Section 7(a) loans originated by Meridian from February 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021 are eligible for 3 months of payments to be made by the SBA, with a maximum payment of $9,000 per loan.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Corporation’s management took the following actions to assist customers:
|●||Through our participation in the first round of the PPP program in 2020, Meridian originated $259.7 million in PPP loans, assisting 928 customers in need of this short-term funding. These PPP loans helped our small business customers to support the paychecks of nearly 16,660 employees. Approximately 89% of PPP loans were given to customers in the markets we serve in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. As of December 31, 2020 through ongoing forgiveness of PPP loan balances by the SBA, the total balance of PPP loans outstanding had decreased to $203.5 million.|
Meridian has engaged a third-party Fintech technology partner to assist the bank and its customers to automate the forgiveness application process. This application will also be used for the second round of PPP loan originations and forgiveness.
|●||Throughout the pandemic, Meridian worked with commercial, construction and residential loan customers to provide assistance with loan payment holidays of 3 to 6 months or lowered interest rates for certain construction loans. In total, approximately $156.3 million of loans covering approximately 200 borrowers were assisted with loan payment holidays of 3-6 months. As of December 31, 2020, $129.4 million of loans had returned to their original payment terms with $26.9 million in loans still in forbearance.|
At the inception of the pandemic, local governors ordered all non-essential businesses to close, mandated stay-at-home orders, closed schools and universities and put a moratorium on construction for a period of time. The
economic impact was widespread, but certain businesses have been more acutely impacted. Aside from construction lending, Meridian continues to monitor commercial portfolios and identified various industries that have been substantially impacted by these mandates such as retail trade, hospitality, residential spec construction and advertising/marketing. At December 31, 2020, Meridian’s exposure as a percent of the total loan portfolio to these industries was 2.8%, 2.5%, 6.1%, and 1.5%, respectively.
SUPERVISION AND REGULATION
Meridian and its subsidiaries are subject to extensive regulation under federal and state banking laws that establish a comprehensive framework for our operations. This framework may materially affect our growth potential and financial performance and is intended primarily for the protection of depositors, customers, federal deposit insurance funds and the banking system as a whole, not for the protection of our shareholders and creditors. Significant elements of the statutes, regulations and policies applicable to us and our subsidiaries are described below.
The Bank is an FDIC-insured commercial bank chartered under the laws of Pennsylvania with regulatory oversight from the FDIC and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (“PDBS”). The holding company, Meridian Corporation, is subject to supervision and examination by, and the regulations and reporting requirements of, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and is subject to the disclosure and regulatory requirements of the Exchange Act. In order to adhere to regulatory expectations on an ongoing basis and to successfully prepare for the normal examination processes, Meridian maintains numerous internal controls including policies and programs appropriate to maintain the Bank’s safety and soundness, under such key areas as lending, compliance, BSA-AML, information security, human resources, deposit and cash management products, enterprise risk, merchant services, finance, title services, branch security and wealth management.
Permissible Activities for Bank Holding Companies
The Corporation is a registered bank holding company under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (“BHC Act”). In general, the BHC Act limits the business of bank holding companies to banking, managing or controlling banks and other activities that the Federal Reserve has determined to be so closely related to banking as to be a proper incident thereto, which include certain activities relating to extending credit or acting as an investment or financial advisor.
Bank holding companies that qualify and elect to be treated as “financial holding companies” may engage in a broader range of additional activities than bank holding companies that are not financial holding companies. In particular, financial holding companies may engage in activities that are (i) financial in nature or incidental to such financial activities or (ii) complementary to a financial activity and do not pose a substantial risk to the safety and soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally. These activities include securities underwriting and dealing, insurance underwriting and making merchant banking investments. We have not elected to be treated as a financial holding company and currently have no plans to make a financial holding company election.
The Federal Reserve has the power to order any bank holding company or any of its subsidiaries to terminate any activity or to terminate its ownership or control of any subsidiary when the Federal Reserve has reasonable grounds to believe that continuing such activity, ownership or control constitutes a serious risk to the financial soundness, safety or stability of any bank subsidiary of the bank holding company.
Permissible Activities for Banks
As a Pennsylvania-chartered commercial bank, our business is subject to extensive supervision and regulation by state and federal bank regulatory agencies. Our business is generally limited to activities permitted by Pennsylvania law and any applicable federal laws. Under the Pennsylvania Banking Code of 1965 (the “Pennsylvania Banking Code”), the Bank may generally engage in all usual banking activities, including, among other things, accepting deposits; lending money on personal and real estate security; issuing letters of credit; buying, discounting, and negotiating promissory notes and other forms of indebtedness; buying and selling foreign currency and, subject to certain limitations, certain investment securities; engaging in certain insurance activities and maintaining safe deposit boxes on premises.
The FDIC has adopted regulations pertaining to the other activity restrictions imposed upon insured state banks and their subsidiaries. Pursuant to such regulations, insured state banks engaging in impermissible activities may seek approval from the FDIC to continue such activities. State banks not engaging in such activities but that desire to engage in otherwise impermissible activities either directly or through a subsidiary may apply for approval from the FDIC to do so; however, if such bank fails to meet the minimum capital requirements or the activities present a significant risk to the Deposit Insurance Fund, such application will not be approved by the FDIC. Pursuant to this authority, the FDIC has determined that investments in certain majority-owned subsidiaries of insured state banks do not represent a significant risk to the deposit insurance funds. Investments permitted under that authority include real estate activities and securities activities.
Meridian currently conducts certain non-banking activities through certain of the Bank’s non-bank subsidiaries. Meridian Bank currently operates four wholly-owned subsidiaries: Meridian Land Settlement Services, which provides title insurance services; Apex Realty, a real estate holding company; Meridian Wealth, a registered investment advisory firm, and Meridian Equipment Finance, an equipment leasing company.
Pennsylvania law also imposes restrictions on Meridian Bank’s activities intended to ensure the safety and soundness of the Bank. For example, Meridian Bank is restricted under the Pennsylvania Banking Code from investing in certain types of investment securities and is generally limited in the amount of money it can lend to a single borrower or invest in securities issued by a single issuer.
Acquisitions by Bank Holding Companies
Control Acquisitions. The Change in Bank Control Act (“CBCA”) prohibits a person or group of persons from acquiring “control” of a bank holding company unless the Federal Reserve has been notified and has not objected to the transaction. Under a rebuttable presumption established by the Federal Reserve, the acquisition of 10% or more of a class of voting stock of a bank holding company with a class of securities registered under Section 12 of the Exchange Act, such as Customers Bancorp, would, under the circumstances set forth in the presumption, constitute acquisition of control of Customers Bancorp.
In addition, the CBCA prohibits any entity from acquiring 25% (the BHC Act has a lower limit for acquirers that are existing bank holding companies) or more of a bank holding company’s or bank’s voting securities, or otherwise obtaining control or a controlling influence over a bank holding company or bank without the approval of the Federal Reserve. On January 31, 2020, the Federal Reserve Board approved the issuance of a final rule (which became effective April 1, 2020) that clarifies and codifies the Federal Reserve’s standards for determining whether one company has control over another. The final rule establishes four categories of tiered presumptions of non-control that are based on the percentage of voting shares held by the investor (less than 5%, 5-9.9%, 10-14.9% and 15-24.9%) and the presence of other indicia of control. As the percentage of ownership increases, fewer indicia of control are permitted without falling outside of the presumption of non-control. These indicia of control include nonvoting equity ownership, director representation, management interlocks, business relationship and restrictive contractual covenants. Under the final rule, investors can hold up to 24.9% of the voting securities and up to 33% of the total equity of a company without necessarily having a controlling influence.
Meridian is a legal entity separate and distinct from the Bank and the wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Bank. As a Pennsylvania banking institution, the Bank is subject to certain restrictions on its ability to pay dividends under applicable banking laws and regulations.
Federal banking regulators are authorized to determine under certain circumstances relating to the financial condition of a bank holding company or a bank that the payment of dividends would be an unsafe or unsound practice and to prohibit payment thereof. In particular, federal banking regulators have stated that paying dividends that deplete a banking organization’s capital base to an inadequate level would be an unsafe and unsound banking practice and that banking organizations should generally pay dividends only out of current operating earnings. In addition, in the current financial and economic environment, the federal banking regulators have indicated that banks should carefully review their dividend policy and have discouraged payment ratios that are at maximum allowable levels unless both asset quality and capital are very strong. Under the Capital Rules, institutions that seek to pay dividends must maintain 2.5% in Common Equity Tier
1 capital attributable to the capital conservation buffer, which is to be phased in over a three-year period that began on January 1, 2016. See “—Regulatory Capital Requirements”.
Our principal source of cash flow and income is dividends from our subsidiaries, which is also the component of our liquidity. In addition to the restrictions discussed above, the Bank is subject to limitations under Pennsylvania law regarding the level of dividends that it may pay to our shareholders. Under the Pennsylvania Banking Code, the Bank generally may not pay dividends in excess of its net profits.
On May 24, 2018 the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (“EGRRCPA”), amended certain aspects of the company-run stress testing requirement in section 165(i)(2) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”). These updated rules require bank holding companies and banks with average total consolidated assets greater than $250 billion to conduct a periodic company-run stress test of capital, consolidated earnings and losses under one base and two stress scenarios provided by the federal banking regulators. We are not currently subject to the stress testing requirements, but we expect that if we become subject to those requirements, the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and the PDBS will consider our results as an important factor in evaluating our capital adequacy, any proposed acquisitions by us or by the holding company and whether any proposed dividends or stock repurchases by us or by the holding company may be an unsafe or unsound practice.
A Pennsylvania banking institution may, in accordance with Pennsylvania law and regulations issued by the PDBS, exercise any power and engage in any activity that has been authorized for national banks, federal thrifts or state banks in a state other than Pennsylvania, provided that the activity is permissible under applicable federal law and not specifically prohibited by Pennsylvania law. Such powers and activities must be subject to the same limitations and restrictions imposed on the national bank, federal thrift or out-of-state bank that exercised the power or activity, subject to a required notice to the PDBS. The FDIA, however, prohibits state-chartered banks from making new investments, loans, or becoming involved in activities as principal and equity investments which are not permitted for national banks unless (1) the FDIC determines the activity or investment does not pose a significant risk of loss to the Deposit Insurance Fund and (2) the Bank meets all applicable capital requirements. Accordingly, the additional operating authority provided to the Bank by the Pennsylvania Banking Code is restricted by the FDIA.
Transactions with Affiliates and Insiders
Transactions between our subsidiaries, or between the Corporation and our subsidiaries, are regulated under Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act. The Federal Reserve Act imposes quantitative and qualitative requirements and collateral requirements on covered transactions by the Bank with, or for the benefit of, its affiliates. Generally, the Federal Reserve Act limits the extent to which a bank or its subsidiaries may engage in “covered transactions” with any one affiliate to an amount equal to 10% of a bank’s capital stock and surplus, limits the aggregate amount of all such transactions with all affiliates to an amount equal to 20% of such capital stock and surplus, and requires those transactions to be on terms at least as favorable to a bank as if the transaction were conducted with an unaffiliated third party. Covered transactions are defined by statute to include a loan or extension of credit, as well as a purchase of securities issued by an affiliate, a purchase of assets (unless otherwise exempted by the Federal Reserve) from the affiliate, certain derivative transactions with 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 an affiliate. In addition, any credit transactions with any affiliate, must be secured by designated amounts of specified collateral.
