SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|☑||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 or 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
|☐||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 1-11277
VALLEY NATIONAL BANCORP
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
|New Jersey|| ||22-2477875|
|(State or other jurisdiction of|
Incorporation or Organization)
| ||(I.R.S. Employer|
|One Penn Plaza|
|New York,||NY|| ||10119|
|(Address of principal executive office)|| ||(Zip code)|
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbols||Name of exchange on which registered|
|Common Stock, no par value||VLY||The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC|
|Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series A, no par value||VLYPP||The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC|
|Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series B, no par value||VLYPO||The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC|
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 ☑ No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No ☑
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or 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. Yes ☑ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files.) Yes ☑ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act (check one):
|Large accelerated filer|| ||☑||Accelerated filer||☐|| ||Smaller reporting company|| ||☐|
|Non-accelerated filer|| ||☐||☐|| ||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 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. Yes ☑ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act) Yes ☐ No ☑
The aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $3.1 billion on June 30, 2020.
There were 405,611,861 shares of Common Stock outstanding at February 25, 2021.
Documents incorporated by reference:
Certain portions of the registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement (the “2021 Proxy Statement”) for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held April 19, 2021 will be incorporated by reference in Part III. The 2021 Proxy Statement will be filed within 120 days of December 31, 2020.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The disclosures set forth in this item are qualified by Item 1A—Risk Factors and the section captioned “Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements” in Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations of this Annual Report on Form 10-K (referred to as this "report") and other cautionary statements set forth elsewhere in this report.
Valley National Bancorp, headquartered in Wayne, New Jersey, is a New Jersey corporation organized in 1983 and is registered as a bank holding company with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended (“Holding Company Act”). The words “Valley,” “the Company,” “we,” “our” and “us” refer to Valley National Bancorp and its wholly owned subsidiaries, unless we indicate otherwise. At December 31, 2020, Valley had consolidated total assets of $40.7 billion, total net loans of $31.9 billion, total deposits of $31.9 billion and total shareholders’ equity of $4.6 billion. In addition to its principal subsidiary, Valley National Bank (commonly referred to as the “Bank” in this report), Valley owns all of the voting and common shares of GCB Capital Trust III, State Bancorp Capital Trusts I and II, and Aliant Statutory Trust II at December 31, 2020 through which trust preferred securities were issued. These trusts are not consolidated subsidiaries. See Note 11 to the consolidated financial statements.
Valley advertises and identifies itself under the trade names "Valley Bank" and "Valley".
Valley National Bank is a national banking association chartered in 1927 under the laws of the United States. Currently, the Bank has 226 branches serving northern and central New Jersey, the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, Long Island, Florida and Alabama. The Bank offers a full suite of banking solutions through various commercial, retail, insurance and wealth management financial services products. These products include, but are not limited to, traditional commercial and industrial lending, commercial real estate financing, small business loans, equipment, basic consumer and commercial deposit products, personal financing solutions such as residential mortgages, home equity loans and automobile financing, as well as solutions for homeowners associations and a full service line of cash management solutions. The Bank provides a variety of banking services including automated teller machines, telephone and internet banking, remote deposit capture, overdraft facilities, drive-in and night deposit services, and safe deposit facilities. In addition, certain international banking services are available to customers including standby letters of credit, documentary letters of credit and related products, and certain ancillary services such as foreign exchange transactions, documentary collections, foreign wire transfers, as well as transaction accounts for non-resident aliens.
Our primary focus is to build and develop profitable customer relationships across all lines of business and create a convenient and innovative omni-channel customer experience beyond our traditional branch footprint, including through the use and promotion of our mobile and online service offerings, such as our ValleyDirect on-line savings account.
Valley National Bank’s subsidiaries are all included in the consolidated financial statements of Valley (See Exhibit 21 at Part IV, Item 15 for a list of subsidiaries). These subsidiaries include, but are not limited to:
•an insurance agency offering property and casualty, life and health insurance;
•an asset management adviser that is a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC);
•a title insurance agency in New York which also provides services in New Jersey;
•subsidiaries which hold, maintain and manage investment assets for the Bank;
•a subsidiary which specializes in health care equipment lending and other commercial equipment leases; and
•a subsidiary which owns and services New York commercial loans.
The Bank’s subsidiaries also include real estate investment trust subsidiaries (the "REIT" subsidiaries), which own real estate related investments and a REIT subsidiary, which owns some of the real estate utilized by the Bank and related real estate investments. Except for Valley’s REIT subsidiaries and Valley's insurance agency (10% of which is owned by the insurance agency's co-CEOs), all subsidiaries mentioned above are directly or indirectly wholly owned by the Bank. Because each REIT must have 100 or more shareholders to qualify as a REIT, each REIT has issued less than 20 percent of its outstanding non-voting preferred stock to individuals, most of whom are current and former Bank employees. The Bank owns the remaining preferred stock and all the common stock of the REITs.
Valley has grown significantly in the past several years primarily through bank acquisitions that expanded our branch footprint in New Jersey and Florida. Recent bank transactions are discussed further below.
Oritani Financial Corp. On December 1, 2019, Valley completed its acquisition of Oritani Financial Corp. ("Oritani") and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Oritani Bank. Oritani had approximately $4.3 billion in assets, $3.4 billion in net loans, $2.9 billion in deposits, after purchase accounting adjustments, and a branch network of 26 locations. The acquisition represented a significant addition to Valley's New Jersey franchise, and meaningfully enhanced its presence in the Bergen County market. The common shareholders of Oritani received 1.60 shares of Valley common stock for each Oritani share that they owned prior to the merger. The total consideration for the acquisition was approximately $835 million, consisting of approximately 71.1 million shares of Valley common stock and the outstanding Oritani stock-based awards.
USAmeriBancorp, Inc. On January 1, 2018, Valley completed its acquisition of USAmeriBancorp, Inc. (USAB) headquartered in Clearwater, Florida. USAB, largely through its wholly-owned subsidiary, USAmeriBank, had approximately $5.1 billion in assets, $3.7 billion in net loans and $3.6 billion in deposits, after purchase accounting adjustments, and maintained a branch network of 29 offices. The acquisition represented a significant addition to Valley’s Florida presence, primarily in the Tampa Bay market. The acquisition also brought Valley to the Birmingham, Montgomery, and Tallapoosa areas in Alabama, where USAB maintained 15 of its branches. The common shareholders of USAB received 6.1 shares of Valley common stock for each USAB share they owned prior to merger. The total consideration for the acquisition was approximately $737 million, consisting of 64.9 million shares of Valley common stock and the outstanding USAB stock based awards.
Impact of COVID-19
Valley's primary market areas within New Jersey, New York, Florida and Alabama have all experienced significant outbreaks and resurgences of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and disruptions from the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic and any preventative or protective actions that Valley or its customers have taken or may take in response resulted and may continue to result in extended periods of disruption to Valley, its customers, service providers, and third parties. The full extent and duration of the adverse impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on Valley's business, financial position, results of operations, and prospects are currently unknown, but could be significant. As of the date of this report, the banking and financial services industries have been deemed essential businesses in the jurisdictions in which Valley operates. Although our branches are now open, we continue to implement various protocols and practices imposed to safeguard the health and wellness of customers and employees and to comply with applicable government directives. However, the imposition and the extent of any further restrictions on our operations, and compliance therewith could have a material effect on Valley’s business. Valley cannot predict whether and to what extent governmental and nongovernmental authorities will continue to implement policy measures or further legislative relief to assist Valley and its customers and the failure to do so could have adverse effects on Valley's business.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided for in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, as supplemented by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (Enhancement Act), was designed to aid small- and medium-sized businesses through federally guaranteed loans distributed through banks. These loans were intended to offset payroll and other costs to help those businesses remain viable and allow their workers to pay their bills. Valley National Bank is a certified Small Business Administration (SBA) lender and facilitated approximately 13,000 SBA-approved PPP loans with balances totaling $2.2 billion as of December 31, 2020. While difficult to accurately predict, we expect the majority of these loans to be forgiven in accordance with rules, application and documentation requirements for this program.
Our business segments are reassessed by management, at least on an annual basis, to ensure the proper identification and reporting of our operating segments. Valley currently reports the results of its operations and manages its business through four business segments: commercial lending, consumer lending, investment management, and corporate and other adjustments. Valley’s Wealth Management Division comprised of trust, asset management and insurance services, is included in the consumer lending segment. See Note 21 to the consolidated financial statements for details of the financial performance of our business segments. We offer a variety of products and services within the commercial and consumer lending segments as described below.
Commercial Lending Segment
Commercial and industrial loans. Commercial and industrial loans totaled approximately $6.9 billion and represented 21.3 percent of the total loan portfolio at December 31, 2020. We make commercial loans to small and middle market
businesses most often located in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Alabama. Loans originated from Florida accounted for approximately 28 percent of total commercial and industrial loans at both, December 31, 2020 and 2019. A significant proportion of Valley’s commercial and industrial loan portfolio is granted to long-standing customers of proven ability, strong repayment performance, and high character. Underwriting standards are designed to assess the borrower’s ability to generate recurring cash flow sufficient to meet the debt service requirements of loans granted. While such recurring cash flow serves as the primary source of repayment, most of the loans are collateralized by borrower assets intended to serve as a secondary source of repayment should the need arise. Anticipated cash flows of borrowers, however, may not occur as expected and the collateral securing these loans may fluctuate in value. In the case of loans secured by accounts receivable, the ability of the borrower to collect all amounts due from its customers may be impaired. Our loan decisions include consideration of a borrower’s willingness to repay debts, collateral coverage, standing in the community and other forms of support. Strong consideration is given to long-term existing customers that have maintained a favorable relationship with the Bank. Commercial loan products offered consist of term loans for equipment purchases, working capital lines of credit that assist our customers’ financing of accounts receivable and inventory, and commercial mortgages for owner occupied properties. Working capital advances are generally used to finance seasonal requirements and are repaid at the end of the cycle. Short-term commercial business loans may be collateralized by a lien on accounts receivable, inventory, equipment and/or partly collateralized by real estate. Short-term loans may also be made on an unsecured basis based on a borrower’s financial strength and past performance. Whenever possible, we obtain the personal guarantee of the borrower’s principals to mitigate the risk. Unsecured loans, when made, are generally granted to the Bank’s most creditworthy borrowers. Unsecured commercial and industrial loans totaled $2.7 billion (including $2.2 billion of SBA guaranteed PPP loans) at December 31, 2020. In addition, we provide financing to the health care and industrial equipment leasing market through our leasing subsidiary, Highland Capital Corp.
The commercial portfolio also includes approximately $90.6 million and $6.9 million of New York City and Chicago taxi medallion loans at December 31, 2020, respectively. All of these loans are on non-accrual status due to ongoing weakness exhibited in the taxi industry caused by strong competition from alternative ride-sharing services and the economic stress caused by COVID-19. At December 31, 2020, the non-accrual taxi medallion loans totaling $97.5 million had related reserves of $66.4 million, or 68.1 percent of such loans, within the allowance for loan losses. We continue to closely monitor this portfolio and negative trends in the market valuations of the underlying taxi medallion collateral and a decline in borrower cash flows, among other factors, could result in additional charges to increase the reserves associated with this loan portfolio. See the “Non-performing Assets” section of “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” (MD&A) for additional information regarding our taxi medallion loans.
Commercial real estate loans. Commercial real estate and construction loans totaled $18.5 billion and represented 57.3 percent of the total loan portfolio at December 31, 2020. We originate commercial real estate loans that are secured by various diversified property types across the New York metropolitan area (New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) along with Florida and our Alabama footprint. Property types in this portfolio range from multi-family residential properties to non-owner occupied commercial, industrial/warehouse and retail. Loans originated from Florida lending represented 26 percent of the total commercial real estate loans at December 31, 2020 as compared to 25 percent of such loans at December 31, 2019. Loans are generally written on an adjustable basis with rates tied to a specifically identified market rate index. Adjustment periods generally range between five to ten years and repayment is generally structured on a fully amortizing basis for terms up to thirty years. Commercial real estate loans are subject to underwriting standards and processes similar to commercial and industrial loans but generally they involve larger principal balances and longer repayment periods as compared to commercial and industrial loans. Commercial real estate loans are viewed primarily as cash flow loans and secondarily as loans secured by real property. Repayment of most loans is dependent upon the cash flow generated from the property securing the loan or the business that occupies the property. Commercial real estate loans may be more adversely affected by conditions in the real estate markets or in the general economy and accordingly, conservative loan to value ratios are required at origination, as well as stress tested to evaluate the impact of market changes relating to key underwriting elements. The properties securing the commercial real estate portfolio represent diverse types, with most properties located within Valley’s primary markets. With respect to loans to developers and builders, we originate and manage construction loans structured on either a revolving or a non-revolving basis, depending on the nature of the underlying development project. Our construction loans totaling approximately $1.7 billion at December 31, 2020 are generally secured by the real estate to be developed and may also be secured by additional real estate to mitigate the risk. Within our construction portfolio, we have a diverse mix of both residential (for sale and rental) and commercial development projects. Non-revolving construction loans often involve the disbursement of substantially all committed funds with repayment substantially dependent on the successful completion and sale, or lease, of the project. Sources of repayment for these types of loans may be from pre-committed permanent loans from other lenders, sales of developed property, or an interim loan commitment from Valley until permanent financing is obtained elsewhere. Revolving construction loans (generally relating to single-family residential construction) are controlled with loan advances dependent upon the presale of housing units financed. These loans are closely monitored by on-site inspections and are considered to have higher risks than other real estate loans due to their ultimate repayment being sensitive to interest rate changes, governmental regulation of real property, general economic conditions and the availability of long-term financing.
Consumer Lending Segment
Residential mortgage loans. Residential mortgage loans totaled $4.2 billion and represented 13.0 percent of the total loan portfolio at December 31, 2020. Our residential mortgage loans include fixed and variable interest rate loans located mostly in New Jersey, New York and Florida. Valley’s ability to be repaid on such loans is closely linked to the economic and real estate market conditions in our lending markets. We also make mortgage loans secured by homes beyond this primary geographic area; however, lending outside this primary area is generally made in support of existing customer relationships, as well as targeted purchases of loans guaranteed by third parties. Mortgage loan originations are based on underwriting standards that generally comply with Fannie Mae and/or Freddie Mac requirements. Appraisals and valuations of real estate collateral are contracted through an approved appraisal management company. The appraisal management company adheres to all regulatory requirements. The Bank’s appraisal management policy and procedure is in accordance with regulatory requirements and guidance issued by the Bank’s primary regulator. Credit scoring, using FICO® and other proprietary, credit scoring models is employed in the ultimate, judgmental credit decision by Valley’s underwriting staff. Valley does not use third party contract underwriting services. In deciding whether to originate each residential mortgage, Valley considers the qualifications of the borrower, the value of the underlying property and other factors that we believe are predictive of future loan performance. Valley originated first mortgages include both fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) products with 10-year to 30-year maturities. The adjustable rate loans have a fixed-rate, fixed payment, introductory period of 5 to 10 years that is selected by the borrower. Additionally, Valley originates jumbo residential mortgage loans, which are mostly fixed-rate with 30-year maturities. At December 31, 2020, fixed and adjustable rate jumbo residential mortgage loans totaled approximately $2.5 billion. Interest-only (i.e., non-amortizing) residential mortgage loans within our jumbo portfolio totaled $39.4 million (or 0.94 percent of the total residential mortgage loan portfolio) at December 31, 2020. The Bank is also a servicer of residential mortgage portfolios, and it is compensated for loan administrative services performed for mortgage servicing rights related primarily to loans originated and sold by the Bank. See Note 5 to the consolidated financial statements for further details.
Other consumer loans. Other consumer loans totaled $2.7 billion and represented 8.4 percent of the total loan portfolio at December 31, 2020. Our other consumer loan portfolio is primarily comprised of direct and indirect automobile loans, loans secured by the cash surrender value of life insurance, home equity loans and lines of credit, and to a lesser extent, secured and unsecured other consumer loans (including credit card loans). Valley is an auto lender in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Connecticut, Delaware and Alabama offering indirect auto loans secured by either new or used automobiles. Automobile originations (including light truck and sport utility vehicles) are largely produced via indirect channels, originated through approved automobile dealers. Valley acquired an immaterial amount of automobile loans from its bank acquisitions in Florida since 2014, as auto lending was not a focus of the acquired operations. However, we implemented our indirect auto lending model in Florida in 2015, and in Alabama in 2018 using our New Jersey based underwriting and loan servicing platform. The relatively new Florida auto dealer network generated approximately $85 million and $169 million of auto loans in 2020 and 2019, respectively, while the auto loans originated from Alabama totaled $22 million in 2020 as compared to $39 million in 2019. Home equity lending consists of both fixed and variable interest rate products mainly to provide home equity loans to our residential mortgage customers or take a secondary position to another lender’s first lien position within the footprint of our primary lending territories. We generally will not exceed a combined (i.e., first and second mortgage) loan-to-value ratio of 80 percent when originating a home equity loan. Other consumer loans include direct consumer term loans, both secured and unsecured, but are largely comprised of personal lines of credit secured by cash surrender value of life insurance. The product is mainly originated through the Bank’s retail branch network and third party financial advisors. Unsecured consumer loans totaled approximately $49.4 million, including $8.8 million of credit card loans, at December 31, 2020.
