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UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549 
FORM 10-K 
      Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. 
For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2023
OR 
      Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. 
     For the transition period from _____ to _____      
Commission File No. 001-34582 
capturea09.jpg
NORTHWEST BANCSHARES, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)  
Maryland27-0950358
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)(I.R.S. Employer Identification Number)
3 Easton Oval,Suite 500,Columbus,Ohio43219
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)(Zip Code)
 (814) 726-2140
(Registrant’s telephone number) 
Securities Registered Pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act: 
 Title of each class
                              Trading symbol(s)
                       Name of each exchange on which registered
 Common Stock, $0.01 Par Value                           NWBI                           NASDAQ Stock Market, LLC
Securities Registered Pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes   No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.  Yes   No
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding twelve months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes   No  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes   No  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. 
        Large accelerated filer         Accelerated filer
        Non-accelerated filer         Smaller reporting company
                Emerging growth company
    If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  
     If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.  Yes  No  
Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant's executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b).  Yes  No  

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).  Yes  No  
As of February 20, 2024, there were 127,112,705 shares outstanding of the Registrant’s Common Stock. 
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, computed by reference to the last sale price on June 30, 2023, as reported by the Nasdaq Global Select Market, was approximately $1.347 billion. 
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE 
Proxy Statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders of the Registrant (Part III).

Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
EX — 101
EX — 104
1

Table of Contents
FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
 
This document contains forward-looking statements, which can be identified by the use of words such as “estimate,” “project,” “believe,” “intend,” “anticipate,” “plan,” “seek,” “expect” and words of similar meaning. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:
statements of our goals, intentions and expectations;
statements regarding our business plans, prospects, growth and operating strategies;
statements regarding the asset quality of our loan and investment portfolios; and
estimates of our risks and future costs and benefits.
 These forward-looking statements are based on current beliefs and expectations of our management and are inherently subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond our control. In addition, these forward-looking statements are subject to assumptions with respect to future business strategies and decisions that are subject to change. 
    The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ materially from the anticipated results or other expectations expressed in the forward-looking statements:

inflation and changes in the interest rate environment that reduce our margins, our loan origination, or the fair value of financial instruments;
changes in asset quality, including increases in default rates on loans and higher levels of nonperforming loans and loan charge-offs generally;
changes in laws or government regulations or policies affecting financial institutions, including changes in regulatory fees and capital requirements;
changes in federal, state, or local tax laws and tax rates;
general economic conditions, either nationally or in our market areas, that are different than expected, including inflationary or recessionary pressures;
adverse changes in the securities and credit markets;
cyber-security concerns, including an interruption or breach in the security of our website or other information systems;
technological changes that may be more difficult or expensive than expected;
changes in liquidity, including the size and composition of our deposit portfolio, and the percentage of uninsured deposits in the portfolio;
the ability of third-party providers to perform their obligations to us;
competition among depository and other financial institutions, including with respect to deposit gathering, service charges and fees;
our ability to enter new markets successfully and capitalize on growth opportunities;
our ability to manage our internal growth and our ability to successfully integrate acquired entities, businesses or branch offices;
changes in consumer spending, borrowing and saving habits;
our ability to continue to increase and manage our commercial and personal loans;
possible impairments of securities held by us, including those issued by government entities and government sponsored enterprises;
changes in the value of our goodwill or other intangible assets;
the impact of the economy on our loan portfolio (including cash flow and collateral values), investment portfolio, customers and capital market activities;
our ability to receive regulatory approvals for proposed transactions or new lines of business;
the effects of any federal government shutdown or the inability of the federal government to manage debt limits;
changes in the financial performance and/or condition of our borrowers;
the effect of changes in accounting policies and practices, as may be adopted by the regulatory agencies, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) and other accounting standard setters.
changes in the level and direction of loan delinquencies and write-offs and changes in estimates of the adequacy of the allowance for credit losses;
our ability to access cost-effective funding;
the effect of global or national war, conflict, or terrorism;
our ability to manage market risk, credit risk and operational risk;
the disruption to local, regional, national and global economic activity caused by infectious disease outbreaks, and the significant impact that any such outbreaks may have on our growth, operations and earnings;
the effects of natural disasters and extreme weather events;
changes in our ability to continue to pay dividends, either at current rates or at all;
our ability to retain key employees; and
our compensation expense associated with equity allocated or awarded to our employees.
Because of these and other uncertainties, our actual future results may be materially different from the results indicated by these forward-looking statements. Please see “Item 1A. Risk Factors”.
Except as may be required by law, we disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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ITEM 1.                                                BUSINESS
 
Northwest Bancshares, Inc.
 
Northwest Bancshares, Inc., a Maryland corporation, was incorporated in 2009 to be the successor corporation to Northwest Bancorp, Inc., the former stock holding company for Northwest Bank, upon completion of the mutual-to-stock conversion of Northwest Bancorp, MHC. The terms “Northwest”, “the Company”, “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Northwest Bancshares, Inc., unless indicated otherwise by the context.

The conversion was completed in 2009 when the Company sold 68,878,267 shares of common stock at $10.00 per share in the related offering. Concurrent with the completion of the offering, shares of Northwest Bancorp, Inc. common stock owned by public stockholders were exchanged for shares of Northwest Bancshares, Inc.’s common stock. We also issued 1,277,565 shares of common stock and contributed $1.0 million in cash from the offering proceeds to Northwest Charitable Foundation, a charitable foundation that we established for the benefit of the communities in which Northwest Bank operates. As of December 31, 2023, the Company had 127,110,453 shares outstanding and a market capitalization of approximately $1.586 billion.
    
Our executive offices are located at 3 Easton Oval, Suite 500, Columbus, Ohio 43219. We also maintain administrative offices located at 100 Liberty Street, Warren, Pennsylvania 16365. The telephone number for these addresses is (814) 726-2140.
 