Federal law also limits a bank’s authority to extend credit to its directors, executive officers and 10% shareholders, as well as to entities controlled by such persons. Among other things, extensions of credit to insiders are required to be made on terms that are substantially the same as, and follow credit underwriting procedures that are not less stringent than, those prevailing for comparable transactions with unaffiliated persons. Also, the terms of such extensions of credit may not involve more than the normal risk of non-repayment or present other unfavorable features and may not exceed certain limitations on the amount of credit extended to such persons individually and in the aggregate.
Source of Strength
Federal Reserve policy and federal law require bank holding companies to act as a source of financial and managerial strength to their subsidiary banks. Under this requirement, Meridian is expected to commit resources to support the Bank, including at times when it may not be in a financial position to provide such resources, and it may not be in our, or our shareholders’ or creditors’, best interests to do so. In addition, any capital loans Meridian makes to the Bank are subordinate in right of payment to depositors and to certain other indebtedness of the Bank. In the event of our bankruptcy, any commitment by us to a federal banking regulatory agency to maintain the capital of the Bank will be assumed by the bankruptcy trustee and entitled to priority of payment.
Regulatory Capital Requirements
The Federal Reserve monitors the capital adequacy of the holding company on a consolidated basis, and the FDIC and the PDBS monitor the capital adequacy of the Bank. The banking regulators use a combination of risk-based guidelines and a leverage ratio to evaluate capital adequacy. The risk-based capital guidelines applicable to us are based on the Basel Committee’s December 2010 final capital framework, known as Basel III, as implemented by the federal banking regulators. The risk-based guidelines are intended to make regulatory capital requirements sensitive to differences in credit and market risk profiles among banks and bank holding companies, to account for off-balance sheet exposure and to minimize disincentives for holding liquid assets.
Basel III and the Capital Rules. In July 2013, the federal banking regulators approved final rules, or the Capital Rules, implementing the Basel Committee’s December 2010 final capital framework for strengthening international capital standards, known as Basel III, and various provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. The Capital Rules substantially revise the risk-based capital requirements applicable to bank holding companies and banks, including us, compared to the previous risk-based capital rules. The Capital Rules revise the components of capital and address other issues affecting the numerator in regulatory capital ratio calculations. The Capital Rules, among other things, (i) include a new capital measure called “Common Equity Tier 1” (“CET1”), (ii) specify that Tier 1 capital consists of CET1 and “Additional Tier 1 capital” instruments meeting certain revised requirements, (iii) define CET1 narrowly by requiring that most deductions/adjustments to regulatory capital measures be made to CET1 and not to the other components of capital, and (iv) expand the scope of the deductions/adjustments to capital as compared to prior regulations. The Capital Rules also address risk weights and other issues affecting the denominator in regulatory capital ratio calculations, including replacing the existing risk-weighting approach derived from Basel I with a more risk-sensitive approach based, in part, on the standardized approach adopted by the Basel Committee in its 2004 capital accords, known as Basel II. The Capital Rules also implement the requirements of Section 939A of the Dodd-Frank Act to remove references to credit ratings from the federal banking regulators’ rules. Subject to a phase-in period for various provisions, the Capital Rules became effective for us beginning on January 1, 2015.
Under the Basel III Capital Rules, the minimum capital ratios are (i) 4.5% CET1 to risk-weighted assets, (ii) 6% Tier 1 capital (that is, CET1 plus Additional Tier 1 capital) to risk-weighted assets, (iii) 8% total capital (that is, Tier 1 capital plus Tier 2 capital) to risk-weighted assets and (iv) 4% Tier 1 capital to average consolidated assets as reported on consolidated financial statements (known as the “leverage ratio”).
The current Capital Rules also include a capital conservation buffer designed to absorb losses during periods of economic stress. The capital conservation buffer is composed entirely of CET1, on top of these minimum risk-weighted asset ratios.
The Capital Rules require us to maintain an additional capital conservation buffer of 2.5% of CET1, effectively resulting in minimum ratios of (i) 7% CET1 to risk-weighted assets, (ii) 8.5% Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets, (iii) 10.5% total capital to risk-weighted assets and (iv) a minimum leverage ratio of 4%. The Capital Rules provide for a number of deductions from and adjustments to CET1. These include, for example, the requirement that mortgage servicing rights, certain deferred tax assets and significant investments in non-consolidated financial entities be deducted from CET1 to the extent that any one such category exceeds 10% of CET1 or all such categories in the aggregate exceed 15% of CET1. Implementation of the deductions and other adjustments to CET1 began on January 1, 2016 and was phased in over a four-year period, until it became fully implemented on January 1, 2019. In addition, the Capital Rules provide for a countercyclical capital buffer applicable only to certain covered institutions. We do not expect the countercyclical capital
buffer to be applicable to us. Banking institutions with a ratio of CET1 to risk-weighted assets above the minimum but below the capital conservation buffer (or below the combined capital conservation buffer and countercyclical capital buffer, when the latter is applied) will face constraints on dividends, equity repurchases and compensation based on the amount of the shortfall.
In addition, under the general risk-based Capital Rules, the effects of accumulated other comprehensive income items included in capital were excluded for the purposes of determining regulatory capital ratios. Under the Capital Rules, the effects of certain accumulated other comprehensive income items are not excluded; however, non-advanced approaches banking organizations, including the Bank, were able to make a one-time permanent election to continue to exclude these items. The Bank made this election.
The Capital Rules also prescribed a new standardized approach for risk weightings that expanded the risk-weighting categories from the current four Basel I-derived categories (0%, 20%, 50% and 100%) to a much larger and more risk-sensitive number of categories, depending on the nature of the assets, generally ranging from 0%, for U.S. government and agency securities, to 600%, for certain equity exposures, and resulting in higher risk weights for a variety of asset categories.
Community banks have long raised concerns with bank regulators about the regulatory burden, complexity, and costs associated with certain provisions of the Basel III Rule. In response, Congress provided an “off-ramp” for institutions, like us, with total consolidated assets of less than $10 billion. Section 201 of the Regulatory Relief Act instructed the federal banking regulators to establish a single "Community Bank Leverage Ratio" (“CBLR”) of between 8 and 10%. Under the final rule, a community banking organization is eligible to elect the new framework if it has: less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets, limited amounts of certain assets and off-balance sheet exposures, and a CBLR greater than 9%.The bank regulatory agencies temporarily lowered the CBLR to 8% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first quarter of 2020, the Bank adopted the community bank leverage ratio framework as its primary regulatory capital ratio.
With respect to the Bank, the Capital Rules also revised the prompt corrective action regulations pursuant to Section 38 of the FDIA. See “—Prompt Corrective Action Framework” below.
Prompt Corrective Action Framework
The Federal Deposit Insurance Act, as amended (“FDIA”), requires among other things, that the federal banking agencies take “prompt corrective action” with respect to banks that do not meet minimum capital requirements. The FDIA sets forth the following five capital tiers for purposes of implementing the PCA regulations: “well capitalized,” “adequately capitalized,” “undercapitalized,” “significantly undercapitalized” and “critically undercapitalized.”
Historically, the regulation and monitoring of bank and bank holding company liquidity has been addressed as a supervisory matter, without required formulaic measures. The Basel III final framework requires banks and bank holding companies to measure their liquidity against specific liquidity tests that, although similar in some respects to liquidity measures historically applied by banks and regulators for management and supervisory purposes, going forward would be required by regulation. One test, referred to as the liquidity coverage ratio, or LCR, is designed to ensure that the banking entity maintains an adequate level of unencumbered high-quality liquid assets equal to the entity’s expected net cash outflow for a 30-day time horizon (or, if greater, 25% of its expected total cash outflow) under an acute liquidity stress scenario. The other test, referred to as the net stable funding ratio, or NSFR, is designed to promote more medium- and long-term funding of the assets and activities of banking entities over a one-year time horizon. These requirements will incentivize banking entities to increase their holdings of U.S. Treasury securities and other sovereign debt as a component of assets and increase the use of long-term debt as a funding source.
Safety and Soundness Standards
The FDIA requires the federal banking agencies to prescribe standards, by regulations or guidelines, relating to internal controls, information systems and internal audit systems, loan documentation, credit underwriting, interest rate risk
exposure, asset growth, asset quality, earnings, stock valuation and compensation, fees and benefits, and such other operational and managerial standards as the agencies deem appropriate. The federal banking agencies have adopted the Interagency Guidelines for Establishing Standards for Safety and Soundness. The guidelines establish general standards relating to internal controls and information systems, internal audit systems, loan documentation, credit underwriting, interest rate exposure, asset growth, asset quality, earnings and compensation, fees and benefits. In general, these guidelines require, among other things, appropriate systems and practices to identify and manage the risk and exposures specified in the guidelines. These guidelines also 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. In addition, the agencies adopted regulations that authorize, but do not require, an agency to order an institution that has been given notice by an agency that it is not satisfying all safety and soundness standards to submit a compliance plan. If, after being so notified, an institution fails to submit an acceptable compliance plan or fails in any material respect to implement an acceptable compliance plan, the banking regulator must issue an order directing action to correct the deficiency and may issue an order directing other actions of the types to which an undercapitalized institution may be subject under the FDIA. See “—Prompt Corrective Action Framework”. If an institution fails to comply with such an order, the banking regulator may seek to enforce such order in judicial proceedings and to impose civil money penalties.
FDIC insurance assessments
As an FDIC-insured bank, the Bank must pay deposit insurance assessments to the FDIC based on its average total assets minus its average tangible equity. Deposits are insured up to applicable limits by the FDIC and such insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.
As an institution with less than $10 billion in assets, the Bank’s assessment rates are based on the level of risk it poses to the FDIC’s deposit insurance fund (“DIF”). Pursuant to changes adopted by the FDIC that were effective July 1, 2016, the initial base rate for deposit insurance is between three and 30 basis points. Total base assessment after possible adjustments now ranges between 1.5 and 40 basis points. For established smaller institutions, like the Bank, supervisory ratings are used along with (i) an initial base assessment rate, (ii) an unsecured debt adjustment (which can be positive or negative), and (iii) a brokered deposit adjustment, to calculate a total base assessment rate.
Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the limit on FDIC deposit insurance was increased to $250 thousand. The coverage limit is per depositor, per insured depository institution for each account ownership category. The Dodd-Frank Act also set a new minimum DIF reserve ratio at 1.35% of estimated insured deposits. In October 2010, the FDIC adopted a new DIF restoration plan to ensure that the fund reserve ratio reaches 1.35% by September 30, 2020, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act. In December 2018, the FDIC announced that the DIF reserve ratio had surpassed this benchmark.
