Wolters Kluwer Financial Services Announces Winners of its 2014 Community Impact Award

Minneapolis, MN - 4 November 2014

BMO Harris Bank N.A., Washington Financial Bank Recognized at 18th Annual CRA & Fair Lending Colloquium 

Wolters Kluwer Financial Services today named Washington Financial Bank of Washington, Pa. and Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank N.A. as winners of its 2014 Community Impact Award. The awards honor bank compliance professionals for their innovative application of community development programs and the Community Reinvestment Act in communities where they operate.

The announcement was made at the company’s 18th annual CRA & Fair Lending Colloquium, held at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. The Colloquium brings together federal regulators, attorneys, bank compliance officers and other industry experts for insights on navigating the increasingly complex regulatory and risk management landscape facing financial institutions today.

The Community Impact Award is bestowed each year “to dedicated compliance professionals and their institutions,” to honor “outstanding and innovative efforts in furtherance of the goals of the Community Reinvestment Act.” The Award also is intended to encourage innovative community lending and to provide the financial industry with examples of superb programs that have made a large impact on underserved communities.

Washington Financial Bank won in the small bank category for its work with Highland Ridge Community Development in promoting the Mending Fences program, a service that provides homeowners with critical repairs, accessibility modifications, and energy-efficient upgrades for low-income homes at no cost to service recipients in the city of Washington.

“Our partnership promotes home improvements designed to make residents’ homes safer, which enables independent living,” said Christina Oravetz, assistant vice president, compliance manager and CRA officer for Washington Financial Bank. “We are pleased to be able to make a real difference in peoples’ lives through this partnership.”

BMO Harris Bank won in the large bank category for fostering economic development and homeownership through programs such as its Individual Development Account initiatives with non-profit partners. The IDA relationship between BMO Harris and non-profit partner agencies incents clients to develop good savings habits and focus on specific financial goals, such as for educational expenses or purchasing a home. Clients open an IDA with a participating bank and, once their savings goals are met, the non-profit agency disburses funds from the IDA, together with appropriate matching grant money.

“Through our CRA initiatives, we’ve been able to move the needle significantly for clients in our area,” said Sue Whitson, certified regulatory compliance manager, vice president, CRA governance manager for BMO Harris.

“Banks have immense power to positively impact the communities where they operate,” said Heather Czermak, general manager for Wolters Kluwer Financial Services’ Consumer Compliance business, which includes the provider’s CRA solutions. “It is a great pleasure to recognize the work of these two institutions to deploy innovative methods to reach and positively impact their clients, especially those in low to moderate income areas.”

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