Wealth Management. Our Wealth Management and Insurance Services Division provides asset management advisory services, trust services, commercial and personal insurance products, and title insurance. Asset management advisory services include investment services for individuals and small to medium sized businesses, trusts and custom -tailored investment strategies designed for various types of retirement plans. Trust services include living and testamentary trusts, investment management, custodial and escrow services, and estate administration, primarily to individuals.
Investment Management Segment
Although we are primarily focused on our lending and wealth management services, a large portion of our income is generated through investments in various types of securities, and depending on our liquid cash position, interest-bearing deposits with banks (primarily the Federal Reserve Bank of New York), as part of our asset/liability management strategies. As of December 31, 2020, our total investment securities and interest bearing deposits with banks were $3.5 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively. See the “Investment Securities Portfolio” section of the MD&A and Note 4 to the consolidated financial statements for additional information concerning our investment securities.
Changes in Loan Portfolio Composition
At December 31, 2020 and 2019, approximately 72 percent and 76 percent, respectively, of Valley’s gross loans totaling $32.2 billion and $29.7 billion, respectively, consisted of commercial real estate (including construction loans), residential mortgage, and home equity loans. The remaining 28 percent and 24 percent at December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, consisted of loans not collateralized by real estate. Valley has no internally planned changes that would significantly impact the current composition of our loan portfolio by loan type. However, we have continued to diversify the geographic concentrations in the New Jersey and New York City Metropolitan area within our loan portfolio primarily through our bank acquisitions and expanded lending teams in Florida since 2014, including our acquisition of USAB on January 1, 2018. Many external factors outlined in Item 1A. Risk Factors, the “Executive Summary” section of Item 7. MD&A, and elsewhere in this report may impact our ability to maintain the current composition of our loan portfolio. See the “Loan Portfolio” section in Item 7. MD&A in this report for further discussion of our loan composition and concentration risks.
The following table presents the loan portfolio segments by state as an approximate percentage of each applicable segment and our percentage of total loans by state at December 31, 2020.
| ||Percentage of Loan Portfolio Segment:|| |
|Commercial and Industrial||Commercial|
|Residential||Consumer||% of Total|
|New Jersey||31 ||%||27 ||%||41 ||%||35 ||%||30 ||%|
|New York||24 ||38 ||29 ||29 ||33 |
|Florida||28 ||26 ||21 ||17 ||25 |
|Pennsylvania||1 ||2 ||1 ||7 ||2 |
|Alabama||2 ||2 ||1 ||2 ||2 |
|California||1 ||1 ||3 ||1 ||1 |
|Connecticut||1 ||*||1 ||2 ||1 |
|Other||12 ||4 ||3 ||7 ||6 |
|Total||100 ||%||100 ||%||100 ||%||100 ||%||100 ||%|
|*||Represents less than one percent of the loan portfolio segment.|
Financial institutions must manage a variety of business risks that can significantly affect their financial performance. Significant risks we confront are credit risks and asset/liability management risks, which include interest rate and liquidity risks. Credit risk is the risk of not collecting payments pursuant to the contractual terms of loan, lease and investment assets. Interest rate risk results from changes in interest rates which may impact the re-pricing of assets and liabilities in different amounts or at different dates. Liquidity risk is the risk that we will be unable to fund obligations to loan customers, depositors or other creditors at a reasonable cost.
Valley’s Board performs its risk oversight function primarily through several standing committees, including the Risk Committee, all of which report to the full Board. The full Board regularly engages in discussions of risk management and receives reports on risk factors from our executive management, other Company officers and the chairman of the Risk Committee. The Risk Committee assists the Board by, among other things, establishing an enterprise-wide risk management framework and risk culture that is aligned with Valley’s strategic plan and is appropriate for Valley’s capital, business activities, size and risk appetite. Management applies the enterprise-wide risk management framework to holistically manage and monitor risks across the organization and to aggregate and manage the risk appetite approved by the board. As part of the risk management framework, the Risk Committee reviews and recommends to the Board appropriate risk tolerances and limits for strategic, credit, interest rate, price, liquidity, compliance, operational (including cyber and information security risk), and reputation risks, oversees that risks are managed within those tolerances, and monitors compliance with applicable laws and regulations. With guidance from and oversight by the Risk Committee, management continually refines and enhances its risk management policies, procedures and monitoring programs to be able to adapt to changing risks.
In May 2018, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the “EGRRCPA”) was signed into law. On July 6, 2018, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a joint interagency statement regarding the impact of the
EGRRCPA. As a result of this statement and the EGRRCPA, Valley and the Bank are no longer subject to Dodd-Frank Act stress testing requirements. While Valley is no longer required to publish company-run annual stress tests, it continues to internally run stress tests of its capital position that are subject to review by Valley's primary regulators. Additionally, the results of the internal stress tests are considered in combination with other risk management and monitoring practices at Valley to maintain an effective risk management program.
Information security is a significant operational risk for Valley. Information security includes the risk of losses resulting from cyber-attacks. Valley frequently experiences attempted cyber security attacks against its systems. However, to date, none of these incidents have resulted in material losses, known breaches of customer data or significant disruption of services to our customers. Within the past few years, we have significantly increased the resources dedicated to cyber security. We believe that further increases are likely to be required in the future, in anticipation of increases in the sophistication and persistency of cyber-attacks. We employ personnel dedicated to overseeing the infrastructure and systems necessary to defend against cyber security incidents. Senior management is briefed on information and cyber security matters, preparedness and any incidents requiring a response.
Valley’s Board, through its Risk Committee, has primary oversight responsibility for information security and receives regular updates and reporting from management on information and cyber security matters, including information related to any third-party assessments of Valley’s cyber program. The Risk Committee periodically approves Valley’s information security policies.
We may be required to expend significant additional resources to modify our protective measures, to investigate and remediate vulnerabilities or other exposures and if we experienced a cyber security breach of customer data, to make required notifications to customers and disclosure to government officials. As a result, cyber security and the continued development and enhancement of the controls and processes designed to protect our systems, computers, software, data and networks from attack, damage or unauthorized access is a high priority for us. While we have confidence in our cyber security practices and personnel, we also know we are not immune from a costly and successful attack.
Credit Risk Management and Underwriting Approach
Credit risk management. For all loan types, we adhere to a credit policy designed to minimize credit risk while generating the maximum income given the level of risk appetite. Management reviews and approves these policies and procedures on a regular basis with subsequent approval by the Board of Directors annually. Credit authority relating to a significant dollar percentage of the overall portfolio is centralized and controlled by the Credit Risk Management Division and by a Credit Committee. A reporting system supplements the review process by providing management with frequent reports concerning loan production, loan quality, internal loan classifications, concentrations of credit, loan delinquencies, non-performing, and potential problem loans. Loan portfolio diversification is an important factor utilized by us to manage the portfolio’s risk across business sectors, geographic markets and through cyclical economic circumstances.
Our historical and current loan underwriting practice prohibits the origination of payment option adjustable residential mortgages which allow for negative interest amortization and subprime loans. Virtually all of our residential mortgage loan originations in recent years have conformed to rules requiring documentation of income, assets sufficient to close the transactions and debt to income ratios that support the borrower’s ability to repay under the loan’s proposed terms and conditions. These rules are applied to all loans originated for retention in our portfolio or for sale in the secondary market.
Loan underwriting and loan documentation. Loans are well documented in accordance with specific and detailed underwriting policies and verification procedures. General underwriting guidance is consistent across all loan types with possible variations in procedures and due diligence dictated by specific loan requests. Due diligence standards require acquisition and verification of sufficient financial information to determine a borrower’s or guarantor’s credit worthiness, capital support, capacity to repay, collateral support, and character. Credit worthiness is generally verified using personal or business credit reports from independent credit reporting agencies. Capacity to repay the loan is based on verifiable liquidity and earnings capacity as shown on financial statements and/or tax returns, banking activity levels, operating statements, rent rolls or independent verification of employment. Finally, collateral valuation is determined via appraisals from independent, bank-approved, certified or licensed property appraisers, valuation services, or readily available market resources.
Types of collateral. Loan collateral, when required, may consist of any one or a combination of the following asset types depending upon the loan type and intended purpose: commercial or residential real estate; general business assets including working assets such as accounts receivable, inventory, or fixed assets such as equipment or rolling stock; marketable securities or other forms of liquid assets such as bank deposits or cash surrender value of life insurance; automobiles; or other assets wherein adequate protective value can be established and/or verified by reliable outside independent appraisers. In addition to
these types of collateral, we, in many cases, will obtain the personal guarantee of the borrower’s principals or an affiliated corporate entity to mitigate the risk of certain commercial and industrial loans and commercial real estate loans.
Many times, we will underwrite loans to legal entities formed for the limited purpose of the business which is being financed. Credit granted to these entities and the ultimate repayment of such loans is primarily based on the cash flow generated from the property securing the loan or the business that occupies the property. The underlying real property securing the loans is considered a secondary source of repayment, and normally such loans are also supported by guarantees of the legal entity members. Absent such guarantees or approval by our credit committee, our commercial real estate underwriting guidelines require that the loan to value ratio (at origination) should not exceed 60 percent, except for certain low risk loan categories where the loan to value ratio requirement may be higher, based on the estimated market value of the property as established by an independent licensed appraiser.
Reevaluation of collateral values. Commercial loan renewals, refinancings and other subsequent transactions that include the advancement of new funds or result in the extension of the amortization period beyond the original term, require a new or updated appraisal. Renewals, refinancings and other subsequent transactions that do not include the advancement of new funds (other than for reasonable closing costs) or, in the case of commercial loans, the extension of the amortization period beyond the original term, do not require a new appraisal unless management believes there has been a material change in market conditions or the physical aspects of the property which may negatively impact the collectability of our loan. In general, the period of time an appraisal continues to be relevant will vary depending upon the circumstances affecting the property and the marketplace. Examples of factors that could cause material changes to reported values include the passage of time, the volatility of the local market, the availability of financing, the inventory of competing properties, new improvements to, or lack of maintenance of, the subject or competing surrounding properties, changes in zoning and environmental contamination.
Certain collateral-dependent loans are reported at the fair value of the underlying collateral (less estimated selling costs) if repayment is expected solely from the collateral and are commonly referred to as “collateral dependent loans.” Commercial real estate loans are collateralized by real estate and construction loans are generally secured by the real estate to be developed and may also be secured by additional real estate to mitigate the risk. Residential and home equity loans are collateralized by residential real estate. Collateral values for such loans are typically estimated using individual appraisals performed every 12 months (or 18 months for impaired loans no greater than $1.0 million with current loan to value ratios less than 75 percent). Between scheduled appraisals, property values are monitored within the commercial portfolio by reference to recent trends in commercial property sales as published by leading industry sources. Property values are monitored within the residential mortgage portfolio by reference to available market indicators, including real estate price indices within Valley’s primary lending areas.
All refinanced residential mortgage loans to be held in our loan portfolio require either a new appraisal or a new evaluation in accordance with our appraisal policy. However, certain residential mortgage loans may be originated for sale and sold without new appraisals when the investor (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) presents a refinance of an existing government sponsored enterprise loan without the benefit of a new appraisal. Additionally, all loan types are assessed for full or partial charge-off when they are between 90 and 120 days past due (or sooner when the borrowers’ obligation has been released in bankruptcy) based upon their estimated net realizable value. See Note 1 to our consolidated financial statements for additional information concerning our loan portfolio risk elements, credit risk management and our loan charge-off policy.
Loan Renewals and Modifications
In the normal course of our lending business, we may renew loans to existing customers upon maturity of the existing loan. These renewals are granted provided that the new loan meets our standard underwriting criteria for such loan type. Additionally, on a case-by-case basis, we may extend, restructure, or otherwise modify the terms of existing loans from time to time to remain competitive and retain certain profitable customers, as well as assist customers who may be experiencing financial difficulties. If the borrower is experiencing financial difficulties and a concession has been made at the time of such modification, the loan is classified as a troubled debt restructured loan (TDR), except as explained below.
The majority of the concessions made for TDRs involve an extension of the term of the loan without a corresponding adjustment to the risk premium reflected in the interest rate, lowering the monthly payments on loans through either a reduction in interest rate below a market rate or a combination of these two methods. The concessions rarely result in the forgiveness of principal or accrued interest. In addition, Valley frequently obtains additional collateral or guarantor support when modifying such loans. If the borrower has demonstrated performance under the previous terms and Valley’s underwriting process shows the borrower has the capacity to continue to perform under the restructured terms, the loan will continue to accrue interest. Non-accruing restructured loans may be returned to accrual status when there has been a sustained period of repayment performance (generally six consecutive months of payments) and both principal and interest are deemed collectible.
CARES Act Loan Modifications
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact to certain customers, Valley implemented short-term loan modifications such as payment deferrals, fee waivers, extensions of repayment terms, or delays in payment that were insignificant, when requested by customers. These modifications complied with the CARES Act to provide temporary payment relief to those borrowers directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic who were not more than 30 days past due as of December 31, 2019. Generally, the modification terms allow for a deferral of payments for up to 90 days, which Valley may extend for an additional 90 days. Any extensions beyond this period were made in accordance with applicable regulatory guidance. As of December 31, 2020, Valley had approximately $361 million of outstanding loans remaining in their payment deferral period under short-term modifications. Under the CARES Act and the Enhancement Act and other applicable guidance, none of these loans were considered TDRs as of December 31, 2020.
Extension of Credit to Past Due Borrowers
Loans are placed on non-accrual status generally when they become 90 days past due and the full and timely collection of principal and interest becomes uncertain. Valley prohibits the advancement of additional funds on non-accrual loans, TDRs and CARES Act loan modifications, except under certain workout plans if such extension of credit is intended to mitigate losses.
Allowance for Credit Losses
We maintain an allowance for credit losses (ACL) for financial assets measured at amortized cost. The ACL consists of the allowance for loan losses and unfunded loan commitments (combined the "allowance of credit losses for loans"), and the allowance for credit losses for held to maturity securities. The estimate of expected credit losses under the current expected credit losses (CECL) methodology adopted on January 1, 2020 is based on relevant information about the past events, current conditions, and reasonable and supportable forecasts that affect the collectability of the reported amounts. CECL methodology to estimate the allowance for loan losses has two components: (i) a collective reserve component for estimated lifetime expected credit losses for pools of loans that share common risk characteristics and (ii) an individual reserve component for loans that do not share common risk characteristics. The allowance for unfunded credit commitments mainly consists of undisbursed non-cancellable lines of credit, new loan commitments and commercial letters of credit valued using a similar methodology as used for loans. Management's estimate of expected losses inherent in these off-balance sheet credit exposures also incorporates estimated utilization rate over the commitment's contractual period or an expected pull-through rate for new loan commitments. To measure the expected credit losses on held to maturity debt securities that have loss expectations, Valley estimates the expected credit losses using a discounted cash flow model developed by a third-party. The amount of ACL is based on ongoing, quarterly assessments by management. See Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion regarding CECL methodology.
Loans Originated by Third Parties
From time to time, the Bank makes purchases of commercial real estate loans and loan participations, residential mortgage loans, automobile loans, and other loan types, originated by, and sometimes serviced by, other financial institutions. The purchase decision is usually based on several factors, including current loan origination volumes, market interest rates, excess liquidity, our continuous efforts to meet the credit needs of certain borrowers under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), as well as other asset/liability management strategies. Valley purchased approximately $24 million and $35 million of 1-4 family loans, qualifying for CRA purposes during 2020 and 2019, respectively. All purchased loans are selected using Valley’s normal underwriting criteria at the time of purchase, or in some cases guaranteed by third parties. Purchased commercial and industrial, and commercial real estate participation loans are generally seasoned loans with expected shorter durations. Additionally, each purchased participation loan is stress-tested by Valley to assure its credit quality.
Purchased commercial loans (including commercial and industrial and commercial real estate loans) and residential mortgage loans totaled approximately $855.5 million and $722.7 million, respectively, at December 31, 2020 representing 3.63 percent, and 17.27 percent of our total commercial and residential mortgage loans, respectively.
At December 31, 2020, 5.66 percent of commercial loans originated by third parties were past due 30 days or more, which represented 0.88 percent of our total commercial loan portfolio, and 9.16 percent of residential mortgage loans originated by third parties were past due 30 days or more which represented 1.36 percent of our total residential mortgage portfolio.
Additionally, Valley has performed credit due diligence on the majority of the loans acquired in our bank acquisitions (disclosed under the "Recent Acquisitions" section above) in determining the estimated cash flows receivable from such loans. See the "Loan Portfolio" section of our MD&A of this report below for additional information.
