SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
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Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes
The approximate aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, based upon the closing price of the Common Stock on June 30, 2020, was $
The number of shares of the Registrant’s common stock outstanding on February 28, 2021 was
Portions of the following documents are incorporated into the Parts of this Report on Form 10-K indicated below:
The Registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting to be filed pursuant to Regulation 14A on or before April 30, 2021 (Part III).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, unless otherwise mentioned, the terms the “Company”, “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Dime Community Bancshares, Inc. and our wholly-owned subsidiary, Dime Community Bank (the “Bank”). We use the term “Holding Company” to refer solely to Dime Community Bancshares, Inc. and not to our consolidated subsidiary.
Item 1. Business
Completion of Merger of Equals
On February 1, 2021, Dime Community Bancshares, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Legacy Dime”) merged with and into Bridge Bancorp, Inc., a New York corporation (“Legacy Bridge”) (the “Merger”), with Legacy Bridge as the surviving corporation under the name “Dime Community Bancshares, Inc.” (the “Company”). At the effective time of the Merger (the “Effective Time”), each outstanding share of Legacy Dime common stock, par value $0.01 per share, was converted into the right to receive 0.6480 shares of the Company’s common stock, par value $0.01 per share.
At the Effective Time, each outstanding share of Legacy Dime’s Series A preferred stock, par value $0.01 (the “Dime Preferred Stock”), was converted into the right to receive one share of a newly created series of the Company’s preferred stock having the same powers, preferences and rights as the Dime Preferred Stock.
Immediately following the Merger, Dime Community Bank, a New York-chartered commercial bank and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Legacy Dime, merged with and into BNB Bank, a New York-chartered commercial bank and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bridge, with BNB Bank as the surviving bank, under the name “Dime Community Bank.”
In connection with the Merger, the Company assumed $115.0 million in aggregate principal amount of the 4.50% Fixed-to-Floating Rate Subordinated Debentures due 2027 of Legacy Dime.
See “Note 23. Subsequent Event” of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further information.
Dime Community Bancshares, Inc., (the “Holding Company”), which was known as Bridge Bancorp, Inc., prior to the Merger, is a bank holding company engaged in commercial banking and financial services through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Dime Community Bank, which was known as BNB Bank prior to the Merger. The Bank was established in 1910 and is headquartered in Hauppauge, New York. The Holding Company was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York in 1988 to serve as the holding company for the Bank. The Company functions primarily as the holder of all of the Bank’s common stock. In May 1999, the Bank established a real estate investment trust subsidiary, Bridgehampton Community, Inc. (“BCI”), as an operating subsidiary. The assets of BCI are viewed by the bank regulators as part of the Bank’s assets in consolidation. Our bank operations also include Bridge Abstract LLC (“Bridge Abstract”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank, which is a broker of title insurance services. In connection with the Merger, on February 1, 2021, the Holding Company acquired Dime Community Bank and its wholly-owned subsidiaries.
As of December 31, 2020, we operated 39 branch locations in the primary market areas of Suffolk and Nassau Counties on Long Island and the New York City boroughs, including 35 in Suffolk and Nassau Counties, two in Queens and two in Manhattan. Following the Merger, we operate 67 branch locations throughout Long Island and the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx.
For over a century, we have maintained our focus on building customer relationships in our market area. Our mission is to grow through the provision of exceptional service to our customers, our employees, and the community. We strive to achieve excellence in financial performance and build long-term shareholder value. We engage in a full service commercial and consumer banking business, including accepting time, savings and demand deposits from the consumers, businesses and local municipalities in our market area. These deposits, together with funds generated from operations and borrowings, are invested primarily in: (1) commercial real estate loans; (2) multi-family mortgage loans; (3) residential mortgage loans; (4) secured and unsecured commercial and consumer loans; (5) home equity loans; (6) construction and land loans;
(7) Federal Home Loan Bank (“FHLB”), Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”), Government National Mortgage Association (“Ginnie Mae”) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”) mortgage-backed securities, collateralized mortgage obligations and other asset backed securities; (8) New York State and local municipal obligations; (9) U.S. government-sponsored enterprise (“U.S. GSE”) securities; and (10) corporate bonds. We also offer the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (“CDARS”) and Insured Cash Sweep (“ICS”) programs, providing multi-millions of dollars of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) insurance on deposits to our customers. In addition, we offer merchant credit and debit card processing, automated teller machines, cash management services, lockbox processing, online banking services, remote deposit capture, safe deposit boxes, and individual retirement accounts as well as investment services through Bridge Financial Services LLC, which offers a full range of investment products and services through a third-party broker dealer. Through its title insurance abstract subsidiary, the Bank acts as a broker for title insurance services. Our customer base is comprised principally of small businesses, municipal relationships and consumer relationships.
We believe the Merger will create a company with a more diversified loan portfolio, across geographies, asset classes and commercial industries, and that the resulting company will have increased capacity for loan growth while maintaining its current business risk tolerances.
Human Capital Resources
Demographics and Culture
As of December 31, 2020, we employed 502 full-time equivalent employees. As a result of the Merger, on February 1, 2021, we added 373 full-time equivalent employees. Our employees are not represented by a collective bargaining agreement. We have been recognized as one of Long Island’s Top Workplaces in 2020 and consider our relationship with our employees to be good. Our culture in the workplace encourages employees to care about each other, the communities they serve, and the work they do. We believe strong community ties, customer focus, accountability, and development of the communities in which we operate will have a favorable long-term impact on our business performance. Our employees are passionate about building relationships and providing customized banking solutions to our communities. We believe in hiring well-qualified people from a wide range of backgrounds who also fit our value system. As an equal opportunity employer, our decisions to select and promote employees are unbiased as we seek to build a diverse team of employees.
Labor Policies and Benefits
We offer our employees a comprehensive benefits package that will support, maintain, and protect their physical, mental, and financial health. We sponsor various wellness programs that promote the health and wellness of our employees. The COVID-19 pandemic presented a challenge of maintaining the health and safety of our employees. Our employees complete daily COVID-19 health assessments and must remain at home if they experience COVID-19 symptoms, tested positive, or have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Our return to work phase-in began on July 6, 2020 for back office employees. Our branch network has returned to operating regular business hours. Our branch employees receive 100% weekly pay, regardless of the number of hours worked. All front-line employees received special bonus payments for the team effort in issuing the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans.
Training, Development and Retention
We are committed to retaining employees by monitoring salaries in our markets and offering competitive salaries. In addition, we maintain equity incentive plans under which we may issue shares of our common stock. Refer to Note 15. “Stock-Based Compensation Plans” of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further details of our equity incentive plans. We promote career development and continuing education by offering internal training programs and tuition reimbursement for programs that develop skills related to our business.
Competition and Principal Market Areas
All phases of our business are highly competitive. We face direct competition from a significant number of financial institutions operating in our market area, many with a statewide or regional presence, and in some cases, a national presence. There is also competition for banking business from competitors outside of our market areas. Most of these competitors are significantly larger than us, and therefore have greater financial and marketing resources and lending limits than us. The fixed cost of regulatory compliance remains high for community banks as compared to their larger competitors that are able to achieve economies of scale. We consider our major competition to be local commercial banks as well as other commercial banks with branches in our market area. Other competitors include savings banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers and financial services firms other than financial institutions, such as investment and insurance companies. Increased competition within our market areas may limit growth and profitability. Additionally, as our market area expands westward, competitive pressure in new markets is expected to be strong. The title insurance abstract subsidiary also faces competition from other title insurance brokers as well as directly from the companies that underwrite title insurance. In New York State, title insurance is obtained on most transfers of real estate and mortgage transactions.
As of December 31, 2020, our principal market areas were Suffolk and Nassau Counties on Long Island and the New York City boroughs, with our legacy markets being primarily in Suffolk County and our newer expansion markets being primarily in Nassau County, Queens and Manhattan. Long Island has a population of approximately 3 million and both counties are relatively affluent and well-educated, enjoying above average median household incomes. In total, Long Island has a sizable industry base with a majority of Suffolk County tending towards high-tech manufacturing and Nassau County favoring wholesale and retail trade. Suffolk County, particularly Eastern Long Island, is semi-rural and also the point of origin for us. Surrounded by water and including the Hamptons and North Fork, the region is a recreational destination for the New York metropolitan area, and a highly regarded resort locale worldwide. While the local economy flourishes in the summer months as a result of the influx of tourists and second homeowners, the year-round population has grown considerably in recent years, resulting in a reduction of the seasonal fluctuations in the economy, which has boosted our legacy market opportunities. Industries represented across the principal market areas include retail establishments; construction and trades; restaurants and bars; lodging and recreation; professional entities; real estate; health services; passenger transportation; high-tech manufacturing; and agricultural and related businesses. Given its proximity, Long Island’s economy is closely linked with New York City’s and major employers in the area include municipalities, school districts, hospitals, and financial institutions.
We believe the completion of the Merger unites two iconic New York community banks, creating the premier community-based business bank in our region. Our enhanced branch footprint in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Nassau County, and increased capital base will allow the combined bank to better serve the needs of our customers across the greater New York and Long Island marketplaces.
The Holding Company, the Bank and its subsidiaries, with the exception of the real estate investment trust, which files its own federal and state income tax returns, report their income on a consolidated basis using the accrual method of accounting and are subject to federal and state income taxation. In general, banks are subject to federal income tax in the same manner as other corporations. However, gains and losses realized by banks from the sale of available for sale securities are generally treated as ordinary income, rather than capital gains or losses. We are subject to the New York State Franchise Tax on Banking Corporations based on certain criteria. The taxation of net income is similar to federal taxable income subject to certain modifications.
Regulation and Supervision
Dime Community Bank
The Bank is a New York chartered commercial bank and a member of the Federal Reserve System (a “member bank”). The lending, investment, and other business operations of the Bank are governed by New York and federal laws and regulations. The Bank is subject to extensive regulation by the New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYSDFS”) and, as a member bank, by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“FRB”). The Bank’s deposit accounts are insured up to applicable limits by the FDIC under its Deposit Insurance Fund (“DIF”) and the FDIC
has certain regulatory authority as deposit insurer. A summary of the primary laws and regulations that govern the Bank’s operations are set forth below.
Loans and Investments
The powers of a New York commercial bank are established by New York law and applicable federal law. New York commercial banks have authority to originate and purchase any type of loan, including commercial, commercial real estate, residential mortgages or consumer loans. Aggregate loans by a state commercial bank to any single borrower or group of related borrowers are generally limited to 15% of the Bank’s capital and surplus, plus an additional 10% if secured by specified readily marketable collateral.