The Company’s website (www.northwest.com) contains a direct link to Northwest Bancshares, Inc.’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including copies of annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to these filings, if any. Information on our website shall not be considered a part of this report. Copies of our filings may be obtained, without charge, by written request to Shareholder Relations, 100 Liberty Street, P.O. Box 128, Warren, Pennsylvania 16365, or emailing shareholderrelations@northwest.com.
 
Northwest Bank
 
Northwest Bank is a Pennsylvania-chartered savings bank headquartered in Warren, Pennsylvania, which is located in northwestern Pennsylvania. Northwest Bank is a community-oriented financial institution offering personal and business banking solutions, investment management and trust services. Northwest Bank’s mutual savings bank predecessor was founded in 1896.
 
As of December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank operated 142 community-banking locations throughout its market area in Pennsylvania, western New York, eastern Ohio, and Indiana. Our principal lending activities are the origination of loans secured by first mortgages on owner-occupied, one-to-four-family residences, shorter term consumer loans, and commercial business and commercial real estate loans.
 
Our principal sources of funds are personal and business deposits, borrowed funds and the principal and interest payments on loans and marketable securities. Our principal source of income is interest received on loans and marketable securities. Our principal expenses are the cost of employee compensation and benefits and the interest paid on deposits and borrowed funds.
 
Northwest Bank’s principal executive office is located at 100 Liberty Street, Warren, Pennsylvania 16365, and the telephone number at that address is (814) 726-2140.

Market Area and Competition
 
Northwest Bank is headquartered in northwestern Pennsylvania and has expanded primarily through acquisitions, into the southwestern and central regions of Pennsylvania, as well as western New York, northeastern Ohio, and Indiana. As of December 31, 2023, we operated 142 community banking locations across these market areas. All of the aforementioned market areas are served by a number of competing financial institutions. As a result, we encounter strong competition both in attracting deposits and in originating loans. Our most direct competition for deposits comes from other banks, brokerage houses and credit unions in our market areas. We expect continued competition from these financial institutions in the foreseeable future. With the continued acceptance of internet banking by our customers and consumers generally, competition for deposits has increased from institutions operating outside of our market area.

    The following description of our market area is based upon information obtained from SNL Securities, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Housing Financial Agency and the Mortgage Bankers Association.         
            
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Pennsylvania Market Area. Our retail branch network of 83 community banking offices within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania encompasses 23 counties. Our western Pennsylvania market has a diverse economy driven by healthcare and education industries, service businesses, technology companies and small manufacturing operations. Our southeastern Pennsylvania market is primarily driven by service businesses but also serves as a bedroom community to the cities of Baltimore, Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
 
Our Pennsylvania market area has a total population of approximately 4.3 million and total households of approximately 1.8 million as of December 31, 2023. The Pennsylvania markets in which we operate our retail branches contain approximately half of Pennsylvania’s population and a similar percentage of households. These markets have experienced a 1.5% decrease in population between 2020 and 2024. As of December 31, 2023, the market’s average median household income has increased over the last year by 6.7%, to $67,574, compared to the national median income level of $75,874. The household income growth rate in Pennsylvania of 10.3%, is projected to be slightly higher than the national average growth rates during the next five years of 10.1%. As of December 31, 2023, the market’s unemployment rate was 2.8%, slightly lower than both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania rate of 3.5% and the national average of 3.7%.
 
As of September 30, 2023, the most recent date for which data is available, the House Price Index for the last four quarters in the state of Pennsylvania increased by 8.1%, compared to an increase in the national average of 5.5%. As of September 30, 2023, the foreclosure rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four unit residential properties in the state of Pennsylvania was one in every 1,324 housing units, compared to the national average of one in every 1,389 housing units.

Western New York Market Area. Our retail branch network of 28 community banking offices in New York encompasses four counties in the western portion of the state. This market has a diverse economy driven by healthcare and education industries, service businesses, technology companies and small manufacturing operations. 
 
Our New York market area has a total population of approximately 2.0 million and total households of approximately 864,000 as of December 31, 2023. This area has experienced an decrease in population between 2020 and 2024, of 0.7%. The average median household income in this market increased by 0.6% over the last year to $65,563 as of December 31, 2023, compared to the national median income level of $75,874. As of December 31, 2023, the unemployment rate for our New York market area was 3.9%, compared to the national average of 3.7%.
 
As of September 30, 2023, the House Price Index for the last four quarters in our New York market increased by 7.6%, compared to an increase in the national average of 5.5%. As of September 30, 2023, the foreclosure rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four unit residential properties in the state of New York was one in every 1,269 housing units, compared to the national average of one in every 1,389 housing units.

Northeastern Ohio Market Area. Our retail branch network of 11 community banking offices includes two counties in northeastern Ohio, including the Cleveland metro area. The major employment sectors in this market are similar to the contiguous market in western Pennsylvania.
 
Our Ohio market area has a total population of approximately 854,000 and total households of approximately 356,000 as of December 31, 2023. This area has experienced an increase in population between 2020 and 2024, of 1.5%. The median household income for our Ohio market increased 7.3% over the last year to $68,601 as of December 31, 2023, compared to the national median income level of $75,874. As of December 31, 2023, the unemployment rate for our Ohio market was 3.1%, compared to the national average of 3.7%.
 
As of September 30, 2023, the House Price Index for the last four quarters in our Ohio market area increased by 8.5%, compared to an increase in the national average of 5.5%. As of September 30, 2023, the foreclosure rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four unit residential properties in the state of Ohio was one in every 955 housing units, compared to the national average of one in every 1,389 housing units.

Indiana Market Area. Our retail branch network of 20 community banking offices includes eight counties in Indiana. This market has a diverse economy driven by healthcare and education industries, service businesses, technology companies and small manufacturing operations.

Our Indiana market area has a total population of approximately 934,000 and total households of approximately 367,000 as of December 31, 2023. The population of this area has remained stable between 2020 and 2024. The median household income for our Indiana market increased 5.6% over the last year to $60,651 as of December 31, 2023, compared to the national median income level of $75,874. As of December 31, 2023, the unemployment rate for our Indiana market was 3.7%, the same as the national average.

