Monthly Bulletin – December 2021
Volume 9, Number 5
New Student Loan Servicing Ombudsperson Plays Critical Role in Education and Outreach
Celina Damian began on Dec. 6 as the Department’s first-ever Student Loan Ombudsperson, a new position that will help inform borrowers of their rights. Fulfilling the requirements of AB 376, Celina will help inform student borrowers of their rights through education and outreach, review complaints, and coordinate with other agencies to protect California consumers. She will work out of the San Diego DFPI office.
Celina has worked for the state for almost 15 years in several enforcement agencies with diverse populations. Her most recent positions have been as a Licensing Program Analyst with the Department of Social Services-Community Child Care Division and as a Deputy Labor Commissioner with the Department of Industrial Relations- Labor Commissioner’s Office. Through these positions, Celina has gained extensive experience in both analytical, enforcement, and outreach work. Some of her most recent work involved working with community-based organizations to provide COVID-19 resources to workers in low-wage industries throughout the state. She is bilingual in Spanish and English.
New State Laws That May Affect DFPI Licensees
Highlights of 2021 Chaptered Legislation, a compendium of new state laws that may affect or be of interest to DFPI licensees, is now available on the Department’s website. The collection includes a brief description and a link to the text of each bill.
Significant new laws this year include AB 1405, the Fair Debt Settlement Practices Act; and AB 1177, the California Public Banking Option Act, which creates the CalAccount Blue Ribbon Commission charged with producing an analysis of a program to offer Californians free, federally-insured transaction accounts.
Broker-Dealer/Investment Adviser Renewals Due Soon
A reminder that 2022 registration renewal statements and fees for the Broker-Dealer/Investment Adviser (BDIA) program are due by Dec. 13, 2021.
All registered firms may view and print their preliminary renewal statements through E-Bill on FINRA’s WebCRD/IARD system. The preliminary renewal statement became available on Nov. 8, 2021. The DFPI sent out a courtesy renewal reminder on November 22. Annual renewal fees are due for broker-dealers, investment advisers and exempt reporting advisers.
Full payment of each Preliminary Renewal Statement must be posted to a firm’s FINRA Renewal Account by December 13. Firms are encouraged to submit their payments no later than December 11 to make sure payments post to renewal accounts by the deadline. Renewal fees must be posted by the deadline for a firm’s registration to remain in effect during calendar year 2022.
For more information on the 2022 renewal program for investment advisers and exempt reporting advisers, including a renewal calendar, payment methods and FAQs, visit the CRD/IARD website at https://www.iard.com/renewals.
For more information on the 2022 renewal program for broker-dealers, visit the CRD website at http://www.finra.org/industry/renewal.
Some Escrow Reports Due Dec. 14
Escrow agents are required to submit to the Commissioner an annual report prepared by an independent certified public accountant or an independent public accountant (Financial Code section 17406) within 105 days after the close of the escrow agent’s fiscal year. The annual report includes audited financial statements and required supplemental information.
If your fiscal year ended on Aug. 31, 2021, your annual report is due Dec. 14, 2021. Please have your CPA email your report to ESCAnnualReportFiling@dfpi.ca.gov by the deadline using a secured, encrypted delivery system. The use of a secured dropbox is also acceptable. If your CPA is unable to submit the annual report electronically, it can be mailed to Sultanna Wan, Senior Financial Institutions Examiner, Escrow Law, Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, 320 West Fourth Street, Suite 750, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
Penalties for failure to file the annual report by the due date or to include required information are $100 per day for the first five days a report is late and $500 per day thereafter (Financial Code section 17408). Failure to file a report or to include any required information may also result in the suspension or revocation of an escrow agent’s license or prompt an immediate examination (Financial Code section 17602.5).
For questions about the annual reports, call Sultanna Wan at (213) 576-7647.
Escrow Special Assessment for 2021-22
Financial Code section 17207 (h)(1) authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) to levy a special assessment on all escrow licensees in an amount sufficient to cover the DFPI’s expenses in administering its statutory licensing and examination functions.