Valley National Bank is one of the largest commercial banks headquartered in New Jersey, with its primary markets located in northern and central New Jersey, the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, Long Island, Florida and Alabama. Valley ranked 15th in competitive ranking and market share based on the deposits reported by 180 FDIC-insured financial institutions in the New York, Northern New Jersey and Long Island deposit markets as of June 30, 2020. The FDIC also ranked Valley 6th, 38th, 21st, and 18th in the states of New Jersey, New York, Florida, and Alabama, respectively, based on deposit market share as of June 30, 2020. While our FDIC rankings reflect a solid foundation in our primary markets, the market for banking and bank-related services is highly competitive and we face substantial competition in all areas of our operations from a variety of different competitors, many of which are larger and may have more financial resources than Valley to deal with the potential negative changes in the financial markets and regulatory landscape. Many of these competitors may have fewer regulatory constraints, broader geographic service areas, greater capital, and, in some cases, lower cost structures. Valley competes with other providers of financial services such as commercial and savings banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, money market and mutual funds, mortgage companies, title agencies, asset managers, insurance companies, and a large list of other local, regional and national institutions which offer financial services.
Additionally, the financial services industry is facing a wave of digital disruption from fintech companies and other large financial services providers. The financial services industry is continually undergoing rapid technological change with frequent introductions of new, technology-driven products and services which increases efficiency and enables financial institutions to better serve customers and to reduce costs. These competitors provide innovative web-based solutions to traditional retail banking services and products. Fintech companies tend to have stronger operating efficiencies and fewer regulatory burdens than their traditional bank counterparts, including Valley.
Within our markets, we also compete with some of the largest financial institutions in the world that have greater human and financial resources and are able to offer a large range of products and services at competitive rates and prices. In addition, we face an intense competition among direct banks because online banking provides customers the ability to rapidly deposit and withdraw funds and open and close accounts in favor of products and services offered by competitors. Nevertheless, we believe we can compete effectively as a result of utilizing various strategies including our long history of local customer service and convenience as part of a relationship management culture, in conjunction with the pricing of loans and deposits. Our customers are influenced by the convenience, quality of service from our knowledgeable staff, personal contacts and attention to customer needs, as well as availability of products and services and related pricing. We provide such convenience through our banking network of 226 branches, an extensive ATM network, and our telephone and on-line banking systems. Our competitive advantage also lies in our strong community presence with over 90 years of service. This longevity is especially appealing to customers seeking a strong, stable and service-oriented bank.
We continually review our pricing, products, locations, alternative delivery channels and various acquisition prospects, and periodically engage in discussions regarding possible acquisitions to maintain and enhance our competitive position.
At Valley, our goal is to give people and businesses the power to succeed. We strive to build an inclusive, diverse, and high-performing culture where empowered associates, innovation and collaboration thrive.
Demographics. At December 31, 2020, Valley National Bank and its subsidiaries employed 3,155 full-time equivalent persons across our multi-state footprint. Management considers relations with its employees to be satisfactory. During the year 2020, we hired 384 employees and our voluntary turnover rate was 13 percent. Our average tenure was approximately 8.6 years.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We believe that the diversity of our associates helps us to become stronger. Thus, we strive to foster a strong and inclusive culture that is committed to providing the quality service to our customers, the communities in which we operate and each other.
As of December 31, 2020, the population of our workforce broken down by gender and diversity was as follows:
Total Rewards. We offer market competitive compensation programs to attract, engage, retain, and motivate talent across our footprint. These programs include base wages, performance-based bonus and incentive compensation, stock awards, a 401(k) Plan with a company match, healthcare and insurance benefits, voluntary benefits, commuter benefits, health savings account, flexible spending accounts, tuition reimbursement, paid time off, disability, family leave, wellness and employee assistance programs.
Health and Safety. We are committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of our associates. In 2020, we embraced safety protocols that have become the new way of life in this pandemic era.
Maintaining alignment with state and local COVID-19 mandates and recommendations, Valley implemented remote work, where functional roles allowed, moving approximately 90 percent of our non-retail associates from the office until safety strategies could be implemented. Return to the workplace protocols and tools have allowed us to return critical workers to Valley facilities.
Talent. Within both our Talent Acquisition and Talent Development teams, our goal of attracting, developing, and retaining the most qualified people is crucial to all aspects of Valley's activities and long-term success and is central to our long-term strategy. We actively engage our senior business leaders in reviewing their critical roles in coordination with their strategic talent initiatives. Our annual Talent Review and Succession Planning process has created a broader understanding of our key talent and our flagship Leadership Development programs provide meaningful development and experiences that challenge our high potential associates.
Additional information regarding Valley's human capital management can be found under Item 1: Election of Directors of its 2021 Proxy Statement.
Information about our Executive Officers
|Office||Principal occupation during last five years other than Valley|
|Ira Robbins||46||2009||Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Valley and Valley National Bank|
|Michael D. Hagedorn||54||2019||Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of Valley and Valley National Bank||2015 - 2018 Vice Chairman, UMB Financial Corporation, President and CEO, UMB Bank n.a. |
|Thomas A. Iadanza||62||2015||Senior Executive Vice President of Valley and Chief Banking Officer of Valley National Bank|
|Joseph Chillura||54||2020||Senior Executive Vice President of Valley and Chief Customer Officer of Valley National Bank|
|Ronald H. Janis||72||2017||Senior Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Valley and Valley National Bank||1992 - 2016 Partner, SEC, Banking and Merger & Acquisitions, Day Pitney LLP|
|Robert J. Bardusch||55||2016||Senior Executive Vice President of Valley and Chief Operating Officer of Valley National Bank||2014 - 2016 Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Head of Technology and Operations, MVB Financial Corp.|
|Melissa F. Scofield||61||2015||Executive Vice President of Valley and Chief Risk Officer of Valley National Bank |
|Yvonne M. Surowiec ||60||2017||Senior Executive Vice President of Valley and Chief People Officer of Valley National Bank||2014 - 2016 Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, CDK Global|
|Mark Saeger||56||2018||Executive Vice President of Valley and Chief Credit Officer of Valley National Bank|
|Mitchell L. Crandell||50||2007||Executive Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer of Valley and Valley National Bank |
All officers serve at the pleasure of the Board of Directors.
The SEC maintains a website at www.sec.gov which contains reports and other information filed with the SEC electronically. We make our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments thereto available on our website at www.valley.com without charge as soon as reasonably practicable after filing or furnishing them to the SEC. Also available on our website are Valley’s Code of Conduct and Ethics that applies to all of our employees including our executive officers and directors, Valley’s Audit Committee Charter, Valley’s Compensation and Human Resources Committee Charter, Valley’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee Charter, and Valley’s Corporate Governance Guidelines.
Additionally, we will provide without charge a copy of our Annual Report on Form 10-K or the Code of Conduct and Ethics to any shareholder by mail. Requests should be sent to Valley National Bancorp, Attention: Shareholder Relations, 1455 Valley Road, Wayne, NJ 07470.
SUPERVISION AND REGULATION
The banking industry is highly regulated. Statutory and regulatory controls increase a bank holding company’s cost of doing business and limit the options of its management to deploy assets and maximize income. The compliance cost for Valley is significant and subject to increase as new governmental regulations are enacted and/or the level of enforcement of those regulators increases. In particular, Valley employs specialists and retains outside advisors to ensure that Valley has sufficient resources to comply with the regulations to which it is subject. Certain of Valley's competitors, including credit unions, fintech companies, and others, are not regulated to the extent that Valley and other banks are, which may place Valley at a competitive disadvantage.
The following discussion is not intended to be a complete list of all the activities regulated by the banking laws or of the impact of such laws and regulations on Valley or Valley National Bank. It is intended only to briefly summarize some material provisions.
Bank Holding Company Regulation
Valley is a bank holding company within the meaning of the Holding Company Act. As a bank holding company, Valley is supervised by the FRB and is required to file reports with the FRB and provide such additional information as the FRB may require.
The Holding Company Act prohibits Valley, with certain exceptions, from acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of five percent or more of the voting shares of any company which is not a bank and from engaging in any business other than that of banking, managing and controlling banks or furnishing services to subsidiary banks, except that it may, upon application, engage in, and may own shares of companies engaged in, certain businesses found by the FRB to be so closely related to banking “as to be a proper incident thereto.” The Holding Company Act requires prior approval by the FRB of the acquisition by Valley of five percent or more of the voting stock of any other bank. Satisfactory capital ratios, Community Reinvestment Act ratings, and anti-money laundering policies are generally prerequisites to obtaining federal regulatory approval to make acquisitions. The policy of the FRB provides that a bank holding company is expected to act as a source of financial strength to its subsidiary bank and to commit resources to support the subsidiary bank in circumstances in which it might not do so absent that policy. Acquisitions through the Bank require approval of the OCC. The Holding Company Act does not place territorial restrictions on the activities of non-bank subsidiaries of bank holding companies. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, discussed below, allows Valley to expand into insurance, securities and other activities that are financial in nature if Valley elects to become a financial holding company.
Regulation of Bank Subsidiary
Valley National Bank is subject to the supervision of, and to regular examination by, the OCC. Various laws and the regulations thereunder applicable to Valley and its bank subsidiary impose restrictions and requirements in many areas, including capital requirements, the maintenance of reserves, establishment of new offices, the making of loans and investments, consumer protection, employment practices, bank acquisitions and entry into new types of business. There are various legal limitations, including Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act, which govern the extent to which a bank subsidiary may finance or otherwise supply funds to its holding company or its holding company’s non-bank subsidiaries. Under federal law, no bank subsidiary may, subject to certain limited exceptions, make loans or extensions of credit to, or investments in the securities of, its parent or the non-bank subsidiaries of its parent (other than direct subsidiaries of such bank which are not financial subsidiaries) or take their securities as collateral for loans to any borrower. Each bank subsidiary is also subject to collateral security requirements for any loans or extensions of credit permitted by such exceptions. With the approval of the OCC, and subject to certain legal requirements, a bank may establish financial subsidiaries which may act as insurance agents, securities brokers and perform other non-banking functions.
The FRB and the OCC have rules establishing a comprehensive capital framework for U.S. banking organizations, referred to as the Basel III rules.
Under Basel III, the minimum capital ratios for us and Valley National Bank are as follows:
•4.5 percent CET1 (common equity Tier 1) to risk-weighted assets.
•6.0 percent Tier 1 capital (i.e., CET1 plus Additional Tier 1) to risk-weighted assets.
•8.0 percent Total capital (i.e., Tier 1 plus Tier 2) to risk-weighted assets.
•4.0 percent Tier 1 capital to average consolidated assets as reported on consolidated financial statements (known as the “leverage ratio”).
Under Basel III, both Valley and Valley National Bank are required to maintain a 2.5 percent “capital conservation buffer” on top of the minimum risk-weighted asset ratios, effectively resulting in minimum ratios of (i) CET1 to risk-weighted assets of at least 7.0 percent, (ii) Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 8.5 percent, and (iii) total capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 10.5 percent. The capital conservation buffer is designed to absorb losses during periods of economic stress. Banking institutions with a ratio of (i) CET1 to risk-weighted assets, (ii) Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets or (iii) total capital to risk-weighted assets above the respective minimum but below the capital conservation buffer will face constraints on dividends, equity repurchases and discretionary bonus payments to executive officers based on the amount of the shortfall. Basel III also provides for a number of complex deductions from and adjustments to its various capital components.
Pursuant to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 (FDICIA), each federal banking agency has promulgated regulations, specifying the levels at which a financial institution would be considered “well capitalized,” “adequately capitalized,” “undercapitalized,” “significantly undercapitalized,” or “critically undercapitalized,” and to take certain mandatory and discretionary supervisory actions based on the capital level of the institution.
With respect to Valley National Bank, Basel III also revised the “prompt corrective action” regulations of FDICIA, by (i) introducing a CET1 ratio requirement at each capital quality level (other than critically undercapitalized); (ii) increasing the minimum Tier 1 capital ratio requirement for each category; and (iii) requiring a leverage ratio of 5 percent to be well-capitalized. The OCC’s regulations implementing these provisions of FDICIA provide that an institution will be classified as “well capitalized” if it (i) has a total risk-based capital ratio of at least 10.0 percent, (ii) has a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of at least 8.0 percent, (iii) has a CET1 ratio of at least 6.5 percent, (iv) has a Tier 1 leverage ratio of at least 5.0 percent, and (v) meets certain other requirements. An institution will be classified as “adequately capitalized” if it meets the aforementioned minimum capital ratios under Basel III. An institution will be classified as “undercapitalized” if it (i) has a total risk-based capital ratio of less than 8.0 percent, (ii) has a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of less than 6.0 percent, (iii) has a CET1 ratio of less than 4.5 percent or (iv) has Tier 1 leverage ratio of less than 4.0 percent. An institution will be classified as “significantly undercapitalized” if it (i) has a total risk-based capital ratio of less than 6.0 percent, (ii) has a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of less than 4.0 percent, (iii) has a CET1 ratio of less than 3.0 percent or (iv) has a Tier 1 leverage ratio of less than 3.0 percent. An institution will be classified as “critically undercapitalized” if it has a tangible equity to total assets ratio that is equal to or less than 2.0 percent. An insured depository institution may be deemed to be in a lower capitalization category if it receives an unsatisfactory examination rating. Similar categories apply to bank holding companies. On January 1, 2019, the capital conservation buffer was fully phased in, and as a result, the capital ratios applicable to depository institutions under Basel III now exceed the ratios to be considered well-capitalized under the prompt corrective action regulations.
Valley National Bank’s capital ratios were all above the minimum levels required for it to be considered a “well capitalized” financial institution at December 31, 2020, under the “prompt corrective action” regulations.
For regulatory capital purposes, in connection with the Federal Reserve Board’s final interim rule as of April 3, 2020, 100 percent of the CECL Day 1 impact to shareholders' equity equaling $28.2 million after-tax will be deferred for a two-year period ending January 1, 2022, at which time it will be phased in on a pro-rata basis over a three-year period ending January 1, 2025. Additionally, 25 percent of the reserve build (i.e., provision for credit losses less net charge-offs) for the year ended December 31, 2020 will be phased in over the same time frame.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (the Dodd-Frank Act)
The Dodd-Frank Act significantly changed the bank regulatory landscape and impacted the lending, deposit, investment, trading and operating activities of financial institutions and their holding companies. Some of the effects are discussed below.
The Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and shifted most of the federal consumer protection rules applicable to banks and the enforcement power with respect to such rules to the CFPB.
Under the Durbin Amendment contained in the Dodd-Frank Act, the FRB adopted rules applying to banks with more than $10 billion in assets which established a maximum permissible interchange fee equal to no more than 21 cents plus 5 basis points of the transaction value for many types of debit interchange transactions. The FRB also adopted a rule to allow a debit card issuer to recover 1 cent per transaction for fraud prevention purposes if the issuer complies with certain fraud-related requirements required by the FRB. The FRB also has rules governing routing and exclusivity that require issuers to offer two unaffiliated networks for routing transactions on each debit or prepaid product. Because we exceed $10 billion in assets, we are subject to the interchange fee cap.
The Dodd-Frank Act also imposed stress testing on Valley and the Bank. However, the 2018 Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the “EGRRCPA”) and a joint interagency statement regarding the impact of the EGRRCPA resulted in Valley and the Bank being no longer subject to the stress testing requirements. However, under safety and soundness principles we will continue to conduct stress testing of our own design.
The Volcker Rule (contained in the Dodd-Frank Act) prohibits an insured depository institution and its affiliates from: (i) engaging in certain “proprietary trading” and (ii) investing in or sponsoring certain types of funds (Covered Funds). The Rule also effectively prohibits most short-term trading strategies investments and prohibits the use of some hedging strategies. We identified no investments held as of December 31, 2020 that meet the definition of Covered Funds.
The Dodd-Frank Act requires the federal bank regulators and the SEC to maintain guidelines prohibiting incentive-based payment arrangements at specified regulated entities, including us and our Bank, having at least $1 billion in total assets that encourage inappropriate risks by providing an executive officer, employee, director or principal stockholder with excessive compensation, fees, or benefits or that could lead to material financial loss to the entity.
The FRB and the OCC review, as part of their regular, risk-focused examination process, the incentive compensation arrangements of banking organizations, such as us, that are not “large, complex banking organizations.” These reviews are tailored to each organization based on the scope and complexity of the organization’s activities and the prevalence of incentive compensation arrangements.