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As of September 30, 2023, the House Price Index for the last four quarters in our Indiana market area increased by 6.5%, compared to an increase in the national average of 5.5%. As of September 30, 2023, the foreclosure rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four unit residential properties in the state of Indiana was one in every 1,144 housing units, compared to the national average of one in every 1,389 housing units.
 
Lending Activities
 
GeneralOur principal lending activities are the origination of fixed and adjustable-rate loans collateralized by one-to-four-family residential real estate, shorter term consumer loans and loans collateralized by multi-family residential and commercial real estate as well as commercial business loans. Generally, we focus our lending activities in the geographic areas where we maintain offices.
 
In an effort to manage interest rate risk, we have sought to make our interest-earning assets more interest rate sensitive by originating adjustable-rate loans, such as adjustable-rate residential mortgage loans and home equity lines of credit, and by originating short-term and medium-term fixed-rate consumer loans. In recent years we have emphasized the origination of commercial real estate loans and commercial business loans, which generally have adjustable-rates of interest and shorter maturities than one-to-four-family residential real estate loans. Because we originate a substantial amount of long-term fixed-rate mortgage loans collateralized by one-to-four-family residential real estate, when possible, we originate and underwrite loans according to standards that allow us to sell them into the secondary mortgage market for purposes of managing interest-rate risk and liquidity. The sale of mortgage loans supports our strategy to grow the consumer and commercial loan portfolios faster than our portfolio of long-term fixed-rate residential mortgage loans. We currently sell low-yielding fixed-rate residential mortgage loans with maturities of more than 15 years, and on a more limited basis, those with maturities of 15 years or less, while retaining all adjustable-rate residential mortgage loans. With the build out of our Columbus, Ohio mortgage fulfillment center, our intention is to sell more loans into the secondary market on a servicing released basis. We also retain servicing on some of the mortgage loans we sell which generates monthly service fee income. We generally retain in our portfolio all consumer loans that we originate while we periodically sell participation loans in the multi-family residential, commercial real estate and commercial business loans that we originate in an effort to reduce the concentration of certain individual credits and the risk associated with certain businesses, industries or geographies.
 
Residential Mortgage Loans. We offer residential mortgage loans with terms typically ranging from 15 to 30 years, with either fixed or adjustable interest rates. Our mortgage loans are amortized on a monthly basis with both principal and interest due monthly. Originations of fixed-rate residential mortgage loans versus adjustable-rate residential mortgage loans are monitored on an ongoing basis. The percentage of adjustable-rate residential mortgage originations to total originations is affected significantly by the level of market interest rates, customer preference, our interest rate sensitivity and liquidity position, as well as loan products offered by our competitors. Therefore, even when our strategy is to increase the origination of adjustable-rate residential mortgage loans, market conditions may be such that there is greater demand for fixed-rate mortgage loans. Adjustable-rate residential mortgage loans totaled $100.2 million, or 0.9%, of our gross loan portfolio at December 31, 2023.
 
Our fixed-rate residential mortgage loan products offer fixed rates for up to 30 years. Whenever possible, our fixed-rate residential mortgages are originated and underwritten according to secondary mortgage market guidelines in order to manage credit risk, as well as interest rate risk and liquidity risk. Our adjustable-rate residential mortgage loans offer initial interest rate adjustment periods of five, seven, and ten years, terms up to 30 years and adjustments based on changes in designated market indices.

Regulations limit the amount that a bank may lend relative to appraised values of real estate securing the loans, as determined by an appraisal at the time of loan origination. Such regulations permit a maximum loan-to-value of 95% for residential properties and 80% for all other real estate secured loans. We generally limit the maximum loan-to-value on both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate residential mortgage loans without private mortgage insurance, to 80% of the lesser of appraised values or purchase prices of real estate serving as collateral for our mortgage loans. Limited special financing programs allow for insured loans with loan-to-value ratios of up to 97%, and uninsured loans with loan-to-value ratios up to 100%. The appraisal process is managed by the Northwest Appraising Department, and appraisals are performed by our in-house appraiser staff or by appraisers deemed qualified by our Residential Appraising Manager. We require fire and casualty insurance, as well as a title guaranty regarding good title, on all properties securing our residential mortgage loans. We also require flood insurance for loans secured by properties located within special flood hazard areas.
 
Included in our $3.419 billion portfolio of residential mortgage loans as of December 31, 2023 are construction loans of $26.6 million, or 0.2% of our gross loan portfolio. We offer fixed-rate and adjustable-rate residential construction-to-permanent loans primarily for the construction of owner-occupied one-to four-family residences in our market area to builders or owners who have a contract for construction. Construction loans are originated with terms of up to 30 years with an allowance of up to one year for construction. Advances are made as construction is completed, and interest is charged on the total amount of credit extended. At the end of the construction period, repayment terms convert to fully amortizing payments, with both principal and interest due monthly. Construction lending generally involves a greater degree of credit risk than permanent residential mortgage lending, as repayment of
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construction loans is often dependent upon the successful completion of construction projects. Construction delays or the inability of borrowers to sell properties once construction is completed may impair borrowers’ ability to repay loans. Private mortgage insurance is required for construction loans with loan-to-value ratios in excess of 80%, and the maximum loan-to-value ratio for construction loans is 95% of the lower of cost to build or as-completed appraised value.

In addition, we originate loans within our market area that are secured by individual unimproved or improved lots. Land loans for the construction of owner-occupied residential real estate properties are currently offered with fixed-rates for terms of up to ten years. The maximum loan-to-value ratio for these loans is 80% of the as-completed appraised value.

Our residential mortgage loans customarily include due-on-sale clauses, which are provisions giving us the right to declare loans immediately due and payable in the event, among other things, borrowers sell or otherwise dispose of underlying real properties serving as collateral for loans.
 