Each year, the DFPI undertakes a review of revenues and expenditures as part of its assessment determination process. Based on the review, DFPI projects the escrow program will have a deficit of $1,289,000 for year 2021-2022. This deficit amount will be assessed, according to statute, evenly among the total number of licensed locations (1,032) as of the fiscal year end, June 30, 2021. The special assessment is $1,000.00 per licensed location.
Escrow licensees will be receiving an invoice for its special assessment in early 2022. Payment must be made within 60 days of the date of the invoice. If payment is not made within 60 days, the Commissioner may assess penalties pursuant to Financial Code section 17207 (h)(2).
The special assessment is in addition to the regular assessment of $2,800 per licensed location, which will be billed separately on May 30, 2022.
If escrow licensees have questions about the assessment calculations, they can contact Paul Liang, Special Administrator for Escrow Law, at (213) 576-7535 or Escrow.Licensing@dfpi.ca.gov. Any questions regarding the processing of the assessment payment should be directed to the DFPI accounting department at (916) 576-4949.
DFPI Debt Collector License Application Due by Dec. 31, 2021
The Debt Collection Licensing Act (Fin. Code § 100000 et seq.) (DCLA), which is operative starting on January 1, 2022, requires any person engaging in the business of debt collection in California to be licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI). (Fin. Code § 100001(a)). If you are a debt collector collecting debt in the state of California you must submit an application on or before Friday, December 31, 2021. Once you have submitted your application, you may continue operating as a debt collector in California while your application is pending. If you submit an application after this date, you will be required to wait for the issuance of a license before you can operate in California. (Fin. Code § 100000.5(c)).
The application requests financial and other information and must be submitted via the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS). The application and a checklist of requirements for the application are now available on NMLS. After an initial application is received, instructions will follow on completing fingerprinting requirements. Applicants should note that due to the volume of expected requests there will be some time delay in your application being reviewed.
If you wish to continue operating as a debt collector in California starting from January 1, 2022, and have yet to apply for a license, you should review the application checklist and begin the application process now. Failure to submit an application by this deadline and continued operation without a license may result in enforcement actions being taken against you.
For further information about debt collection licensing requirements please refer to the DFPI’s Debt Collectors web page and FAQs. To avoid missing important updates, you are strongly encouraged to check the DFPI website periodically and subscribe to the DFPI’s email subscription service.
Debt Collection Advisory Committee Hosts Second Public Meeting
On December 16, the DFPI will convene a meeting of the debt collection advisory committee, a seven-member board that provides critical feedback to the Department as it stands up its debt collection licensing program. The diverse group includes a consumer advocate and representatives from the debt collection, debt-buying, third-party collection, and collection law industries. The committee will advise Commissioner Clothilde V. Hewlett on matters related to the debt collection business, including proposed fee schedules and other requirements.
The committee members represent a cross-section of interested candidates; five are industry representatives, one is a consumer advocate, and one is a law and economics professor who studies the industry. The committee members were appointed by former Commissioner Alvarez for two-year terms pursuant to Financial Code section 100025 of the Debt Collection Licensing Act (DCLA).
The next meeting of the committee, which is open to the public, will take place on December 16 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. This meeting will be led by Senior Deputy Commissioner Suzanne Martindale. For information on how to join the meeting through Zoom or by telephone see our website for details.
Banks Must Submit Lists of Offices by Dec. 31
Pursuant to Financial Code section 1077, all commercial banks, industrial banks, and trust companies are required to file a list of all offices currently maintained and operated by the bank. The report shall designate the type and complete address of each such office. Please note this requirement does not apply to other licensee types, such as foreign banking organizations, credit unions, money transmitters, etc.
For the purposes of section 1077, please provide the DFPI the following information on or before Dec. 31, 2021:
- Name of bank
- Popular name of branch offices and facilities
- Office type (include the head office, branch, and facility locations; do not include free-standing ATMs)
- Street address, including city, state, country, and ZIP code.
Responses may be emailed to Licensing@dfpi.ca.gov or sent by regular mail to the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, One Sansome Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94104 Attn: Licensing Section.
For questions, please contact Patrick Carroll at Patrick.Carroll@dfpi.ca.gov or (415) 263-8559.