Valley is a legal entity separate and distinct from its subsidiaries. Valley’s revenues (on a parent company only basis) result in substantial part from dividends paid by the Bank. The Bank’s dividend payments, without prior regulatory approval, are subject to regulatory limitations. Under the National Bank Act, without consent, a national bank may declare, in any one year, dividends only in an amount aggregating not more than the sum of its net profits for such year and its retained net profits for the preceding two years. In addition, the bank regulatory agencies have the authority to prohibit us from paying dividends if the supervising agency determines that such payment would constitute an unsafe or unsound banking practice. Among other things, consultation with the FRB supervisory staff is required in advance of our declaration or payment of a dividend to our shareholders that exceeds our earnings for the trailing four-quarter period in which the dividend is being paid.
Transactions by the Bank with Related Parties
Valley National Bank’s authority to extend credit to its directors, executive officers and 10 percent shareholders, as well as to entities controlled by such persons, is currently governed by the requirements of the National Bank Act, Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Regulation O of the FRB thereunder. Among other things, these provisions require that extensions of credit to insiders (i) 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 and that do not involve more than the normal risk of repayment or present other unfavorable features and (ii) not exceed certain limitations on the amount of credit extended to such persons, individually and in the aggregate, which limits are based, in part, on the amount of the Bank’s capital. In addition, extensions of credit in excess of certain limits must be approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors. Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Valley and its subsidiaries, other than the Bank under the authority of Regulation O, may not extend or arrange for any personal loans to its directors and executive officers.
Section 22 of the Federal Reserve Act prohibits the Bank from paying to a director, officer, attorney or employee a rate on deposits that is greater than the rate paid to other depositors on similar deposits with the Bank. Regulation W governs and limits transactions between the Bank and Valley.
Under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), as implemented by OCC regulations, a national bank has a continuing and affirmative obligation consistent with its safe and sound operation to help meet the credit needs of its entire community, including low and moderate-income neighborhoods. The CRA does not establish specific lending requirements or programs for financial institutions nor does it limit an institution’s discretion to develop the types of products and services that it believes are best suited to its particular community. The CRA requires the OCC, in connection with its examination of a national bank, to assess the association’s record of meeting the credit needs of its community and to take such record into account in its
evaluation of certain applications by such association. The CRA also requires all institutions to make public disclosure of their CRA ratings. Valley National Bank received an overall “outstanding” CRA rating in its most recent examination.
A bank which does not have a CRA program that is deemed satisfactory or better by its regulator may be prevented from making acquisitions.
USA PATRIOT Act
As part of the USA PATRIOT Act, Congress adopted the International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 (the “Anti Money Laundering Act”). The Anti Money Laundering Act authorizes the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, in consultation with the heads of other government agencies, to adopt special measures applicable to financial institutions such as banks, bank holding companies, broker-dealers and insurance companies. Among its other provisions, the Anti Money Laundering Act requires each financial institution: (i) to establish an anti-money laundering program; (ii) to establish due diligence policies, procedures and controls that are reasonably designed to detect and report instances of money laundering in United States private banking accounts and correspondent accounts maintained for non-United States persons or their representatives; and (iii) to avoid establishing, maintaining, administering, or managing correspondent accounts in the United States for, or on behalf of, a foreign shell bank that does not have a physical presence in any country.
Regulations implementing the due diligence requirements require minimum standards to verify customer identity and maintain accurate records, encourage cooperation among financial institutions, federal banking agencies, and law enforcement authorities regarding possible money laundering or terrorist activities, prohibit the anonymous use of “concentration accounts,” and require all covered financial institutions to have in place an anti-money laundering compliance program.
The OCC, along with other banking agencies, have strictly enforced various anti-money laundering and suspicious activity reporting requirements using formal and informal enforcement tools to cause banks to comply with these provisions.
A bank which is issued a formal or informal enforcement requirement with respect to its Anti Money Laundering program will be prevented from making acquisitions.
Office of Foreign Assets Control Regulation (OFAC)
The U.S. Treasury Department’s 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 and our Bank 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, including causing 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.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Supervision
As a financial institution with more than $10 billion in assets, Valley National Bank is supervised by the CFPB for consumer protection purposes. The CFPB’s regulation of Valley National Bank is focused on risks to consumers and compliance with the federal consumer financial laws and includes regular examinations of the Bank. The CFPB, along with the Department of Justice and bank regulatory authorities also seek to enforce discriminatory lending laws. In such actions, the CFPB and others have used a disparate impact analysis, which measures discriminatory results without regard to intent. Consequently, unintentional actions by Valley could have a material adverse impact on our lending and results of operations if the actions are found to be discriminatory by our regulators.
Valley National Bank is subject to federal consumer protection statutes and regulations promulgated under those laws, including, but not limited to the following:
•Truth-In-Lending Act and Regulation Z, governing disclosures of credit terms to consumer borrowers;
•Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and Regulation C, requiring financial institutions to provide certain information about home mortgage and refinanced loans;
•Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Regulation B, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, creed, or other prohibited factors in extending credit;
•Fair Credit Reporting Act and Regulation V, governing the provision of consumer information to credit reporting agencies and the use of consumer information; and
•Fair Debt Collection Act, governing the manner in which consumer debts may be collected by collection agencies.
Valley National Bank’s deposit operations are also subject to the following federal statutes and regulations, among others:
•The Truth in Savings Act and Regulation DD, which requires disclosure of deposit terms to consumers;
•Regulation CC, which relates to the availability of deposit funds to consumers;
•The Right to Financial Privacy Act, which imposes a duty to maintain the confidentiality of consumer financial records and prescribes procedures for complying with administrative subpoenas of financial records; and
•Electronic Funds Transfer Act and Regulation E, governing automatic deposits to, and withdrawals from, deposit accounts and customers’ rights and liabilities arising from the use of automated teller machines and other electronic banking services.
The CFPB examines Valley National Bank’s compliance with such laws and the regulations under them.
Insurance of Deposit Accounts
The Bank’s deposits are insured up to applicable limits by the FDIC. Under the FDIC’s risk-based system, insured institutions are assigned to one of four risk categories based on supervisory evaluations, regulatory capital levels and certain other factors with less risky institutions paying lower assessments on their deposits.
As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the FDIC adopted rules that revise the assessment base to consist of average consolidated total assets during the assessment period minus the average tangible equity during the assessment period. In addition, the rules eliminated the adjustment for secured borrowings, including Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) advances, and made certain other changes to the impact of unsecured borrowings and brokered deposits on an institution’s deposit insurance assessment.
The rules also revised the assessment rate schedule to provide initial base assessment rates ranging from 5 to 35 basis points and total base assessment rates ranging from 2.5 to 45 basis points after adjustment.
The Dodd-Frank Act made permanent a $250 thousand limit for federal deposit insurance.
London Interbank Offered Rate
Central banks around the world, including the FRB, have commissioned working groups of market participants and official sector representatives with the goal of finding suitable replacements for the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) based on observable market transactions because of the phase out of LIBOR. Most tenors of LIBOR are expected to cease being published on June 30, 2023 with some tenors expected to cease being published earlier. The FRB has stated that financial institutions should stop writing contacts using LIBOR by the end of 2021 at the latest. This change away from LIBOR and transition to other benchmarks may have an adverse impact on the value of, return on and trading markets for a broad array of financial products, including any LIBOR-based securities, loans and derivatives that are included in our financial assets and liabilities. A transition away from LIBOR also requires extensive changes to the contracts that govern these LIBOR-based products, as well as our systems and processes.
A number of the Bank's commercial loans, certain residential mortgage loans, derivative positions, trust preferred securities issued to our capital trusts, and the reset provisions for our preferred stock issuances are based upon LIBOR. The Bank will also be subject to changes to models and systems that currently use LIBOR reference rates, as well as market and strategic risks that could arise from the use of alternative reference rates. The Bank has established a working group to identify and prepare fall back language and replacement provisions, as well as ensure our systems readiness for a change in reference rate. Regulators have expressed concern about litigation that could arise due to the change from LIBOR to another rate.
Prohibitions Against Tying Arrangements
Banks are subject to the prohibitions of 12 U.S.C. Section 1972 on certain tying arrangements. A depository institution is prohibited, subject to some exceptions, from extending credit to or offering any other service, or fixing or varying the
consideration for such extension of credit or service, on the condition that the customer obtain some additional service from the institution or its affiliates or not obtain services of a competitor of the institution.
An investment in our securities is subject to risks inherent to our business. The material risks and uncertainties that management believes may affect Valley are described below. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below together with all of the other information included or incorporated by reference in this report. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones facing Valley. Additional risks and uncertainties that management is not aware of or that management currently believes are immaterial may also impair Valley’s business operations. The value or market price of our securities could decline due to any of these identified or other risks, and you could lose all or part of your investment. This report is qualified in its entirety by these risk factors.
Risks Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic
We anticipate that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to adversely affect us and our customers, counterparties, employees, and third-party service providers. The full extent and duration of the adverse impacts on our business, financial position, results of operations, and prospects are currently unknown and could be significant.
The spread of COVID-19 has created a global public-health crisis that has resulted in widespread volatility and deterioration in business, economic, and market conditions and household incomes, including in the states of New Jersey, New York, Florida and Alabama where we conduct nearly all of our business. The extent of the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our capital and liquidity, and on our business, results of operations, financial position and prospects generally will depend on a number of evolving factors, including:
The duration, extent, and severity of the pandemic. COVID-19 has not yet been contained and could affect significantly more households and businesses. The duration and severity of the pandemic, future resurgences of COVID-19 in our primary market areas, the efficacy of new approved vaccines and the timing of the distribution of such vaccines, continue to be impossible to predict. There remains substantial uncertainty surrounding the pace of economic recovery and the return of business and consumer confidence.
The response of governmental and nongovernmental authorities. Many responsive measures have been directed toward curtailing household and business activity to contain COVID-19 while simultaneously deploying fiscal- and monetary-policy measures to partially mitigate the adverse effects on individual households and businesses. These actions are not always coordinated or consistent across jurisdictions but, in general, have rapidly expanded in scope and intensity, contributing to substantial market volatility. We cannot predict whether and to what extent governmental and nongovernmental authorities will continue to implement policy measures to assist us and our customers and the failure to do so could have adverse effects on our business.
The effect on our customers, counterparties, employees, and third-party service providers. COVID-19 and its associated consequences and uncertainties, including increased unemployment rates, are affecting individuals, households, and businesses differently and unevenly and we anticipate will continue to do so. Many, however, have already changed their behavior in response to governmental mandates and advisories to sharply restrain commercial and social interactions and discretionary spending. As a result, our credit, operational, and other risks have generally increased and, for the foreseeable future, are expected to remain elevated or increase further.
The effect on economies and markets. Whether the actions of governmental and nongovernmental authorities will be successful in mitigating the adverse effects of COVID-19 in the future is unclear. National, regional, and local economies (including the local economies in the markets areas which we serve) and markets could suffer disruptions that are lasting. Governmental actions are meaningfully influencing the interest-rate environment and financial-market activity, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition. We can provide no assurance that governmental or non-governmental mitigation efforts will continue or be effective in the future.
In 2020, the most notable impacts to our results of operations were a higher provision expense for credit losses, which we expect to continue. Our provision for credit losses for loans was $125.1 million for 2020 as compared to $24.2 million for 2019. With recent increases in COVID-19 infection rates in our market areas, our forecast of macroeconomic conditions and operating results, including expected lifetime credit losses on our loan portfolio, remains subject to meaningful uncertainty. We have also entered into forbearance agreements (short-term loan modifications) with respect to approximately 600 loans with outstanding balances of approximately $361 million as of December 31, 2020. If these borrowers are unable to resume payments on their loans, our loan charge-offs may increase.
Governments have taken unprecedented steps to partially mitigate the adverse effects of their containment measures. For example, on March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was enacted to inject more than $2 trillion of financial assistance into the U.S. economy. The FRB has taken decisive and sweeping actions as well. Since March 15, 2020, these have included a reduction in the target range for the federal funds rate to 0 to 0.25 percent, a program to purchase an indeterminate amount of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities, and numerous facilities to support the flow of credit to households and businesses.
While there is evidence that our actions and those of governments and others have assisted our customers, counterparties, and third-party service providers and advanced our business and the economy generally it is uncertain how much, if at all, these actions will be effective in the future. For example, while our short-term loan modifications granted to certain customers impacted by COVID-19 may better position them to resume their regular payments to us in the future and enhance our brand and customer loyalty, these modifications have and may continue to negatively impact our cash flows and results of operations, may produce a higher degree of requests for extensions and rewrites than we have anticipated, and may not be as successful as we expect in managing our credit risk. In addition, while the FRB’s monetary policy may benefit us to some degree by supporting economic activity among our customers, this policy and sudden shifts may inhibit our ability to grow or sustain net interest income and effectively manage interest rate risk.
In order to safeguard the health and wellness of our customers and employees, and to comply with applicable government directives, we have modified our business practices, including temporary closure of certain non-branch offices, restricting employee travel and directing employees to work from home whenever possible, and have implemented our business continuity plans to the extent necessary. These measures, and further actions we may take as required by government authorities or that we otherwise determine are in the best interests of our customers and employees, could increase certain risks, including cybersecurity risks, impair our ability to perform critical functions and adversely impact our results of operations.
We are unable to estimate the near-term and ultimate impacts of COVID-19 on our business and operations at this time. The pandemic could cause us to experience higher credit losses in our lending portfolio, additional increases in our allowance for credit losses, impairment of our goodwill and other financial assets, diminished access to capital markets and other funding sources, further reduced demand for our products and services, and other negative impacts on our financial position, results of operations, and prospects. In addition, sustained adverse effects may impair our capital and liquidity positions, require us to take capital actions, prevent us from satisfying our minimum regulatory capital ratios and other supervisory requirements, result in downgrades in our credit ratings, and the reduction or elimination of our common stock dividend in future periods.
As a participating lender in the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, we are subject to additional risks of litigation from our customers or other parties regarding our processing of loans for the PPP and risks that the SBA may not fund some or all PPP loan guaranties, which could have a significant adverse impact on our business, financial position, results of operations, and prospects.
The CARES Act included a $349 billion loan program administered through the SBA referred to as the PPP. Under the PPP, small businesses and other entities and individuals can apply for loans from existing SBA lenders and other approved regulated lenders that enroll in the program, subject to numerous limitations and eligibility criteria. On April 16, 2020, the SBA notified lenders that the original $349 billion of funding under the PPP was exhausted, and on April 24, 2020, Congress allocated an additional $310 billion to the program. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, provides approximately $900 billion in new COVID-19 stimulus relief partly comprised of additional funding under the PPP. The amendment to the PPP also expands borrowers eligibility to certain second draws under the program. We participated as a lender in each round of the PPP. Since the opening of the PPP, banks have been subject to class action litigation regarding the process and procedures that such banks used in processing applications for the PPP and their refusal to pay agent fees. Class action litigation was filed against us, along with many other banks claiming the banks are obligated to pay agent fees. The litigation against us was dismissed by the plaintiffs without prejudice. Any financial liability, litigation costs or reputational damage caused by PPP-related litigation could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial position, results of operations and prospects.
We may have a credit risk on PPP loans if a determination is made by the SBA that there is a deficiency in the manner in which the loan was originated, funded, or serviced by us, such as an issue with the eligibility of a borrower to receive a PPP loan, which may or may not be related to the ambiguity in the laws, rules and guidance regarding the operation of the PPP. In the event of a loss resulting from a default on a PPP loan and a determination by the SBA that there was a deficiency in the manner in which the PPP loan was originated, funded, or serviced by us, the SBA may deny its liability under the guaranty, reduce the amount of the guaranty, or, if it has already paid under the guaranty, seek recovery of any loss related to the deficiency from us, which could adversely impact our business, financial position, results of operations and prospects.
Valley's outstanding PPP loans totaled $2.2 billion as of December 31, 2020.
We may be required to consult with the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) before declaring cash dividends on our common stock, which ultimately may delay, reduce, or eliminate such dividends and adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
Holders of our common stock are only entitled to receive such cash dividends as our Board of Directors may declare out of funds legally available for such payments. Although we have historically declared cash dividends on our common stock, we are not required to do so. We may reduce or eliminate our common stock cash dividend in the future depending upon our results of operations, financial condition or other metrics which could be adversely impacted by the ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which remains unknown.
In July 2020, the FRB updated its supervisory guidance to provide greater clarity regarding the situations in which bank holding companies, like Valley, may expect an expedited consultation in connection with the declaration of dividends that exceed quarterly earnings. To qualify, amongst other criteria, total commercial real estate loan concentrations cannot represent 300 percent or more of total capital and the outstanding balance of the commercial real estate loan portfolio cannot increase by 50 percent or more during the prior 36 months. Currently, we believe that Valley does not meet the standard for expedited consultation and approval of its dividend, should it be required. As a result, Valley could be subject to a lengthier and possibly more burdensome review process by the FRB when considering paying dividends that exceed quarterly earnings. The delay, reduction or elimination of our quarterly dividend could adversely affect the market price of our common stock. See additional information regarding our quarterly cash dividend and the current rate of earnings retention at the "Capital Adequacy" section of the MD&A.