Federal and state law and regulations limit the Bank’s investment authority. Generally, a state member bank is prohibited from investing in corporate equity securities for its own account other than the equity securities of companies through which the bank conducts its business. Under federal and state regulations, a New York state member bank may invest in investment securities for its own account up to specified limit depending upon the type of security. “Investment Securities” are generally defined as marketable obligations that are investment grade and not predominantly speculative in nature. Applicable regulations classify investment securities into five different types and, depending on its type, a state member bank may have the authority to deal in and underwrite the security. New York-chartered state member banks may also purchase certain non-investment securities that can be reclassified and underwritten as loans.
The federal banking agencies adopted uniform regulations prescribing standards for extensions of credit that are secured by liens on interests in real estate or made for the purpose of financing the construction of a building or other improvements to real estate. Under these regulations, all insured depository institutions, like the Bank, adopted and maintain written policies that establish appropriate limits and standards for extensions of credit that are secured by liens or interests in real estate or are made for the purpose of financing permanent improvements to real estate. These policies must establish loan portfolio diversification standards, prudent underwriting standards (including loan-to-value limits) that are clear and measurable, loan administration procedures, and documentation, approval and reporting requirements. The real estate lending policies must reflect consideration of the Interagency Guidelines for Real Estate Lending Policies that have been adopted by the federal bank regulators.
Federal Deposit Insurance
The Bank is a member of the DIF, which is administered by the FDIC. Our deposit accounts are insured by the FDIC. Effective July 22, 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) permanently raised the deposit insurance available on all deposit accounts to $250,000 with a retroactive effective date of January 1, 2008.
The FDIC assesses insured depository institutions to maintain the DIF. Under the FDIC’s risk-based assessment system, institutions deemed less risky pay lower assessments. Assessments for institutions of less than $10 billion of assets are based on financial measures and supervisory ratings derived from statistical modeling estimating the probability of an institution’s failure within three years. However, inasmuch as the Bank’s assets have exceeded $10 billion due to the Merger of Dime Community Bank and BNB Bank, the Bank will become subject to larger institution assessment procedures. Such institutions are assigned an individual rate based on a scorecard combining examination ratings, financial measures, a bank’s ability to withstand asset-related and funding-related stress and a measure of potential losses to the DIF in the event of the institution’s failure.
The Dodd-Frank Act required the FDIC to revise its procedures to base assessments upon each insured institution’s total assets less tangible equity instead of deposits. The FDIC finalized a rule, effective April 1, 2011, that set the assessment range at 2.5 basis points to 45 basis points of total assets less tangible equity. In conjunction with the DIF’s reserve ratio achieving 1.15%, the assessment range (inclusive of possible adjustments) was reduced for insured institutions of less than $10 billion of total assets to 1.5 basis points to 30 basis points, effective July 1, 2016. As noted, the Bank will be subject to large institution procedures in the future following the Merger, and the applicable range for such institutions of 1.5 basis points to 40 basis points.
The Dodd-Frank Act increased the minimum target DIF ratio from 1.15% of estimated insured deposits to 1.35% of estimated insured deposits. The FDIC was required to achieve the 1.35% ratio by September 30, 2020. The Dodd-Frank Act eliminated the 1.5% maximum fund ratio, instead leaving it to the discretion of the FDIC. The FDIC has exercised that discretion by establishing a long-range fund ratio of 2%.
Insurance of deposits may be terminated by the FDIC upon a finding that an institution has engaged in unsafe or unsound practices, is in an unsafe or unsound condition to continue operations or has violated any applicable law, regulation, rule, order or condition imposed by the FDIC. The Company does not know of any practice, condition or violation that might lead to termination of deposit insurance.
Federal regulations require FDIC insured depository institutions, including state member banks, to meet several minimum capital standards: a common equity tier 1 capital to risk-based assets ratio of 4.5%, a tier 1 capital to risk-based assets ratio of 6.0%, a total capital to risk-based assets ratio of 8.0%, and a tier 1 capital to total assets leverage ratio of 4.0%. The existing capital requirements were effective January 1, 2015 and are the result of a final rule implementing regulatory amendments based on recommendations of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and certain requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act. Common equity tier 1 capital is generally defined as common stockholders’ equity and retained earnings. Tier 1 capital is generally defined as common equity tier 1 and additional tier 1 capital. Additional tier 1 capital generally includes certain noncumulative perpetual preferred stock and related surplus and minority interests in equity accounts of consolidated subsidiaries. Total capital includes tier 1 capital (common equity tier 1 capital plus additional tier 1 capital) and tier 2 capital. Tier 2 capital is comprised of capital instruments and related surplus meeting specified requirements, and may include cumulative preferred stock and long-term perpetual preferred stock, mandatory convertible securities, intermediate preferred stock and subordinated debt. Also included in tier 2 capital is the allowance for loan and lease losses limited to a maximum of 1.25% of risk-weighted assets and, for institutions that have exercised an opt-out election regarding the treatment of accumulated other comprehensive income (“AOCI”), up to 45% of net unrealized gains on available-for-sale equity securities with readily determinable fair market values. Institutions that have not exercised the AOCI opt-out have AOCI incorporated into common equity tier 1 capital (including unrealized gains and losses on available-for-sale-securities). Calculation of all types of regulatory capital is subject to deductions and adjustments specified in the regulations.
In determining the amount of risk-weighted assets for purposes of calculating risk-based capital ratios, assets, including certain off-balance sheet assets (e.g., recourse obligations, direct credit substitutes, residual interests) are multiplied by a risk weight factor assigned by the regulations based on the risks believed inherent in the type of asset. Higher levels of capital are required for asset categories believed to present greater risk. For example, a risk weight of 0% is assigned to cash and U.S. government securities, a risk weight of 50% is generally assigned to prudently underwritten first lien one-to-four family residential mortgages, a risk weight of 100% is assigned to commercial and consumer loans, a risk weight of 150% is assigned to certain past due loans and a risk weight of between 0% to 600% is assigned to permissible equity interests, depending on certain specified factors.
In addition to establishing the minimum regulatory capital requirements, the regulations limit capital distributions and certain discretionary bonus payments to management if the institution does not hold a “capital conservation buffer” consisting of 2.5% of common equity tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets above the amount necessary to meet its minimum risk-based capital requirements. The capital conservation buffer requirement was phased in beginning January 1, 2016 at 0.625% of risk-weighted assets and increasing each year until fully implemented at 2.5% on January 1, 2019.
Community Bank Leverage Ratio
Legislation enacted in 2018 required the federal banking agencies, including the FRB, to amend the regulatory capital regulations to establish an optional “Community Bank Leverage Ratio” (the ratio of a bank’s tangible equity capital to average total consolidated assets) of between 8% and 10% of average total consolidated assets. Banking organizations of less than $10 billion of assets that have capital meeting the specified level and satisfying other criteria may elect to follow this alternative framework and be deemed in compliance with all applicable capital requirements, including the risk-based requirements, and would be considered “well capitalized” under “prompt corrective action” statutes. The agencies finalized a rule, effective January 1, 2020, that set the Community Bank Leverage Ratio at 9% tier 1 capital to average
total consolidated assets. Pursuant to 2020 federal legislation, the Community Bank Leverage Ratio was temporarily lowered to 8%, transitioning back to 9% by year-end 2021. Since the merged bank exceeds $10 billion of assets, its eligibility to elect the community bank leverage ratio will be terminated in the future following the Merger.
Safety and Soundness Standards
Each federal banking agency, including the FRB, has adopted guidelines establishing general standards relating to internal controls, information and internal audit systems, loan documentation, credit underwriting, interest rate exposure, asset growth, asset quality, earnings and compensation, fees, and benefits. In general, the guidelines require, among other things, appropriate systems and practices to identify and manage the risks and exposures specified in the guidelines. The guidelines prohibit excessive compensation as an unsafe and unsound practice and describe compensation as excessive when the amounts paid are unreasonable or disproportionate to the services performed by an executive officer, employee, director, or principal shareholder.
On April 26, 2016, the federal regulatory agencies approved a second proposed joint rulemaking to implement Section 956 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which prohibits incentive-based compensation that encourages inappropriate risk taking. In addition, the NYSDFS issued guidance applicable to incentive compensation in October 2016.
Prompt Corrective Regulatory Action
Federal law requires, among other things, that federal bank regulatory authorities take “prompt corrective action” with respect to institutions that do not meet minimum capital requirements. For these purposes, the statute establishes five capital tiers: well capitalized, adequately capitalized, undercapitalized, significantly undercapitalized, and critically undercapitalized.
The FRB may order member banks which have insufficient capital to take corrective actions. For example, a bank, which is categorized as “undercapitalized” would be subject to other growth limitations, would be required to submit a capital restoration plan, and a holding company that controls such a bank would be required to guarantee that the bank complies with the restoration plan. A “significantly undercapitalized” bank would be subject to additional restrictions. Member banks deemed by the FRB to be “critically undercapitalized” would be subject to the appointment of a receiver or conservator.
The final rule that increased regulatory capital standards adjusted the prompt corrective action tiers as of January 1, 2015. The various categories were revised to incorporate the new common equity tier 1 capital requirement, the increase in the tier 1 to risk-based assets requirement and other changes. Under the revised prompt corrective action requirements, insured depository institutions are required to meet the following in order to qualify as “well capitalized:” (1) a common equity tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 6.5% (new standard); (2) a tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 8.0% (increased from 6.0%); (3) a total risk-based capital ratio of 10.0% (unchanged); and (4) a tier 1 leverage ratio of 5.0% (unchanged). Under the final rulemaking discussed above, a qualifying institution would be deemed to be “well capitalized” if it complies with the Community Bank Leverage Ratio, and elects to follow that alternative framework.
Under federal law and applicable regulations, a New York member bank may generally declare a dividend, without prior regulatory approval, in an amount equal to its year-to-date retained net income plus the prior two years’ retained net income that is still available for dividend. Dividends exceeding those amounts require application to and approval by the
NYSDFS and FRB. In addition, a member bank may be limited in paying cash dividends if it does not maintain the capital conservation buffer described previously.
Transactions with Affiliates and Insiders
Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act govern transactions between a member bank and its affiliates, which includes the Company. The FRB has adopted Regulation W, which comprehensively implements and interprets Sections 23A and 23B, in part by codifying prior FRB interpretations under Sections 23A and 23B.
