Agents of Change
One of these longstanding companies in our area is Federal Home Loan Bank Topeka, a bank with almost $50 billion in assets that many Topekans have never heard of.
FHLBank is not a traditional bank that lends money to individuals. Instead, it is a privately-owned, federally chartered corporation that provides wholesale products and services to its members—community banks, credit unions and insurance companies. The services offered by FHLBank help local financial institutions expand the availability of mortgage credit, compete more effectively in their markets, and foster strong and vibrant communities.
Congress established the system of home loan banks in 1932 to promote homeownership throughout the country. For 85 years, FHLBank has changed directions, grown and created a lasting impression of how a company should impact its community.
“We bring Wall Street to Main Street,” said Mark Yardley, President, and CEO of FHLBank. “We make money available to our members and they take it back to use in their communities.”
EXPANSION FHLBank is beginning 2018 with a big move to a brand-new building. Previously located in the Security Benefit building on Sixth Street, the FHLBank has moved just across the street into a newly constructed state-of-the-art building located at 500 SW Wanamaker. Over the years, the FHLBank’s board of directors has evaluated whether to move out of Topeka or even out of state but has always concluded that FHLBank is best served by staying in Topeka.
“Topeka has been good for us,” Yardley said. “When we moved into the Security Benefit building in 2002 we thought we had plenty of room. Eventually, we took another floor and were still busting at the seams.”
The new building signifies the FHLBank’s vision for the future and its goal to have more collaboration within the company and the community.
COLLABORATION & FLEXIBILITY Over the last 85 years the company has seen significant growth, and the new building had to accommodate a bigger company and create a space that encourages team thinking for even bigger ideas.
The new building offers more than just collaborative space. It also has a fitness and activity room to promote wellness. The workspace was designed with the ability to move components around to continually create different spaces.
Yardley says flexibility is key, especially when dealing in a world that is constantly changing and connecting with members throughout its district and investors all over the world.
“Things are only going to change more,” Yardley said. “Look at where we’re at right now. Look at how we use our mobile devices to share everything. We are a very conservative business, but we still have to adjust to the needs of our members.”
PARTNERSHIP Partnership is one of the company’s core values. Giving back to the community and seeking collaboration with organizations on a variety of projects is part of FHLBank’s long-range vision. That is why employees are given generous volunteer time to work in the community.
“We have a lot of people that love working here because of the things we do,” Yardley said. “We are looking for community connections that are good for us and our business partners.”
Yardley says FHLBank strives to create a strong and healthy community that in turn helps the company—a strong business ecosystem.
“We are always doing more to give back,” Yardley said. “Pat Doran (Executive Vice President at FHLBank) has been very active in the community, and some of his efforts and outreach have positioned us to collaborate on several local projects like the Jayhawk Theater and Momentum 2022.”
PROGRESS Yardley says he is also excited about the many changes happening in Topeka, especially with Greater Topeka Partnership’s efforts to address the community’s competitiveness.
“We’re really behind the Momentum 2022 effort,” Yardley said. “The downtown redevelopment we see happening is exciting, and we think they’re going to make some progress.”
Yardley says watching the changes happening in Topeka and being able to be a part of that progress fuels the desire to create a community that future FHLBank employees will want to live in. Through collaboration on community initiatives and working with educational opportunities in the area, Yardley says FHLBank hopes to create another successful 85 years.
FHL Bank Timeline
1930s July 22, 1932—Federal legislation signed by Herbert Hoover establishes a system of 12 regional banks across the United States designed to loan funds to savings and loan associations to help stabilize the housing and mortgage markets.
October 15, 1932—FHLBank Topeka opened its doors in downtown Topeka with six employees and several million dollars in capital.
1969—Overnight deposits introduced.
1980s 1980—FHLBank begins check processing.
1989—The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) passed. FHLBank membership was now open to all federally insured depository institutions, including commercial banks and credit unions. (Thrifts and insurance companies were eligible members from the start.)
1990s 1990—FHLBank began its affordable housing and community investment programs. The Affordable Housing Program (AHP) is the largest privately-funded housing grant program in the United States. FHLBank Topeka sets aside 10% of its earnings each year for the program and partners with its members and public and private housing development organizations to provide: (1) grants of up to $750,000 per project to help fill financing gaps on low-income owner and rental housing initiatives; and (2) down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers through its Homeownership Set-Aside Program (HSP – see below).
1990—As a result of FIRREA, membership grew rapidly from 111 members in 1990 to 759 members in 1999.
1997—FHLBank introduced the Rural First-time Homebuyer Program, now called HSP, covering rural and urban areas. The HSP helps potential homebuyers cover down payment and closing costs. The HSP currently offers $5,000 grants to eligible first-time homebuyers. FHLBank HISTORICAL TIMELINE MILESTONES
1998—Check processing division sold to Fiserv.
1999—The Mortgage Partnership Finance (MPF) Program was introduced. The MPF Program promotes access to the secondary market for its members, but especially for small and mid-sized financial institutions
2000s 2002—FHLBank Topeka moved from downtown to the Security Benefit building on the west side of town.
2010s January 2017—Mark Yardley named President and CEO. He’s only the sixth president in FHLBank's 85-year history.
January 2018—FHLBank moved across the street to a newly constructed location at 500 SW Wanamaker.