The Forum’s COVID Update: Issue #3

21 May 2020

Putting Our Strength to Work to Support the Economy

Our members continue to take steps to support the U.S. economy by serving our customers and clients, especially those who are small business owners. As of this week, Forum members have helped support more than 750,000 small businesses through the government-led Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Of the loans provided by Forum members through PPP, the majority have been for less than $100,000, more than half have been to small businesses with less than five employees, and nearly half of these loans have been for less than $25,000. See more about Forum members’ support of small businesses through PPP here

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Forum CEO Kevin Fromer also appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell this week to highlight the work being done by Forum member institutions – including facilitating PPP loans to small businesses and focusing on using their strong capital liquidity to support the economy. 

“As we went into this period, each of these institutions was in extremely strong shape from a capital/liquidity standpoint,” Fromer said. “Their focus has been how to use that strength to support the economy.”  (More in the Forum’s Press Room)

Forum Spotlight: Goldman Sachs Deploys $500 Million to Small Businesses Across the U.S.

In 2009, Goldman Sachs launched 10,000 Small Businesses to help thousands and thousands of small businesses across the country grow their business and create new jobs. One of those business owners is Rhonda Findley, co-owner of Funrock’n, a gift shop in hard-hit New Orleans. Rhonda’s business has been shut since St. Patrick’s Day, and has had to lay off her entire staff, including herself.  

To get capital to business owners like Rhonda, Goldman Sachs made a capital commitment of $500 million to small businesses across the country. The company is leveraging its long-standing network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to ensure small businesses nationwide are reached, and rapidly deploying lending capital and grants in underserved communities.

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As of May 15, through partnerships with CDFIs, Goldman Sachs reached more than 8,000 small businesses through this program, providing an average loan of $61,285. Recipients had a median of three employees, with 33 percent of loans reaching low income communities and roughly half reaching majority minority areas. In addition to loan capital, Goldman Sachs is providing grant funding to enable CDFIs to hire necessary staff and set up additional operations to help as many businesses as possible. (More from Goldman Sachs)

Forum Analysis: Fed Report Underscores Strength of Large U.S. Banks

Last week, the Federal Reserve issued its biannual Financial Stability Report which provides an overview of the health of the U.S. financial system. Recognizing the unprecedented economic challenges rapidly brought on by the current global health pandemic, the report makes clear that large U.S. financial institutions entered this crisis on strong footing and are well positioned to support the economy and continue to serve customers, business, and communities across the country.  

The Fed recognized banks’ strong liquidity positions – or the way we measure the efficacy of a banks’ ability to accommodate requests for funding from customers – in the fourth quarter of 2019 noting that at most large banks, liquid asset positions exceeded regulatory requirements significantly.”

This was echoed in the first quarter of 2020, with Forum member firms reporting strong liquidity positions averaging 117 percent of their minimum requirements in their Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) disclosures. Over the last decade, the eight Forum banks in total have more than doubled their liquidity

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The Fed also highlighted banks’ strong capital levels saying, “regulatory capital ratios stayed well above their required minimum levels.” Capital serves as cushion for banks and allows them to absorb unexpected losses. Over the past decade, Forum members increased their Tier 1 capital by more than 40 percent. 

These are positive, collective actions taken by banks of all sizes and show that the U.S. financial system and in particular, Forum member firms, are well positioned to support the economy and the country as we weather this global pandemic in the months ahead. – Grant Bodnar, Forum Research Analyst (More from the Financial Stability Report)

Forum Spotlight: Wells Fargo Supports Community Relief Efforts

In addition to providing relief to millions of customers through fee waivers and forbearance, Wells Fargo has redirected $175 million of its more than $400 million annual philanthropic budget to COVID‑19 community relief efforts for the most impacted Americans. Since then, the company has worked to streamline grant making and offer highly flexible funding to nearly 1,000 nonprofits reaching more than 800 communities across the country.

The program is making a difference in helping those who need it most access small business resources, stay in their homes and access financial health resources. In Alabama, a $100,000 grant to the Birmingham Strong Fund is providing emergency loans to small businesses to help stabilize employment, stimulate economic vitality, and offset losses related to COVID‑19. A $100,000 grant to United Way of Greater Los Angeles has helped the group create the Pandemic Relief Fund to support vulnerable populations who are at the greatest risk of health and economic impacts in this crisis. A $160,000 grant to the Institute of Community Alliances is providing rental assistance to shelter residents across the state of Iowa.

A woman wearing a hoodie, a face mask, and gloves holds up a bag with possibly a towel in it and a piece of paper with images of a man putting on a face mask
Vanessa Romo from Safe Place for Youth picks up shipments of critical supplies, including masks, towels, and hand sanitizer from the United Way of Greater LA.

“These grants will help communities respond to nonprofits, small businesses, and people they serve who are losing money, struggling to provide for others, seeing an increased demand for services, and facing other challenges as a result of COVID-19,” said Jimmie Paschall, interim president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. (More from Wells Fargo)