The FDIC adopted a final rule effective June 26, 2020, and applied as of April 1, 2020, to mitigate the effect on deposit insurance assessments of a bank’s participation in the Paycheck Protection Program, the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility and the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the FDIA, the FDIC may terminate deposit insurance upon a finding that an institution has engaged in unsafe and unsound practices, is in an unsafe or unsound condition to continue operations or has violated any applicable law, regulation, rule, order or condition imposed by the FDIC.
In addition, the Deposit Insurance Funds Act of 1996 authorized the Financing Corporation (“FICO”) to impose assessments on certain deposits in order to service the interest on the FICO’s bond obligations from deposit insurance fund assessments. The amount assessed on individual institutions is in addition to the amount, if any, paid for deposit insurance according to the FDIC’s risk-related assessment rate schedules. Assessment rates may be adjusted quarterly to reflect changes in the assessment base.
The FDIA provides that, in the event of the “liquidation or other resolution” of an insured depository institution, the claims of deposits of the institution, including the claims of the FDIC as subrogate of insured depositors, and certain claims for administrative expenses of the FDIC as a receiver, will have priority over other general unsecured claims against the institution. If an insured depository institution fails, insured and uninsured depositors, along with the FDIC, will have priority in payment ahead of unsecured, non-deposit creditors, including depositors whose deposits are payable only outside of the United States and the parent bank holding company, with respect to any extensions of credit they have made to such insured depository institution.
Pennsylvania banking laws authorize banks in Pennsylvania to acquire existing branches or branch de novo in other states, and also permits out-of-state banks to acquire existing branches or branch de novo in Pennsylvania.
Federal law permits state and national banks to merge with banks in other states subject to: (i) regulatory approval; (ii) federal and state deposit concentration limits; and (iii) any state law limitations requiring the merging bank to have been in existence for a minimum period of time (not to exceed five years) prior to the merger. The establishment of new interstate branches or the acquisition of individual branches of a bank in another state (rather than the acquisition of an out-of-state bank in its entirety) has historically been permitted only in those states the laws of which expressly authorize such expansion. However, the Dodd-Frank Act permits well-capitalized and well-managed banks to establish new branches across state lines without these impediments.
Consumer Financial Protection
We are subject to a number of federal and state consumer protection laws that extensively govern our relationship with our customers. These laws include the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”), the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), the Truth in Savings Act, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, the Expedited Funds Availability Act, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Service Members Civil Relief Act, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, CAN-SPAM Act, and these laws’ respective state-law counterparts, as well as state usury laws and laws regarding unfair and deceptive acts and practices. These and other federal laws, among other things, require disclosures of the cost of credit and terms of deposit accounts, provide substantive consumer rights, prohibit discrimination in credit transactions, regulate the use of credit report information, provide financial privacy protections, restrict our ability to raise interest rates on extensions of credit and subject us to substantial regulatory oversight. Violations of applicable consumer protection laws can result in significant potential liability from litigation brought by customers, including actual damages, restitution and attorneys’ fees. Federal banking regulators, state attorneys general and state and local consumer protection agencies may also seek to enforce consumer protection requirements and obtain these and other remedies, including regulatory sanctions, customer rescission rights, action by the state and local attorneys general in each jurisdiction in which we operate and civil money penalties. Failure to comply with consumer protection requirements may also result in our failure to obtain any required bank regulatory approval for merger or acquisition transactions we may wish to pursue or our prohibition from engaging in such transactions even if approval is not required.
The Dodd-Frank Act created a new, independent federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), which was granted broad rulemaking, supervisory and enforcement powers under various federal consumer financial protection laws with respect to certain consumer financial products and services, including the ability to require reimbursements and other payments to customers for alleged legal violations. The CFPB has the authority to impose significant penalties, as well as injunctive relief that prohibits lenders from engaging in allegedly unlawful practices. The CFPB is also authorized to engage in consumer financial education, track consumer complaints, request data and promote the availability of financial services to underserved consumers and communities. Although all institutions are subject to rules adopted by the CFPB and examination by the CFPB in conjunction with examinations by the institution’s primary federal regulator, the CFPB has primary examination and enforcement authority over institutions with assets of $10 billion or more. The FDIC has primary responsibility for examination of the Bank and enforcement with respect to various federal consumer protection laws so long as the Bank has total consolidated assets of less than $10 billion, and state authorities
are responsible for monitoring our compliance with all state consumer laws. The CFPB also has the authority to require reports from institutions with less than $10 billion in assets, such as the Bank, to support the CFPB in implementing federal consumer protection laws, supporting examination activities, and assessing and detecting risks to consumers and financial markets.
The consumer protection provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and the examination, supervision and enforcement of those laws and implementing regulations by the CFPB have created a more intense and complex environment for consumer finance regulation. The CFPB has significant authority to implement and enforce federal consumer finance laws, including the TILA, the ECOA and new requirements for financial services products provided for in the Dodd-Frank Act.
The CFPB has broad rulemaking authority for a wide range of consumer financial laws that apply to all banks including, among other things, the authority to prohibit “unfair, deceptive, or abusive” acts and practices. Abusive acts or practices are defined in the Dodd-Frank Act as those that (1) materially interfere with a consumer’s ability to understand a term or condition of a consumer financial product or service, or (2) take unreasonable advantage of a consumer’s (a) lack of financial savvy, (b) inability to protect herself or himself in the selection or use of consumer financial products or services, or (c) reasonable reliance on a covered entity to act in the consumer’s interests. The review of products and practices to prevent such acts and practices is a continuing focus of the CFPB, and of banking regulators more broadly. The ultimate impact of this heightened scrutiny is uncertain but it could result in changes to pricing, practices, products and procedures. It could also result in increased costs related to regulatory oversight, supervision and examination, additional remediation efforts and possible penalties. The Dodd-Frank Act does not prevent states from adopting stricter consumer protection standards. State regulation of financial products and potential enforcement actions could also adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Federal Home Loan Bank Membership
The Bank is a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh (“FHLB”), which serves as a central credit facility for its members. The FHLB is funded primarily from proceeds from the sale of obligations of the FHLB system. It makes loans to member banks in the form of FHLB advances. All advances from the FHLB are required to be fully collateralized as determined by the FHLB.
Ability-To-Pay Rules and Qualified Mortgages
As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB issued a series of final rules in January 2013 amending Regulation Z, implementing TILA, which requires mortgage lenders to make a reasonable and good faith determination, based on verified and documented information, that a consumer applying for a residential mortgage loan has a reasonable ability to repay the loan according to its terms. These final rules prohibit creditors, such as the Bank, from extending residential mortgage loans without regard for the consumer’s ability to repay and add restrictions and requirements to residential mortgage origination and servicing practices. In addition, these rules restrict the imposition of prepayment penalties and restrict compensation practices relating to residential mortgage loan origination. Mortgage lenders are required to determine consumers’ ability to repay in one of two ways. The first alternative requires the mortgage lender to consider eight underwriting factors when making the credit decision. Alternatively, the mortgage lender can originate “qualified mortgages”, which are entitled to a presumption that the creditor making the loan satisfied the ability-to-repay requirements. In general, a qualified mortgage is a residential mortgage loan that does not have certain high risk features, such as negative amortization, interest-only payments, balloon payments, or a term exceeding 30 years. In addition, to be a qualified mortgage, the points and fees paid by a consumer cannot exceed 3% of the total loan amount and the borrower’s total debt-to-income ratio must be no higher than 43% (subject to certain limited exceptions for loans eligible for purchase, guarantee or insurance by a government sponsored enterprise or a federal agency).
Commercial Real Estate Guidance
In December 2015, the federal banking regulators released a statement entitled “Interagency Statement on Prudent Risk Management for Commercial Real Estate Lending” (the “CRE Guidance”). In the CRE Guidance, the federal banking regulators (i) expressed concerns with institutions that ease commercial real estate underwriting standards, (ii) directed financial institutions to maintain underwriting discipline and exercise risk management practices to identify, measure and
monitor lending risks, and (iii) indicated that they will continue to pay special attention to commercial real estate lending activities and concentrations going forward. The federal banking regulators previously issued guidance in December 2006, entitled “Interagency Guidance on Concentrations in Commercial Real Estate Lending, Sound Risk Management Practices”, which stated that an institution is potentially exposed to significant commercial real estate concentration risk, and should employ enhanced risk management practices, where (1) total commercial real estate loans represent 300% or more of its total capital and (2) the outstanding balance of such institution’s commercial real estate loan portfolio has increased by 50% or more during the prior 36 months.
Leveraged Lending Guidance
In March 2013, the federal banking regulators jointly issued guidance on leveraged lending that updates and replaces the guidance for leveraged finance activities issued by the federal banking regulators in April 2001. The revised leveraged lending guidance describes regulatory expectations for the sound risk management of leveraged lending activities, including the importance for institutions to maintain, among other things, (i) a credit limit and concentration framework consistent with the institution’s risk appetite, (ii) underwriting standards that define acceptable leverage levels, (iii) strong pipeline management policies and procedures and (iv) guidelines for conducting periodic portfolio and pipeline stress tests.
Community Reinvestment Act of 1977
Under the CRA, the Bank has an obligation, consistent with safe and sound operations, to help meet the credit needs of the market areas where it operates, which includes providing credit to low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. In connection with its examination of the Bank, the FDIC is required to assess our compliance with the CRA. Our bank’s failure to comply with the CRA could, among other things, result in the denial or delay in certain corporate applications filed by us, including applications for branch openings or relocations and applications to acquire, merge or consolidate with another banking institution or holding company. Our bank received a rating of “Satisfactory” in its most recently completed CRA examination in 2020 that was as of February 11, 2020.
The federal banking regulators have adopted rules limiting the ability of banks and other financial institutions to disclose non-public information about consumers to unaffiliated third parties. These limitations require disclosure of privacy policies to consumers and, in some circumstances, allow consumers to prevent disclosure of certain personal information to an unaffiliated third party. These regulations affect how consumer information is transmitted through diversified financial companies and conveyed to outside vendors.
Anti-Money Laundering and the USA PATRIOT ACT
The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, which was enacted in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, includes provisions designed to combat international money laundering and advance the U.S. government’s war against terrorism. The USA PATRIOT Act and the regulations which implement it contain many obligations which must be satisfied by financial institutions, including the Bank. Those regulations impose obligations on financial institutions, such as the Bank, to maintain appropriate policies, procedures and controls to detect, prevent and report money laundering and terrorist financing and to verify the identity of their customers. The failure of a financial institution to maintain and implement adequate programs to combat money laundering and terrorist financing could have serious legal and reputational consequences for the financial institution.
Office of Foreign Assets Control Regulation
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions against targeted foreign countries and regimes, under authority of various laws, including designated foreign countries, nationals and others. OFAC publishes lists of specially designated targets and countries. We are responsible for, among other things, blocking accounts of, and transactions with, such targets and countries, prohibiting unlicensed trade and financial transactions with them and reporting blocked transactions after their occurrence. Failure to comply with these sanctions could have serious legal and reputational consequences and could result in civil money penalties imposed on the
institution by OFAC. Failure to comply with these sanctions could also cause applicable bank regulatory authorities not to approve merger or acquisition transactions when regulatory approval is required or to prohibit such transactions even if approval is not required.