Home Equity Loans and Lines of CreditGenerally, our home equity loans are secured by the borrower’s principal residence with a maximum loan-to-value ratio, including the principal balances of both the first and second mortgage loans, of 95% or less. We generally underwrite home equity loans and lines of credit in a manner similar to our underwriting of residential mortgage loans.

Home equity loans are offered on a fixed-rate basis with amortized terms of up to 20 years. Principal and interest is due monthly. At December 31, 2023, our fixed-rate home equity loans totaled $820.0 million, or 7.2% of gross loans.

Home equity lines of credit are offered on an adjustable-rate basis with terms of up to 25 years, including a draw period of 10 years each. Although home equity lines of credit require interest-only payments during draw periods, they are underwritten using amortizing principal and interest payments based on current rates of equivalent fixed-rate products. The disbursed portion of home equity lines of credit totaled $403.1 million, or 3.6% of gross loans, with $701.0 million remaining undistributed as of December 31, 2023.

Other Consumer LoansThe principal types of other consumer loans we offer are direct and indirect automobile loans, sales finance loans, unsecured personal loans, credit card loans, and loans secured by investment accounts. These loans are typically offered with maturities of ten years or less.
 
The underwriting standards we employ for consumer loans include a determination of the applicant’s credit history and an assessment of ability to meet existing obligations and payments on the proposed loan. The stability of the applicant’s monthly income may be determined by verification of gross monthly income from primary employment, and additionally, from any verifiable secondary income. Creditworthiness of the applicant is of primary consideration; however, the underwriting process also includes a comparison of the value of the collateral in relation to the proposed loan amount for secured products.
 
Consumer loans entail greater credit risk than residential mortgage loans, particularly in the case of consumer loans that are unsecured or secured by assets that depreciate rapidly, such as automobiles, mobile homes, boats, and recreation vehicles. In such cases, repossessed collateral for a defaulted consumer loan may not provide an adequate source of repayment for the outstanding loan and the remaining deficiency often does not warrant further substantial collection efforts against the borrower. In particular, amounts realizable on the sale of repossessed automobiles may be significantly reduced based upon the condition of the automobiles and the lack of demand for used automobiles. At December 31, 2023, other consumer loans totaled $2.066 billion, or 18.2% of gross loans.

Commercial Real Estate LoansOur multi-family commercial real estate loans are secured by multi-family residences, such as rental properties, student housing, and senior living facilities. Our other commercial real estate loans are secured by nonresidential properties such as hotels, commercial offices, medical buildings, manufacturing facilities and retail establishments. At December 31, 2023, a significant portion of our multi-family commercial real estate and commercial real estate loans were secured by properties located within our market area.

Our largest commercial relationship with an aggregate total exposure of $118.9 million as of December 31, 2023, is comprised of multi-family residential, commercial office, hotel, retail buildings, and student housing, the largest of which is $33.5 million of the total exposure secured by retail buildings. This relationship is also our largest commercial real estate loan relationship as of December 31, 2023, of which $117.2 million is attributed to commercial real estate loans. All of the underlying loans were performing in accordance with their terms as of December 31, 2023.

Multi-family commercial and commercial real estate loans are offered with both adjustable and fixed interest rates. The terms of each multi-family residential and commercial real estate loan are negotiated on a case-by-case basis. We generally originate multi-family commercial and commercial real estate loans in amounts up to 80% of the appraised value of the property collateralizing the loan. At December 31, 2023, commercial real estate loans totaled $2.977 billion, or 26.2% of gross loans.

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Loans secured by multi-family commercial and commercial real estate generally involve a greater degree of credit risk than residential mortgage loans and carry larger loan balances. This increased credit risk is a result of several factors, including the concentration of principal in a limited number of loans and borrowers, the effects of general economic conditions on income producing properties, and the increased difficulty of evaluating and monitoring these types of loans. Furthermore, the repayment of loans secured by multi-family commercial and commercial real estate is typically dependent upon the successful operation of the related real estate property. If the cash flow from the project is reduced, the borrower’s ability to repay the loan may be impaired.
 
Commercial LoansWe offer commercial loans to finance various activities in our market area, some of which are secured in part by additional real estate collateral. At December 31, 2023, our largest commercial loan relationship had an aggregate total exposure of $67.4 million, and operates in the internet, cable and phone space. These loans were performing in accordance with their agreed upon terms as of December 31, 2023.
 
Commercial business loans are offered with both fixed and adjustable interest rates. Underwriting standards we employ for commercial business loans include a determination of the applicant’s ability to meet existing obligations and payments on the proposed loan from operating cash flows generated by the applicant’s business. The financial strength of each applicant is also assessed through a review of financial statements provided by the applicant.

We originate commercial loans through our network of Small Business and Commercial Loan Officers located in our areas. In addition, our Commercial Finance group originates loans where multiple banks may be involved in the credit facilities. These loans are made to companies operating in our market area. Many of these companies carry public debt ratings. 

Commercial loans generally have higher interest rates than residential loans, but they also may involve a higher risk of default since their repayment is generally dependent on the successful operation of the borrower’s business. We strive to obtain personal guarantees from the borrower or a third party as a condition to originating commercial loans. At December 31, 2023, commercial loans totaled $1.661 billion, or 14.6% of gross loans.

Loan Originations, Solicitation, Processing and Commitments. Upon receiving a retail loan application, we obtain a credit report and may verify employment to confirm specific information relating to the applicant’s employment, income, and credit standing. In the case of a real estate loan, either an in-house appraiser, or an approved external appraiser, appraises the real estate intended to secure the proposed loan. For certain home equity loans we may use an approved alternative valuation such as an assessed value or Automated Value Model (AVM). A loan underwriter checks the loan document file for accuracy and completeness and verifies the information provided.
 
For our personal loans, including residential mortgage loans, home equity loans and lines of credit, automobile loans, credit cards and other unsecured loans, we have implemented a credit approval process based on a laddered individual loan authority system. Real estate secured loans are underwritten centrally by our underwriting team. Non-real estate loans are underwritten by both local loan officers or a centralized underwriting team who are granted various levels of authority based on their lending experience and expertise. These authority levels are reviewed by the Credit Committee on at least an annual basis.