An affiliate of a bank is any company or entity that controls, is controlled by or is under common control with the bank. A subsidiary of a bank that is not also a depository institution or a “financial subsidiary” under federal law is not treated as an affiliate of the bank for the purposes of Sections 23A and 23B; however, the FRB has the discretion to treat subsidiaries of a bank as affiliates on a case-by-case basis. Sections 23A and 23B limit the extent to which a bank or its subsidiaries may engage in “covered transactions” with any one affiliate to an amount equal to 10% of such bank’s capital stock and surplus, and limit all such transactions with all affiliates to an amount equal to 20% of such capital stock and surplus. The statutory sections also require that all such transactions be on terms that are consistent with safe and sound banking practices. The term “covered transaction” includes the making of loans, purchase of assets, issuance of guarantees and other similar types of transactions. Further, most loans by a bank to any of its affiliates must be secured by collateral in amounts ranging from 100 to 130 percent of the loan amounts. In addition, any covered transaction by an association with an affiliate and any purchase of assets or services by an association from an affiliate must be on terms that are substantially the same, or at least as favorable, to the bank as those that would be provided to a non-affiliate.
A bank’s loans to its executive officers, directors, any owner of more than 10% of its stock (each, an insider) and any of certain entities affiliated with any such person (an insider’s related interest) are subject to the conditions and limitations imposed by Section 22(h) of the Federal Reserve Act and the FRB’s Regulation O thereunder. Under these restrictions, the aggregate amount of the loans to any insider and the insider’s related interests may not exceed the loans-to-one-borrower limit applicable to national banks. All loans by a bank to all insiders and insiders’ related interests in the aggregate may not exceed the bank’s unimpaired capital and unimpaired surplus. With certain exceptions, loans to an executive officer, other than loans for the education of the officer’s children and certain loans secured by the officer’s residence, may not exceed the greater of $25,000 or 2.5% of the bank’s unimpaired capital and unimpaired surplus, but in no event more than $100,000. Regulation O also requires that any proposed loan to an insider or a related interest of that insider be approved in advance by a majority of the board of directors of the bank, with any interested director not participating in the voting, if such loan, when aggregated with any existing loans to that insider and the insider’s related interests, would exceed either $500,000 or the greater of $25,000 or 5% of the bank’s unimpaired capital and surplus. Generally, such loans must be made on substantially the same terms as, and follow credit underwriting procedures that are no less stringent than, those that are prevailing at the time for comparable transactions with other persons and must not present more than a normal risk of collectability. An exception is made for extensions of credit made pursuant to a benefit or compensation plan of a bank that is widely available to employees of the bank and that does not give any preference to insiders of the bank over other employees of the bank.
Examinations and Assessments
The Bank is required to file periodic reports with and is subject to periodic examination by the NYSDFS and the FRB. Applicable laws and regulations generally require periodic on-site examinations and annual audits by independent public accountants for all insured institutions. The Bank is required to pay an annual assessment to the NYSDFS to fund its supervision.
The Bank’s assets exceeded $10 billion due to the Merger of BNB Bank and Dime Community Bank. Federal law provides that institutions above that asset size be examined by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), rather than its primary federal bank regulator, as to compliance with certain federal consumer protection and fair lending laws and
regulations. The Bank will therefore be subject to examination by the CFPB as to those matters in the future, rather than the FDIC.
Community Reinvestment Act
Under the federal Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”), the 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, consistent with the CRA. The CRA requires the FRB, in connection with its examination of the Bank, to assess its record of meeting the credit needs of its community and to take that record into account in its evaluation of certain applications by the Bank. For example, the regulations specify that a bank’s CRA performance will be considered in its expansion (e.g., branching or mergers) proposals and may be the basis for approving, denying or conditioning the approval of an application. As of the date of its most recent CRA examination, which was conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the NYSDFS, the Bank’s CRA performance was rated “Satisfactory”.
New York law imposes a similar obligation on the Bank to serve the credit needs of its community. New York law contains its own CRA provisions, which are substantially similar to federal law.
USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 gave the federal government new powers to address terrorist threats through enhanced domestic security measures, expanded surveillance powers, increased information sharing and broadened anti-money laundering requirements. The USA PATRIOT Act also required the federal banking agencies to take into consideration the effectiveness of controls designed to combat money-laundering activities in determining whether to approve a merger or other acquisition application of a member institution. Accordingly, if the Bank engages in a merger or other acquisition, the Bank’s controls designed to combat money laundering would be considered as part of the application process. The Bank has established policies, procedures and systems designed to comply with these regulations.
Dime Community Bancshares, Inc.
The Holding Company, as a bank holding company controlling the Bank, is subject to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended (“BHCA”), and the rules and regulations of the FRB under the BHCA applicable to bank holding companies. We are required to file reports with, and otherwise comply with the rules and regulations of the FRB.
The FRB previously adopted consolidated capital adequacy guidelines for bank holding companies structured similarly, but not identically, to those applicable to the Bank. The Dodd-Frank Act directed the FRB to issue consolidated capital requirements for depository institution holding companies that are no less stringent, both quantitatively and in terms of components of capital, than those applicable to institutions themselves. The FRB subsequently issued regulations amending its regulatory capital requirements to implement the Dodd-Frank Act as to bank holding company capital standards. Consolidated regulatory capital requirements identical to those applicable to the subsidiary banks applied to bank holding companies as of January 1, 2015. As is the case with institutions themselves, the capital conservation buffer was phased-in between 2016 and 2019. We met all capital adequacy requirements under the FRB’s capital rules on December 31, 2020.
The policy of the FRB is that a bank holding company must serve as a source of strength to its subsidiary banks by providing capital and other support in times of distress. The Dodd-Frank Act codified the source of strength policy.
Under the prompt corrective action provisions of federal law, a bank holding company parent of an undercapitalized subsidiary bank is required to guarantee, within specified limits, the capital restoration plan that is required of an undercapitalized bank. If an undercapitalized bank fails to file an acceptable capital restoration plan or fails to implement an accepted plan, the FRB may prohibit the bank holding company parent of the undercapitalized bank from paying dividends or making any other capital distribution.
As a bank holding company, we are required to obtain the prior approval of the FRB to acquire more than 5% of a class of voting securities of any additional bank or bank holding company or to acquire all, or substantially all, the assets of any
additional bank or bank holding company. In addition, the bank holding companies may generally only engage in activities that are closely related to banking as determined by the FRB. Bank holding companies that meet certain criteria may opt to become a financial holding company and thereby engage in a broader array of financial activities.
FRB policy is that a bank holding company should pay cash dividends only to the extent that the company’s net income for the past two years is sufficient to fund the dividends and the prospective rate of earnings retention is consistent with the company’s capital needs, asset quality and overall financial condition. In addition, FRB guidance sets forth the supervisory expectation that bank holding companies will inform and consult with FRB staff in advance of issuing a dividend that exceeds earnings for the quarter and should inform the FRB and should eliminate, defer or significantly reduce dividends if (i) net income available to stockholders for the past four quarters, net of dividends previously paid during that period, is not sufficient to fully fund the dividends, (ii) prospective rate of earnings retention is not consistent with the bank holding company’s capital needs and overall current and prospective financial condition, or (iii) the bank holding company will not meet, or is in danger of not meeting, its minimum regulatory capital adequacy ratios.
Current FRB regulations provide that a bank holding company that is not well capitalized or well managed, as such terms are defined in the regulations, or that is subject to any unresolved supervisory issues, is required to give the FRB prior written notice of any repurchase or redemption of its outstanding equity securities if the gross consideration for repurchase or redemption, when combined with the net consideration paid for all such repurchases or redemptions during the preceding 12 months, will be equal to 10% or more of the company’s consolidated net worth. The FRB may disapprove such a repurchase or redemption if it determines that the proposal would constitute an unsafe and unsound practice or violate a law or regulation. FRB guidance generally provides for bank holding company consultation with FRB staff prior to engaging in a repurchase or redemption of a bank holding company’s stock, even if a formal written notice is not required. The guidance provides that the purpose of such consultation is to allow the FRB to review the proposed repurchases or redemption from a supervisory perspective and possibly object.
The NYSDFS and FRB have extensive enforcement authority over the institutions and holding companies that they regulate to prohibit or correct activities that violate law, regulation or a regulatory agreement or which are deemed to be unsafe or unsound banking practices. Enforcement actions may include: the appointment of a conservator or receiver for an institution; the issuance of a cease and desist order; the termination of deposit insurance; the imposition of civil money penalties on the institution, its directors, officers, employees and institution-affiliated parties; the issuance of directives to increase capital; the issuance of formal and informal agreements; the removal of or restrictions on directors, officers, employees and institution-affiliated parties; and the enforcement of any such mechanisms through restraining orders or other court actions. Any change in applicable New York or federal laws and regulations could have a material adverse impact on us and our operations and stockholders.
We file certain reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) under the federal securities laws. Our operations are also subject to extensive regulation by other federal, state and local governmental authorities and it is subject to various laws and judicial and administrative decisions imposing requirements and restrictions on part or all of its operations. We believe that we are in substantial compliance, in all material respects, with applicable federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations. Because our business is highly regulated, the laws, rules and regulations applicable to it are subject to regular modification and change. There can be no assurance that these proposed laws, rules and regulations, or any other laws, rules or regulations, will not be adopted in the future, which could make compliance more difficult or expensive or otherwise adversely affect our business, financial condition or prospects.
Through a link on the Investor Relations section of our website of www.dime.com, copies of our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) for 15(d) of the Exchange Act, are made available, free of charge, as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing such material with, or furnishing it to, the SEC. Copies of such reports and other information also are available at no charge to any person who requests them or at www.sec.gov. Such requests may be
directed to Dime Community Bancshares, Inc., Investor Relations, 898 Veterans Memorial Highway, Suite 560, Hauppauge, NY 11788, (631) 537-1000.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Risks Related to our Mergers and Acquisitions Activities
Combining Legacy Bridge and Legacy Dime may be more difficult, costly or time consuming than expected and the Company may fail to realize the anticipated benefits of the Merger.
The success of the Merger will depend, in part, on the ability to realize the anticipated cost savings from combining the businesses of Legacy Bridge and Legacy Dime. To realize the anticipated benefits and cost savings from the Merger, we must successfully integrate and combine the two businesses in a manner that permits those cost savings to be realized. If the Company is not able to successfully achieve these objectives, the anticipated benefits of the Merger may not be realized fully or at all or may take longer to realize than expected. In addition, the actual cost savings and anticipated benefits of the Merger could be less than anticipated, and integration may result in additional unforeseen expenses.
It is possible that the integration process could result in the loss of key employees, the disruption of the Company’s ongoing businesses or inconsistencies in standards, controls, procedures and policies that adversely affect the Company’s ability to maintain relationships with clients, customers, depositors and employees or to achieve the anticipated benefits and cost savings of the Merger. Integration efforts may also divert management attention and resources. These integration matters could have an adverse effect on the Company for an undetermined period after completion of the Merger.