The Federal Reserve will review, as part of the regular, risk-focused examination process, the incentive compensation arrangements of banking organizations, such as us, that are not “large, complex banking organizations.” These reviews will be tailored to each organization based on the scope and complexity of the organization’s activities and the prevalence of incentive compensation arrangements. The findings of the supervisory initiatives will be included in reports of examination. Deficiencies will be incorporated into the organization’s supervisory ratings, which can affect the organization’s ability to make acquisitions and take other actions. Enforcement actions may be taken against a banking organization if its incentive compensation arrangements, or related risk management control or governance processes, pose a risk to the organization’s safety and soundness and the organization is not taking prompt and effective measures to correct the deficiencies.
During the second quarter of 2016, certain U.S. regulators, including the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and the SEC, proposed revised rules on incentive-based payment arrangements at specified regulated entities having at least $1 billion in total assets (which would not include the Bank). The proposed revised rules would establish general qualitative requirements applicable to all covered entities, which would include: (i) prohibiting incentive arrangements that encourage inappropriate risks by providing excessive compensation; (ii) prohibiting incentive arrangements that encourage inappropriate risks that could lead to a material financial loss; (iii) establishing requirements for performance measures to appropriately balance risk and reward; (iv) requiring board of director oversight of incentive arrangements; and (v) mandating appropriate record-keeping.
Pursuant to rules adopted by the stock exchanges and approved by the SEC in January 2013 under the Dodd-Frank Act, public company compensation committee members must meet heightened independence requirements and consider the independence of compensation consultants, legal counsel and other advisors to the compensation committee. A compensation committee must have the authority to hire advisors and to have the public company fund reasonable compensation of such advisors.
Public companies will be required, once stock exchanges impose additional listing requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act, to implement “clawback” procedures for incentive compensation payments and to disclose the details of the procedures which allow recovery of incentive compensation that was paid on the basis of erroneous financial information necessitating a restatement due to material noncompliance with financial reporting requirements. This clawback policy is intended to apply to compensation paid within a three-year look-back window of the restatement and would cover all executives who received incentive awards.
In March 2015, federal regulators issued two related statements regarding cybersecurity. One statement indicates that financial institutions should design multiple layers of security controls to establish lines of defense and to ensure that their risk management processes also address the risk posed by compromised customer credentials, including security measures to reliably authenticate customers accessing internet-based services of the financial institution. The other statement indicates that a financial institution’s management is expected to maintain sufficient business continuity planning processes to ensure the rapid recovery, resumption and maintenance of the institution’s operations after a cyberattack involving destructive malware. A financial institution is also expected to develop appropriate processes to enable recovery of data and business operations and address rebuilding network capabilities and restoring data if the institution or its critical service providers fall victim to this type of cyberattack. If we fail to observe the regulatory guidance, we could be subject to various regulatory sanctions, including financial penalties.
In the ordinary course of business, we rely on electronic communications and information systems to conduct our operations and to store sensitive data. We employ an in-depth, layered, defensive approach that leverages people, processes and technology to manage and maintain cybersecurity controls. We employ a variety of preventative and detective tools
to monitor, block, and provide alerts regarding suspicious activity, as well as to report on any suspected advanced persistent threats. Notwithstanding the strength of our defensive measures, the threat from cyberattacks is severe, attacks are sophisticated and increasing in volume, and attackers respond rapidly to changes in defensive measures. While to date, we have not experienced a significant compromise, significant data loss or any material financial losses related to cybersecurity attacks, our systems and those of our customers and third party service providers are under constant threat and it is possible that we could experience a significant event in the future. Risks and exposures related to cybersecurity attacks are expected to remain high for the foreseeable future due to the rapidly evolving nature and sophistication of these threats, as well as due to the expanding use of Internet banking, mobile banking and other technology-based products and services by us and our customers.
Future Legislation and Regulation
Congress may enact legislation from time to time that affects the regulation of the financial services industry, and state legislatures may enact legislation from time to time affecting the regulation of financial institutions chartered by or operating in those states. Federal and state regulatory agencies also periodically propose and adopt changes to their regulations or change the manner in which existing regulations are applied. The substance or impact of pending or future legislation or regulation, or the application thereof, cannot be predicted, although enactment of the proposed legislation could affect the regulatory structure under which we operate and may significantly increase our costs, impede the efficiency of our internal business processes, require us to increase our regulatory capital or modify our business strategy, or limit our ability to pursue business opportunities in an efficient manner. Our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects may be adversely affected, perhaps materially, as a result.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Investing in our common stock involves a significant degree of risk. The material risks and uncertainties that management believes affect us are described below. Before investing in our common stock, you should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, in addition to the other information contained in this Annual Report. Any of the following risks, as well as risks that we do not know or currently deem immaterial, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. As a result, the trading price of our common stock could decline, and you could lose some or all of your investment. Further, to the extent that any of the information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K constitutes forward-looking statements, the risk factors below are cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements made by us or on our behalf. See “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements”.
Risks Related to Our Business / Operations
Our business and operations may be materially adversely affected by national and local market economic conditions.
Our business and operations, which primarily consist of banking and wealth management activities, including lending money to customers in the form of loans and borrowing money from customers in the form of deposits, are sensitive to general business and economic conditions in the United States generally, and in our local markets in particular. If economic conditions in the United States or any of our local markets weaken, our growth and profitability from our operations could be constrained. The current economic environment is characterized by interest rates near historically low levels, which impacts our ability to attract deposits and to generate attractive earnings through our loan and investment portfolios. All of these factors can individually or in the aggregate be detrimental to our business, and the interplay between these factors can be complex and unpredictable. Unfavorable market conditions can result in a deterioration in the credit quality of our borrowers and the demand for our products and services, an increase in the number of delinquencies, defaults and charge-offs, additional provisions for loan losses, a decline in the value of our collateral, and an overall material adverse effect on the quality of our loan portfolio.
The economic conditions in our local markets may be different from the economic conditions in the United States as a whole. Our success depends to a certain extent on the general economic conditions of the geographic markets that we serve in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. Local economic conditions in these areas have a significant impact on our commercial, real estate and construction loans, the ability of borrowers to repay these loans and the value of the
collateral securing these loans. Adverse changes in the economic conditions of the northeastern United States in general or any one or more of these local markets could negatively impact the financial results of our banking operations and have a negative effect on our profitability.
We May Be Adversely Impacted By The Transition From LIBOR As A Reference Rate
In 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority announced that after 2021 it would no longer compel banks to submit the rates required to calculate the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”). In November 2020, the administrator of LIBOR announced it will consult on its intention to extend the retirement date of certain offered rates whereby the publication of the one week and two month LIBOR offered rates will cease after December 31, 2021; but, the publication of the remaining LIBOR offered rates will continue until June 30, 2023. Given consumer protection, litigation, and reputation risks, the bank regulatory agencies have indicated that entering into new contracts that use LIBOR as a reference rate after December 31, 2021, would create safety and soundness risks and that they will examine bank practices accordingly. Therefore, the agencies encouraged banks to cease entering into new contracts that use LIBOR as a reference rate as soon as practicable and in any event by December 31, 2021.
It is not possible to predict what rate or rates may become accepted alternatives to LIBOR, or what the effect of any such changes in views or alternatives may be on the markets for LIBOR-indexed financial instruments. In particular, regulators, industry groups and certain committees (e.g., the Alternative Reference Rates Committee) have, among other things, published recommended fall-back language for LIBOR-linked financial instruments, identified recommended alternatives for certain LIBOR rates (e.g., AMERIBOR or the Secured Overnight Financing Rate as the recommended alternative to U.S. Dollar LIBOR), and proposed implementations of the recommended alternatives in floating rate instruments. At this time, it is not possible to predict whether these specific recommendations and proposals will be broadly accepted, whether they will continue to evolve, and what the effect of their implementation may be on the markets for floating-rate financial instruments.
We do not have a significant number of loans, derivative contracts, borrowings and other financial instruments with attributes that are either directly or indirectly dependent on LIBOR. The transition from LIBOR could result in added costs and employee efforts and could present additional risk. Since proposed alternative rates are calculated differently, payments under contracts referencing new rates will differ from those referencing LIBOR. The transition will change our market risk profiles, requiring changes to risk and pricing models, valuation tools, product design and hedging strategies. Furthermore, failure to adequately manage this transition process with our customers could adversely impact our reputation. Although we are currently unable to assess what the ultimate impact of the transition from LIBOR will be, failure to adequately manage the transition could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The value of the financial instruments we own may decline in the future.
As of December 31, 2020, we owned $131.1 million of investment securities, which consisted primarily of our positions in U.S. government and government-sponsored enterprises and federal agency obligations, mortgage and asset-backed securities and municipal securities. We evaluate our investment securities on at least a quarterly basis, and more frequently when economic and market conditions warrant such an evaluation, to determine whether any decline in fair value below amortized cost is the result of an other-than-temporary impairment. The process for determining whether impairment is other-than-temporary usually requires complex, subjective judgments about the future financial performance of the issuer in order to assess the probability of receiving all contractual principal and interest payments on the security. Because of changing economic and market conditions affecting issuers, we may be required to recognize other-than-temporary impairment in future periods, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition.
In addition, an increase in market interest rates may affect the market value of our securities portfolio, potentially reducing accumulated other comprehensive income and/or earnings.
Our small business customers may lack the resources to weather a downturn in the economy.
One of our primary strategies is serving the banking and financial services needs of small and medium sized businesses. These businesses generally have fewer financial resources than larger entities and less access to capital sources and loan facilities. If economic conditions are generally unfavorable in our market areas, our small business borrowers may be disproportionately affected and their ability to repay outstanding loans may be negatively affected, resulting in an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
We may be adversely affected by risks associated with completed and potential acquisitions.
We evaluate opportunities to acquire and invest in banks and in other complementary businesses. As a result, we may engage in negotiations or discussions that, if they were to result in a transaction, could have a material effect on our operating results and financial condition, including short and long-term liquidity and capital structure. Our acquisition activities could be material to us. For example, we could issue additional shares of common stock in a merger transaction, which could dilute current shareholders' ownership interest. An acquisition could require us to use a substantial amount of cash, other liquid assets, and/or incur debt.
