Monthly Bulletin – September 2023
Volume 11, Number 2
DFPI Launches $7.25 Million Student Loan Empowerment Project Grant Program
On Sept. 7, the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced the launch of the Student Loan Empowerment (SLE) Project, a new $7.25 million grant program that will support nonprofit organizations delivering education, counseling, and legal assistance programs for Californians with student loans.
The SLE Project will award $7.25 million to nonprofit organizations that submit the best proposals for how they will support the development and execution of at least one of two grant streams: Network Coordination grants will fund organizations providing coordination and support for the SLE Project network, and Service Partner grants will fund community-based, individualized education and counseling or legal services to help borrowers manage their student loans.
In California, nearly four million borrowers owe $156 billion in federal and private student loans. These borrowers are faced with navigating a complex and confusing repayment system and a student loan market plagued with predatory practices. Additionally, borrowers with private loans do not have repayment protections under federal law to help them manage their loans.
The grant program was created as part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2022-2023 Budget, which also included $2.75 million for a statewide marketing and communication campaign focused on student loan borrower education and outreach to further the state’s commitment to providing Californians who hold student loans with vital information about their rights and options.
SLE Project applications must be submitted by Oct. 18, 2023. The application can be found at dfpi.grantplatform.com. For questions, comments, or help, please contact email@example.com.
Student Loan Repayment Restart Webinar
On Sep. 13, DFPI will host a student loan educational webinar with nationally recognized student loan expert Betsy Mayotte from The Institute of Student Loan Advisers (TSLA). The webinar is open to the public and will provide information on how to prepare to effectively manage student loans and cover resources, tools, repayment options, and other strategies as well as any new guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. Register for this free event.
Financial Education Webinar Series
On Sept. 20, the DFPI Education and Outreach unit continues its monthly Financial Education Webinar Series for 2023 with a webinar on financial fraud. “Protect Yourself from Fraud and Scams” will feature guest speakers DFPI outreach specialists Sally Westlake, Katie Carruesco, and Antonia Villasenor discussing protection from identity theft, romance scams, phishing emails, and more. To register.
CalMoneySmart Financial Education Grants Awarded
On Aug. 17, the DFPI announced the award of CalMoneySmart grants to 15 nonprofit organizations across California, expanding the reach of the program to 28 counties, the largest number to date. Grant funding of $1,999,627 was awarded to organizations to provide web- and classroom-based content, individualized coaching, and innovative financial products. This year’s program launched in April 2023, garnering 101 grant proposals from state and national nonprofits by the end of the application period. Each grant proposal was evaluated for eligibility and program effectiveness, and an external Steering Committee participated in the evaluation process to provide expertise and ensure the grant awards represent the needs of unbanked and underbanked communities across California.
A full list of awardees is posted to the DFPI website. More information on CalMoneySmart can be found at dfpi.ca.gov/calmoneysmart. For questions, comments, or help, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
DFPI Launches New Self-Service Complaint Portal
On August 28, DFPI successfully launched its new cloud-based Self-Service Complaint Portal, dfpi.ca.gov/submit-a-complaint/, marking a significant upgrade from the legacy online form. This platform empowers consumers by offering a convenient and secure method to submit complaints, streamlining the process, and ensuring timely resolution.
With its user-friendly features and robust security measures, the new complaint portal significantly enhances the consumer experience. DFPI remains committed to delivering exceptional service and is excited to leverage this advanced technology to efficiently address the multitude of consumer concerns.
Some Escrow Reports Due Sept. 13
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 May 31, 2023, your annual report is due Sept. 13, 2023. 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 a prompt an immediate examination (Financial Code section 17602.5).
For questions about the annual reports, email Escrow.Licensing@dfpi.ca.gov.
CSBS Community Bank Sentiment Index Survey
Banks are encouraged to participate in the 2nd quarter 2023 Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) Community Bank Sentiment Index (CBSI) survey, which is open until September 30. The survey gauges the economic outlook of community banks across the nation on a quarterly basis.
The CBSI captures what community bankers nationwide think about the future and is included in the Federal Reserve Economic Data, the online database maintained by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, known informally as the FRED. Responses are analyzed and compiled into a single number. Anything above 100 indicates a positive sentiment, and anything below 100 indicates a negative sentiment.
Last quarter, the CBSI fell to 73, This represents a negative reading in economic sentiment by community bankers and is ten points below the index reading for the prior quarter, falling to its lowest level since the survey began in 2019. For more information about the CBSI, visit: csbs.org/cbindex. You can also listen to a podcast about the CBSI here.
DFPI Finalizes Commercial Financing “UDAAP” Rules
On Aug. 2, 2023, the Office of Administrative Law approved the DFPI’s proposed adoption of regulations under the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL) concerning the offering and provision of commercial financing and other financial products and services to small businesses, nonprofits, and family farms (PRO 02-21).
The DFPI rules make California the first in the nation to police abusive acts and practices in commercial financing. The new regulations define unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices (UDAAP) in relation to commercial financing and require unlicensed commercial financing providers to annually report the cost of their financing products to the DFPI.
The regulations become effective on October 1, 2023. The first annual report required to be filed under these regulations will cover activity during 2024 and will be due no later than March 15, 2025. The final text and related documents can be found on the DFPI’s website under “Final Regulations.”