Risks Associated with Our Business Model
Our investments in certain tax-advantaged projects may not generate returns as anticipated and may have an adverse impact on our results of operations.
We invest in certain tax-advantaged investments that support qualified affordable housing projects, community development and, prior to 2019, renewable energy resources. Our investments in these projects are designed to generate a return primarily through the realization of federal and state income tax credits, and other tax benefits, over specified time periods. Third parties perform diligence on these investments for us on which we rely both at inception and on an on-going basis. We are subject to the risk that previously recorded tax credits, which remain subject to recapture by taxing authorities based on compliance features required to be met at the project level, may fail to meet certain government compliance requirements and may not be able to be realized. The possible inability to realize these tax credits and other tax benefits may have a negative impact on our financial results. The risk of not being able to realize the tax credits and other tax benefits depends on many factors outside our control, including changes in the applicable tax code and the ability of the projects to be completed.
We previously invested in mobile solar generators sold and leased back by DC Solar and its affiliates (DC Solar). DC Solar had its assets frozen in December 2018 by the U.S. Department of Justice. DC Solar and related entities are in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A group of investors who purchased mobile solar generators from, and leased them back to, DC Solar, including us received tax credits for making these renewable resource investments. During the fourth quarter 2019, several of the co-conspirators pleaded guilty to fraud in the on-going federal investigation. Based upon this new information, Valley deemed that its tax positions related to the DC Solar funds did not meet the more likely than not recognition threshold in Valley's tax reserve assessment at December 31, 2019. As a result, our net income for the year ended December 31, 2019 included an increase to our provision for income taxes of $31.1 million, reflecting the reserve for uncertain tax liability positions related to tax credits and other tax benefits previously recognized from the investments in the DC Solar funds plus interest. The principals pled guilty to fraud in early 2020.
While we believe that Valley was fully reserved for the tax positions related to DC Solar at December 31, 2020, we continue to evaluate all our existing tax positions each quarter under U.S. GAAP.
We recently implemented new deposit services for businesses in the state licensed marijuana industry which could expose us to additional liabilities and regulatory compliance costs.
In 2020, we implemented specialized deposit services intended for a limited number of state licensed medical-use marijuana business customers. Medical use marijuana, as well as recreational use businesses are legal in numerous states and the District of Columbia, including our primary markets of New Jersey, New York, and Florida. However, such businesses are not legal at the federal level and cannabis remains a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. In 2014, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) published guidelines for financial institutions servicing state legal cannabis businesses. We have implemented a comprehensive control framework that includes written policies and procedures related to the on-boarding of such businesses and the monitoring and maintenance of such business accounts that comports with the FinCEN guidance. Additionally, our policies call for due diligence review of the cannabis business before the business is on-boarded, including confirmation that the business is properly licensed and maintains
the license in good standing in the applicable state. Throughout the relationship, our policies call for continued monitoring of the business, including site visits, to determine if the business continues to meet our requirements, including maintenance of required licenses and calls for undertaking periodic financial reviews of the business. The Bank’s program originally was limited to offering depository products to medical marijuana businesses. Deposit transactions are monitored for compliance with the applicable state medical program rules and other regulations before approval and acceptance by the Bank’s BSA/AML Department. More recently, the Bank has agreed to limited lending on real estate and expanded to licensed recreational dispensaries. The Bank may offer additional banking products and services to such customers in the future.
While we believe our policies and procedures will allow us to operate in compliance with the FinCEN guidelines, there can be no assurance that compliance with the FinCEN guidelines will protect us from federal prosecution or other regulatory sanctions. Federal prosecutors have significant discretion and there can be no assurance that the federal prosecutors will not choose to strictly enforce the federal laws governing cannabis. Any change in the federal government’s enforcement position, could potentially subject us to criminal prosecution and other regulatory sanctions. While we also believe our BSA/AML policies and programs for this new business are sufficient, the medical and recreational marijuana business is considered high-risk, thus increasing the risk of a regulatory action against our BSA/AML program that has adverse consequences, including but not limited to, preventing us from undertaking mergers, acquisitions and other expansion activities.
The loss of or decrease in lower-cost funding sources within our deposit base, including our inability to achieve deposit retention targets under our branch transformation strategy, may adversely impact our net interest income and net income.
Checking and savings, NOW, and money market deposit account balances and other forms of customer deposits can decrease when customers perceive alternative investments, such as the stock market or money market or fixed income mutual funds, as providing a better risk/return trade-off. Additionally, our customers largely bank with us because of our local customer service and convenience. For certain customers, this convenience could be negatively impacted by recent branch consolidation activity undergone as part of our branch transformation strategy. If customers move money out of bank deposits and into other investments, Valley could lose a low cost source of funds, increasing its funding costs and reducing Valley’s net interest income and net income.
A significant portion of our loan portfolio is secured by real estate, and events that negatively impact the real estate market could adversely affect our asset quality and profitability for those loans secured by real property and increase the number of defaults and the level of losses within our loan portfolio.
A significant portion of our loan portfolio is secured by real estate. As of December 31, 2020, approximately 72 percent of our total loans had real estate as a primary or secondary component of collateral. The real estate collateral in each case provides an alternate source of repayment in the event of default by the borrower and could deteriorate in value during the time the credit is extended. A downturn in the real estate market in our primary market areas could result in an increase in the number of borrowers who default on their loans and a reduction in the value of the collateral securing their loans, which in turn could have an adverse effect on our profitability and asset quality. If we are required to liquidate the collateral securing a loan to satisfy the debt during a period of reduced real estate values, our earnings and shareholders’ equity could be adversely affected. The declines in home or commercial real estate prices in the New Jersey, New York and Florida markets we primarily serve, along with the unpredictable long-term impact and path of the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, also may result in increases in delinquencies and losses in our loan portfolios. Unexpected decreases in home or commercial real estate prices coupled with slow economic growth and elevated levels of unemployment could drive losses beyond those which are provided for in our allowance for loan losses. In that event, our earnings could be adversely affected.
We could incur future goodwill impairment.
If our estimates of the fair value of our goodwill change as a result of changes in our business or other factors, we may determine a goodwill impairment charge is necessary. Estimates of the fair value of goodwill are determined using several factors and assumptions, including, but not limited to, industry pricing multiples and estimated cash flows. Based upon Valley’s 2020 goodwill impairment testing, the fair values of its four reporting units, wealth management, consumer lending, commercial lending, and investment management, were in excess of their carrying values. No assurance can be given that we will not record an impairment loss on goodwill in the future and any such impairment loss could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. At December 31, 2020, our goodwill totaled $1.4 billion. See Note 8 to the consolidated financial statements for additional information.
Our market share and income may be adversely affected by our inability to successfully compete against larger and more diverse financial service providers, digital fintech start-up firms and other financial services providers which have advanced technological capabilities.
Valley faces substantial competition in all areas of its operations from a variety of different competitors, many of which are larger and may have more financial resources than Valley to deal with the potential negative changes in the financial markets and regulatory landscape. Many of these competitors may have fewer regulatory constraints, broader geographic service areas, greater capital, and, in some cases, lower cost structures. Valley competes with other providers of financial services such as commercial and savings banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, money market and mutual funds, mortgage companies, title agencies, asset managers, insurance companies, and a large list of other local, regional and national institutions which offer financial services.
Additionally, the financial services industry is facing a wave of digital disruption from fintech companies and other large financial services providers. The financial services industry is continually undergoing rapid technological change with frequent introductions of new, technology-driven products and services which increases efficiency and enables financial institutions to better serve customers and to reduce costs. These competitors provide innovative web-based solutions to traditional retail banking services and products. Fintech companies tend to have stronger operating efficiencies and fewer regulatory burdens than their traditional bank counterparts, including Valley.
Regulatory changes may continue to allow new entrants into the markets in which we operate. The result of these regulatory changes will likely cause other non-traditional financial services companies to compete directly with Valley. Many of the companies have stronger operating efficiencies and fewer regulatory burdens than their traditional bank counterparts, including Valley.
Our future success depends, in part, upon our ability to address the needs of our customers by using technology to provide products and services that will satisfy customer demands, as well as to create additional efficiencies in our operations. We may not be able to effectively implement new, technology-driven products and services or be successful in marketing these products and services to our customers and service interruptions, transaction processing errors and system conversion delays and may cause us to fail to comply with applicable laws. Many of Valley’s competitors have substantially greater resources to invest in technological improvements. Valley may not be able to effectively implement new technology-driven products and services or be successful in marketing these products and services to its customers. Failure to successfully keep pace with technological change affecting the financial services industry could have a material adverse impact on Valley’s business and, in turn, Valley’s financial condition and results of operations.
Failure to successfully implement our growth strategies could cause us to incur substantial costs and expenses which may not be recouped and adversely affect our future profitability.
From time to time, Valley may implement new lines of business or offer new products and services within existing lines of business. There are substantial risks and uncertainties associated with these efforts, particularly in instances where the markets are not fully developed. Valley may invest significant time and resources to develop and market new lines of business and/or products and services. Initial timetables for the introduction and development of new lines of business and/or new products 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 customer preferences, may also impact the successful implementation of a new line of business or a new product or service. Additionally, any new line of business and/or new product or service could have a significant impact on the effectiveness of Valley’s system of internal controls. Failure to successfully manage these risks could have a material adverse effect on Valley’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
We are subject to environmental liability risk associated with lending activities which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
A significant portion of our loan portfolio is secured by real property. During the ordinary course of business, we may foreclose on and take title to properties securing certain loans. In doing so, there is a risk that hazardous or toxic substances could be found on these properties. If hazardous or toxic substances are found, we may be liable for remediation costs, as well as for personal injury and property damage. Environmental laws may require us to incur substantial expenses and may materially reduce the affected property’s value or limit our ability to use or sell the affected property. In addition, future laws or more stringent interpretations or enforcement policies with respect to existing laws may increase our exposure to environmental liability. Although we have policies and procedures to perform an environmental review prior to originating certain commercial real estate loans, as well as before initiating any foreclosure action on real property, these reviews may not be sufficient to detect all potential environmental hazards. The remediation costs and any other financial liabilities associated with an environmental hazard could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
We may incur future losses in connection with repurchases and indemnification payments related to mortgages that we have sold into the secondary market.
We engage in the origination of residential mortgages for sale into the secondary market, while typically retaining the loan servicing. In connection with such sales, we make representations and warranties, which, if breached, may require us to repurchase such loans, substitute other loans or indemnify the purchasers of such loans for actual losses incurred in respect of such loans. The aggregate principal balances of residential mortgage loans serviced by the Bank for others approximated $3.5 billion and $3.4 billion at December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. Over the past several years, we have experienced a nominal amount of repurchase requests, and only a few of which have actually resulted in repurchases by Valley (only two and four loan repurchases in 2020 and 2019, respectively). None of the loan repurchases resulted in a material loss. As of December 31, 2020, no reserves pertaining to loans sold were established on our financial statements. While we currently believe our repurchase risk remains low based upon our careful loan underwriting and documentation standards, it is possible that requests to repurchase loans could occur in the future and such requests may have a negative financial impact on us.
Net gains on sales of residential mortgage loans are a significant component of our non-interest income and could fluctuate in future periods.
Net gains on sales of residential mortgage loans represented approximately 23 percent and 9 percent of our non-interest income for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. Our net gains on sales of loans for each period are comprised of both gains on sales of residential mortgages and the net change in the mark to market gains and losses on our loans held for sale carried at fair value at each period end. Our ability or decision to sell a portion of our mortgage loan production in the secondary market is dependent upon, amongst other factors, the levels of market interest rates, consumer demand marketable loans, our sales and pricing strategies, the economy and our need to maintain the appropriate level of interest rate risk on our balance sheet. A change in one or more of these or other factors could significantly impact our ability to sell mortgage loans in the future and adversely impact the level of our non-interest income and financial results.
We may not be able to attract and retain skilled people.
Our success depends, in large part, on our ability to attract and retain key people. Competition for the best people in most activities in which we engage can be intense and we may not be able to hire people or to retain them. The unexpected loss of services of one or more of our key personnel, including, but not limited to, the executive officers disclosed in Item 1 of this Annual Report, could have a material adverse impact on our business because we would lose the employees’ skills, knowledge of the market, and years of industry experience and may have difficulty promptly finding qualified replacement personnel.
Climate change and severe weather could significantly impact our ability to conduct our business.
A significant portion of our primary markets is located near coastal waters which could generate naturally occurring severe weather, or in response to climate change, that could have a significant impact on our ability to conduct business. Many areas in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Alabama in which our branches operate are subject to severe flooding from time to time and significant disruptions related to the weather may become common events in the future. Heavy storms and hurricanes can also cause severe property damage and result in business closures, negatively impacting both the financial health of retail and commercial customers and our ability to operate our business. The risk of significant disruption and potential losses from future storm activity exists in all of our primary markets.
Risks Related to Our Industry
We may not be able to detect money laundering and other illegal or improper activities fully or on a timely basis, which could expose us to additional liability and could have a material adverse effect on us.
We are required to comply with anti-money laundering, anti-terrorism and other laws and regulations in the United States. These laws and regulations require us, among other things, to adopt and enforce “know-your-customer” policies and procedures and to report suspicious and large transactions to applicable regulatory authorities. These laws and regulations have become increasingly complex and detailed, require improved systems and sophisticated monitoring and compliance personnel and have become the subject of enhanced government supervision.
While we have adopted policies and procedures aimed at detecting and preventing the use of our banking network for money laundering and related activities, those policies and procedures may not completely eliminate instances in which we may be used by customers to engage in money laundering and other illegal or improper activities. To the extent we fail to fully comply with applicable laws and regulations, the OCC, along with other banking agencies, have the authority to impose fines and other penalties and sanctions on us. In addition, our business and reputation could suffer if customers use our banking network for money laundering or illegal or improper purposes.
Changes in interest rates could reduce our net interest income and earnings.
Valley’s earnings and cash flows are largely dependent upon its net interest income. Net interest income is the difference between interest income earned on interest-earning assets, such as loans and investment securities, and interest expense paid on interest-bearing liabilities, such as deposits and borrowed funds. Interest rates are sensitive to many factors that are beyond Valley’s control, including general economic conditions, competition, and policies of various governmental and regulatory agencies and, in particular, the policies of the FRB. Changes in interest rates driven by such factors could influence not only the interest Valley receives on loans and investment securities and the amount of interest it pays on deposits and borrowings, but such changes could also affect (i) Valley’s ability to originate loans and obtain deposits, (ii) the fair value of Valley’s financial assets, including the held to maturity and available for sale investment securities portfolios, and (iii) the average duration of Valley’s interest-earning assets and liabilities. This also includes the risk that interest-earning assets may be more responsive to changes in interest rates than interest-bearing liabilities, or vice versa (repricing risk), the risk that the individual interest rates or rate indices underlying various interest-earning assets and interest-bearing liabilities may not change in the same degree over a given time period (basis risk), and the risk of changing interest rate relationships across the spectrum of interest-earning asset and interest-bearing liability maturities (yield curve risk). The FRB has acted to decrease targeted short-term interest rates to 0%-.25%, and it is anticipated that short-term interest rates could remain at these low rates for an extended time period. A period of extended low interest rates could have a negative impact on Valley's net interest income, and any substantial or unexpected change in market interest rates could have a material adverse effect on Valley’s financial condition and results of operations. See additional information in the “Net Interest Income” and “Interest Rate Sensitivity” sections of our MD&A.
The replacement of the LIBOR benchmark interest rate may have an impact on Valley’s business, financial condition or results of operations.
Certain loans made by us and financing extended to us are made at variable rates that use LIBOR as a benchmark for establishing the interest rate. In addition, we also have investments, interest rate derivatives and borrowings that reference LIBOR. On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit LIBOR rates after 2021. Subsequently, on November 30, 2020, the ICE Benchmark Administration announced its plan to extend the date most U.S. dollar LIBOR values would cease being computed to June 30, 2023. On the same date, the FRB. FDIC and OCC issued a joint statement instructing banks to cease entering into new LIBOR-based loan agreements by no later than December 31, 2021. In the United States, efforts to identify a set of alternative U.S. dollar reference interest rates are ongoing, and the Alternative Reference Rate Committee (ARRC) has recommended the use of a Secured Overnight Funding Rate (SOFR). SOFR is different from LIBOR in that it is a backward looking secured rate rather than a forward looking unsecured rate. These differences could lead to a greater disconnect between the Bank's costs to raise funds for SOFR as compared to LIBOR. The implementation of a substitute index or indices for the calculation of interest rates under our loan agreements with our borrowers may incur significant expenses in effecting the transition, may result in reduced loan balances if borrowers do not accept the substitute index or indices, and may result in disputes or litigation with customers over the appropriateness or comparability to LIBOR of the substitute index or indices, which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations. These reforms may cause LIBOR to cease to exist, new methods of calculating LIBOR to be established or the establishment of multiple alternative reference rates. These consequences cannot be entirely predicted and could have an adverse impact on the market value for or value of LIBOR-linked securities, loans, and other financial obligations or extensions of credit held by or due to us.