Our acquisition activities could involve a number of additional risks, including the risks of:
|●||Incurring time and expense associated with identifying and evaluating potential acquisitions and negotiating potential transactions;|
|●||Using inaccurate estimates and judgments to evaluate credit, operations, management, and market risks with respect to the target institution or its assets;|
|●||The time and expense required to integrate the operations and personnel of the combined businesses;|
|●||Creating an adverse short-term effect on our results of operations;|
|●||Failing to realize related revenue synergies and/or cost savings within expected time frames; and|
|●||Losing key employees and customers or a reduction in our stock price as a result of an acquisition that is poorly|
We may not be successful in overcoming these risks or any other problems encountered in connection with potential acquisitions. Our inability to overcome these risks could have an adverse effect on our ability to achieve our business strategy and could have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Liquidity risks could affect operations and jeopardize our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Liquidity risk is the risk that we will not be able to meet our obligations, including financial commitments, as they come due and is inherent in our operations. An inability to raise funds through deposits, borrowings, the sale of loans and/or investment securities and from other sources could have a substantial negative effect on our liquidity. Our most important source of funds consists of our customer deposits. Deposit balances can decrease for a variety of reasons, including when customers perceive alternative investments, such as the stock market, as providing a better risk/return tradeoff. If customers move money out of bank deposits and into other investments, we could lose a stable source of funds. This loss would require us to seek other funding alternatives, including wholesale funding, in order to continue to grow, thereby potentially increasing our funding costs and reducing our net interest income and net income.
Other primary sources of funds consist of cash from operations and investment maturities, redemptions and sales. To a lesser extent, proceeds from the issuance and sale of securities to investors has become a source of funds. Additional liquidity is provided by brokered certificates of deposits and we have the ability to borrow from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the FHLB. We also may borrow from correspondent banks or third party lenders from time to time. Our access to funding sources in amounts adequate to finance or capitalize our activities or on terms that are acceptable to us could be impaired by factors that affect us directly or the financial services industry or economy in general, such as
disruptions in the financial markets or negative views and expectations about the prospects for the financial services industry. Economic conditions and a loss of confidence in financial institutions may increase our cost of funding and limit access to certain customary sources of capital, including inter-bank borrowings, repurchase agreements and borrowings from the discount window of the Federal Reserve System.
Any decline in available funding could adversely impact our ability to continue to implement our business plan, including originating loans, investing in securities, meeting our expenses or fulfilling obligations such as repaying our borrowings and meeting deposit withdrawal demands, any of which could have a material adverse impact on our liquidity, business, financial condition and results of operations.
The Corporation’s liquidity is dependent on dividends from the Bank.
The Corporation is a legal entity separate and distinct from the Bank, which is a wholly-owned banking subsidiary. A substantial portion of our cash flow from operating activities, including cash flow to pay principal and interest on any debt we may incur, will come from dividends from the Bank. Various federal and state laws and regulations limit the amount of dividends that the Bank may pay to our shareholders. For example, Pennsylvania law only permits the Bank to pay dividends out of its net profits then on hand, after first deducting the Bank’s losses and any debts owed to the Bank on which interest is past due and unpaid for a period of six months or more, unless the same are well secured and in the process of collection. Also, our right to participate in a distribution of assets upon a subsidiary’s liquidation or reorganization is subject to the prior claims of the subsidiary’s creditors.
Our shareholders are only entitled to receive such dividends as our Board of Directors may declare out of funds legally available for such payments. Although we currently pay quarterly dividends on our common stock, we are not required to do so and may reduce or eliminate our common stock dividend in the future. Our ability to pay dividends to our shareholders is subject to the restrictions set forth in Pennsylvania law, by the Federal Reserve, and depends on, among other things, our results of operations, financial condition, debt service requirements, other cash needs and any other factors our Board of Directors deems relevant. Notification to the Federal Reserve is also required prior to our declaring and paying a cash dividend to our shareholders during any period in which our quarterly and/or cumulative twelve-month net earnings are insufficient to fund the dividend amount, among other requirements. We may not pay a dividend if the Federal Reserve objects or until such time as we receive approval from the Federal Reserve or we no longer need to provide notice under applicable regulations. In addition, we may be restricted by applicable law or regulation or actions taken by our regulators, now or in the future, from paying dividends to our shareholders. We cannot provide assurance that we will continue paying dividends on our common stock at current levels or at all. A reduction or discontinuance of dividends on our common stock could have a material adverse effect on our business, including the market price of our common stock.
Loss of deposits could increase our funding costs.
As do many banking companies, we rely on customer deposits to meet a considerable portion of our funding needs, and we continue to seek customer deposits to maintain this funding base. We accept deposits directly from consumer and commercial customers and, as of December 31, 2020, we had $1.2 billion in deposits. These deposits are subject to potentially dramatic fluctuations in availability or the price we must pay (in the form of interest) to obtain them due to certain factors outside our control, such as a loss of confidence by customers in us or the banking sector generally, customer perceptions of our financial health and general reputation, increasing competitive pressures from other financial services firms for consumer or corporate customer deposits, changes in interest rates and returns on other investment classes, which could result in significant outflows of deposits within short periods of time or significant changes in pricing necessary to maintain current customer deposits or attract additional deposits. The loss of customer deposits for any reason could increase our funding costs.
We may need to raise additional capital in the future, and such capital may not be available when needed or at all.
We may need to raise additional capital, in the form of debt or equity securities, in the future to have sufficient capital resources to meet our commitments and fund our business needs and future growth, particularly if the quality of our assets or earnings were to deteriorate significantly. Our ability to raise additional capital, if needed, will depend on, among other
things, conditions in the capital markets at that time, which are outside of our control, and our financial condition. We may not be able to obtain capital on acceptable terms or at all. Any occurrence that may limit our access to capital, such as a decline in the confidence of debt purchasers, depositors of the Bank or counterparties participating in the capital markets or other disruption in capital markets, may adversely affect our capital costs and our ability to raise capital and, in turn, our liquidity. Further, if we need to raise capital in the future, we may have to do so when many other financial institutions are also seeking to raise capital and would then have to compete with those institutions for investors. An inability to raise additional capital on acceptable terms when needed could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations and could be dilutive to both tangible book value and our share price.
We may not be able to implement our growth strategy or manage costs effectively, resulting in lower earnings or profitability.
There can be no assurance that we will be able to continue to grow and to be profitable in future periods, or, if profitable, that our overall earnings will remain consistent or increase in the future. Our strategy is focused on organic growth, supplemented by opportunistic acquisitions.
Our growth requires that we increase our loans and deposits growth while managing risks by following prudent loan underwriting standards without increasing interest rate risk or compressing our net interest margin, maintaining more than adequate capital at all times, hiring and retaining qualified employees and successfully implementing strategic projects and initiatives. Even if we are able to increase our interest income, our earnings may nonetheless be reduced by increased expenses, such as additional employee compensation or other general and administrative expenses and increased interest expense on any liabilities incurred or deposits solicited to fund increases in assets. Additionally, if our competitors extend credit on terms we find to pose excessive risks, or at interest rates which we believe do not warrant the credit exposure, we may not be able to maintain our lending volume and could experience deteriorating financial performance.
Our inability to manage our growth successfully or to continue to expand into new markets could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The occurrence of fraudulent activity, breaches or failures of our information security controls or cybersecurity-related incidents could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We are subject to various privacy, information security and data protection laws, including requirements concerning security breach notification, and we could be negatively affected by these laws. As a financial institution, we are susceptible to fraudulent activity, information security breaches and cybersecurity-related incidents that may be committed against us or our clients, which may result in financial losses or increased costs to us or our clients, disclosure or misuse of our information or our client information, misappropriation of assets, privacy breaches against our clients, litigation or damage to our reputation. Compliance with current or future privacy, data protection and information security laws (including those regarding security breach notification) affecting customer or employee data to which we are subject could result in higher compliance and technology costs and could restrict our ability to provide certain products and services, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions or results of operations.
Such fraudulent activity may take many forms, including check fraud, electronic fraud, wire fraud, phishing, social engineering and other dishonest acts. Information security breaches and cybersecurity-related incidents may include fraudulent or unauthorized access to systems used by us or our clients, denial or degradation of service attacks, and malware or other cyberattacks. In recent periods, there continues to be a rise in electronic fraudulent activity, security breaches and cyberattacks within the financial services industry, especially in the commercial banking sector due to cyber criminals targeting commercial bank accounts. Consistent with industry trends, we have also experienced an increase in attempted electronic fraudulent activity, security breaches and cybersecurity-related incidents in recent periods. Moreover, in recent periods, several large corporations, including financial institutions and retail companies, have suffered major data breaches, in some cases exposing not only confidential and proprietary corporate information, but also sensitive financial and other personal information of their customers and employees and subjecting them to potential fraudulent activity. Some of our clients may have been affected by these breaches, which could increase their risks of identity theft and other fraudulent activity that could involve their accounts with us.
We also face risks related to cyberattacks and other security breaches in connection with debit card transactions that typically involve the transmission of sensitive information regarding our customers through various third parties, including retailers and payment processors. Some of these parties have in the past been the target of security breaches and cyberattacks, and because the transactions involve third parties and environments such as the point of sale that we do not control or secure, future security breaches or cyberattacks affecting any of these third parties could affect us through no fault of our own, and in some cases we may have exposure and suffer losses for breaches or attacks relating to them, including costs to replace compromised debit cards and address fraudulent transactions.
Information pertaining to us and our customers is maintained, and transactions are executed, on networks and systems maintained by us and certain third party partners, such as our online banking or reporting systems. The secure maintenance and transmission of confidential information, as well as execution of transactions over these systems, are essential to protect us and our customers against fraud and security breaches and to maintain our customers’ confidence. Breaches of information security also may occur, through intentional or unintentional acts by those having access to our systems or our customers’ or counterparties’ confidential information, including employees. In addition, increases in criminal activity levels and sophistication, advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries, vulnerabilities in third party technologies (including browsers and operating systems) or other developments could result in a compromise or breach of the technology, processes and controls that we use to prevent fraudulent transactions and to protect data about us, our customers and underlying transactions, as well as the technology used by our customers to access our systems. Although we have developed, and continue to invest in, systems and processes that are designed to detect and prevent security breaches and cyberattacks and periodically test our security, our or our third party partners’ inability to anticipate, or failure to adequately mitigate, breaches of security could result in: losses to us or our customers; our loss of business and/or customers; damage to our reputation; the incurrence of additional expenses; disruption to our business; our inability to grow our online services or other businesses; additional regulatory scrutiny or penalties; or our exposure to civil litigation and possible financial liability—any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
More generally, publicized information concerning security and cyber-related problems could inhibit the use or growth of electronic or web-based applications or solutions as a means of conducting commercial transactions. Such publicity may also cause damage to our reputation as a financial institution. As a result, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be adversely affected.
We depend on information technology and telecommunications systems of third parties, and any systems failures, interruptions or data breaches involving these systems could adversely affect our operations and financial condition.
We are dependent for the majority of our technology, including our core operating system, on third-party providers. If these companies were to discontinue providing services to us, we may experience significant disruption to our business. In addition, each of these third parties faces the risk of cyber attack, information breach or loss, or technology failure. If any of our third-party service providers experience such difficulties, or if there is any other disruption in our relationships with them, we may be required to find alternative sources of such services. We are dependent on these third-party providers
securing their information systems, over which we have limited control, and a breach of their information systems could adversely affect our ability to process transactions, service our clients or manage our exposure to risk and could result in the disclosure of sensitive, personal customer information, which could have a material adverse impact on our business through damage to our reputation, loss of business, remedial costs, additional regulatory scrutiny or exposure to civil litigation and possible financial liability. Assurance cannot be provided that we could negotiate terms with alternative service sources that are as favorable or could obtain services with similar functionality as found in existing systems without the need to expend substantial resources, if at all, thereby resulting in a material adverse impact on our business and results of operations.