The combined company may be unable to retain personnel successfully following the Merger.
The success of the Merger will depend in part on the Company’s ability to retain the talents and dedication of key employees of Legacy Bridge and Legacy Dime. It is possible that these employees may decide not to remain with the Company. If the Company is unable to retain key employees, including management, who are critical to the successful integration and future operations of the companies, the Company could face disruptions in its operations, loss of existing customers, loss of key information, expertise or know-how and unanticipated additional recruitment costs. In addition, if key employees terminate their employment, the Company’s business activities may be adversely affected and management’s attention may be diverted from successfully integrating the businesses of Legacy Bridge and Legacy Dime to hiring suitable replacements, all of which may cause the Company’s business to suffer. In addition, the Company may not be able to locate or retain suitable replacements for any key employees who leave.
Acquisitions involve integrations and other risks.
Acquisitions involve a number of risks and challenges including: our ability to integrate the branches and operations acquired, and the associated internal controls and regulatory functions, into our current operations; our ability to limit the outflow of deposits held by our new customers in the acquired branches and to successfully retain and manage the loans acquired; and our ability to attract new deposits and to generate new interest-earning assets in geographic areas not previously served. Additionally, no assurance can be given that the operation of acquired branches would not adversely affect our existing profitability; that we would be able to achieve results in the future similar to those achieved by our existing banking business; that we would be able to compete effectively in the market areas served by acquired branches; or that we would be able to manage any growth resulting from the transaction effectively. We face the additional risk that the anticipated benefits of the acquisition may not be realized fully or at all, or within the time period expected. Finally, acquisitions typically involve the payment of a premium over book and trading values and therefore, may result in dilution of our book and tangible book value per share.
We may incur impairment to our goodwill.
Goodwill arises when a business is purchased for an amount greater than the fair value of the net assets acquired. We recognized goodwill as an asset on our balance sheet in connection with our merger with Legacy Dime and our acquisitions of Community National Bank (“CNB”) in 2015, FNBNY Bancorp (“FNBNY”) in 2014, and Hamptons State Bank
(“HSB”) in 2011. We evaluate goodwill for impairment at least annually. Although we determined that goodwill was not impaired during 2020, a significant and sustained decline in our stock price and market capitalization, a significant decline in our expected future cash flows, a significant adverse change in the business climate, slower growth rates or other factors could result in impairment of goodwill. If we were to conclude that a future write-down of the goodwill was necessary, then we would record the appropriate charge to earnings, which could be materially adverse to our consolidated financial statements.
Risks Related to the COVID-19 Outbreak
The economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak may continue to have an adverse impact on our business and results of operations.
In December 2019, a novel coronavirus was reported in China, and, in March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. On March 12, 2020 the President of the United States declared the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States a national emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant economic dislocation in the United States as many state and local governments, including New York, have ordered non-essential businesses to close and residents to shelter in place at home. This has resulted in an unprecedented slow-down in economic activity and a related increase in unemployment. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 30 million people nationwide have filed claims for unemployment, and stock markets have declined in value and in particular bank stocks have significantly declined in value. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Federal Reserve has reduced the benchmark federal funds rate to a target range of 0% to 0.25%, and the yields on 10 and 30-year treasury notes have declined to historic lows. Various state governments and federal agencies are requiring lenders to provide forbearance and other relief to borrowers (e.g., waiving late payment and other fees). The federal banking agencies have encouraged financial institutions to prudently work with affected borrowers and recently passed legislation has provided relief from reporting loan classifications due to modifications related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Certain industries have been particularly hard-hit, including the travel and hospitality industry, the restaurant industry and the retail industry. Finally, the spread of the coronavirus has caused us to modify our business practices, including employee travel, employee work locations, and cancellation of physical participation in meetings, events and conferences. We have many employees working remotely and we may take further actions as may be required by government authorities or that we determine are in the best interests of our employees, customers and business partners.
Given the ongoing and dynamic nature of the circumstances, it is difficult to predict the full impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on our business. The extent of such impact will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain, including when the coronavirus can be controlled and abated and when and how the economy may be reopened. As the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related adverse local and national economic consequences, we may be subject to any of the following risks, any of which could have a material, adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, and results of operations:
|●||demand for our products and services may decline, making it difficult to grow assets and income;|
|●||if the economy is unable to substantially reopen, and high levels of unemployment continue, for an extended period of time, loan delinquencies, problem assets, and foreclosures may increase, resulting in increased charges and reduced income;|
|●||collateral for loans, especially real estate, may decline in value, which could cause loan losses to increase;|
|●||our allowance for credit losses may have to be increased if borrowers experience financial difficulties beyond forbearance periods, which will adversely affect our net income;|
|●||the net worth and liquidity of loan guarantors may decline, impairing their ability to honor commitments to us;|
|●||as the result of the decline in the Federal Reserve Board’s target federal funds rate to near 0%, the yield on our assets may decline to a greater extent than the decline in our cost of interest-bearing liabilities, reducing our net interest margin and spread and reducing net income;|
|●||a material decrease in net income or a net loss over several quarters could result in a decrease in the rate of our quarterly cash dividend;|
|●||our cyber security risks are increased as the result of an increase in the number of employees working remotely; and|
|●||we rely on third party vendors for certain services and the unavailability of a critical service due to the COVID-19 outbreak could have an adverse effect on us.|
Moreover, our future success and profitability substantially depends on the management skills of our executive officers and directors, many of whom have held officer and director positions with us for many years. The unanticipated loss or unavailability of key employees due to the outbreak could harm our ability to operate our business or execute our business strategy. We may not be successful in finding and integrating suitable successors in the event of key employee loss or unavailability. Any one or a combination of the factors identified above could negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations and prospects.
Risks Related to our Loan Portfolio
The concentration of our loan portfolio in loans secured by commercial, multi-family and residential real estate properties located on Long Island and the New York City boroughs could materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations if general economic conditions or real estate values in this area decline.
Unlike larger banks that are more geographically diversified, our loan portfolio consists primarily of real estate loans secured by commercial, multi-family and residential real estate properties located in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, and in the New York City boroughs. The local economic conditions on Long Island and in New York City have a significant impact on the volume of loan originations and the quality of loans, the ability of borrowers to repay these loans, and the value of collateral securing these loans. A considerable decline in the general economic conditions caused by inflation, recession, unemployment or other factors beyond our control would impact these local economic conditions and could negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations. Additionally, decreases in tenant occupancy may also have a negative effect on the ability of borrowers to make timely repayments of their loans, which would have an adverse impact on our earnings.
If our regulators impose limitations on our commercial real estate lending activities, earnings could be adversely affected.
In 2006, the federal bank regulatory agencies (collectively, the “Agencies”) issued joint guidance entitled “Concentrations in Commercial Real Estate Lending, Sound Risk Management Practices” (the “CRE Guidance”). Although the CRE Guidance did not establish specific lending limits, it provides that a bank’s commercial real estate lending exposure may receive increased supervisory scrutiny where total non-owner occupied commercial real estate loans, including loans secured by apartment buildings, investor commercial real estate and construction and land loans, represent 300% or more of an institution’s total risk-based capital and the outstanding balance of the commercial real estate loan portfolio has increased by 50% or more during the preceding 36 months. Our non-owner occupied commercial real estate level equaled 390% of total risk-based capital at December 31, 2020. Including owner-occupied commercial real estate, the ratio of commercial real estate loans to total risk-based capital ratio would be 495% at December 31, 2020.
If our regulators were to impose restrictions on the amount of commercial real estate loans we can hold in our portfolio, or require higher capital ratios as a result of the level of commercial real estate loans held, our earnings would be adversely affected.
We are subject to litigation, regulatory enforcement and reputation risk due to our participation in the SBA PPP, and we are subject to the risk that the SBA may not fund some or all PPP loan guarantees.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES” Act) included the PPP as a loan program administered through the SBA. Under the PPP, small businesses and other entities and individuals can apply for loans from existing SBA lenders and other lenders, subject to detailed qualifications and eligibility criteria.
Because of the short timeframe between the passing of the CARES Act and implementation of the PPP, some of the rules and guidance relating to PPP were issued after lenders began processing PPP applications. Also, there was and continues
to be uncertainty in the laws, rules and guidance relating to the PPP. Since the opening of the PPP, several banks have been subject to litigation regarding the procedures used in processing PPP applications and the payment of fees to agents that assisted borrowers in obtaining PPP loans. In addition, some banks and borrowers have received negative media attention associated with PPP loans. Although we believe that we have administered the PPP in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations and guidance, we may be exposed to litigation risk and negative media attention related to our participation in the PPP. If any such litigation is not resolved in in our favor, it may result in significant financial liability to us or adversely affect our reputation. In addition, litigation can be costly, regardless of outcome. Any financial liability, litigation costs or reputational damage caused by PPP-related litigation or media attention could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Federal and state regulators can impose or request that we consent to substantial sanctions, restrictions and requirements if they determine there are violations of laws, rules or regulations or weaknesses or failures with respect to general standards of safety and soundness, including with respect to the PPP, which could adversely affect our business, reputation, results of operation and financial condition, and thereby adversely affect your investment.
We also have credit risk on PPP loans if the SBA determines that there is a deficiency in the manner in which we originated, funded or serviced loans, including any issue with the eligibility of a borrower to receive a PPP loan. 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 we originated, funded or serviced a PPP loan, the SBA may deny its liability under the guaranty, reduce the amount of the guaranty or, if the SBA has already paid under the guaranty, seek recovery of any loss related to the deficiency from us.
The performance of our multi-family real estate loans could be adversely impacted by regulation.
Multi-family real estate loans generally involve a greater risk than residential real estate loans because of legislation and government regulations involving rent control and rent stabilization, which are outside the control of the borrower or the Bank, and could impair the value of the security for the loan or the future cash flow of such properties. For example, on June 14, 2019, the State of New York enacted legislation increasing the restrictions on rent increases in a rent-regulated apartment building, including, among other provisions, (i) repealing the vacancy bonus and longevity bonus, which allowed a property owner to raise rents as much as 20% each time a rental unit became vacant, (ii) eliminating high rent vacancy deregulation and high-income deregulation, which allowed a rental unit to be removed from rent stabilization once it crossed a statutory high-rent threshold and became vacant, or the tenant’s income exceeded the statutory amount in the preceding two years, and (iii) eliminating an exception that allowed a property owner who offered preferential rents to tenants to raise the rent to the full legal rent upon renewal. The new legislation still permits a property owner to charge up to the full legal rent once the tenant vacates. As a result of this new legislation as well as previously existing laws and regulations, it is possible that rental income might not rise sufficiently over time to satisfy increases in the loan rate at repricing or increases in overhead expenses (e.g., utilities, taxes, etc.). In addition, if the cash flow from a collateral property is reduced (e.g., if leases are not obtained or renewed), the borrower’s ability to repay the loan and the value of the security for the loan may be impaired. Therefore, impaired multi-family real estate loans may be more difficult to identify before they become problematic than residential real estate loans.