For commercial loans, aggregate credit exposures over $1.0 million are underwritten by Credit Administration. Our commercial loan policy assigns individual lending limits for our various commercial loan officers and dual authority consisting of an individual from Commercial Lending and Credit Administration. Lending authorities are established by the Credit Committee. The Senior Loan Committee meets weekly to approve extensions of credit in excess of the maximum dual authority limits. The Credit Committee meets monthly to review the assigned lending limits and to monitor our lending policies, loan activity, economic conditions, and concentrations of credit.

Our general policy is to make no loans, either individually or in the aggregate to one borrower or single source of repayment, in excess of $30.0 million. For loans originated and managed within the Corporate Finance portfolio the Total Credit Exposure limit is increased to $50.0 million for borrowers with a strong credit profile and a risk rating of 3 or better. The Aggregate Credit Exposure limit is $100.0 million. Criticized/classified loans exceeding $5.0 million or unusual loan requests are reviewed with the Risk Management Committee of the Board of Directors at each quarterly meeting. In addition, the Chief Credit Officer has the authority to require that the Board of Directors review any loan that has been approved by the Senior Loan Committee with which the Chief Credit Officer has specific concerns.

After a loan is approved, a loan commitment letter is promptly issued to the borrower. At December 31, 2023, we had commitments to originate $198.2 million of loans.



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Loan Origination Fees and CostsWe defer loan origination fees received from borrowers and costs to originate loans and amortize such amounts as an adjustment of yield over the life of the loan by using the level yield method. Deferred loan fees and costs are recognized as part of interest income immediately upon prepayment or the sale of the related loan. At December 31, 2023, we had $72.1 million of net deferred loan origination fees. Loan origination fees vary with the volume and type of loans and commitments originated and purchased, principal repayments, and competitive conditions in the marketplace.
 
Loan origination costs were $16.4 million, $18.2 million and $25.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively.
 
Loans-to-One Borrower. As of December 31, 2023, the largest aggregate amount loaned to one borrower, or related borrowers, totaled $118.9 million in exposure and was secured by student housing, retail space, office space and commercial development. Our second largest lending relationship totaled $69.1 million in exposure and was secured by student housing, medical space, senior housing, office space, industrial, aerospace, and transportation engineering and retail space. Our third largest commercial relationship totaled $67.8 million in exposure and was secured by a hotel, retail space, office space, multi-family, a charter school, self-storage, and a restaurant. Our fourth largest commercial relationship totaled $67.4 million in exposure and was secured by accounts receivable, information systems, property, and equipment. Our fifth largest commercial relationship totaled $65.0 million in exposure and was secured by accounts receivable, inventory, manufacturing property and equipment. All of these loans were performing in accordance with their terms at December 31, 2023.
 
Investment Activities
 
Our Board of Directors has primary responsibility for establishing and overseeing our investment policy. The Board of Directors has delegated authority to implement the investment policy to our Chief Financial Officer. The investment policy is reviewed at least annually, and any changes to the policy are subject to approval by the Board of Directors. The overall objectives of the investment policy are to maintain a portfolio of high quality and diversified investments, to provide liquidity, and to control interest rate risk while providing an acceptable return. The investment portfolio is also used to provide collateral for qualified deposits and borrowings, to provide additional earnings when loan production is low, and to reduce our tax liability. The policy dictates that investment decisions give consideration to the safety of principal, liquidity requirements and potential returns. All purchase and sale transactions are reported to the Board of Directors on a monthly basis.
 
Our investment policy does not permit the purchase of complex securities and derivatives as defined in federal banking regulations and other high-risk securities, nor does it permit additional investments in pooled trust preferred securities, or single issuer trust preferred securities.
 
At the time of purchase, we designate a security as either held-to-maturity or available-for-sale based upon our ability and intentions. Securities available-for-sale are carried at fair value and securities held-to-maturity are carried at amortized cost. On a quarterly basis, we measure expected credit losses on held-to-maturity debt securities on a collective basis by major security type. Available-for-sale debt securities in an unrealized loss position are reviewed for impairment at least quarterly. If impairment exists, credit related impairment losses are recorded through an allowance for credit losses while noncredit related impairment losses are recorded in accumulated other comprehensive income (for available-for-sale securities). The fair values of our securities are based on published or securities dealers’ market values, when available. See Note 4 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for a detailed analysis and description of our investment portfolio and valuation techniques.
 
We purchase debentures and mortgage-backed securities that generally are issued by the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB”), Fannie Mae (FNMA”), Freddie Mac (FHLMC”) or Ginnie Mae (GNMA”). Historically, we have invested in mortgage-backed securities to achieve positive interest rate spreads with minimal administrative expense and to lower our credit risk as a result of the guarantees provided by FHLMC, FNMA or GNMA. 

Sources of Funds
 
General. Deposits are the primary funding source for lending and other investing purposes. In addition to deposits, we derive funds from the amortization, prepayment and sale of loans and mortgage-backed securities, the maturity of investment securities, operations and, if needed, borrowings. Scheduled loan principal repayments are a relatively stable source of funds, while deposit inflows and outflows and loan prepayments and sales are influenced significantly by general interest rates and market conditions. Borrowings may be used on a short-term basis to compensate for reductions in the availability of funds from other sources or on a longer term basis for general business purposes, including to manage interest rate risk.


 
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Deposits. Personal and business deposits are generated from our market area by offering a broad selection of deposit instruments including checking accounts, savings accounts, money market deposit accounts, term certificate accounts and individual retirement accounts. While we accept deposits of $250,000 or more, we do not offer premium rates for such deposits. We accept brokered deposits through the CDARS program, but generally do not solicit funds outside our market area. As of December 31, 2023, we had deposits through the CDARS program with an aggregate balance of $200,000. In addition, we purchased $483.9 million of brokered certificates of deposit in 2023. Deposit account terms vary according to the minimum balance required, the period of time during which the funds must remain on deposit, and the interest rate, among other factors. We regularly execute changes in our deposit rates based upon general market interest rates, competition, and liquidity requirements. As of December 31, 2023, $1.835 billion, or 15.32%, of total deposits were uninsured as they exceeded the FDICs $250,000 limit.
 