Higher charge-offs and weak credit conditions could require us to further increase our allowance for credit losses through a provision charge to earnings.
The process for determining the amount of the allowance for credit losses is critical to our financial results and conditions. It requires difficult, subjective and complex judgments about the future, including the impact of national and regional economic conditions on the ability of our borrowers to repay their loans. If our judgment proves to be incorrect, our allowance for credit losses may not be sufficient to cover the lifetime credit losses inherent in our loan and held to maturity debt securities portfolios, as well as unfunded credit commitments. 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 credit losses in addition to the increase in our loan allowance in 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, bank regulators review the classification of our loans in their examination of us and we may be required in the future to change the internal classification on certain loans, which may require us to increase our provision for credit losses or loan charge-offs. If actual net charge-offs were to exceed Valley’s allowance, its earnings would be negatively impacted by additional provisions for credit losses. Any increase in our allowance for credit losses or loan charge-offs as required by the OCC or otherwise could have an adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition.
An increase in our non-performing assets may reduce our interest income and increase our net loan charge-offs, provision for loan losses, and operating expenses.
Non-performing assets (including non-accrual loans, other real estate owned, and other repossessed assets) totaled $194.6 million at December 31, 2020. Our non-accrual loans increased from 0.22 percent of total loans at December 31, 2016 to 0.58 percent of total loans at December 31, 2020 largely due to a significant increase in non-accrual taxi medallion loans within our commercial and industrial loan portfolio. Due to continued negative trends in estimated fair valuations of the underlying taxi medallion collateral, a weak operating environment for ride services and uncertain borrower performance, the remainder of our previously accruing taxi medallion loans were placed on non-accrual status during the first quarter 2020. At December 31, 2020, the non-accrual taxi medallion loans totaling $97.5 million had related reserves of $66.4 million, or 68.1 percent of such loans, within the allowance for loan losses.
These non-performing assets can adversely affect our net income mainly through decreased interest income and increased operating expenses incurred to maintain such assets or loss charges related to subsequent declines in the estimated fair value of foreclosed assets. Adverse changes in the value of our non-performing assets, or the underlying collateral, or in the borrowers’ performance or financial conditions could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. Potential further declines in the market valuation of taxi medallions and the stressed operating environment within both New York City and Chicago due to the COVID-19 pandemic could also negatively impact the future performance of this portfolio. There can be no assurance that we will not experience increases in non-performing loans in the future, or that our non-performing assets will not result in lower financial returns in the future.
General Commercial, Operational and Financial and Regulatory Risks
Our controls and procedures may fail or be circumvented, which may result in a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Management periodically reviews and updates our internal controls, disclosure controls and procedures, and corporate governance policies. Any system of controls, however well designed and operated, is based in part on certain assumptions and can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurances that the objectives of the system are met. Any failure or circumvention of the controls and procedures or failure to comply with regulations related to controls and procedures could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We rely on our systems of controls and procedures, and if our system fails, our operations could be disrupted.
We face the risk that the design of our controls and procedures, including those to mitigate the risk of fraud by employees or outsiders, may prove to be inadequate or are circumvented, thereby causing delays in detection of errors or inaccuracies in data and information. We regularly review and update our internal controls, disclosure controls and procedures, and corporate governance policies and procedures. Any system of controls, however well designed and operated, is based in part on certain assumptions and can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurances that the objectives of the system are met. Any failure or circumvention of our controls and procedures or failure to comply with regulations related to controls and procedures could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We may also be subject to disruptions of our systems arising from events that are wholly or partially beyond our control (including, for example, electrical or telecommunications outages), which may give rise to losses in service to customers and to financial loss or liability. We are further exposed to the risk that our external vendors may be unable to fulfill their contractual obligations (or will be subject to the same risk of fraud or operational errors by their respective employees as us) and to the risk that our (or our vendors’) business continuity and data security systems prove to be inadequate. We maintain a system of comprehensive policies and a control framework designed to monitor vendor risks including, among other things, (i) changes in the vendor’s organizational structure or internal controls, (ii) changes in the vendor’s financial condition, (iii) changes in the vendor’s support for existing products and services and (iv) changes in the vendor’s strategic focus. While we believe these policies and procedures help to mitigate risk, the failure of an external vendor to perform in accordance with the contracted arrangements under service level agreements could be disruptive to our operations, which could have a material adverse impact on our business and, in turn, our financial condition and results of operations.
Our financial results and condition may be adversely impacted by changing economic conditions.
Financial institutions can be affected by changing conditions in the real estate and financial markets. Weak economic conditions could result in financial stress on our borrowers that would adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. Volatility in the housing markets, real estate values and unemployment levels could result in significant write-downs of asset values by financial institutions. The majority of Valley’s lending is in northern and central New Jersey, the New York City metropolitan area, Florida and Alabama. As a result of this geographic concentration, a significant broad-based deterioration in economic conditions in these areas could have a material adverse impact on the quality of Valley’s loan
portfolio, results of operations and future growth potential. Adverse economic conditions in our market areas can reduce our rate of growth, affect our customers’ ability to repay loans and adversely impact our financial condition and earnings. General economic conditions, including inflation, unemployment and money supply fluctuations, also may adversely affect our profitability.
Our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected by the outbreak of pandemic disease, acts of terrorism, and other external events.
The emergence of widespread health emergencies or pandemics, such as COVID-19, could lead to additional quarantines, business shutdowns, labor shortages, disruptions to supply chains, and overall economic instability. Additionally, New York City and New Jersey remain central targets for potential acts of terrorism against the United States. Such events could affect the stability of our deposit base, impair the ability of borrowers to repay outstanding loans, impair the value of collateral securing loans, cause significant property damage, result in loss of revenue and/or cause us to incur additional expenses. Although we have established and regularly test disaster recovery policies and procedures, the occurrence of any such event in the future could have a material adverse effect on our business, which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Our ability to make opportunistic acquisitions is subject to significant risks, including the risk that regulators will not provide the requisite approvals.
We may make opportunistic whole or partial acquisitions of other banks, branches, financial institutions, or related businesses from time to time that we expect may further our business strategy. Any possible acquisition will be subject to regulatory approval, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to obtain such approval in a timely manner or at all. Even if we obtain regulatory approval, these acquisitions could involve numerous risks, including lower than expected performance or higher than expected costs, difficulties related to integration, diversion of management's attention from other business activities, changes in relationships with customers, and the potential loss of key employees. In addition, we may not be successful in identifying acquisition candidates, integrating acquired institutions, or preventing deposit erosion or loan quality deterioration at acquired institutions. Competition for acquisitions can be intense, and we may not be able to acquire other institutions on attractive terms. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in completing or will even pursue future acquisitions, or if such transactions are completed, that we will be successful in integrating acquired businesses into operations. Ability to grow may be limited if we choose not to pursue or are unable to successfully make acquisitions in the future.
The future impact of changes to the Internal Revenue Code is uncertain and may adversely affect our business.
The U.S. Congress passed significant reform of the Internal Revenue Code, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (Tax Act) at the end of 2017. While the decline in the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent lowered Valley’s income tax expense as a percentage of its taxable income in 2018 and subsequent years, other provisions of the Tax Act negatively impacted Valley's consolidated financial statements and it may adversely affect Valley in the future. For example, under the provisions of the Tax Act, the $3.3 million and $2.5 million of the Bank's total FDIC insurance assessment for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, was non-tax deductible based upon the asset size of the Bank. If Valley's total assets were to exceed $50 billion at any year-end, its entire FDIC insurance assessment would be non-tax deductible in that fiscal year. The future impact of the Tax Act or subsequent amendments to the tax rates and laws on our business may be adverse.
The new Biden presidential administration has indicated an intention to increase corporate taxes which would reduce our net income.
Our adoption of the CECL model for determining our allowance for credit losses has added volatility, could add additional volatility, to our provision for credit losses and earnings.
Effective January 1, 2020, Valley adopted the FASB's new accounting guidance on the impairment of financial instruments, commonly known as the current expected credit loss (CECL) model. The CECL model requires the allowance for credit losses for certain financial assets, including loans, held to maturity securities and certain off-balance sheet credit exposures, to be calculated based on current expected credit losses over the lives of the assets rather than incurred losses as of a point in time.
Our estimation process is subject to risks and uncertainties, including a reliance on historical loss and trend information that may not be representative of current conditions and indicative of future performance. Changes in such estimates could significantly impact our allowance and provision for credit losses. Accordingly, our actual allowance for credit losses may be materially different than the amounts reported due to the inherent uncertainty in the estimation process, including future loss estimates based upon our reasonable and supportable economic forecasts. Also, future amount could differ materially from
those estimates due to changes in values and circumstances after the balance sheet date. See Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements for additional information regarding the impact of the adoption of the CECL model.
We may be unable to adequately manage our liquidity risk, which could affect our ability to meet our obligations as they become due, capitalize on growth opportunities, or pay regular dividends on our common stock.
Liquidity risk is the potential that Valley will be unable to meet its obligations as they come due, capitalize on growth opportunities as they arise, or pay regular dividends on our common stock because of an inability to liquidate assets or obtain adequate funding on a timely basis, at a reasonable cost and within acceptable risk tolerances. Liquidity is required to fund various obligations, including credit commitments to borrowers, mortgage and other loan originations, withdrawals by depositors, repayment of borrowings, dividends to shareholders, operating expenses and capital expenditures. Liquidity is derived primarily from retail deposit growth and retention; principal and interest payments on loans; principal and interest payments on investment securities; sale, maturity and prepayment of investment securities; net cash provided from operations; and access to other funding sources, such as the FHLB and certain brokered deposit channels established by the Bank.
Our access to funding sources in amounts adequate to finance our activities could be impaired by factors that affect us specifically or the financial services industry in general. Factors that could have a detrimental impact to our access to liquidity sources include a decrease in the level of our business activity due to persistent weakness, or downturn, in the economy or adverse regulatory action against us. Our ability to borrow could also be impaired by factors that are not necessarily specific to us, such as a severe disruption of the financial markets or negative views and expectations about the prospects for the financial services industry as a whole.
Cyber-attacks could compromise our information or result in the data of our customers being improperly divulged, which could expose us to liability, losses and escalating operating costs.
Valley regularly collects, processes, transmits and stores confidential information regarding its customers, employees and others for whom it services loans. In some cases, this confidential or proprietary information is collected, compiled, processed, transmitted or stored by third parties on Valley’s behalf. Information security risks have increased because of the proliferation of new technologies and the increased sophistication and activities of perpetrators of cyber-attacks. Many financial institutions and companies engaged in data processing have reported significant breaches in the security of their websites or other systems, some of which have involved sophisticated and targeted attacks intended to obtain unauthorized access to confidential information, destroy data, denial-of-service, or sabotage systems, often through the introduction of computer viruses or malware, cyber-attacks and other means. Although Valley frequently experiences attempted cybersecurity attacks against its systems, to date, none of these incidents have resulted in material losses, known breaches of customer data or significant disruption of services to Valley’s customers. However, there can be no assurance that Valley will not incur such issues in the future, exposing us to significant on-going operational costs and reputational harm.
Additionally, risk exposure to cyber security matters will remain elevated or increase in the future due to, among other things, the increasing size and prominence of Valley in the financial services industry, our expansion of Internet and mobile banking tools and products based on customer needs, and the system and customer account conversions associated with the integration of merger targets.
In managing our cyber risks, when entering a new vendor relationship, we review and gauge the cyber security risk of such third-party service providers. A successful attack on one of our third-party service providers could adversely affect our business and result in the disclosure or misuse of our confidential information.
While we believe we are taking reasonable, risk-based precautions to manage the risk of cyber-attacks against third-party service providers, there can be no assurance that our third-party service providers will not suffer a cyber-attack that exposes us to significant operational costs and damages. While we believe we have risk based technology reasonably capable of discovering cyber-attacks, and personnel who are qualified to monitor our technology and systems to detect cyber-attacks, we can offer no assurance that we will be able to identify and prevent cyber-attacks when they occur. Significant damage may occur if Valley fails to identify, or there is a delay in identifying, a cyber-attack on our systems, or those of our third-party service providers.
Extensive regulation and supervision have a negative impact on our ability to compete in a cost-effective manner and may subject us to material compliance costs and penalties.
Valley, primarily through its principal subsidiary and certain non-bank subsidiaries, is subject to extensive federal and state regulation and supervision. Banking regulations are primarily intended to protect depositors’ funds, federal deposit insurance funds and the banking system as a whole. Many laws and regulations affect Valley’s lending practices, capital structure, investment practices, dividend policy and growth, among other things. They encourage Valley to ensure a satisfactory level of lending in defined areas and establish and maintain comprehensive programs relating to anti-money laundering and
customer identification. Congress, state legislatures, and federal and state regulatory agencies continually review banking laws, regulations and policies for possible changes. Changes to statutes, regulations or regulatory policies, including changes in interpretation or implementation of statutes, regulations or policies, could affect Valley in substantial and unpredictable ways. Such changes could subject Valley to additional costs, limit the types of financial services and products it may offer and/or increase the ability of non-banks to offer competing financial services and products, among other things. 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 Valley’s business, financial condition and results of operations. Valley’s compliance with certain of these laws will be considered by banking regulators when reviewing bank merger and bank holding company acquisitions.
We are subject to numerous laws designed to protect consumers, including the Community Reinvestment Act and fair lending laws, and failure to comply with these laws could lead to a wide variety of sanctions.
The Community Reinvestment Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act and other fair lending laws and regulations impose community investment and nondiscriminatory lending requirements on financial institutions. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Justice and other federal agencies are responsible for enforcing these laws and regulations. A successful regulatory challenge to an institution’s performance under the Community Reinvestment Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act or other fair lending laws and regulations could result in a wide variety of sanctions, including damages and civil money penalties, injunctive relief, restrictions on mergers and acquisitions, restrictions on expansion and restrictions on entering new business lines. Private parties also may challenge an institution’s performance under fair lending laws in litigation. Such actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Changes in accounting policies or accounting standards could cause us to change the manner in which we report our financial results and condition in adverse ways and could subject us to additional costs and expenses.
Valley’s accounting policies are fundamental to understanding its financial results and condition. Some of these policies require the use of estimates and assumptions that may affect the value of Valley’s assets or liabilities and financial results. Valley identified its accounting policies regarding the allowance for credit losses, goodwill and other intangible assets, and income taxes to be critical because they require management to make difficult, subjective and complex judgments about matters that are inherently uncertain. Under each of these policies, it is possible that materially different amounts would be reported under different conditions, using different assumptions, or as new information becomes available.
From time to time, the FASB and the SEC change their guidance governing the form and content of Valley’s external financial statements. In addition, accounting standard setters and those who interpret U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (U.S. GAAP), such as the FASB, SEC, banking regulators and Valley’s independent registered public accounting firm, may change or even reverse their previous interpretations or positions on how these standards should be applied. Such changes are expected to continue and may accelerate dependent upon the FASB and International Accounting Standards Board commitments to achieving convergence between U.S. GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards. Changes in U.S. GAAP and changes in current interpretations are beyond Valley’s control, can be hard to predict and could materially impact how Valley reports its financial results and condition. In certain cases, Valley could be required to apply new or revised guidance retroactively or apply existing guidance differently (also retroactively) which may result in Valley restating prior period financial statements for material amounts. Additionally, significant changes to U.S. GAAP may require costly technology changes, additional training and personnel, and other expenses that will negatively impact our results of operations.
Claims and litigation could result in significant expenses, losses and damage to our reputation.
From time to time as part of Valley’s normal course of business, customers, bankruptcy trustees, former customers, contractual counterparties, third parties and current and former employees make claims and take legal action against Valley based on actions or inactions of Valley. If such claims and legal actions are not resolved in a manner favorable to Valley, they may result in financial liability and/or adversely affect the market perception of Valley and its products and services. This may also impact customer demand for Valley’s products and services. Any financial liability could have a material adverse effect on Valley’s financial condition and results of operations. Any reputation damage could have a material adverse effect on Valley’s business.
Risks Related to an Investment in our Securities
We may reduce or eliminate the cash dividend on our common stock, which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
Holders of our common stock are only entitled to receive such cash dividends as our Board of Directors may declare out of funds legally available for such payments. Although we have historically declared cash dividends on our common stock, we are not required to do so and may reduce or eliminate our common stock cash dividend in the future depending upon our results of operations, financial condition or other metrics. This reduction or elimination of our dividend could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
If our subsidiaries are unable to pay dividends or make distributions to us, we may be unable to make dividend payments to our preferred and common shareholders or interest payments on our long-term borrowings and junior subordinated debentures issued to capital trusts.