Meet with the Office of Financial Technology Innovation
The Department’s Office of Financial Technology Innovation (OFTI) holds weekly (virtual) Office Hours every Tuesday from 9 – 10 am PT and invites interested fintech leaders and entrepreneurs to visit. Please register in advance to reserve a 20-minute slot, offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are multiple benefits of meeting with the OFTI. You can share your company’s story in your way and on your terms. You can request information, such as an introduction to one of the Department’s subject matter experts. You can help make sure your regulator is informed and truly understands what you are trying to accomplish or what is happening in the market as you see it.
Interested? Register here: https://bit.ly/3G78ZIg. You may also schedule a longer meeting with the Office by emailing OFTI@dfpi.ca.gov or by using this form. To learn more about the Office and its work, please visit the OFTI webpage.
CSBS Community Bank Sentiment Index Survey
The DFPI encourages all banks to participate in the current Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) Community Bank Sentiment Index (CBSI) survey, which is open until December 31. Your response to the nine survey questions will provide critical insight into the economic outlook of community banks across the nation and take just a few moments to complete.
No preparation is required for this survey. Just open the link in the email that was sent to you on Dec 1 and answer the questions by giving your thoughts on the economy. Your response will give state regulators a sense of how community bankers feel about the economic outlook and provide critical insights on size and geography.
The CBSI survey captures what community bankers nationwide think about the future and is issued on a quarterly basis. Community bankers’ optimism dipped in the third quarter 2021 CBSI results, released in October, due to concerns about future profitability and business conditions. The results showed a 15 point drop in the sentiment index from the previous quarter.
This quarter’s survey will demonstrate whether that sentiment has changed as COVID-19 vaccines are more widely distributed. Results will be released in early January.
For more information about the survey, visit the CSBS website. To validate the legitimacy of this email and survey, please see the message on the CSBS homepage, www.csbs.org. You can also listen to a podcast about this critical survey. If you are a community banker who did not receive the email with the survey link, please contact Licensing@dfpi.ca.gov.
CCFPL Invitation for Comments Due Dec. 20
The California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL) allows the Department to register providers offering financial products and services to California consumers. In connection with registration, the DFPI can require registrants to provide records to facilitate oversight and help detect risks to consumers.
The proposed draft rules included with this Invitation for Comments propose registration requirements for four industries:
- Debt settlement services;
- Student debt relief services;
- Education financing; and
- Wage-based advances.
Commercial Bank Activity
Proposed location: Street address to be determined in the city of Irvine
Correspondent: James B. Jones
Carpenter & Company, 23 Corporate Plaza Drive, Suite 150, #D-11, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Acquisition of Control
Earle S. Wasserman, to acquire control of Mission Valley Bank
Pacific Valley Bancorp, to acquire control of Pacific Valley Bank
First Florida Integrity Bank, Naples, Florida, to merge with and into First Foundation Bank, Irvine, California
Pacific Enterprise Bank, Irvine, to merge with and into United Business Bank, Walnut Creek
Suncrest Bank, Visalia, to merge with and into Citizens Business Bank, Ontario
Premium Finance Company Activity
New Premium Finance Company
EVT Premium Finance, Inc.
660 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach
Credit Union Activity
Pacific Federal Credit Union, Diamond Bar, to merge with and into Arrowhead Central Credit Union, Rancho Cucamonga
Foreign (Other State) Bank Activity
BAWAG P.S.K. Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft und Österreichische Postsparkasse Aktiengesellschaft
521 Boccaccio Avenue, Venice (Representative Office)
Voluntary Surrender of License
Banco Santander, S.A.
169 University Avenue, Palo Alto, Santa Clara County (Representative Office)
Money Transmitter Activity
Figure Payments Corporation
TapTap Send Payments Co.
Acquisition of Control
HS Investments EFP II Limited, to acquire control of Mezu (NA), Inc.
Milanita Medina, to acquire control of Lucky Money, Inc.
Visa Open Connect Limited, to acquire control of The Currency Cloud Inc.
CLOTHILDE V. HEWLETT • Commissioner of The Department of Financial Protection and Innovation
The December 2021 Monthly Bulletin covers the month ended November 30, 2021.
It is issued pursuant to Financial Code section 376.
The Monthly Bulletin is available at no charge via e-mail.
To subscribe, go to: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/CADFI/subscriber/new.