We continually encounter technological change.
The financial services industry is continually undergoing rapid technological change with frequent introductions of new, technology-driven products and services. The effective use of technology increases efficiency and enables financial institutions to serve customers better and to reduce costs. Our future success depends, in part, on our ability to effectively embrace technology to better serve customers and reduce costs. The Corporation may be required to expand additional
resources to employ the latest technologies. Failure to keep pace with technological change could potentially have an adverse effect on our business operations and financial condition and results of operations.
We may not be able to attract and retain key personnel and other skilled employees.
We are dependent on the ability and experience of a number of key management personnel who have substantial experience with the markets in which we offer products and services, the financial services industry, and our operations. The loss of one or more senior executives or key managers may have an adverse effect on our businesses. We maintain change in control agreements with certain executive officers to aid in our retention of these individuals. Our success depends on our ability to continue to attract, manage, and retain other qualified management personnel.
New lines of business, products, product enhancements or services may subject us to additional risks.
From time to time, we may implement new lines of business or offer new products and product enhancements as well as new services within our existing lines of business. There are substantial risks and uncertainties associated with these efforts, particularly in instances in which the markets are not fully developed. In implementing, developing or marketing new lines of business, products, product enhancements or services, we may invest significant time and resources, although we may not assign the appropriate level of resources or expertise necessary to make these new lines of business, products, product enhancements or services successful or to realize their expected benefits. Further, initial timetables for the introduction and development of new lines of business, products, product enhancements or services may not be achieved, and price and profitability targets may not prove feasible. External factors, such as compliance with regulations, competitive alternatives and shifting market preferences, may also affect the ultimate implementation of a new line of business or offerings of new products, product enhancements or services. Furthermore, any new line of business, product, product enhancement or service or system conversion could have a significant impact on the effectiveness of our system of internal controls. Failure to successfully manage these risks in the development and implementation of new lines of business or offerings of new products, product enhancements or services could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We operate in a highly competitive and changing industry and market area and compete with both banks and non-banks.
The banking and financial services industry in our market area is highly competitive. We may not be able to compete effectively in our markets, which could adversely affect our results of operations. The increasingly competitive environment is a result of changes in regulation, advances in technology and product delivery systems, and consolidation among financial service providers. Larger institutions have greater resources and access to capital markets, with higher lending limits, more advanced technology and broader suites of services. Competition at times requires increases in deposit rates and decreases in loan rates, and adversely impact our net interest margin.
Our ability to maintain, attract and retain customer relationships is highly dependent on our reputation.
We rely, in part, on the reputation of the Bank to attract customers and retain our customer relationships. Damage to our reputation could undermine the confidence of our current and potential customers in our ability to provide high-quality financial services. Such damage could also impair the confidence of our counterparties and vendors and ultimately affect our ability to effect transactions. Maintenance of our reputation depends not only on our success in maintaining our service-focused culture and controlling and mitigating the various risks described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, but also on our success in identifying and appropriately addressing issues that may arise in areas such as potential conflicts of interest, anti-money laundering, customer personal information and privacy issues, customer and other third party fraud, record-keeping, regulatory investigations and any litigation that may arise from the failure or perceived failure of us to comply with legal and regulatory requirements. Maintaining our reputation also depends on our ability to successfully prevent third parties from infringing on the “Meridian” brand and associated trademarks and our other intellectual property. Defense of our reputation, trademarks and other intellectual property, including through litigation, could result in costs that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Accounting standards periodically change and the application of our accounting policies and methods may require management to make estimates about matters that are uncertain.
The regulatory bodies that establish accounting standards, including, among others, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) and the SEC, periodically revise or issue new financial accounting and reporting standards that govern the preparation of our consolidated financial statements. The effect of such revised or new standards on our financial statements can be difficult to predict and can materially impact how we record and report our financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, management must exercise judgment in appropriately applying many of our accounting policies and methods so they comply with generally accepted accounting principles. In some cases, management may have to select a particular accounting policy or method from two or more alternatives. In some cases, the accounting policy or method chosen might be reasonable under the circumstances and yet might result in our reporting materially different amounts than would have been reported if we had selected a different policy or method. Accounting policies are critical to fairly presenting our financial condition and results of operations and may require management to make difficult, subjective or complex judgments about matters that are uncertain.
The Corporation’s controls and procedures may fail or be circumvented.
Our management diligently reviews and updates the Corporation’s internal controls over financial reporting, disclosure controls and procedures, and corporate governance policies and procedures. Any failure or undetected circumvention of these controls could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to COVID-19
Our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations have been, and will likely continue to be, adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic is creating extensive disruptions to the global economy and to the lives of individuals throughout the world. Governments, businesses, and the public are taking unprecedented actions to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate its effects, including quarantines, travel bans, shelter-in-place orders, closures of businesses and schools, fiscal stimulus, and legislation designed to deliver monetary aid and other relief. While the scope, duration, and full effects of COVID-19 are rapidly evolving and not fully known, the pandemic and related efforts to contain it have disrupted global economic activity, adversely affected the functioning of financial markets, impacted interest rates, increased economic and market uncertainty, and disrupted trade and supply chains. If these effects continue for a prolonged period or result in sustained economic stress or recession, many of the risk factors identified in our Form 10-K could be exacerbated and such effects could have a material adverse impact on us in a number of ways related to credit, collateral, customer demand, funding, operations, interest rate risk, and human capital, as described previously.
Any disruption to our ability to deliver financial products or services to, or interact with, our clients and customers could result in losses or increased operational costs, regulatory fines, penalties and other sanctions, or harm our reputation.
We face an increased risk of litigation and governmental, regulatory and third-party scrutiny as a result of the effects of COVID-19 on market and economic conditions and actions governmental authorities take in response to those conditions. Furthermore, various governmental programs such as the PPP are complex and our participation may lead to additional litigation and governmental, regulatory and third-party scrutiny, negative publicity and damage to our reputation.
Risks Related to Lending Activities
We must effectively manage the credit risks of our loan portfolio.
Our business depends on the creditworthiness of our customers. There are risks inherent in making loans, including risks of nonpayment, risks resulting from uncertainties of the future value of collateral, and risks resulting from changes in economic and industry conditions. We attempt to reduce our credit risk through prudent loan application, underwriting and approval procedures, including internal loan reviews before and after proceeds have been disbursed, careful monitoring of the concentration of our loans within specific industries, and collateral and guarantee requirements. These procedures cannot, however, be expected to completely eliminate our credit risks, and we can make no guarantees concerning the strength of our loan portfolio.
Our allowance for loan and lease losses may be insufficient, and an increase in the allowance would reduce earnings.
We maintain an allowance for loan and lease losses at a level we believe adequate to absorb probable losses inherent in our existing loan portfolio. The level of the allowance reflects management’s continuing evaluation of industry concentrations; specific credit risks; credit loss experience; current loan portfolio quality; present economic, political and regulatory conditions; and unidentified losses inherent in the current loan portfolio.
Determination of the allowance is inherently subjective as it requires significant estimates and management’s judgment of credit risks and future trends, all of which may undergo material changes. Deterioration in economic conditions affecting borrowers, new information regarding existing loans, identification of additional problem loans and other factors, both within and outside of our control, may require an increase in the allowance for loan losses. In addition, bank regulatory agencies periodically review our allowance and may require an increase in the provision for loan losses or the recognition of additional loan charge-offs, based on judgments different from those of management. Also, if charge-offs in future periods exceed the allowance for loan losses, we will need additional provisions to increase the allowance. Any increases in provisions will result in a decrease in net income and capital and may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, in June 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (the “FASB”) issued ASU 2016-13 (Topic 326 -Credit Losses), commonly referenced as the Current Expected Credit Loss (“CECL”). This standard will replace the current approach under GAAP for establishing allowances for loan and lease losses (the “Allowance”), which generally considers only past events and current conditions, with a forward-looking methodology that reflects the expected credit losses over the lives of financial assets, starting when such assets are first originated or acquired. Under the revised methodology, credit losses will be measured based on past events, current conditions and reasonable and supportable forecasts of future conditions that affect the collectability of financial assets. We are currently evaluating the effect that the new accounting standard will have on the consolidated financial statements and related disclosures. The standard will be effective for us as of January 1, 2023.
Our business, profitability and liquidity may be adversely affected by deterioration in the credit quality of, or defaults by, third parties who owe us money, securities or other assets or whose securities or obligations we hold.
In addition to relying on borrowers to repay their loans and leases, we are exposed to the risk that third parties that owe us money, securities or other assets will not perform their obligations. These parties may default on their obligations to us due to bankruptcy, lack of liquidity, operational failure or other reasons. A default by a significant market participant, or concerns that such a party may default, could lead to significant liquidity problems, losses or defaults by other parties, which in turn could adversely affect us.
We are also subject to the risk that our rights against third parties may not be enforceable in all circumstances. Deterioration in the credit quality of third parties whose securities or obligations we hold, including the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, Government National Mortgage Corporation and municipalities, could result in significant losses.
Our mortgage lending business may not provide us with significant non-interest income.
The residential mortgage business is highly competitive, and highly susceptible to changes in market interest rates, consumer confidence levels, employment statistics, the capacity and willingness of secondary market purchasers to acquire and hold or securitize loans, and other factors beyond our control.
Because we sell substantially all of the mortgage loans we originate, the profitability of our mortgage banking business also depends in large part on our ability to aggregate a high volume of loans and sell them in the secondary market at a gain. In fact, as rates rise, we expect increasing industry-wide competitive pressures related to changing market conditions to reduce our pricing margins and mortgage revenues generally. Thus, in addition to our dependence on the interest rate environment, we are dependent upon (i) the existence of an active secondary market and (ii) our ability to profitably sell loans or securities into that market. If our level of mortgage production declines, the profitability will depend upon our ability to reduce our costs commensurate with the reduction of revenue from our mortgage operations.
Our ability to originate and sell mortgage loans readily is dependent upon the availability of an active secondary market for single-family mortgage loans, which in turn depends in part upon the continuation of programs currently offered by government-sponsored entities (“GSEs”) and other institutional and non-institutional investors. These entities account for a substantial portion of the secondary market in residential mortgage loans. We are highly dependent on these purchasers continuing their mortgage purchasing programs. Additionally, because the largest participants in the secondary market are Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, GSEs whose activities are governed by federal law, any future changes in laws that significantly affect the activity of these GSEs could, in turn, adversely affect our operations. Since September 2008 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been operating in a conservatorship setup by the U.S. government as a response to the financial crisis of 2008. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”) continues to carry out its responsibilities as conservator.
Our loan servicing rights could become impaired, which may require us to take non-cash charges.