Borrowings. We may utilize borrowings to supplement our supply of lendable funds and to meet deposit withdrawal requirements. Borrowings from the FHLB of Pittsburgh typically are collateralized by a portion of our real estate loans. In addition to the FHLB, we have borrowing facilities with the Federal Reserve Bank, two correspondent banks and we borrow funds, in the form of corporate repurchase agreements, from municipalities, corporations and school districts.

Northwest Bank is a member of the FHLB of Pittsburgh. The FHLB functions as a central bank providing credit for Northwest Bank and other member financial institutions. As a member, Northwest Bank is required to own capital stock in the FHLB of Pittsburgh and is authorized to apply for borrowings on the security of certain of its real estate loans, provided certain standards related to creditworthiness have been met. Borrowings are made pursuant to several different programs. Each credit program has its own interest rate and range of maturities. Depending on the program, limitations on the amount of borrowings are based either on a fixed percentage of a member institution’s net worth or on the FHLB’s assessment of the institution’s creditworthiness. 

On September 9, 2020, the Company issued $125.0 million of 4.00% fixed-to-floating rate subordinated notes with a maturity date of September 15, 2030. The subordinated notes, which qualify as Tier 2 capital, bear interest at an annual rate of 4.00%, payable semi-annually in arrears commencing on March 15, 2021, and a floating rate of interest equivalent to the 3-month Term Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR”) plus 3.89% payable quarterly in arrears commencing on December 15, 2025. During the year-ended December 31, 2023 the Company had $114.8 million of subordinated notes outstanding. The subordinated debt issuance costs of approximately $1.8 million are being amortized over five years on a straight-line basis into interest expense.

Risk Management

Board and Board Committees. Our Board of Directors, as a whole and through its committees, maintains responsibilities for the oversight of risk management, including monitoring the “tone at the top”, our risk appetite, our risk culture and overseeing emerging and strategic risks. While our Board’s Risk Committee has primary responsibility for oversight of enterprise risk management, the Audit, Compensation, Innovation & Technology, Trust and Nominating & Corporate Governance Committees also oversee risks within their respective areas of responsibilities. Each of these Board Committees consists entirely of independent directors and provides regular reports to the full Board regarding matters reviewed at their Committee meetings.

Risk Management Roles and Responsibilities. In addition to our Board and Board Committees, responsibility for risk management also flows to individuals and entities throughout the Company, including various management committees and executive management. Our Enterprise Risk Management (“ERM”) Framework defines our “three lines of defense” risk management model, which includes the following:

The “first line of defense” is comprised of the business areas that engage in activities that generate revenue or provide operational support or services that introduce risk to the Company. As the business owner, the first line of defense is responsible for, among other things, identifying, owning, managing and controlling key risks associated with their activities, timely addressing issues and remediation, and implementing processes and procedures to strengthen the risk and control environment. The first line of defense identifies and manages key risk indicators and risks and controls consistent with the Company’s risk appetite. The executive officers who serve as leaders in the “first line of defense,” are responsible for ensuring that their respective functions operate within established risk limits, in accordance with our risk appetite. These leaders are also responsible for identifying risks, considering risk when developing strategic plans, budgets and new products, and implementing appropriate controls when pursuing business strategies and objectives. In addition, these leaders are responsible for deploying sufficient financial resources and qualified personnel to manage the risks inherent in our business activities.

The “second line of defense” includes an independent risk management team charged with oversight and monitoring of risk within the business. The second line of defense is responsible for, among other things, formulating our ERM Framework and related policies and procedures, challenging the first line of defense and identifying, monitoring and reporting on aggregate risks of the business and support functions.

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Our risk management team, which is led by our Chief Risk Officer (“CRO”) and includes compliance, provides oversight of our risk profile and is responsible for maintaining a compliance program that includes compliance risk assessment, policy development, testing and reporting activities.
The CRO manages our risk management team and is responsible for establishing and implementing standards for the identification, management, measurement, monitoring and reporting of risk on an Enterprise-wide basis. The CRO is responsible for developing an appropriate risk appetite with corresponding limits that aligns with supervisory expectations and proposing our risk appetite to the Board of Directors. The CRO regularly reports to the Risk Committee as well as the Bank’s Enterprise Risk Management Committee (“ERMC”) on risk management matters.

The “third line of defense” is comprised of the Internal Audit organization. The third line of defense provides an independent review and objective assessment of the design and operating effectiveness of the first and second lines of defense, governance, policies, procedures, processes and internal controls, and reports its findings to executive management and the Board, through the Audit Committee. Internal Audit is responsible for performing periodic, independent reviews and testing compliance with the Company’s and the Bank’s risk management policies and standards, as well as with regulatory guidance and industry best practices. Internal Audit also assesses the design of the Companys and the Bank’s policies and standards and validates the effectiveness of risk management controls and reports the results of such reviews to the Audit Committee.

Management Committees. The ERMC is the highest-level management committee at the Bank to oversee risks and is responsible for risk governance, risk oversight and making recommendations on the Banks’ risk appetite. The ERMC monitors compliance with limits and related escalation requirements and oversees implementation of risk policies.

In addition to the ERMC, we maintain the following risk management committees to oversee the risks listed below: Credit Committee; Compliance Risk Management Committee; Operational Risk Management Committee; Model Risk Management Committee; and the Asset & Liability Committee. Each of these Committees is responsible for one or more of the Bank’s seven risk categories, which are described in greater detail below under the heading “Risk Categories”. For its risk category(ies) of responsibility, each Committee provides risk governance, risk oversight and monitoring. Each Committee reviews key risk exposures, trends and significant compliance matters, and provides guidance on steps to monitor, control and escalate significant risks. We include the risk information provided by the ERMC, and these management risk committees, along with additional risk information that is identified at the holding company level in our determination and assessment of the risks that are presented to and discussed with our Board and Board Committees.