Governor’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence (AI)
On Sept. 6, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order laying out how California will deal with the topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) through a measured approach focusing on shaping the future of ethical, transparent, and trustworthy AI, while remaining the world’s AI leader. The executive order initiates study of the development, use, and risks of AI technology throughout the state and to develop a deliberate and responsible process for evaluation and deployment of AI within state government.
To deploy Generative Artificial Intelligence (“GenAI”) ethically and responsibly throughout state government, protect and prepare for potential harms, and remain the world’s AI leader, the Governor’s executive order includes a number of provisions:
- Risk-Analysis Report
- Procurement Blueprint
- Beneficial Uses of GenAI Report
- Deployment and Analysis Framework
- State Employee Training
- Legislative Engagement
- Evaluate Impacts of AI on an Ongoing Basis
California has established itself as the world leader in GenAI innovation with 35 of the world’s top 50 AI companies and a quarter of all AI patents, conference papers, and companies globally. California is also home to world-leading GenAI research institutions – the University of California, Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society and Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence – providing a unique opportunity for academic research and government collaboration.
The Executive Order establishes a formal partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University to consider and evaluate the impacts of GenAI on California and what efforts the state should undertake to advance its leadership in this industry. The state and the institutions will develop and host a joint summit in 2024 to engage in meaningful discussions about the impacts of GenAI on California and its workforce.
Commissioner Issues 2023 Broker-Dealer/Investment Adviser Program Report
The DFPI has posted the 2023 Report on the Broker-Dealer/Investment Adviser Program as required by the Budget Act of 2014. The report is delivered to the Legislature and Department of Finance each year.
The report includes information on the number of positions authorized and filled, the number and share of licensees examined, outcomes of examinations, and estimated staffing levels needed to meet statutorily-required examination cycles.
NASAA Annual Conference
The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) is the host agency for this year’s North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) 2023 Fall Annual Meeting. This premier event for securities regulators and the financial services industry is being held, Sept. 10-12, at the InterContinental Hotel in San Diego. This year’s theme is “Modernizing Investor Protection for the Digital Age” which recognizes the visionary and vital role of state securities regulators in investor protection during an evolution in investment offerings and services. DFPI Commissioner Clothilde Hewlett was asked to give welcoming remarks and moderate a panel discussion on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Capital Markets. Other panel topics address modernizing investor protection, DIY investing, and trends in enforcement actions.
NASAA Launches Exam Validity Extension Program
On Aug. 30, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) launched the Exam Validity Extension Program (EVEP). The EVEP provides eligible individuals with the opportunity to extend the validity of their Series 63 examination for up to five years while not registered with a jurisdiction.
Eligible individuals may enroll in the EVEP through their Financial Professional Gateway (FinPro) account to extend their Series 63 examination validity, for up to five years by paying an annual fee of $35 and maintaining compliance with program requirements. Importantly, while all eligible individuals can enroll in the program, exam validity extensions will only be recognized when an individual reenters the industry and registers in states that have adopted the program.
NASAA is also developing a similar program for investment adviser representatives to extend their NASAA qualification exam (IAR EVEP), the Series 65, with enrollments beginning later this year. To extend both parts of the Series 66 exam, an individual must enroll in both programs, AG EVEP and IAR EVEP, to extend both Series 63 and Series 65 Credits, if applicable. More information, including updates on state adoption, can be found here.
The updates should not be interpreted as new instructions or increased focus on certain areas; instead, they offer further transparency into the examination process and support risk-focused examination work. Details are available at https://bsaaml.ffiec.gov.
Commercial Bank Activity
Icon Business Bank
3390 University Avenue, Riverside
Phone #: (888) 383-1954
Ernest Hwang, President & CEO
Philippe Masbanji, Chief Financial Officer
Laronda Fischer-Rogers, Chief Credit Officer
Acquisition of Control
Big Poppy Holdings, Inc., to acquire control of Summit State Bank
Banc of California, National Association, Santa Ana, to merge with and into Pacific Western Bank, Beverly Hills, with a change of name to Banc of California
Premium Finance Company Activity
New Premium Finance Company
Ethos Premium Financing, Inc.
660 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach
Premium Financial Partners CO.
5455 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
Credit Union Activity
Airco Federal Credit Union, Pasadena, to merge with and into Arrowhead Central Credit Union, Rancho Cucamonga
Central Coast Federal Credit Union, Seaside, to merge with and into Wescom Central Credit Union, Pasadena
SafeAmerica Credit Union, Pleasanton, California, to merge with and into Pentagon Federal Credit Union, McLean, Virginia
CoastHills Credit Union, Santa Maria, to convert to federal charter
Money Transmitter Activity
Brex Payments LLC
Hopper Money (USA), Inc.
Inmar Services LLC
Rippling Payments, Inc.
Twitter Payments LLC
Acquisition of Control
Spectrum Purchaser, LLC to acquire control of PNC Global Transfers, Inc.
Change of Name
Kaah Express F.S. Inc., to change its name to Ramad Pay Inc.
Envios de Valores La Nacional Corp.
Integrated Payment Systems, Inc.
CLOTHILDE V. HEWLETT Commissioner, Department of Financial Protection and Innovation
The September 2023 Monthly Bulletin covers the month ended August 31, 2023.
It is issued pursuant to Financial Code section 376.
The Monthly Bulletin is available at no charge via e-mail.
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