Increases to the allowance for credit losses may cause our earnings to decrease.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) has issued an accounting standard that we adopted in the first quarter of 2020. This standard, referred to as Current Expected Credit Loss, requires that we determine periodic estimates of lifetime expected credit losses on loans, and recognize the expected credit losses as allowances for credit losses. This changed the previous method of providing allowances for loan losses that are probable, which required us to increase our allowance for credit losses, and greatly increases the types of data we need to collect and review to determine the appropriate level of the allowance for credit losses.
Customers may not repay their loans according to the original terms, and the collateral securing the payment of those loans may be insufficient to pay any remaining loan balance. Hence, we may experience significant credit losses, which could have a material adverse effect on its operating results. We make various assumptions and judgments about the collectability of its loan portfolio, including the creditworthiness of borrowers and the value of the real estate and other assets serving
as collateral for the repayment of loans. In determining the amount of the allowance for credit losses, we rely on loan quality reviews, past loss experience, and an evaluation of economic conditions, among other factors. If our assumptions prove to be incorrect, the allowance for credit losses may not be sufficient to cover expected losses in the loan portfolio, resulting in additions to the allowance. Material additions to the allowance through charges to earnings would materially decrease our net income.
Bank regulators periodically review our allowance for credit losses and may require us to increase our provision for credit losses or loan charge-offs. Any increase in our allowance for credit losses or loan charge-offs as required by these regulatory authorities could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and/or financial condition.
We are subject to the CRA and fair lending laws, and failure to comply with these laws could lead to material penalties.
The CRA, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act and other fair lending laws and regulations impose nondiscriminatory lending requirements on financial institutions. With respect to the Bank, the NYSDFS, FRB, CFPB, the United States Department of Justice and other federal and state agencies are responsible for enforcing these laws and regulations. A successful regulatory challenge to an institution’s performance under the CRA or fair lending laws and regulations could result in a wide variety of sanctions, including the required payment of damages and civil money penalties, injunctive relief, imposition of restrictions on mergers and acquisitions activity and restrictions on expansion. Private parties may also have the ability to challenge an institution’s performance under fair lending laws in private class action litigation. Such actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The Company is subject to environmental liability risk associated with lending activities.
A significant portion of the Company’s loan portfolio is secured by real property. During the ordinary course of business, the Company 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, the Company may be liable for remediation costs, as well as for personal injury and property damage. Environmental laws may require the Company to incur substantial expenses and may materially reduce the affected property’s value or limit the Company’s 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 the Company’s exposure to environmental liability. Environmental reviews of real property before initiating foreclosure 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 the Company’s business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Interest Rates
Changes in interest rates could affect our profitability.
Our ability to earn a profit, like most financial institutions, depends primarily on net interest income, which is the difference between the interest income that we earn on our interest-earning assets, such as loans and investments, and the interest expense that we pay on our interest-bearing liabilities, such as deposits and borrowings. Our profitability depends on our ability to manage our assets and liabilities during periods of changing market interest rates.
In a period of rising interest rates, the interest income earned on our assets may not increase as rapidly as the interest paid on our liabilities. In an increasing interest rate environment, our cost of funds is expected to increase more rapidly than interest earned on our loan and investment portfolio as our primary source of funds is deposits with generally shorter maturities than those on our loans and investments. This makes the balance sheet more liability sensitive in the short term.
A sustained decrease in market interest rates could adversely affect our earnings. When interest rates decline, borrowers tend to refinance higher-rate, fixed-rate loans at lower rates. Under those circumstances, we would not be able to reinvest those prepayments in assets earning interest rates as high as the rates on those prepaid loans or in investment securities. In addition, the majority of our loans are at variable interest rates, which would adjust to lower rates.
Changes in interest rates also affect the fair value of the securities portfolio. Generally, the value of securities moves inversely with changes in interest rates. As of December 31, 2020, the securities portfolio totaled $559.4 million.
We are required to transition from the use of LIBOR.
In 2017, the Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”), announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit rates for the calibration of LIBOR to the administrator of LIBOR after 2021. LIBOR will be discontinued on December 31, 2021. At this time, no consensus exists as to what rate or rates may become acceptable alternatives to LIBOR and it is impossible to predict the effect of any such alternatives on the value of LIBOR-based securities and variable rate loans, subordinated debentures, or other securities or financial arrangements, given LIBOR's role in determining market interest rates globally. Regulators, industry groups and certain committees (e.g. the Alternative Reference Rates Committee) have published recommended fallback language for LIBOR-linked financial instruments, identified recommended alternatives for the LIBOR (e.g. the Secured Overnight Financing Rate), and proposed implementations of the recommended alternatives in floating-rate financial instruments. At this time, it is not possible to predict whether these specific recommendations and proposals will be broadly accepted. Uncertainty as to the nature of alternative reference rates and as to potential changes or other reforms to LIBOR may adversely affect LIBOR rates and the value of LIBOR-based loans and securities in our portfolio and may impact the availability and cost of hedging instruments and borrowings. We have material contracts that are indexed to LIBOR and are monitoring this activity and evaluating the related risks. If LIBOR rates are no longer available and we are required to implement substitute indices for the calculation of interest rates, we may incur expenses in effecting the transition, and may be subject to disputes or litigation with customers and security holders over the appropriateness or comparability to LIBOR of the substitute indices, which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations. Additionally, since alternative rates are calculated differently, payments under contracts referencing new rates will differ from those referencing LIBOR. The transition may change our market risk profile, requiring changes to risk and pricing models.
Risks Related to Regulation
We operate in a highly regulated environment, Federal and state regulators periodically examine our business, and we may be required to remediate adverse examination findings.
The FRB and the NYSDFS periodically examine our business, including our compliance with laws and regulations. If, as a result of an examination, a federal banking agency were to determine that our financial condition, capital resources, asset quality, earnings prospects, management, liquidity or other aspects of any of our operations had become unsatisfactory, or that we were in violation of any law or regulation, we may take a number of different remedial actions as we deem appropriate. These actions include the power to enjoin “unsafe or unsound” practices, to require affirmative action to correct any conditions resulting from any violation or practice, to issue an administrative order that can be judicially enforced, to direct an increase in our capital, to restrict our growth, to assess civil monetary penalties against our officers or directors, to remove officers and directors and, if it is concluded that such conditions cannot be corrected or there is an imminent risk of loss to depositors, to terminate our deposit insurance and place it into receivership or conservatorship. If we become subject to any regulatory actions, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and growth prospects.
Additionally, the CFPB has the authority to issue consumer finance regulations and is authorized, individually or jointly with bank regulatory agencies, to conduct investigations to determine whether any person is, or has, engaged in conduct that violates new and existing consumer financial laws or regulations. Previously, we had less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets so the FRB and NYSDFS, not the CFPB, was responsible for examining and supervising our compliance with these consumer protection laws and regulations. However, following the Merger with Legacy Dime, the merged Bank’s assets exceed $10 billion. Banks with assets in excess of $10 billion are subject to requirements imposed by the Dodd-Frank and its implementing regulations, including the examination authority of the CFPB to assess our compliance with federal consumer financial laws, imposition of higher FDIC premiums, reduced debit card interchange fees, and enhanced risk management frameworks, all of which increase operating costs and reduce earnings. In addition, in accordance with a memorandum of understanding entered into between the CFPB and U.S. Department of Justice, the
two agencies have agreed to coordinate efforts related to enforcing the fair lending laws, which includes information sharing and conducting joint investigations, and have done so on a number of occasions.
We face a risk of noncompliance and enforcement action with the federal Bank Secrecy Act (the “BSA”) and other anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing statutes and regulations.
The BSA, the USA PATRIOT Act and other laws and regulations require financial institutions, among others, to institute and maintain an effective anti-money laundering compliance program and to file reports such as suspicious activity reports and currency transaction reports. Our products and services, including our debit card issuing business, are subject to an increasingly strict set of legal and regulatory requirements intended to protect consumers and to help detect and prevent money laundering, terrorist financing and other illicit activities. We are required to comply with these and other anti-money laundering requirements. The federal banking agencies and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network are authorized to impose significant civil money penalties for violations of those requirements and have recently engaged in coordinated enforcement efforts against banks and other financial services providers with the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service. We are also subject to increased scrutiny of compliance with the regulations administered and enforced by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. If we violate these laws and regulations, or our policies, procedures and systems are deemed deficient, we would be subject to liability, including fines and regulatory actions, which may include restrictions on our ability to pay dividends and the necessity to obtain regulatory approvals to proceed with certain aspects of our business plan, including our acquisition plans.
Failure to maintain and implement adequate programs to combat money laundering and terrorist financing could also have serious reputational consequences for us. Any of these results could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
The short-term and long-term impact of the changing regulatory capital requirements and anticipated new capital rules are uncertain.
In July 2013, federal bank regulatory agencies issued a final rule that revised their leverage and risk-based capital requirements and the method for calculating risk-weighted assets to make them consistent with agreements that were reached by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. Among other things, the rule established a new common equity tier 1 minimum capital requirement of 4.5% of risk-weighted assets, set the leverage ratio at a uniform 4.0% of total assets, increased the minimum tier 1 capital to risk-based assets requirement from 4.0% to 6.0% of risk-weighted assets and assigned a higher risk weight of 150% to exposures that are more than 90 days past due or are on non-accrual status and to certain commercial real estate facilities that finance the acquisition, development or construction of real property. The rule also requires unrealized gains and losses on certain “available-for-sale” securities holdings to be included for purposes of calculating regulatory capital requirements unless a one-time opt-out is exercised. The rule limits a banking organization’s capital distributions and certain discretionary bonus payments to executive officers if the banking organization does not hold a “capital conservation buffer” consisting of 2.5% of common equity tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets in addition to the amount necessary to meet its minimum risk-based capital requirements. The final rule became effective January 1, 2015. The “capital conservation buffer’ was phased in from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2019.
The application of more stringent capital requirements could, among other things, result in lower returns on equity, require the raising of additional capital, and result in regulatory actions if we were unable to comply with such requirements. Furthermore, the imposition of liquidity requirements in connection with the implementation of Basel III could result in our having to lengthen the terms of our funding, restructure business models, and/or increase holdings of liquid assets. Implementation of changes to asset risk weightings for risk-based capital calculations, items included or deducted in calculating regulatory capital or additional capital conservation buffers, could result in management modifying our business strategy and could limit our ability to make distributions, including paying dividends or buying back shares.