Risk Categories. We have divided risk into the following seven categories: credit, market, liquidity, operational, compliance, model and reputational risk. We evaluate the potential impact of a risk event on us (including our subsidiaries) by assessing the customer, partner, financial, reputational, and legal and regulatory impacts.

Credit Risk. Credit Risk is the risk arising from an obligor’s failure to meet the terms of any contract or otherwise perform as agreed. Credit Risk is found in all activities in which settlement or repayment depends on counterparty, issuer, or borrower performance. We are exposed to credit risk on the loans we make to our customers. Our credit risk relates to the risk that our borrowers will not repay their loan balances. To minimize our risk of loan write-offs, we have developed comprehensive policies and procedures outlining our underwriting guidelines across all loan types. The loan policies contain guidance and establish requirements specific to loan types for each line of business. They also establish appropriate and accurate financial information requirements to assist in making loan decisions, which may vary based on loan type, risk profile and secondary investor requirement, if applicable. Loan portfolios of all types are monitored as part of ongoing independent credit review and administration functions which ensure underwriting quality, loan administration, collateral, diversity (by industry, geography, products and borrowers) adhere to policy requirements. The credit risk on our loan portfolio is quantified through our allowance for credit losses which is recorded net within loans on our Consolidated Balance Sheets. Credit risk is overseen and monitored by the Credit Committee.

Market Risk. Market Risk is the risk arising from changes in the financial or economic environment, including movements in interest rates. Interest rate risk results from:

differences in the timing of interest rate changes related to the Bank’s assets and liabilities (repricing risk);
changing rate relationships among different yield curves affecting an organization’s activities (basis risk);
changing rate relationships across the spectrum of maturities (yield curve risk); and
interest-related options embedded in certain products (optionality risk).

Our principal market risk exposures arise from volatility in interest rates and their impact on earnings and capital. While we use various techniques to analyze, measure, assess and manage the financial impact of changes in interest rates, we believe an interest rate sensitivity analysis best reflects the risk inherent in our business. The interest rate sensitivity analysis calculates the impact on net interest income from instantaneous and sustained increases or decreases in market interest rates. Due to the mix of fixed and floating
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rate assets and liabilities on our Consolidated Balance Sheet as of December 31, 2023, a hypothetical instantaneous 100 basis point increase or decrease in interest rates would have an immaterial impact on our net interest income results in the first year. Actual changes in our net interest income will depend on many factors, and therefore may differ from our estimated risk to changes in interest rates. The Asset & Liability Committee assists the Bank’s Board of Directors and Bank Management in overseeing, reviewing, and monitoring market risk.

Treasury Risk. Treasury Risk is the risk arising from either 1) the inappropriate management of liquidity and/or capital, resulting in the Bank’s inability to meet obligations when they come due, whether caused by an inability to access funding sources or manage fluctuations in cash flows; or 2) adverse or poorly implemented business decisions due to misaligned business goals and strategies, a lack of resources, or poor quality of implementation. Treasury Risk can also result from an organization’s failure to recognize and address changes in market conditions or levels of systemic risk.

Operational Risk. Operational Risk is the risk arising from failed internal processes, people, and systems or from adverse external events. Operational losses result from internal fraud; external fraud; business disruption and systems failures; damage to physical assets; failure to secure confidential data; inadequate or inappropriate employment practices and workplace safety; improper design of new products or services; and failures in execution, delivery, and process management.

Operational Risk is inherent in all business activities and can impact us through direct or indirect financial loss, brand damage, customer dissatisfaction, and legal and regulatory penalties. The Company has implemented a comprehensive operational risk framework that is defined in the Operational Risk Management Policy. The Operational Risk Management Committee, chaired by our Chief Operational Risk Officer, oversees and monitors operational risk exposures, including escalating issues and recommending policies, procedures and practices to manage operational risks.

Additionally, we maintain an information and cyber security program, which is led by our Chief Information Security Officer and is designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and information systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. The Program is built upon a foundation of advanced security technology, a well-staffed and highly trained team of experts, and robust operations based on industry best practices recommendations from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Guidelines, and Center for Internet Security (CIS) Benchmarks. This consists of controls designed to identify, protect, detect, respond and recover from information and cyber security incidents. We continue to invest in enhancements to cyber security capabilities and engage in industry and government forums to promote advancements to the broader financial services cyber security ecosystem.

Compliance Risk. Compliance Risk is the risk arising from violations of laws or regulations, nonconformance with policies and procedures or ethical standards, or inadequate contractual arrangements. This risk exposes the Bank to regulatory enforcement actions, civil money penalties, statutory or punitive damages. Compliance Risk can result in diminished reputation and lessened expansion potential. Our Compliance organization is responsible for establishing and maintaining our Compliance Risk Management Program. Pursuant to this Program, we seek to manage and mitigate compliance risk by assessing, controlling, monitoring, measuring and reporting the legal and regulatory risks to which we are exposed. The Compliance Risk Management Committee, chaired by the Chief Compliance Officer, oversees the implementation and execution of the Compliance Management System and monitors compliance exposures to manage compliance risks.

Model and Data Risk. Model and Data Risk is the risk arising from decisions based on incorrect or misused model outputs and reports. This risk may result from 1) input errors, including inaccurate data; 2) fundamental design errors resulting in inaccurate calculations, valuations, estimates, or forecasts; or 3) incorrect or improper usage or a misunderstanding about a model’s limitations and assumptions.

We manage model risk through a comprehensive model governance framework, including policies and procedures for model development, maintenance and performance monitoring activities, independent model validation and change management capabilities. We also assess model performance on an ongoing basis. Model and Data Risk oversight and monitoring is conducted by the Model Risk Management Committee.