Because we retain the servicing rights on many loans we sell in the secondary market, we are required to record mortgage servicing right assets and SBA servicing right assets, which we test quarterly for impairment. The values of these servicing rights are heavily dependent on market interest rates and tends to increase with rising interest rates and decrease with falling interest rates. If we are required to record an impairment charge, it would adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
We may be required to repurchase mortgage loans or indemnify buyers against losses in some circumstances, which could harm liquidity, results of operations and financial condition.
We sell substantially all of the mortgage loans held for sale that we originated. When mortgage loans are sold, whether as whole loans or pursuant to a securitization, we are required to make customary representations and warranties to purchasers, guarantors and insurers, including the GSEs, about the mortgage loans and the manner in which they were originated. Whole loan sale agreements require repurchase or substitute mortgage loans, or indemnify buyers against losses, in the event we breach these representations or warranties. In addition, we may be required to repurchase mortgage loans as a result of early payment default of the borrower on a mortgage loan, resulting in these mortgage loans being placed on our books and subjecting us to the risk of a potential default.
We are subject to environmental liability risk associated with our lending activities and with the property we own.
In the course of our business, we may foreclose and take title to real estate and could be subject to environmental liabilities with respect to these properties. The Corporation may be held liable to a governmental entity or to third parties for property damage, personal injury, investigation and clean-up costs incurred by these parties in connection with environmental contamination or the release of hazardous or toxic substances at a property. Our policies and procedures require environmental factors to be considered during the loan application process. An environmental review is performed before initiating any commercial foreclosure action; however, these reviews may not be sufficient to detect all potential environmental hazards. Possible remediation costs and liabilities could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.
Our business is significantly dependent on the real estate markets in which we operate, as a significant percentage of our loan portfolio is secured by real estate or mortgage loans originated for sale.
Many of the loans in our portfolio are secured by real estate. As of December 31, 2020, our real estate loans, excluding mortgages held for sale, include $140.2 million of construction and development loans, $65.0 million of home equity
loans, $485.1 million of commercial real estate (“CRE”) loans and $52.5 million of residential mortgage loans, with the majority of these real estate loans concentrated in the southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware and southern New Jersey. Real property values in our market may be different from, and in some instances worse than, real property values in other markets or in the United States as a whole, and may be affected by a variety of factors outside of our control and the control of our borrowers, including national and local economic conditions, generally. Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware and southern New Jersey has experienced volatility in real estate values over the past decade. Declines in real estate values, including prices for homes and commercial properties in southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware and southern New Jersey, could result in a deterioration of the credit quality of our borrowers, an increase in the number of loan delinquencies, defaults and charge-offs, and reduced demand for our products and services, generally.
Risks Related our Wealth Management Business
An economic slowdown could impact Meridian Wealth division revenues.
A general economic slowdown may cause current clients to seek alternative investment opportunities with other providers, which would decrease the value of Meridian Wealth’s assets under management resulting in lower fee income to the Corporation.
A significant decrease in Meridian Wealth’s assets under management could also lead to impairment of the goodwill recorded upon the acquisition of HJ Wealth in 2017. Goodwill is initially recorded at fair value and is not amortized, but is reviewed at least annually or more frequently if events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value may not be fully recoverable. If our estimates of goodwill fair value change, we may determine that impairment charges are necessary. Estimates of fair value are determined based on a complex model using cash flows and company comparisons. If management’s estimates of future cash flows are inaccurate, the fair value determined could be inaccurate and impairment may not be recognized in a timely manner.
Risks Related to Interest Rates
Fluctuations in market interest rates, particularly in a continuing period of low market interest rates, and relative balances of rate-sensitive assets to rate-sensitive liabilities, can negatively impact net interest margin and net interest income.
Our results of operations are largely dependent on net interest income, which is the difference between the interest and fees earned on interest-earning assets and the interest paid on interest-bearing liabilities. Therefore, any change in general market interest rates, including changes resulting from the Federal Reserve Board’s policies, can have a significant effect on our net interest income and total income. There may be mismatches between the maturity and repricing of our assets and liabilities that could cause the net interest rate spread to compress, depending on the level and type of changes in the interest rate environment. Interest rates are highly sensitive to many factors that are beyond our control, including general economic conditions and the policies of various governmental agencies. In addition, some of our customers often have the ability to prepay loans or redeem deposits with either no penalties or penalties that are insufficient to compensate us for the lost income. A significant reduction in our net interest income will adversely affect our business and results of operations. If we are unable to manage interest rate risk effectively, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially harmed.
Changes in interest rates might also impact the values of equity and debt securities under management and administration by the Meridian Wealth which may have a negative impact on fee income.
Like all financial institutions, the Corporation's consolidated statement of financial condition is affected by fluctuations in interest rates. See the section entitled “Interest Rate Risk” in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition, for the Corporation’s position on interest earning assets and interest bearing liabilities.
Risks Related to Regulation
Changes in laws and regulations and the cost of regulatory compliance with new laws and regulations may adversely affect our operations and/or increase our costs of operations.
We are subject to extensive regulation, supervision, and examination by our primary federal regulators, the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and by the FDIC, the regulating authority that insures customer deposits. Also, as a member of the FHLB, the Bank must comply with applicable regulations of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the FHLB. Regulation by these agencies is intended primarily for the protection of our depositors and the deposit insurance fund and not for the benefit of our shareholders. The Bank's activities are also regulated under consumer protection laws applicable to our lending, deposit, and other activities. A large claim against the Bank under these laws or an enforcement action by our regulators could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Regulatory authorities have extensive discretion in their supervisory and enforcement activities, including the ability to impose restrictions on our operations, comments on the classification of our assets, and determine the level of our allowance for credit losses. These regulations, along with the currently existing tax, accounting, securities, deposit insurance and monetary laws, rules, standards, policies, and interpretations, control the ways financial institutions conduct business, implement strategic initiatives, and prepare financial reporting and disclosures. Changes in such regulation and oversight, whether in the form of regulatory policy, new regulations, legislation or supervisory action, may have a material impact on our operations. Further, compliance with such regulation may increase our costs and limit our ability to pursue business opportunities.
We cannot predict the effect of legislative and regulatory initiatives, which could increase our costs of doing business and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Changes to statutes, regulations, regulatory or accounting policies could affect the Corporation in substantial and unpredictable ways. Such changes could subject the Corporation to additional costs, limit the types of financial services and products the Corporation may offer, limit the fees we may charge, increase the ability of non-banks to offer competing financial services and products, change regulatory capital requirements or the required size of our allowance for loan losses and change deposit insurance assessments, any of which would negatively impact our financial condition and result of operations. Failure to comply with laws, regulations or policies could result in sanctions by regulatory agencies, civil money penalties and/or reputation damage, which could have a material adverse effect on the Corporation's business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to capital adequacy requirements and may be subject to more stringent capital requirements.
We are subject to capital adequacy guidelines and other regulatory requirements specifying minimum amounts and types of capital that we must maintain. From time to time, the regulators change these regulatory capital adequacy and liquidity guidelines. If we fail to meet these minimum capital adequacy and liquidity guidelines and other regulatory requirements, we or our subsidiaries may be restricted in the types of activities we may conduct and we may be prohibited from taking certain capital actions, such as paying dividends and repurchasing or redeeming capital securities. See “Supervision and Regulation—Regulatory Capital Requirements” for more information on the capital adequacy standards that we must meet and maintain.
While we currently meet the requirements of the Basel III-based Capital Rules, we may fail to do so in the future. The failure to meet applicable regulatory capital requirements could result in one or more of our regulators placing limitations or conditions on our activities, including our growth initiatives, or restricting the commencement of new activities, and could affect customer and investor confidence, our costs of funds and level of required deposit insurance assessments to the FDIC, our ability to pay dividends on our capital stock, our ability to make acquisitions, and our business, results of operations and financial conditions, generally.
General Risk Factors
Our stock price, like many of our peers, may be volatile, and you could lose part or all of your investment as a result.
Our stock price may fluctuate significantly in response to a variety of factors including, among other things:
|●||actual or anticipated variations in our quarterly results of operations;|
|●||the failure of securities analysts to cover, or continue to cover, us after this offering;|
|●||operating and stock price performance of other companies that investors deem comparable to us;|
|●||news reports relating to trends, concerns and other issues in the financial services industry;|
|●||perceptions in the marketplace regarding us, our competitors or other financial institutions;|
|●||future sales of our common stock;|
|●||departure of our management team or other key personnel;|
|●||new technology used, or services offered, by competitors;|
|●||significant acquisitions or business combinations, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments by or involving us or our competitors;|
|●||changes or proposed changes in laws or regulations, or differing interpretations thereof affecting our business, or enforcement of these laws and regulations;|
|●||litigation and governmental investigations; and|
|●||geopolitical conditions such as acts or threats of terrorism or military conflicts.|
Because we have elected to use the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards for an “emerging growth company” our financial statements may not be comparable to companies that comply with these accounting standards as of the public company effective dates.
We have elected to use the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards under Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act. This election allows us to delay the adoption of new or revised accounting standards that have different effective dates for public and private companies until those standards apply to private companies. As a result of this election, our financial statements may not be comparable to companies that comply with these accounting standards as of the public company effective dates. Consequently, our financial statements may not be comparable to companies that comply with public company effective dates. Because our financial statements may not be comparable to companies that comply with public company effective dates, investors may have difficulty evaluating or comparing our business, performance or prospects in comparison to other public companies, which may have a negative impact on the value and liquidity of our common stock. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we plan to rely on this exemption. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.
Certain banking laws and certain provisions of our articles of incorporation may have an anti-takeover effect.
Provisions of federal banking laws, including regulatory approval requirements, could make it difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if doing so would be perceived to be beneficial to our shareholders. Acquisition of 10% or more of any class of voting stock of a bank holding company or depository institution, generally creates a rebuttable presumption that the acquirer “controls” the bank holding company or depository institution. Also, a bank holding company must obtain the prior approval of the Federal Reserve before, among other things, acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of more than 5% of the voting shares of any bank, including the Bank.