Risks Related to our Debt Securities
The subordinated debentures that we issued have rights that are senior to those of our common shareholders.
In 2015, we issued $40.0 million of 5.25% fixed-to-floating rate subordinated debentures due 2025 and $40.0 million of 5.75% fixed-to-floating rate subordinated debentures due 2030. Because these subordinated debentures rank senior to our common stock, if we fail to timely make principal and interest payments on the subordinated debentures, we may not pay any dividends on our common stock. Further, if we declare bankruptcy, dissolve or liquidate, we must satisfy all of our subordinated debenture obligations before we may pay any distributions on our common stock.
Operational Risk Factors
Strong competition within our market area may limit our growth and profitability.
Our primary market area is located in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island and the New York City boroughs. Competition in the banking and financial services industry remains intense. Our profitability depends on the continued ability to successfully compete. We compete with commercial banks, savings banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and brokerage and investment banking firms. Many of our competitors have substantially greater resources and lending limits than us and may offer certain services that we do not provide. In addition, competitors may offer deposits at higher rates and loans with lower fixed rates, more attractive terms and less stringent credit structures than we have been willing to offer.
Our future success depends on the success and growth of Dime Community Bank.
Our primary business activity for the foreseeable future will be to act as the holding company of the Bank. Therefore, our future profitability will depend on the success and growth of this subsidiary. The continued and successful implementation of our growth strategy will require, among other things that we increase our market share by attracting new customers that currently bank at other financial institutions in our market area. In addition, our ability to successfully grow will depend on several factors, including favorable market conditions, the competitive responses from other financial institutions in our market area, and our ability to maintain high asset quality. While we believe we have the management resources, market opportunities and internal systems in place to obtain and successfully manage future growth, growth opportunities may not be available, and we may not be successful in continuing our growth strategy. In addition, continued growth requires that we incur additional expenses, including salaries, data processing and occupancy expense related to new branches and related support staff. Many of these increased expenses are considered fixed expenses. Unless we can successfully continue our growth, our results of operations could be negatively affected by these increased costs.
The loss of key personnel could impair our future success.
Our future success depends in part on the continued service of our executive officers, other key management, and staff, as well as its ability to continue to attract, motivate, and retain additional highly qualified employees. The loss of services of one or more of our key personnel or our inability to timely recruit replacements for such personnel, or to otherwise attract, motivate, or retain qualified personnel could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.
Our business may be adversely affected by fraud and other financial crimes.
Our loans to businesses and individuals and our deposit relationships and related transactions are subject to exposure to the risk of loss due to fraud and other financial crimes. While we have policies and procedures designed to prevent such losses, losses may still occur.
We have recently experienced losses due to fraud. In 2018, we incurred a pre-tax charge, net of recovery, of $8.9 million relating to the fraudulent conduct of a business customer through its deposit accounts. In September 2020, we resolved our claim for the loss with our insurance carrier to the full extent of the available coverage.
Risks associated with system failures, interruptions, or breaches of security could negatively affect our operations and earnings.
Information technology systems are critical to our business. We collect, process and store sensitive customer data by utilizing computer systems and telecommunications networks operated by us and third-party service providers. We have established policies and procedures to prevent or limit the impact of system failures, interruptions, and security breaches, but such events may still occur or may not be adequately addressed if they do occur. In addition, any compromise of our systems could deter customers from using our products and services. Although we take numerous protective measures and otherwise endeavor to protect and maintain the privacy and security of confidential data, these systems may be vulnerable to unauthorized access, computer viruses, other malicious code, cyberattacks, including distributed denial of service attacks, cyber-theft and other events that could have a security impact. If one or more of such events were to occur, this potentially could jeopardize confidential and other information processed and stored in, and transmitted through, our systems or otherwise cause interruptions or malfunctions in our or our customers' operations.
In addition, we maintain interfaces with certain third-party service providers. If these third-party service providers encounter difficulties, or if we have difficulty communicating with them, our ability to adequately process and account for transactions could be affected, and our business operations could be adversely affected. Threats to information security also exist in the processing of customer information through various other vendors and their personnel.
The occurrence of any system failures, interruption, or breach of security could damage our reputation and result in a loss of customers and business, thereby subjecting us to additional regulatory scrutiny, or could expose us to litigation and possible financial liability. We may be required to expend significant additional resources to modify our protective measures or to investigate and remediate vulnerabilities or other exposures, and we may be subject to litigation and financial losses that are not fully covered by our insurance. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
We are exposed to cyber-security risks, including denial of service, hacking, and identity theft.
There have been well-publicized distributed denials of service attacks on large financial services companies. Distributed denial of service attacks are designed to saturate the targeted online network with excessive amounts of network traffic, resulting in slow response times, or in some cases, causing the site to be temporarily unavailable. Hacking and identity theft risks, in particular, could cause serious reputational harm. Cyber threats are rapidly evolving, and we may not be able to anticipate or prevent all such attacks. We may incur increasing costs in an effort to minimize these risks and could be held liable for any security breach or loss.
Severe weather, acts of terrorism and other external events could impact our ability to conduct business.
Weather-related events have adversely impacted our market area in recent years, especially areas located near coastal waters and flood prone areas. Such events that may cause significant flooding and other storm-related damage may become more common events in the future. Financial institutions have been, and continue to be, targets of terrorist threats aimed at compromising operating and communication systems and the metropolitan New York area remains a central target for potential acts of terrorism. Such events could cause significant damage, impact the stability of our facilities and result in additional expenses, impair the ability of borrowers to repay their loans, reduce the value of collateral securing repayment of loans, and result in the loss of revenue. While we have established and regularly test disaster recovery procedures, the occurrence of any such event could have a material adverse effect on our business, operations and financial condition.
Additionally, global markets may be adversely affected by natural disasters, the emergence of widespread health emergencies or pandemics, cyberattacks or campaigns, military conflict, terrorism or other geopolitical events. Global market fluctuations may affect our business liquidity. Also, any sudden or prolonged market downturn in the U.S. or abroad, as a result of the above factors or otherwise could result in a decline in revenue and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition, including capital and liquidity levels.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
At December 31, 2020, we owned eight properties located in Suffolk County, New York consisting of our corporate headquarters and branch office located at 2200 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton; six branches located in Montauk, Southold, Westhampton Beach, Southampton Village, East Hampton Village and Mattituck; and one drive-up facility located in Sag Harbor. In 2018, we purchased the Mattituck branch property, which we had previously leased. We lease a portion of the Montauk and Westhampton Beach properties to commercial lessees.
At December 31, 2020, we maintained executive offices and back office operations at leased facilities located in Suffolk County, New York at 898 and 888 Veterans Highway in Hauppauge. We lease 30 additional properties as branch locations in New York: 20 in Suffolk County; six in Nassau County; two in Queens; and two in Manhattan. We sublease a portion of the leased properties located in Patchogue and Melville in Suffolk County to commercial sublessees.
Following the Merger, our corporate headquarters is located at 898 Veterans Highway in Hauppauge, New York. The Bank’s main office continues to be located at 2200 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton, New York. In connection with the Merger, we expanded our footprint with the addition of 31 properties consisting of Legacy Dime’s 28 full-service retail banking offices located throughout Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Nassau and Suffolk Counties in New York, and Legacy Dime’s three operations offices located in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York and New Jersey. As of February 1, 2021, following the Merger, of the 31 Legacy Dime properties, 23 were leased and eight were owned.
For additional information on our premises and equipment, see Note 5. “Premises and Equipment, net” in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
The Registrant and its subsidiary are subject to certain pending and threatened legal actions that arise out of the normal course of business. In the opinion of management, the resolution of any such pending or threatened litigation is not expected to have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial statements.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common stock trades on the NASDAQ® Stock Market under the symbol “DCOM”. Prior to the Merger, our common shares were traded under the symbol “BDGE”. At February 28, 2021, we had approximately 1,066 shareholders of record, not including the number of persons or entities holding stock in nominee or the street name through various banks and brokers.
DCOM Performance Graph
Pursuant to the regulations of the SEC, the graph below compares our performance with that of the total return for the NASDAQ® stock market and for certain bank stocks of financial institutions with an asset size of $5 billion to $10 billion, as reported by SNL Financial LC (“SNL”) from December 31, 2015 through December 31, 2020. The graph assumes the reinvestment of dividends in additional shares of the same class of equity securities as those listed below.
Dime Community Bancshares, Inc.
SNL Bank $5B-$10B
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The following table presents information in connection with repurchases of our shares of common stock during the three months ended December 31, 2020:
Total Number of
as Part of
of Shares That May
Total Number of
Yet Be Purchased
Under the Plans or
Paid per Share
October 1, 2020 through October 31, 2020
November 1, 2020 through November 30, 2020
December 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020
|(1)||Represents shares withheld by the Company to pay the taxes associated with the vesting of restricted stock awards.|
|(2)||The Board of Directors approved a stock repurchase plan in March 2006 that authorized the repurchase of 309,000 shares. In February 2019, the Company announced the adoption of a new stock repurchase plan for up to 1,000,000 shares, replacing the previous plan. There is no expiration date for the stock repurchase plan. No shares were purchased under the repurchase program during the three months ended December 31, 2020.|
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Five-Year Summary of Operations
(In thousands, except per share data and financial ratios)
Set forth below are our selected consolidated financial and other data. Our business is primarily the business of our Bank. This financial data is derived in part from, and should be read in conjunction with, our consolidated financial statements.
Selected Financial Data:
Securities available for sale, at fair value
Securities held to maturity
Loans held for sale
Loans held for investment
Total stockholders’ equity
Year Ended December 31,
Selected Operating Data:
Total interest income
Total interest expense
Net interest income
Provision for credit losses
Net interest income after provision for credit losses
Total non-interest income
Total non-interest expense
Income before income taxes
Income tax expense
Net income (1)(2)(3)(4)
Selected Financial Ratios and Other Data:
Return on average equity (1)(2)(3)(4)
Return on average assets (1)(2)(3)(4)
Average equity to average assets
Dividend payout ratio (1)(2)(3)(4)
Basic earnings per share (1)(2)(3)(4)
Diluted earnings per share (1)(2)(3)(4)
Cash dividends declared per common share
|(1)||2020 amount includes $4.5 million of merger expenses and $4.2 million of stock acceleration expenses related to the Merger.|
|(2)||2018 amount includes $6.2 million of net securities losses, net of taxes, associated with the balance sheet restructure, $6.9 million of net fraud loss, net of taxes, related to fraudulent conduct of a business customer through its deposit accounts at BNB, and $0.6 million of office relocation costs, net of taxes.|
|(3)||2017 amount includes $5.2 million, net of taxes, associated with restructuring costs and a charge of $7.6 million associated with the write-down of deferred tax assets due to the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.|
|(4)||2016 amount includes reversal of $0.6 million of acquisition costs, net of taxes, associated with the CNB and FNBNY acquisitions.|
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, unless otherwise mentioned, the terms the “Company”, “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Dime Community Bancshares, Inc. and our wholly-owned subsidiary, Dime Community Bank (the “Bank”). We use the term “Holding Company” to refer solely to Dime Community Bancshares, Inc. and not to our consolidated subsidiary.