We are a separate and distinct legal entity from our banking and non-banking subsidiaries and depend on dividends, distributions, and other payments from the Bank and its non-banking subsidiaries to fund cash dividend payments on our preferred and common stock and to fund most payments on our other obligations. Regulations relating to capital requirements affect the ability of the Bank to pay dividends and other distributions to us and to make loans to us. Additionally, if our subsidiaries’ earnings are not sufficient to make dividend payments to us while maintaining adequate capital levels, we may not be able to make dividend payments to our preferred and common shareholders or interest payments on our long-term borrowings and junior subordinated debentures issued to capital trusts. Furthermore, 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.
Future acquisitions may dilute shareholder value, especially tangible book value per share.
We regularly evaluate opportunities to acquire other financial institutions. As a result, merger and acquisition discussions and, in some cases, negotiations may take place and future mergers or acquisitions involving cash, debt, or equity securities may occur at any time. Acquisitions typically involve the payment of a premium over book and market values, and, therefore, some dilution of our tangible book value per common share may occur in connection with any future acquisitions.
Future offerings of common stock, preferred stock, debt or other securities may adversely affect the market price of our stock and dilute the holdings of existing shareholders.
In the future, we may increase our capital resources or, if our or the Bank’s actual or projected capital ratios fall below or near the current (Basel III) regulatory required minimums, we or the Bank could be forced to raise additional capital by making additional offerings of common stock, preferred stock or debt securities. Additional equity offerings may dilute the holdings of our existing shareholders or reduce the market price of our common stock, or both. Holders of our common stock are not entitled to preemptive rights or other protections against dilution. Upon liquidation, holders of our debt securities and shares of preferred stock, and lenders with respect to other borrowings will receive distributions of our available assets prior to the holders of our common stock. See Note 18 to the consolidated financial statements for more details on our common and preferred stock.
|Item 1B.||Unresolved Staff Comments|
We conduct our business at 226 retail banking centers locations in northern and central New Jersey, the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, Long Island, Florida and Alabama. We own 98 of our banking center facilities and several non-branch operating facilities. The other properties are leased for various terms.
The following table summarizes our retail banking centers in each state:
|Number of banking centers||% of Total|
|Total New Jersey||131||58.0 |
|Long Island||12||5.3 |
|Total New York||38||16.8 |
Our principal executive office is located at One Penn Plaza in Manhattan, New York. Many of our bank operations are located in Wayne, New Jersey, where we own five office buildings. Our New York City corporate headquarters are primarily used as a central hub for New York based lending activities of senior executives and other commercial lenders. We also lease six non-bank office facilities in Florida, used for operational, executive and lending purposes.
On December 1, 2019, the acquisition of Oritani added 26 banking centers mostly located in northern New Jersey. During 2020, we closed and consolidated 11 of the 26 acquired branches into nearby legacy Valley branches. See the "Executive Summary" section of Item 7. MD&A for details on other planned changes to our branch network in 2021.
The total net book value of our premises and equipment (including land, buildings, leasehold improvements and furniture and equipment) was $319.8 million at December 31, 2020. We believe that all of our properties and equipment are well maintained, in good operating condition and adequate for all of our present and anticipated needs.
In the normal course of business, we may be a party to various outstanding legal proceedings and claims. In the opinion of management, our financial condition, results of operations, and liquidity should not be materially affected by the outcome of such legal proceedings and claims.
|Item 5.||Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities|
Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “VLY”. There were 7,638 shareholders of record as of December 31, 2020.
The following graph compares the cumulative total return on a hypothetical $100 investment made on December 31, 2015 in: (a) Valley’s common stock; (b) the KBW Regional Banking Index (KRX) and (c) the Standard and Poor’s (S&P) 500 Stock Index. The graph is calculated assuming that all dividends are reinvested during the relevant periods. The graph shows how a $100 investment would increase or decrease in value over time based on dividends (stock or cash) and increases or decreases in the market price of the stock.
|Valley||$||100.00 ||$||123.55 ||$||123.65 ||$||101.66 ||$||136.48 ||$||122.76 |
|KBW Regional Banking Index (KRX)||100.00 ||139.12 ||141.63 ||116.86 ||144.76 ||132.18 |
|S&P 500||100.00 ||111.95 ||136.38 ||130.39 ||171.44 ||202.96 |
Issuer Repurchase of Equity Securities
The following table presents the purchases of equity securities by the issuer and affiliated purchasers during the three months ended December 31, 2020:
Total Number of
Shares Purchased (1)
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans(2)
Maximum Number of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased
Under the Plans (2)
|October 1, 2020 to October 31, 2020||2,322 ||$||6.85 ||— ||4,112,465 |
|November 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020||9,571 ||7.71 ||— ||4,112,465 |
|December 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020||31,301 ||9.98 ||— ||4,112,465 |
|Total||43,194 ||— |
(1)Represents repurchases made in connection with the vesting of employee stock awards.
(2)On January 17, 2007, Valley publicly announced its intention to repurchase up to 4.7 million outstanding common shares in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions. The repurchase plan has no stated expiration date. No repurchase plans or programs expired or terminated during the three months ended December 31, 2020.
|Item 6.||Selected Financial Data |
|Item 7.||Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) of Financial Condition and Results of Operations|
The purpose of this analysis is to provide the reader with information relevant to understanding and assessing Valley’s results of operations and financial condition for each of the past two years. In order to fully appreciate this analysis, the reader is encouraged to review the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes thereto appearing under Item 8 of this report, and statistical data presented in this document. For comparison of our results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, please refer to Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations of our Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, filed with the SEC on March 10, 2020.
Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
This report, both in MD&A and elsewhere, contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are not historical facts and include expressions about management’s confidence and strategies and management’s expectations about our business, new and existing programs and products, acquisitions, relationships, opportunities, taxation, technology, market conditions and economic expectations. These statements may be identified by such forward-looking terminology as “should,” “expect,” “believe,” “view,” “opportunity,” “allow,” “continues,” “reflects,” “typically,” “usually,” “anticipate,” or similar statements or variations of such terms. Such forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties and our actual results may differ materially from such forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements in addition to those risk factors listed under the “Risk Factors” section in Part1, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K include, but are not limited to:
•the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. and global economies, including business disruptions, reductions in employment and an increase in business failures, specifically among our clients;
•the impact of COVID-19 on our employees and our ability to provide services to our customers and respond to their needs as more cases of COVID-19 may arise in our primary markets;
•potential judgments, claims, damages, penalties, fines and reputational damage resulting from pending or future litigation and regulatory and government actions, including as a result of our participation in and execution of government programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic or as a result of our actions in response to, or failure to implement or effectively implement, federal, state and local laws, rules or executive orders requiring that we grant forbearances or not act to collect our loans;
•the impact of forbearances or deferrals we are required or agree to as a result of customer requests and/or government actions, including, but not limited to our potential inability to recover fully deferred payments from the borrower or the collateral;
•damage verdicts or settlements or restrictions related to existing or potential class action litigation or individual litigation arising from claims of violations of laws or regulations, contractual claims, breach of fiduciary responsibility, negligence, fraud, environmental laws, patent or trademark infringement, employment related claims, and other matters;
•a prolonged downturn in the economy, mainly in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Alabama, as well as an unexpected decline in commercial real estate values within our market areas;
•higher or lower than expected income tax expense or tax rates, including increases or decreases resulting from changes in uncertain tax position liabilities, tax laws, regulations and case law;
•the inability to grow customer deposits to keep pace with loan growth;
•a material change in our allowance for credit losses under CECL due to forecasted economic conditions and/or unexpected credit deterioration in our loan and investment portfolios;
•the need to supplement debt or equity capital to maintain or exceed internal capital thresholds;
•greater than expected technology related costs due to, among other factors, prolonged or failed implementations, additional project staffing and obsolescence caused by continuous and rapid market innovations;
•the loss of or decrease in lower-cost funding sources within our deposit base, including our inability to achieve deposit retention targets under Valley's branch transformation strategy;
•cyber-attacks, computer viruses or other malware that may breach the security of our websites or other systems to obtain unauthorized access to confidential information, destroy data, disable or degrade service, or sabotage our systems;
•results of examinations by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other regulatory authorities, including the possibility that any such regulatory authority may, among other things, require us to increase our allowance for credit losses, write-down assets, reimburse customers, change the way we do business, or limit or eliminate certain other banking activities;
•our inability or determination not to pay dividends at current levels, or at all, because of inadequate earnings, regulatory restrictions or limitations, changes in our capital requirements or a decision to increase capital by retaining more earnings;
•unanticipated loan delinquencies, loss of collateral, decreased service revenues, and other potential negative effects on our business caused by severe weather, the COVID-19 pandemic or other external events;
•unexpected significant declines in the loan portfolio due to the lack of economic expansion, increased competition, large prepayments, changes in regulatory lending guidance or other factors; and
•the failure of other financial institutions with whom we have trading, clearing, counterparty and other financial relationships.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
Our accounting and reporting policies conform, in all material respects, to U.S. GAAP. In preparing the consolidated financial statements, management has made estimates, judgments and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities as of the date of the consolidated statements of financial condition and results of operations for the periods indicated. Actual results could differ materially from those estimates.
Valley’s accounting policies are fundamental to understanding management’s discussion and analysis of its financial condition and results of operations. Our significant accounting policies are presented in Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements. We identified our policies for the allowance for credit losses, goodwill and other intangible assets, and income taxes to be critical because management has to make subjective and/or complex judgments about matters that are inherently uncertain and because it is likely that materially different amounts would be reported under different conditions or using different assumptions. Management has reviewed the application of these policies with the Audit Committee of Valley’s Board of Directors.
The judgments used by management in applying the critical accounting policies discussed below may be affected by significant changes in the economic environment, which may result in changes to future financial results. Specifically, subsequent evaluations of the loan portfolio, in light of the factors then prevailing, may result in material changes in the allowance for credit losses in future periods, and the inability to collect on outstanding loans could result in increased loan losses.
Allowance for Credit Losses. Determining the allowance for credit losses for loans has historically been identified as a critical accounting estimate. On January 1, 2020, we adopted new accounting guidance which requires entities to estimate and recognize an allowance for lifetime expected credit losses for loans, unfunded credit commitments and held to maturity debt securities measured at amortized cost. Previously, an allowance for credit losses for loans was recognized based on probable incurred losses. See Notes 1, 4 and 5 to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion of our accounting policies and methodologies for establishing the allowance for credit losses.
The accounting estimates relating to the allowance for credit losses is a "critical accounting estimate" for the following reasons:
•Changes in the provision for credit losses can materially affect our financial results;
•Estimates relating to the allowance for credit losses require us to project future borrower performance, delinquencies and charge-offs, along with, when applicable, collateral values, based on a reasonable and supportable forecast period utilizing forward-looking economic scenarios in order to estimate probability of default and loss given default;
•The allowance for credit losses is influenced by factors outside of our control such as industry and business trends, geopolitical events and the effects of laws and regulations as well as economic conditions such as trends in housing prices, interest rates, gross domestic product (GDP), inflation, energy prices and unemployment; and
•Judgment is required to determine whether the models used to generate the allowance for credit losses produce an estimate that is sufficient to encompass the current view of lifetime expected credit losses.
Our estimation process is subject to risks and uncertainties, including a reliance on historical loss and trend information that may not be representative of current conditions and indicative of future performance. Changes in such estimates could significantly impact our allowance and provision for credit losses. Accordingly, our actual credit loss experience may not be in line with our expectations.
Changes in Our Allowance for Credit Losses for Loans
Valley considers it difficult to quantify the impact of changes in forecast on its allowance for credit losses. However, management believes the following discussion may enable investors to better understand the variables that drive the allowance for credit losses for loans, which amounted to $340.2 million at December 31, 2020.
As discussed further in the "Allowance for Credit Losses" section in this MD&A, we incorporated a multi-scenario economic forecast for estimating lifetime expected credit losses at December 31, 2020. As a result of the deterioration in economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 and the related increase in economic uncertainty, we increased our probability weighting for the most severe economic scenario as compared to those at January 1, 2020. As a result, approximately $50.2 million of the $87.2 million increase in our allowance for credit losses for loans from January 1, 2020 reflected the impact of the adverse economic forecast within Valley's lifetime expected credit loss estimate, as well as other qualitative factors. Specific reserves, largely based upon management's valuation of collateral for collateral dependent loans and the present value of expected cash flows for certain troubled debt restructured loans, and quantitative reserves, based upon expected and actual transitions in the credit quality of our loan portfolio, represented $20.9 million and $16.1 million, respectively, of the remaining increase in reserves at December 31, 2020.
In addition, the valuation of certain collateral dependent loans (including New York City taxi medallion loan valuations based on the estimated value of the underlying medallions) could be adversely impacted by illiquidity or dislocation in certain markets, resulting in depressed market valuations of the underlying collateral, thus leading to additional provisions for loan losses.
Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets. We have significant goodwill and other intangible assets related to our acquisitions totaling $1.4 billion and $70.4 million at December 31, 2020, respectively. We record all assets, liabilities, and non-controlling interests in the target in purchase acquisitions, including goodwill and other intangible assets, at fair value as of the acquisition date, and expense all acquisition related costs as incurred as required by ASC Topic 805, “Business Combinations.” The initial recording of goodwill and other intangible assets requires subjective judgments concerning estimates of the fair value of the acquired assets and assumed liabilities. Goodwill is subject to annual tests for impairment or more often, if events or circumstances indicate it may be impaired. Our determination of whether or not goodwill is impaired requires us to make significant judgments and to use significant estimates and assumptions regarding estimated future cash flows. If we change our strategy or if market conditions shift, our judgments may change, which may result in adjustments to the recorded goodwill balance. Other intangible assets are amortized over their estimated useful lives and are subject to impairment tests if events or circumstances indicate a possible inability to realize the carrying amount. Such evaluation of other intangible assets is based on undiscounted cash flow projections.
On January 1, 2020, we adopted ASU No. 2017-04 intended to simplify the goodwill impairment test by eliminating a second step which required an entity to determine the implied fair value of the reporting unit’s goodwill. Instead, an impairment loss is now recognized if the carrying value of the net assets assigned to the reporting unit exceeds the fair value of the reporting unit, with the impairment loss not to exceed the amount of goodwill recorded.
We perform our annual goodwill impairment test in the second quarter of each year, or more often if events or circumstances warrant. In addition to the annual impairment test, we assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on macroeconomic variables and economic forecasts and how those might impact the fair value of our reporting units each quarter end. After consideration of these variables and other possible triggering events or circumstances, as well as our operating results, we determined it was more-likely-than-not that the fair values of our four reporting units, wealth management, consumer lending, commercial lending, and investment management, were in excess of their carrying values during 2020. Therefore, we concluded there were no triggering events that would require additional goodwill impairment test of the reporting units during 2020.
Based upon Valley’s 2020 annual goodwill impairment testing, the fair values of its four reporting units were in excess of their carrying values. In 2021, we will continue to monitor and evaluate the impact of COVID-19 and its impact on our market capitalization, overall economic conditions, and any triggering events that may indicate a possible impairment of goodwill allocated to our reporting units. While not expected at this time, we may be required to record a charge to earnings should there
be a deficiency in our estimated fair value of one or more of our reporting units during our subsequent annual (or more frequent) impairment tests. See the "Business Segments" section for more information regarding our business segments/reporting units.
Fair value is determined using certain discounted cash flow and market multiple methods. Estimated cash flows may extend far into the future and, by their nature, are difficult to determine over an extended timeframe. Factors that may materially affect the estimates include, among others, impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on macroeconomic variables and economic forecasts, competitive forces, customer behaviors and attrition, changes in revenue growth trends, cost structures and technology, and changes in discount rates, growth rate, terminal values, and specific industry or market sector conditions. To assist in assessing the impact of potential goodwill or other intangible assets impairment charges at December 31, 2020, the impact of a five percent impairment charge on these intangible assets would result in a reduction in pre-tax income of approximately $72.6 million. See Note 8 to the consolidated financial statements for additional information regarding goodwill and other intangible assets.
Income Taxes. We are subject to the income tax laws of the U.S., its states and municipalities. The income tax laws of the jurisdictions in which we operate are complex and subject to different interpretations by the taxpayer and the relevant government taxing authorities. In establishing a provision for income tax expense, we must make judgments and interpretations about the application of these inherently complex tax laws to our business activities, as well as the timing of when certain items may affect taxable income.
Our interpretations may be subject to review during examination by taxing authorities and disputes may arise over the respective tax positions. We attempt to resolve these disputes during the tax examination and audit process and ultimately through the court systems when applicable. We monitor relevant tax authorities and revise our estimate of accrued income taxes due to changes in income tax laws and their interpretation by the courts and regulatory authorities on a quarterly basis. Revisions of our estimate of accrued income taxes also may result from our own income tax planning and from the resolution of income tax controversies. Such revisions in our estimates may be material to our operating results for any given quarter.