There also are provisions in our articles of incorporation and our bylaws, such as limitations on the ability to call a special meeting of our shareholders, that may be used to delay or block a takeover attempt. In addition, our board of directors are be authorized under our articles of incorporation to issue shares of our preferred stock, and determine the rights, terms conditions and privileges of such preferred stock, without shareholder approval. These provisions may effectively inhibit a non-negotiated merger or other business combination, which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
The Corporation is headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania and has six full-service branches. Its main branch, in Paoli, serves the Main Line. The West Chester and Media branches serve Chester and Delaware counties, respectively, while the Doylestown and Blue Bell branches serve Bucks and Montgomery counties, respectively. In addition to our deposit taking branches, there are currently 17 other offices, including headquarters for Corporate, the Wealth Division and the Mortgage Division. Other than our corporate headquarters, all of our offices are leased. The Bank had a net book value of $5.8 million for all locations at December 31, 2020.
|●||Paoli Branch – 1176 Lancaster Avenue, Paoli, PA 19301|
|●||West Chester Branch – 16 W. Market Street, West Chester, PA 19382|
|●||Media Branch – 100 E. State Street, Media, PA 19063|
|●||Doylestown Branch – 1719A S. Easton Road, Doylestown, PA 18901|
|●||Blue Bell Branch – 653 Skippack Pike, Ste. 116, Blue Bell, PA 19422|
|●||Philadelphia Branch – 1760 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103|
|●||Corporate Headquarters – 9 Old Lincoln Highway, Malvern, PA 19355|
|●||Mortgage Headquarters – 653 Skippack Pike, Suite 200, Blue Bell, PA 19462|
|●||Meridian Wealth Office – 653 Skippack Pike, Suite 200, Blue Bell, PA 19462|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 1601 Concord Pike, Suite 45, Wilmington, DE 19803|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 5301 Limestone Road, Suite 202, Wilmington, DE 19801|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 22128 Sussex Highway, Seaford, DE 19973|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 111 Continental Drive, Suite 406, Newark, DE 19713|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 5001 Louise Drive, Suite 101, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 350 Highland Drive, Suite 160, Mountville, PA 17554|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 2330 New Road, Northfield, NJ 08225|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 1221 College Park Drive, Suite 118, Dover, DE 19904|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 8894 Stanford Boulevard, #203, Columbia, MD 21045|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 2448 Holly Avenue, Ste. 100, Annapolis, MD 21401|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 10101 Philadelphia Road, 2nd Fl., Baltimore, MD 21237|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 22 W. Pennsylvania Avenue, Towson, MD 21204|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 2028 E. Joppa Road, 2nd Fl., Baltimore, MD 21234|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 15722 Crabbs Branch Way, Ste. 2D, Rockville, MD 20855|
|●||Mortgage Loan Production Office – 2809 Boston Street, Ste. 505, Baltimore, MD 21224|
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
On November 21, 2017, three former employees of the mortgage-banking division of the Bank filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Juan Jordan et al. v. Meridian Bank, Thomas Campbell and Christopher Annas, against the Bank purporting to be a class and collective action seeking unpaid and overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law, and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968 on behalf of similarly situated plaintiffs. In September 2019, plaintiffs’ counsel and the Bank agreed to move forward with non-binding mediation. Although the Bank believed it had strong and meritorious defenses, given the expense and inconvenience of litigation, on July 24, 2019 through mediation, the Bank reached an agreement in principle with the plaintiffs to settle this litigation for $990 thousand in total. The Bank had a litigation reserve of $990 thousand at December 31, 2019. The parties submitted a negotiated settlement agreement to the court, and received final court
approval on December 19, 2019. On February 29, 2020 the Bank made a payment of $1.0 million in final settlement of this matter, which included additional minor expenses.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Shares of our common stock trade on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "MRBK". As of March 25, 2021, there were approximately 196 registered shareholders of the Corporation's common stock. Certain shares are held in “nominee” or “street” name and accordingly, the number of beneficial owners of such shares is not known or included in the foregoing number.
The was no repurchasing activity of the Corporation during the fourth quarter of 2020.
In 2020 the Corporation commenced quarterly cash dividends on its common stock. The Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.125 per common share, payable August 24, 2020, to shareholders of record as of August 10, 2020. On October 22, 2020, the Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.125 per common share, payable November 23, 2020, to shareholders of record as of November 9, 2020. On January 28, 2021, the Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.125 per common share, payable February 22, 2021, to shareholders of record as of February 8, 2021.
On February 16, 2021, the Corporation’s Board of Directors declared a special dividend of $1.00 per share on its Common Stock, payable on March 15, 2021 to shareholders of record as of March 1, 2021.
Future dividend payments will depend upon maintenance of a strong financial condition, future earnings and capital and regulatory requirements. Also, the Corporation and the Bank are subject to restrictions on the amount of dividends that may be paid without approval of banking regulatory authorities.
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Selected historical consolidated financial information
The following table should be read in conjunction with our Consolidated Financial Statements and related notes and "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," each of which is included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
As of and for the Years Ended December 31,
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data)
Selected period End Balance Sheet Data:
Cash and cash equivalents
Loans receivable, gross
Loans held for sale
Allowance for loans losses
Goodwill and intangible assets, net
Total Stockholders' equity
Selected Income Statement Data:
Net interest income
Provisions for loan losses
Net interest income after provisions for loan losses
Net income before income taxes
Income tax expense (benefit)
Preferred stock dividends and net accretion
Net income available to common stockholders
Selected Per Share Data:
Earnings per common share, basic
Earnings per common share, diluted
Book value per common share
Tangible book value per share(1)
Weighted average common shares outstanding, basic
Weighted average common shares outstanding, diluted
Shares outstanding at the end of period
Selected Performance Metrics:
Return on average assets (ROAA)
Return on average equity (ROAE)
Net interest spread
Net interest margin (NIM)
Noninterest income to average assets
Noninterest expense to average assets
Yield on interest-earning assets
Cost of interest-bearing liabilities
Yield on loans
Cost of deposits
Selected Credit Quality Ratios:
Nonperforming assets to total assets
Nonperforming loans to total loans
Allowance for loan losses to nonperforming loans
Allowance for loan losses to total loans
Allowance for loan losses to total loans held-for-investment (excluding loans at fair value and PPP loans) (1)
Net charge-offs to average loans
Corporation Capital Ratios:
Tier 1 leverage capital ratio
Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio
Total risk-based capital ratio
Common equity tier 1 capital ratio
(1) Refer to Non-GAAP Financial Measures section below
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Recent Market Conditions
Our financial condition and performance, as well as the ability of our borrowers to repay their loans, the value of collateral securing those loans, as well as demand for loans and other products and services that we offer, are all highly dependent on the business environment in the primary markets in which we operate and in the United States as a whole. As discussed further in Part I, Item 1, during the first quarter of 2020, an outbreak of a novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) spread around the world, including the United States. COVID-19 and its associated impacts on trade (including supply chains and export levels), travel, employee productivity and other economic activities have had, are currently having and will continue to have a destabilizing effect on financial markets and economic activity. The full extent of the impact of COVID-19 on our operational and financial performance is currently uncertain, cannot be predicted and will depend on certain developments, including, among others, the duration and spread of COVID-19, its impact on our customers, employees and vendors, and governmental, regulatory and private sector responses, which may be precautionary, to the coronavirus.
In light of the changing economic outlook as a result of COVID-19, as well as other factors, including the possibility of an oil price war in March 2020, the 10-year Treasury yield had fallen to historic lows, and the equity markets were and continue to be significantly impacted. In response, the Federal Reserve reduced the target federal funds rate by 50 basis points on March 3, 2020, and then by an additional 100 basis points on March 15, 2020. Since the assets and liabilities of the Corporation are significantly impacted by changes in interest rates, the Corporation adjusted its deposit and loan offering rates and continues to monitor them during this crisis.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
Our accounting and reporting policies conform to GAAP and conform to general practices within the industry in which we operate. To prepare financial statements in conformity with GAAP, management makes estimates, assumptions and judgments based on available information. These estimates, assumptions and judgments affect the amounts reported in the financial statements and accompanying notes. These estimates, assumptions and judgements are based on information available as of the date of the financial statements and, as this information changes, actual results could differ from the estimates, assumptions and judgments reflected in the financial statements. In particular, management has identified the provision and allowance for loan and lease losses as the accounting policy that, due to the estimates, assumptions and judgements inherent in that policy, is critical in understanding our financial statements. Management has presented the application of this policy to the audit committee of our board of directors.
The JOBS Act permits us an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards affecting public companies. We have elected to take advantage of this extended transition period, which means that the financial statements included in this Annual Report, as well as any financial statements that we file in the future, will not be subject to all new or revised accounting standards generally applicable to public companies for the transition period for so long as we remain an emerging growth company or until we affirmatively and irrevocably opt out of the extended transition period under the JOBS Act. If we do so, we will prominently disclose this decision in the first periodic report filed with the SEC following our decision, and such decision is irrevocable.
The following is a discussion of the critical accounting policies and significant estimates that require us to make complex and subjective judgments. Additional information about these policies can be found in footnote 1 of the Corporation’s Consolidated Financial Statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019.
Provision and allowance for loan and lease losses
The provision for loan and lease losses reflects the amount required to maintain the allowance for loan and lease losses (“Allowance”) at an appropriate level based upon management’s evaluation of the adequacy of general and specific loss reserves.
The Allowance is maintained at a level that management believes is appropriate to provide for incurred loan and lease losses as of the date of the Consolidated Balance Sheet and we have established methodologies for the determination of its adequacy. The methodologies are set forth in a formal policy and take into consideration the need for an overall general allowance as well as specific allowances that are determined on an individual loan basis for impaired loans. We increase our Allowance by charging provisions for losses against our income and decreased by charge-offs, net of recoveries.
The evaluation is inherently subjective, as it requires estimates that are susceptible to significant revision as more information becomes available. While management uses available information to recognize losses on loans and leases, changes in economic or other conditions may necessitate revision of the estimate in future periods.
The Allowance is maintained at a level sufficient to provide for probable losses based upon an ongoing review of the originated loan and lease portfolios by portfolio category, which include consideration of actual loss experience, peer loss experience, changes in the size and risk profile of the portfolio, identification of individual problem loan and lease situations which may affect a borrower’s ability to repay, and evaluation of prevailing economic conditions.
Results of operations – Years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019
Our reported net income for the year ended December 31, 2020, was $26.4 million or $4.27 per diluted common share compared to $10.5 million or $1.63 per diluted common share for the same period in 2019. The increase was driven by growth in earning assets, which contributed $9.8 million in increased interest income, as well as growth in non-interest fee producing divisions such as mortgage, wealth and SBA. The increase in net income was also driven by a $2.9 million decrease in interest expense, while the provision for loan losses increased $7.4 million. Total net non-interest income (non-interest income less non-interest expense) improved $15.8 million.
Net interest income
Our earnings are derived from net interest income, which is our interest income less interest expense. Changes in our balance sheet composition, including interest-earning assets, deposits, and borrowings, combined with changes in market interest rates, impact our net interest income. Net interest margin is net interest income divided by average interest-earning assets. We manage our interest-earning assets and funding sources, including non-interest and interest-bearing liabilities, in order to maximize this margin. Net interest income on a tax equivalent yield basis (“TEY”) increased by $12.8 million, or 35.1%, to $49.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 from $36.4 million for the same period in 2019. Our net interest margin was 3.40% on a TEY for the year ended December 31, 2020 as compared to 3.65% for the same period in 2019. The decrease in net interest margin, year-over-year, reflects the declining yield on certain interest earnings assets, somewhat offset by the declining cost of funds.
Average balance sheet, interest and yield/rate analysis.
The following table presents average balance sheet information, interest income, interest expense and the corresponding average yield earned, on a tax equivalent basis, and rates paid for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019. The average balances are principally daily averages and, for loans, include both performing and nonperforming loans.
For the Year Ended December 31,
(dollars in thousands)
Due from banks
Federal funds sold
Loans held for sale
Loans held for investment(1)
Total interest-earning assets
Noninterest earning assets
Liabilities and stockholders' equity
Interest bearing liabilities
Money market and savings deposits