The following discussion and analysis covers changes in our results of operations and financial condition from 2019 to 2020. A discussion and analysis of changes in our results of operations and financial condition from 2018 to 2019 may be found in “Item 7 – Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, which was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 11, 2020.
Private Securities Litigation Reform Act Safe Harbor Statement
This report may contain statements relating to our future results (including certain projections and business trends) that are considered “forward-looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “PSLRA”). Such forward-looking statements, in addition to historical information, which involve risk and uncertainties, are based on the beliefs, assumptions and expectations of our management. Words such as “expects,” “believes,” “should,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “will,” “potential,” “could,” “intend,” “may,” “outlook,” “predict,” “project,” “would,” “estimated,” “assumes,” “likely,” and variations of such similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, possible or assumed estimates with respect to the financial condition, expected or anticipated revenue, and results of operations and our business, including earnings growth; revenue growth in retail banking, lending and other areas; origination volume in the consumer, commercial and other lending businesses; current and future capital management programs; non-interest income levels, including fees from the title insurance subsidiary and banking services as well as product sales; tangible capital generation; market share; expense levels; and other business operations and strategies. We claim the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the PSLRA.
Factors that could cause future results to vary from current management expectations include, but are not limited to, changing economic conditions; legislative and regulatory changes, including increases in FDIC insurance rates; monetary and fiscal policies of the federal government; changes in tax policies; rates and regulations of federal, state and local tax authorities; changes in interest rates; deposit flows; the cost of funds; demand for loan products; demand for financial services; competition; our ability to successfully integrate acquired entities; changes in the quality and composition of our loan and investment portfolios; changes in management’s business strategies; changes in accounting principles, policies or guidelines; changes in real estate values; expanded regulatory requirements, which could adversely affect operating results; and other factors discussed elsewhere in this report including factors set forth under Item 1A., Risk Factors, and in quarterly and other reports filed by us with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this report, and we assume no obligation to update the forward-looking statements or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements.
Who We Are and How We Generate Income
Dime Community Bancshares, Inc., a New York corporation previously known as “Bridge Bancorp, Inc.,” is a bank holding company formed in 1989. On a parent-only basis, the Holding Company has had minimal results of operations. The Holding Company is dependent on dividends from its wholly-owned subsidiary, Dime Community Bank, which was previously known as “BNB Bank,” its own earnings, additional capital raised, and borrowings as sources of funds. The information in this report reflects principally the financial condition and results of operations of the Bank. The Bank's results of operations are primarily dependent on its net interest income, which is the difference between interest income on loans and investments and interest expense on deposits and borrowings. The Bank also generates non-interest income, such as fee income on deposit accounts and merchant credit and debit card processing programs, loan swap fees, investment services, income from its title insurance subsidiary, and net gains on sales of securities and loans. The level of non-interest expenses, such as salaries and benefits, occupancy and equipment costs, other general and administrative expenses,
expenses from the Bank’s title insurance subsidiary, and income tax expense, further affects our net income. We believe the Merger created the opportunity for the resulting company to leverage complementary and diversified revenue streams and to potentially have superior future earnings and prospects compared to our current earnings and prospects on a stand-alone basis. Certain reclassifications have been made to prior year amounts and the related discussion and analysis to conform to the current year presentation. These reclassifications did not have an impact on net income or total stockholders' equity.
Year and Quarterly Highlights (prior to the completion of the Merger on February 1, 2021)
|●||Net income for the 2020 fourth quarter of $9.0 million, or $0.45 per diluted share, inclusive of merger and stock acceleration expenses related to the Merger.|
|●||Net income for the full year 2020 was $42.0 million, or $2.11 per diluted share, compared to $51.7 million, or $2.59 per diluted share, for the full year 2019. Inclusive of:|
Pre-tax merger expenses of $4.5 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, in the last six months of 2020.
Pre-tax stock acceleration expenses of $4.2 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, in the 2020 fourth quarter.
|●||Net interest income increased to $160.8 million for 2020, compared to $142.2 million in 2019.|
|●||Tax-equivalent net interest margin was 2.99% for 2020 and 3.31% in 2019.|
|●||Total assets of $6.4 billion at December 31, 2020, an increase of $1.5 billion, or 30.7%, over December 31, 2019.|
|●||Total loans held for investment at December 31, 2020 of $4.6 billion, inclusive of PPP loans totaling $844.7 million, an increase of $917.1 million, or 24.9%, over December 31, 2019.|
|●||Total deposits of $5.5 billion at December 31, 2020, an increase of $1.7 billion, or 43.9%, compared to December 31, 2019.|
|●||Provision for credit losses of $11.5 million for 2020, compared to $5.7 million in 2019.|
|●||Allowance for credit losses was 0.96% of loans as of December 31, 2020, compared to 0.89% at December 31, 2019.|
|●||Cash dividends of $19.2 million were paid in 2020, representing $0.96 per share. A cash dividend of $4.8 million, or $0.24 per share, was declared in January 2021 and paid in February 2021 for the fourth quarter.|
Challenges and Opportunities
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to modify our business practices, including employee travel and employee work locations, as many employees are working remotely. Various state governments and federal agencies are requiring lenders to provide forbearance and other relief to borrowers, such as waiving late payment and other fees. Given the ongoing and dynamic nature of the circumstances, it is difficult to predict the challenges our business will face and the full impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on our business.
We continue to face challenges associated with ever-increasing banking regulations and the current low interest rate environment. A prolonged inverted or flat yield curve presents a challenge to a bank, like us, that derives most of its revenue from net interest margin. A sustained decrease in market interest rates could adversely affect our earnings. When interest rates decline, borrowers tend to refinance higher-rate, fixed-rate loans at lower rates. In addition, the majority of our loans are at variable interest rates, which would adjust to lower rates. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Federal Reserve has reduced the benchmark federal funds rate to a target range of 0% to 0.25% during the 2020 first quarter. We took this opportunity to lower our funding costs and stabilize our net interest margin.
We established five strategic objectives to achieve our vision: (1) acquire new customers in growth markets; (2) build new sales and marketing disciplines; (3) deepen customer relationships; (4) expand use of automation; and (5) improve talent management. We believe there remain opportunities to grow our franchise and that continued investments to generate core funding, quality loans and new sources of revenue remain keys to continue creating long-term shareholder value. Our ability to attract, retain, train and cultivate employees at all levels of our Company remains significant to meeting our corporate objectives. In particular, we are focused on expanding and retaining our loan team as we continue to grow the loan portfolio. We have capitalized on opportunities presented by the market and diligently seek opportunities to grow and strengthen the franchise. We recognize the potential risks of the current economic environment and will monitor the impact of market events as we evaluate loans and investments and consider growth initiatives. Our management and Board of Directors have built a solid foundation for growth, and we are positioned to adapt to anticipated changes in the industry resulting from new regulations and legislative initiatives.
Paycheck Protection Program
We are an active participant in the SBA PPP for small business customers. As of December 31, 2020, we originated over 4,200 loans totaling approximately $980 million. The top industries were construction, professional, manufacturing, health care, accommodation/food, and administrative. The mean and median PPP loan amounts were $229 thousand and $70 thousand, respectively.
The following table presents the outstanding balance and range of loan size of our PPP loans as of December 31, 2020:
(Dollars in thousands)
Range of Loan Size
$150 and Below
Between $150 and $350
Between $350 and $2,000
Substantially all of the PPP loans we originated have a two-year term and a 1% interest rate. Subsequent CARES Act changes extended the maturities of these loans to potentially five years at the borrower’s option. Any changes are expected to be made at the end of the interest only phase and are expected to coincide with the forgiveness process. The SBA pays us fees ranging from 1% to 5% per loan depending on the loan principal amount. Fee income from processing PPP loans is amortized as a yield adjustment over the life of the loan. PPP loans are expected to be fully guaranteed by the SBA.
Prior to the commencement of the PPP program, in the 2020 first quarter we funded 80 loans totaling $4.2 million with an average loan size of $53 thousand. These streamlined loans were our initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic to quickly provide customers with small loans to bridge short term cash flow. We terminated this program and focused our efforts on developing a process to accept PPP loans when the PPP program commenced on April 3, 2020. As of December 31, 2020, $3.2 million of these loans remain outstanding.
COVID-19 Loan Moratoriums and Forbearance Programs
We are supporting our customers who may experience financial difficulty due to COVID-19 through loan moratoriums and forbearance programs. We began offering 90-day payment modifications on a case-by-case basis to those customers whose income was adversely impacted by COVID-19. The loan modifications in this program primarily consist of three-month deferrals of interest and principal payments. Extensions may be granted on a case by case basis. As of December 31, 2020, approximately 500 loans totaling $635 million were granted payment moratoriums during 2020. These deferrals are not considered TDRs based on the CARES Act and/or the interagency guidance. As of January 21, 2021, $76.1 million in moratoriums were outstanding.
The industries we identified as most significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic based on the potential risk to cash flows are hotels, restaurants, passenger transportation, leisure, museums and catering.
We continue to support our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic by pledging a total of $1.8 million to support COVID-19 affected communities, including $500 thousand in grants to non-profit partners working on the COVID-19 relief effort in our footprint. These grants are focused on organizations working to address meeting the basic needs of the vulnerable populations, providing emergency food, and health services. We have partnered with local governments to help coordinate emergency relief. The PPP loans we funded also benefitted hundreds of non-profit partners. A portion of the fees generated by the PPP will be set aside to increase funding for local organizations.
Merger Agreement with Dime Community Bancshares, Inc.
On July 1, 2020, the Company entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger (the “Merger Agreement”) with Legacy Dime. Pursuant to the Merger Agreement, on February 1, 2021, Legacy Dime merged with and into Bridge, with Bridge as the surviving corporation under the name “Dime Community Bancshares, Inc.”
