The March 2022 DFPI Bulletin focuses on a DFPI guidance regarding Russian sanctions, a statewide communications campaign, and the third round of CalMoney Smart grants, among other topics.

Editor’s note — The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI, formerly the Department of Business Oversight) supervises, licenses, and regulates a variety of financial institutions, including some real estate mortgage loan originators (MLOs) holding a Nationwide Multistate (or Mortgage) Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) license. Alongside the California Department of Real Estate (DRE), the DFPI shares the responsibility for overseeing MLOs depending on their license use.

Licensees, stay informed of March 2022’s MLO news and events below.

Guidance on Russian Sanctions

On March 4, 2022, DFPI Commissioner Cloey Hewlett issued guidance to banks, credit unions, money transmitters, and other financial institutions, reminding them to be mindful of an elevated cybersecurity risk following the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine and Russia. This guidance does not supersede any reporting requirements in the event of a cybersecurity incident.

All DFPI-licensed financial institutions are subject to the regulations issued by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. The DFPI guidance notes that the targets of such sanctions could be using virtual currency to circumvent those sanctions. An elevated cybersecurity risk posed by the war in Ukraine also requires licensees to take steps to mitigate cybersecurity threats and take measures to further segregate networks for Ukrainian and Russian offices.

As a reminder, licensed depository institutions are to report cyber security incidents to the DFPI and their primary federal regulator. Incidents should be reported as soon as possible, once the institution is aware of them. The DFPI is interested in receiving notices of malicious cyber activity even if it does not result in a reportable incident, especially if it is attributable to Russia or Eastern Europe at this time. Please refer to this Notice to DBO of Extraordinary Events of Public Interest for additional information.

Statewide Communications Campaign

 In an effort to reach all Californians, the DFPI has formally launched a statewide communications campaign with a new social media, digital advertisements, and website landing pages rollout — available in multiple languages.

This statewide communications campaign will include outdoor advertisements, as well as print and radio spots, media roundtable discussions with major news organizations, and more. All stakeholders, including DFPI licensees, are encouraged to follow the DFPI on social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn) and help them to amplify this critical information to consumers.

Third Round of CalMoneySmart Grants

On February 28, 2022, the DFPI began a third round of applications for the CalMoneySmart grants that support financial empowerment and education programs for unbanked California consumers.

The grants of up to $100,000 ($1 million per year) to nonprofit organizations help to provide lower-cost financial services, establish and improve credit, increase savings or reduce debt for unbanked California consumers. In July 2021, Assembly Bill 137 increased the total amount available for grants to $2 million annually, with a maximum of $200,000 awarded to each nonprofit.

This is the third year of grant funding. Last year, the program awarded nearly $2 million to 22 nonprofit organizations, serving 30 counties across the state. For the next round of grants, all CalMoneySmart applications must be submitted by April 29, 2022. The DFPI expects to announce the 2022-23 grantees in July.

On March 23, 2022 from 4 – 5 p.m. PST, the DFPI will host an informational webinar for prospective grantees to ask questions and receive information on the program.

Additional information on the grant program can be found on the DFPI website or CalMoneySmart’s Facebook page.

Questions, comments may be submitted at

The DFPI’s newly promoted Financial Institutions Managers

Tianxi Zheng, Derek Nelson, and Mohammed Noor were each promoted to the position of Financial Institutions Manager – Portfolio Manager in the San Francisco, Sacramento, and Orange County/San Diego Banking Division offices, respectively. For Zheng and Nelson, their promotions were effective as of March 2, 2022. For Noor, his position was effective as of March 14, 2022.

Tianxi has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Math and an MBA with a concentration in Finance. Tianxi joined the Department in 2012 as a Financial Institutions Examiner (FIE) and was later promoted to the position of Senior FIE in 2015.  For the last several years, he has been working in the Large Bank Examination Program and has been the dedicated EIC for Bank of the West. Tianxi was also a recipient of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) scholarship and attended the Graduate School of Banking in Colorado, graduating in 2019.

Derek has a Bachelor of Science with a finance concentration from Sacramento State University. He joined the Department in 2005 as a Financial Institutions Examiner (FIE) in the Sacramento office. Derek was later promoted to the position of Senior FIE in 2009 and FIM-Examinations Manager in 2017.  He also received a CSBS scholarship to attend the Graduate School of Banking in Colorado, graduating in 2013.

Mohammad graduated from Cal State Long Beach and joined the department as a Financial Institutions Examiner (FIE) in 2005, then promoted to Senior FIE in 2014. Mohammad attended and graduated from the Pacific Coast Banking School in 2018 after receiving a CSBS Graduate School of Banking scholarship. Mohammad has served in dedicated key roles within the Large Bank Supervision Program as well as helped to develop guidance for examining financial institutions that service Cannabis Related Businesses.

That’s a wrap on the March 2022 DFPI Bulletin. Find out more about the topics mentioned here by reading the full bulletin on the DFPI website.