The provision for income taxes is composed of current and deferred taxes. Deferred taxes arise from differences between assets and liabilities measured for financial reporting versus income tax return purposes. Deferred tax assets are recognized if, in management’s judgment, their realizability is determined to be more likely than not. We perform regular reviews to ascertain the realizability of our deferred tax assets. These reviews include management’s estimates and assumptions regarding future taxable income, which also incorporate various tax planning strategies. In connection with these reviews, if we determine that a portion of the deferred tax asset is not realizable, a valuation allowance is established. Management determined it is more likely than not that Valley will realize its net deferred tax assets, except for immaterial valuation allowances, as of December 31, 2020 and 2019.
We also maintain a reserve related to certain tax positions that management believes contain an element of uncertainty. An uncertain tax position is measured based on the largest amount of benefit that management believes is more likely than not to be realized. During 2020 and 2019, our income tax expense reflected $1.5 million and $31.1 million increases to our tax provision related to reserve for uncertain tax liability positions and/or accrued interest related to such positions at December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, as compared to a $3.3 million net state tax benefit in 2018 related to the reduction of reserves at December 31, 2018 caused by the expiration of the statute of limitations for certain tax positions.
See Notes 1 and 13 to the consolidated financial statements and the "Executive Summary" and “Income Taxes” sections in this MD&A for an additional discussion on the accounting for income taxes.
New Authoritative Accounting Guidance. See Note 1 of the consolidated financial statements for a description of recent accounting pronouncements including the dates of adoption and the anticipated effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
Company Overview. At December 31, 2020, Valley had consolidated total assets of $40.7 billion, total net loans of $31.9 billion, total deposits of $31.9 billion and total shareholders’ equity of $4.6 billion. Our commercial bank operations include branch office locations in northern and central New Jersey, the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, Long Island, Florida and Alabama. Of our current 226 branch network, 58 percent, 17 percent, 18 percent and 7 percent of the branches are located in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Alabama, respectively. Despite targeted branch consolidation activity, we have significantly grown both in asset size and locations over the past several years primarily through bank acquisitions, including our acquisition of Oritani Financial Corp. (Oritani) and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Oritani Bank on December 1, 2019. See Note 2 to the consolidated financial statements for more information regarding the Oritani acquisition.
Impact of COVID-19. 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. While the overall level of economic activity has improved in the second half of 2020 following the steep economic downturn in second quarter 2020, certain industries and businesses continue to be adversely impacted with a significant loss of their normal revenue streams and continue to experience business interruptions. Our outlook, which remains unchanged from the end of the third quarter 2020 indicates continued macroeconomic deterioration with higher levels of credit stress related to borrowers impacted by COVID-19 and lower valuations of collateral securing our non-performing taxi medallion loan portfolio. Uncertainties and disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic slowed our traditional new commercial loan volumes and the loan balances for residential and many consumer loan products saw moderate declines in the second half of 2020, primarily as a result of the higher level of residential mortgage loans originated for sale due to our current interest rate risk management strategies. Any sustained economic downturn due to COVID-19 and other factors, or other long-term changes in consumer and business behaviors from COVID-19 may adversely impact the value of assets that serve as collateral for our loans.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided for in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, as supplemented by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (Enhancement Act), was designed to aid small- and medium-sized businesses through federally guaranteed loans distributed through banks. These loans are intended to guarantee 8 to 24 weeks of payroll and other costs to help those businesses remain viable and allow their workers to pay their bills. Valley National Bank is a certified Small Business Administration (SBA) lender and facilitated approximately 13,000 SBA-approved PPP loans with balances totaling $2.2 billion as of December 31, 2020. While difficult to accurately predict, we expect the majority of these loans to be forgiven in accordance with rules, application and documentation requirements for this program.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020 (Appropriations Act), provides approximately $900 billion in new COVID-19 stimulus relief partly comprised of additional funding under the PPP. The Appropriations Act also expanded borrower eligibility under the PPP to certain second draws under the program. During the first quarter 2021, Valley has approved PPP loan applications totaling approximately $534 million within its pipeline, and originated $499 million of such loans through February 19, 2021. Our future PPP loan originations may ultimately be less than the approved loan application pipeline due to normal underwriting contingencies.
We have reopened all bank branches in our network that were either temporarily closed or had reduced lobby services due to COVID-19. However, we continue to act with an abundance of caution in order to safeguard the health and wellness of our customers and employees and may limit capacity in our branch locations and/or require scheduled appointments in the future. We continue to closely monitor local conditions in the areas we serve and will take actions as circumstances warrant, which may necessitate certain branch or other office closures and reduced lobby services. Our business continuity plan continues to remain in effect with many of our non-customer facing employees continuing to work remotely as we monitor the level of the health crisis in our primary markets.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact on certain customers and in accordance with provisions set forth by the CARES Act, Valley implemented short-term loan modifications, such as payment deferrals, fee waivers, extensions of repayment terms, or delays in payment that are insignificant, when requested by customers. Generally, the modification terms allow for a deferral of payments for up to 90 days, which Valley may extend for an additional 90 days. Any extensions beyond this period were made in accordance with applicable regulatory guidance. As of December 31, 2020, Valley had $361 million of outstanding loans remaining in their payment deferral period under short-term modifications. The $361 million of loans in deferral represented approximately 1.1 percent of our total loan portfolio at December 31, 2020, having decreased significantly from approximately $1.1 billion, or 3.3 percent of total loans, near the start of the third quarter 2020.
Significant uncertainties persist as to the impact of future economic conditions and stress on our customers. The severe adverse economic pressures, coupled with the implementation of an expected loss methodology for determining our provision for credit losses as required by CECL, contributed to a sharply increased provision for credit losses for the year ended December 31, 2020, following our initial adoption of CECL on January 1, 2020. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 closely, as well as any effects that may result from the CARES Act, Enhancement Act and other government stimulus or Federal Reserve actions. However, the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will impact our operations and financial results during the first quarter 2021 and beyond is highly uncertain. See the "Operating Environment" section of MD&A for more details.
Branch Transformation. As previously disclosed, Valley has embarked on a strategy to continuously overhaul its retail network. Approximately two years ago we established the foundation of what the transformation of our branch network would look like in coming years. At that time, we identified 74 branches that did not meet certain internal performance measures, including 20 branches that were closed and consolidated by the end of the first quarter 2019. For the remaining 54 branches, we
implemented tailored action plans focused on improving profitability and deposit levels, as well as upgrades in staffing and training, within a defined timeline. During 2020, we permanently closed an additional 16 branches located in New Jersey, including the consolidation of 11 acquired Oritani branches into nearby legacy Valley branches, and 2 Florida branches. We also permanently closed one New Jersey branch in the first quarter 2021. For the overall branch network, we continue to monitor the operating performance of each branch and implement tailored action plans focused on improving profitability and deposit levels for those branches that underperform.
Annual Results. Net income totaled $390.6 million, or $0.93 per diluted common share, for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to $309.8 million in 2019, or $0.87 per diluted common share. The increase in net income compared to 2019 was largely due to:
•a $220.9 million, or 24.6 percent, increase in our net interest income driven primarily by a $5.6 billion increase in average loan balances and a sharp reduction in interest rates of 85 basis points on the cost of total interest bearing liabilities resulting from the low interest environment, partially offset by loan yields that were 53 basis points lower and interest expense related to a $3.9 billion increase in average interest bearing liabilities; and
•a $7.5 million decrease in income tax expense largely due to a $31.1 million addition to our reserves for uncertain tax positions in 2019, partially offset by increased income taxes mostly caused by higher 2020 pre-tax income; partially offset by
•a $101.5 million increase in our provision for credit losses for loans due to the CECL adoption and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the model results;
•a $31.5 million decrease in non-interest income, due in large part to a $78.5 million gain on the sale (and leaseback) of certain Bank properties recognized in 2019, partially offset by a $23.3 million increase in the gain on sale of residential mortgage loans, as well as swap fee income which increased $25.6 million to $59.0 million for 2020; and
•a $14.6 million increase in non-interest expense largely due to higher levels of expense related to our expanded franchise following the Oritani acquisition on December 1, 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic, partially offset by a $20.0 million decrease in the loss on extinguishment of debt and a $7.1 million decrease in the amortization of tax credit investments.
See the “Net Interest Income,” “Non-Interest Income,” “Non-Interest Expense,” and “Income Taxes” sections below for more details on the items above and other infrequent items, including merger expenses and the loss on extinguishment of debt, impacting our 2020 annual results.
Operating Environment. During 2020, real gross domestic product declined 3.5 percent compared to an increase of 2.2 percent in 2019. The decline in growth was driven by decreases in household consumption, exports, restocking of inventories, business fixed investment and state and local government spending. These decreases were partially offset by increases in residential fixed investment and federal government spending, particularly from non-defense spending, which supported economic activity.
To support economic activity, the Federal Reserve reduced the target range for the federal funds rate in the first half of 2020 and began purchasing Treasury securities and agency residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities. As of the dated of this report, the target range for the federal funds rate is between zero and 0.25 percent. The Federal Reserve indicated at its recent meeting that the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate to support a return to sustained expansion of economic activity.
The 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield ended 2020 at 0.93 percent, or 99 basis points lower as compared to December 31, 2019. The spread between the 2- and 10-year U.S. Treasury note yields ended the year at 0.80 percent, or 46 basis points higher, compared to the end of 2019.
For all commercial banks in the U.S., loans and leases grew approximately 3.5 percent from December 31, 2019 to December 31, 2020. For the industry, banks reported that demand for most commercial loan products had declined sharply compared to the end of 2019. The decline was broad-based across commercial real estate lending and loans to middle market firms. However, banks reported sharply higher demand for residential mortgage loans, particularly those related to jumbo products. Additionally, the industry reported that underwriting standards had generally tightened significantly for both commercial and residential loans. Valley’s commercial and industrial originations in 2020 were primarily driven by loans associated with PPP. In addition, Valley continued to see solid demand for residential mortgage loans across its geographies during most of 2020. However, the path of economic activity is highly contingent on the progress made in combating COVID-19. Should health conditions warrant more widespread restrictions to business activity, spending and investment would
be adversely impacted. Therefore, if conditions remain subdued it could weigh on the Bank’s future financial results, as highlighted below in the MD&A.
Loans. Total loans increased by $2.5 billion to $32.2 billion at December 31, 2020 from December 31, 2019 largely due to $2.2 billion of SBA PPP loans classified as commercial and industrial loans, as well as growth in commercial mortgage loans (including construction loans) which increased $827.1 million, or 4.7 percent during the year ended December 31, 2020. The residential mortgage category and most consumer loan categories experienced moderate declines during the year ended December 31, 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and a higher level of residential mortgage loans originated for sale. During the year ended December 31, 2020, we originated $1.2 billion of residential mortgage loans for sale rather than held for investment. Loans held for sale totaled $301.4 million and $76.1 million at December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
Asset Quality. Prior to our adoption of the CECL standard on January 1, 2020, our past due loans and non-accrual loans which are discussed further below, excluded those loans which were classified as purchased credit impaired (PCI) loans. Under the new standard, Valley's former PCI loans are accounted for as purchased credit deteriorated (PCD) loans and, if applicable, are reported in our past due and non-accrual categories at December 31, 2020.
Total non-performing assets (NPAs), consisting of non-accrual loans, other real estate owned (OREO), other repossessed assets and non-accrual debt security increased $90.1 million, or 86.3 percent to $194.6 million at December 31, 2020 as compared to December 31, 2019. This increase was largely due to non-accrual PCD loans totaling approximately $45 million reported at December 31, 2020 and higher non-accrual taxi medallion loans within the commercial and industrial category. Non-accrual loans totaled $185.3 million, or 0.58 percent of our entire loan portfolio of $32.2 billion, at December 31, 2020 as compared to $93.1 million, or 0.31 percent of total loans, at December 31, 2019.
Total accruing past due loans (i.e., loans past due 30 days or more and still accruing interest) increased $30.8 million to $99.0 million, or 0.31 percent of total loans at December 31, 2020 as compared to $68.2 million, or 0.23 percent of total loans, at December 31, 2019. The increase was largely due to an increase in early stage delinquencies in commercial real estate category as well as approximately $11 million of accruing past due loans PCD loans reported at December 31, 2020.
Our lending strategy is based on underwriting standards designed to maintain high credit quality and we remain optimistic regarding the overall future performance of our loan portfolio. However, due to the potential for future credit deterioration caused by the downturn in economic conditions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and a number of our borrowers performing under short-term forbearance agreements, management cannot provide assurance that our non-performing assets will not increase substantially from the levels reported at December 31, 2020. See the “Non-performing Assets” section below for further analysis of our asset quality.
Deposits and Other Borrowings. Our mix of total deposits at December 31, 2020 as compared to December 31, 2019 reflects the shift in customer preference for deposits without stated maturities resulting from the uncertainties stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the low interest rates offered on our time deposits. Additionally, PPP loan originations were deposited into customers' checking accounts which increased the proportion of non-interest bearing deposits in our overall deposit mix. Average non-interest bearing deposits represented approximately 27 percent of total average deposits for the year ended December 31, 2020, whereas savings, NOW and money market accounts were 47 percent and time deposits were 26 percent of total average deposits for the year ended December 31, 2020. Average non-interest bearing deposits, savings, NOW and money market accounts, and time deposits were 25 percent, 45 percent, and 30 percent, respectively, for the year ended December 31, 2019. Average total deposits for the year ended December 31, 2020 as compared to 2019 increased by $5.4 billion due, in large part, to the aforementioned PPP loan proceeds, as well as our continuous efforts to encourage new and existing loan borrowers to maintain deposit accounts at Valley, including government deposits. Ending balances of brokered deposits (consisting of both time and money market deposit accounts) were $3.1 billion and $4.1 billion at December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
While we believe the current operating environment will likely continue to be favorable for Valley’s deposit gathering initiatives, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to maintain deposit levels at or near those reported at December 31, 2020. Additionally, the vast majority of the PPP loan customers that are Valley depositors are expected to continue to use PPP funds for qualifying payroll and other costs over an 8 to 24 week total period to obtain loan forgiveness. The resulting outflow of funds for such expenditures may contribute to lower levels of deposit balances in 2021.
Average short-term borrowings decreased $448.7 million to $1.6 billion for 2020 as compared to 2019 largely due to the success of our retail and government deposit gathering efforts and a moderate shift into long-term borrowings.
Average long-term borrowings increased $899.0 million to approximately $2.9 billion for 2020 as compared to 2019 largely due to new FHLB borrowings and our $115.0 million, 5.25 percent fixed-to-floating subordinated notes issued in June
2020. For further discussion of our average interest bearing liabilities see the “Net Interest Income” section below, and for further discussion of our borrowed funds, see Note 10 to the consolidated financial statements.
Selected Performance Indicators. The following table presents our annualized performance ratios for the three years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018:
|Return on average assets||0.96 ||%||0.93 ||%||0.86 ||%|
|Return on average assets, as adjusted||0.99 ||0.98 ||0.93 |
|Return on average shareholders’ equity||8.68 ||8.71 ||7.91 |
|Return on average shareholders’ equity, as adjusted||8.93 ||9.19 ||8.55 |
|Return on average tangible shareholders’ equity (ROATE)||12.82 ||13.05 ||12.21 |
|ROATE, as adjusted||13.19 ||13.77 ||13.20 |
Adjusted return on average assets, adjusted return on average shareholders' equity, ROATE and adjusted ROATE included in the table above are non-GAAP measures. Management believes these measures provide information useful to management and investors in understanding our underlying operational performance, business and performance trends, and that these measures facilitate comparisons of our prior performance with the performance of others in the financial services industry. These non-GAAP financial measures should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for or superior to financial measures calculated in accordance with U.S. GAAP. These non-GAAP financial measures may also be calculated differently from similar measures disclosed by other companies. The non-GAAP measure reconciliations are presented below.
Adjusted net income for the three years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 was computed as follows:
|Net income, as reported||$||390,606 ||$||309,793 ||$||261,428 |
|Add: Loss on extinguishment of debt (net of tax)||8,649 ||22,992 ||— |
|Add: Net impairment losses on securities (net of tax)||— ||2,104 ||— |
|Add: (Gains) losses on securities transactions (net of tax)||(377)||108 ||1,677 |
Add: Severance expense (net of tax) (1)
|1,489 ||3,477 ||1,907 |
Add: Tax credit investment impairment (net of tax) (2)
|— ||1,746 ||— |
|Add: Branch related asset impairment (net of tax)||— ||— ||1,304 |
|Add: Legal expenses (litigation reserve impact only, net of tax)||— ||— ||8,726 |
Add: Merger related expenses (net of tax) (3)
|1,371 ||11,929 ||12,494 |
Add: Income tax expense (benefit) (4)
|— ||31,123 ||(274)|
Less: Gain on sale-leaseback transaction (net of tax) (5)
|— ||(56,414)||— |
Less: Gain on sale of Visa Class B shares (net of tax) (6)
|— ||— ||(4,677)|
|Net income, as adjusted||$||401,738 ||$||326,858 |