At the Effective Time, each outstanding share of Legacy Dime common stock, par value $0.01 per share, was converted into the right to receive 0.6480 shares of the Company’s common stock, par value $0.01 per share.
At the Effective Time of the Merger, each outstanding share of Dime Preferred Stock was converted into the right to receive one share of a newly created series of Company preferred stock having the same powers, preferences and rights as the Dime Preferred Stock.
Immediately following the Merger, Dime Community Bank, a New York-chartered commercial bank and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Legacy Dime, merged with and into BNB Bank, a New York-chartered commercial bank and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, with BNB Bank as the surviving bank, under the name “Dime Community Bank.”
In connection with the Merger, the Company assumed $115.0 million in aggregate principal amount of the 4.50% Fixed-to-Floating Rate Subordinated Debentures due 2027 of Legacy Dime.
Critical Accounting Policies
Note 1 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2020 contains a summary of significant accounting policies. Various elements of our accounting policies, by their nature, are inherently subject to estimation techniques, valuation assumptions and other subjective assessments. Our policy with respect to the methodologies used to determine the allowance for credit losses is our most critical accounting policy. This policy is important to the presentation of the financial condition and results of operations, and it involves a higher degree of complexity and requires management to make difficult and subjective judgments, which often require assumptions or estimates about highly uncertain matters. The use of different judgments, assumptions and estimates could result in material differences in the results of operations or financial condition.
The following is a description of this critical accounting policy and an explanation of the methods and assumptions underlying its application.
Allowance for Credit Losses
On January 1, 2020, we adopted the current expected credit loss model (“CECL” or the “CECL Standard”), which requires that loans held for investment be accounted for under the current expected credit losses model. Although the CARES Act provided the option to delay the adoption of the current expected credit loss model until the earlier of December 31, 2020 or the termination of the current national emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 outbreak, we implemented the CECL Standard in the first quarter of 2020 as previously planned. The allowance for credit losses is established and maintained through a provision for credit losses based on expected losses inherent in our loan portfolio. Management evaluates the adequacy of the allowance on a quarterly basis. Management monitors its entire loan portfolio regularly, with consideration given to detailed analysis of classified loans, repayment patterns, past loss experience, various types of
concentrations of credit, current economic conditions, and reasonable and supportable forecasts. Additions to the allowance are charged to expense and realized losses, net of recoveries, are charged against the allowance.
The credit loss estimation process involves procedures to appropriately consider the unique characteristics of our loan portfolio segments. These segments are further disaggregated into loan risk ratings, the level at which credit risk is monitored. When computing allowance levels, credit loss assumptions are estimated using a model that categorizes loan pools based on expected loss history, delinquency status and other credit trends and risk characteristics, including current conditions and reasonable and supportable forecasts about the future. Determining the appropriateness of the allowance is complex and requires judgment by management about the effect of matters that are inherently uncertain. In future periods, evaluations of the overall loan portfolio, in light of the factors and forecasts then prevailing, may result in significant changes in the allowance and provision for credit losses in those future periods.
Credit quality is assessed and monitored by evaluating various attributes and the results of those evaluations are utilized in our process for estimation of expected credit losses. The allowance level is influenced by loan volumes, loan risk rating migration, historic loss experience and other conditions influencing loss expectations, such as reasonable and supportable forecasts of economic conditions. The methodology for estimating the amount of expected credit losses reported in the allowance for credit losses has two basic components: (1) an asset-specific component involving individual loans that do not share risk characteristics with other loans and the measurement of expected credit losses for such individual loans; and (2) a pooled component for estimated expected credit losses for pools of loans that share similar risk characteristics.
Loans that do not share similar credit risk characteristics
For a loan that does not share risk characteristics with other loans, expected credit loss is measured based on net realizable value, that is, the difference between the discounted value of the expected future cash flows, based on the original effective interest rate, and the amortized cost basis of the loan. For these loans, we recognize expected credit loss equal to the amount by which the net realizable value of the loan is less than the amortized cost basis of the loan (which is net of previous charge-offs), except when the loan is collateral dependent, that is, when the borrower is experiencing financial difficulty and repayment is expected to be provided substantially through the operation or sale of the collateral. In these cases, expected credit loss is measured as the difference between the amortized cost basis of the loan and the fair value of the collateral. The fair value of the collateral is adjusted for the estimated costs to sell the loan if repayment or satisfaction of a loan is dependent on the sale (rather than only on the operation) of the collateral.
The fair value of real estate collateral is determined based on recent appraised values. Appraisals are performed by certified general appraisers (for commercial properties) or certified residential appraisers (for residential properties) whose qualifications and licenses have been reviewed and verified by us. All appraisals undergo a second review process to ensure that the methodology employed and the values derived are reasonable. Generally, collateral values for real estate loans for which measurement of expected losses is dependent on collateral values are updated every twelve months. Non-real estate collateral may be valued using an appraisal, net book value per the borrower’s financial statements, or aging reports, adjusted or discounted based on management’s historical knowledge, changes in market conditions from the time of the valuation, and management’s expertise and knowledge of the borrower and its business. Once the expected credit loss amount is determined, an allowance is provided for equal to the calculated expected credit loss and included in the allowance for credit losses. Pursuant to our policy, credit losses must be charged-off in the period the loans, or portions thereof, are deemed uncollectable.
Loans that share similar credit risk characteristics
In estimating the component of the allowance for credit losses for loans that share similar risk characteristics with other loans, such loans are segmented into loan types. Loans are designated into loan pools with similar risk characteristics based on product type in conjunction with other homogeneous characteristics. Loan types include commercial real estate mortgages, owner and non-owner occupied; multi-family mortgage loans; residential real estate mortgages and home equity loans; commercial, industrial and agricultural loans, real estate construction and land loans; and consumer loans.
In determining the allowance for credit losses, we derive an estimated credit loss assumption from a model that categorizes loan pools based on loan type and further segmented by risk rating. This model is known as Probability of Default/Loss Given Default, utilizing a Transition Matrix approach. This model calculates an expected loss percentage for each loan
pool by considering the probability of default, based upon the historical transition or migration of loans from performing (various pass ratings) to criticized, and classified risk ratings to default by risk rating buckets using life-of-loan analysis runout periods for all loan segments, and the historical severity of loss, based on the aggregate net lifetime losses (loss given default) per loan pool. The default trigger, which is defined as the earlier of ninety days past-due or non-accrual status, and severity factors used to calculate the allowance for credit losses for loans in pools that share similar risk characteristics with other loans, are adjusted for differences between the historical period used to calculate historical default and loss severity rates and expected conditions over the remaining lives of the loans in the portfolio. These factors include: (1) lending policies and procedures; (2) international, national, regional and local economic business conditions and developments that affect the collectability of the portfolio, including the condition of various markets; (3) the nature and volume of the loan portfolio including the terms of the loans; (4) the experience, ability, and depth of the lending management and other relevant staff; (5) the volume and severity of past due and adversely classified or graded loans and the volume of non-accrual loans; (6) the quality of our loan review system; (7) the value of underlying collateral for collateralized loans; (8) the existence and effect of any concentrations of credit, and changes in the level of such concentrations; and (9) the effect of external factors such as competition and legal and regulatory requirements on the level of estimated credit losses in the existing portfolio. Such factors are used to adjust the historical probabilities of default and severity of loss for current conditions that are not reflective of the model results. In addition, the economic factor includes management’s expectation of future conditions based on a reasonable and supportable forecast of the economy. To the extent the lives of the loans in the portfolio extend beyond the period for which a reasonable and supportable forecast can be made (currently two years), the Bank immediately reverts back to the historical rates of default and severity of loss. Management believes that this transition approach to the Probability of Default/Loss Given Default is a relevant calculation of expected credit losses as there is sufficient volume as well as movement in the risk ratings due to the initial grading system as well as timely updates to risk ratings when necessary. Credit risk ratings are based on management’s evaluation of a credit’s cash flow, collateral, guarantor support, financial disclosures, industry trends and strength of borrowers’ management.
The adequacy of the allowance is analyzed quarterly, with any adjustment to a level deemed appropriate by the Credit Risk Management Committee (“CRMC”), based on its risk assessment of the entire portfolio. Each quarter, members of the CRMC meet with the Credit Risk Committee of our Board of Directors to review credit risk trends and the adequacy of the allowance for credit losses. Based on the CRMC’s review of the classified loans, delinquency and charge-off trends, current economic conditions, reasonable and supportable forecasts, and the overall allowance levels as they relate to the entire loan portfolio at December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2019, we believe the allowance for credit losses has been established at levels sufficient to cover the expected losses inherent in our loan portfolio. Future additions or reductions to the allowance may be necessary based on changes in economic, market or other conditions. Changes in estimates could result in a material change in the allowance. In addition, various regulatory agencies, as an integral part of the examination process, periodically review the allowance for credit losses. Such agencies may require us to recognize adjustments to the allowance based on their judgments of the information available to them at the time of their examination.
For additional information regarding the allowance for credit losses, see Note 4 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
Net income for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $42.0 million and $2.11 per diluted share as compared to $51.7 million and $2.59 per diluted share for the same period in 2019. Changes in net income for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to December 31, 2019 include: (i) an $18.6 million, or 13.1%, increase in net interest income; (ii) a $5.8 million, or 101.8%, increase in the provision for credit losses; (iii) a $5.7 million, or 22.4%, decrease in non-interest
income; (iv) a $17.1 million, or 17.8%, increase in non-interest expense; and (v) a $0.4 million, or 2.7%, decrease in income tax expense.
Net Interest Income
Net interest income, the primary contributor to earnings, represents the difference between income on interest-earning assets and expenses on interest-bearing liabilities. Net interest income depends on the volume of interest-earning assets and interest-bearing liabilities and the interest rates earned or paid on them.
The following table presents certain information relating to our average consolidated balance sheets and our consolidated statements of income for the periods indicated and reflects the average yield on assets and average cost of liabilities for those periods on a tax-equivalent basis based on the U.S. federal statutory tax rate. Such yields and costs are derived by dividing income or expense by the average balance of assets or liabilities, respectively, for the periods shown. Average balances are derived from daily average balances and include non-accrual loans. The yields and costs include fees and costs, which are considered adjustments to yields. Interest on non-accrual loans has been included only to the extent reflected in the consolidated statements of income. For purposes of this table, the average balances for investments in debt and equity securities exclude unrealized appreciation/depreciation due to the application of FASB Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) 320, “Investments - Debt and Equity Securities”.
Year Ended December 31,
(Dollars in thousands)
Loans, net (1)(2)
Mortgage-backed securities, CMOs and other asset-backed securities
Tax-exempt securities (2)
Deposits with banks
Total interest-earning assets (2)
Cash and due from banks