Reputational Risk. Reputational Risk is the risk arising from negative public opinion. This risk may impair our competitiveness by affecting our ability to establish new relationships or services, or continue servicing existing relationships. Reputational Risk is inherent in all activities and requires us to exercise caution in dealing with stakeholders, such as customers, counterparties, correspondents, investors, regulators, employees, and the community. Executive management is responsible for considering the Reputational Risk implications of business activities and strategies, and ensuring the relevant subject matter experts are engaged as needed.


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Subsidiary Activities
 
Northwest Bancshares, Inc.’s sole direct consolidated subsidiary is Northwest Bank. Northwest Bancshares, Inc. also owns all of the common stock of seven statutory business trusts: Northwest Bancorp Capital Trust III, a Delaware statutory business trust, Northwest Bancorp Statutory Trust IV, a Connecticut statutory business trust, LNB Trust II, a Delaware statutory business trust, Union National Capital Trust I, a Delaware statutory business trust, Union National Capital Trust II, a Delaware statutory business trust, MFBC Statutory Trust I, a Delaware statutory business trust, and Universal Preferred Trust, a Delaware statutory business trust (the “Trusts”). At December 31, 2023, the Trusts have issued a total of $128.9 million of trust preferred securities. The Trusts are not consolidated with Northwest Bancshares, Inc. At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bancshares, Inc.’s investment in the Trusts totaled $4.0 million, and the Trusts had assets of $129.6 million, net of discounts due to fair value adjustments made at the time of acquisition of Union Community Bank and MutualFirst Financial, Inc.

At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank had three active wholly-owned subsidiaries; Great Northwest Corporation, Northwest Capital Group, Inc., and Mutual Federal Interest Corporation. For financial reporting purposes all of these companies are included in the Consolidated Financial Statements of Northwest Bancshares, Inc.

Great Northwest Corporation holds equity investments in government-assisted, low-income housing projects in various locations throughout our market area. At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank had an equity investment in Great Northwest Corporation of $14.3 million. For the year ended December 31, 2023, Great Northwest Corporation had net income of $178,000, generated primarily from federal low-income housing tax credits.

Northwest Capital Group, Inc.’s principal activity is to own, operate and ultimately divest of properties that were acquired in foreclosure. At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank had an equity investment of $11.6 million in Northwest Capital Group, Inc., with a $1,400 net loss reported for the year ended December 31, 2023.

Mutual Federal Interest Corporation, which is a Nevada corporation, holds and manages a portion of the Northwest Bank investment portfolio and consumer closed-end first mortgage loans. At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank had an equity investment in Mutual Federal Interest Corporation of $1.539 billion. For the year ended December 31, 2023, Mutual Federal Interest Corporation had net income of $28.0 million.

Northwest Bank strategically ceased operating several business lines in prior periods.

Northwest Settlement Agency, LLC (which ceased operations and became inactive during the first quarter of 2023) provided title insurance to borrowers of Northwest Bank and other lenders. At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank had an equity investment in Northwest Settlement Agency, LLC of $3.7 million. For the year ended December 31, 2023, Northwest Settlement Agency, LLC had a net loss of $52,000.

Allegheny Services, Inc. (which ceased operations and became inactive during the first quarter of 2022), was a Delaware investment company that held mortgage loans originated through our wholesale lending operation as well as municipal bonds. At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank had an equity investment in Allegheny Services, Inc. of $876.2 million.

The Bert Company (doing business as Northwest Insurance Services), was an employee benefits and property and casualty insurance agency specializing in commercial and personal insurance as well as retirement benefit plans and was sold during the second quarter of 2021. At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank had an equity investment of $29.2 million in The Bert Company.

Northwest Advisors, Inc., a federally registered investment advisor, which provided investment management programs and investment portfolio planning services, ceased operations and became inactive during 2018. At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank had an equity investment in Northwest Advisors, Inc. of $819,000.

Northwest Financial Services, Inc. provided retail brokerage services and became inactive during the fourth quarter of 2017. At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank had an equity investment in Northwest Financial Services of $9.4 million.

On July 14, 2017, Northwest Consumer Discount Company, Inc. became inactive as all consumer finance offices were closed. At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank had an equity investment in Northwest Consumer Discount Company of $44.3 million.                

Federal regulations require insured institutions to provide 30 days advance notice to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) before establishing or acquiring a subsidiary or conducting a new activity in a subsidiary. The insured institution must also provide the FDIC such information as may be required by applicable regulations and must conduct the activity in accordance with the rules and orders of the FDIC. In addition to other enforcement and supervision powers, the FDIC may determine
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after notice and opportunity for a hearing that the continuation of a savings bank’s ownership of or relation to a subsidiary constitutes a serious risk to the safety, soundness or stability of the savings bank, or is inconsistent with the purposes of federal banking laws. Upon the making of such a determination, the FDIC may order the savings bank to divest the subsidiary or take other actions.
 
Human Capital Management

Workforce Demographics. As of December 31, 2023, we had 2,030 full-time and 135 part-time employees, or 2,098 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs”). This represents a decrease of 60 FTEs, or 2.8%, from December 31, 2022 when we had 2,088 full-time and 140 part-time employees, or 2,158 FTEs. This decrease is a result of our efforts to optimize our retail network. As a financial institution, approximately 42% of our employee population are employed at our 134 full-service banking offices and eight free-standing drive-through locations across Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Indiana, and approximately 4% are employed at our customer call centers. Our annual turnover rate (voluntary and involuntary) was 32.8% as of December 31, 2023. None of our employees are represented by a collective bargaining group.

As a community-based bank, our reputation is an extremely valuable and important component of our business. We strive to conduct our business in a manner that enhances our reputation. This is done, in part, by recruiting, hiring and retaining employees who share our core values of being an integral part of the communities we serve.

Inclusion and Diversity. At Northwest Bank, we know that in order to succeed, we must create and maintain an environment where all employees, whatever their background or role, can contribute, innovate and thrive. We established the Northwest Inclusion Council to foster a workplace where we all feel accepted, safe, seen and heard. Led by senior advisors and leaders from throughout our company’s footprint, the Inclusion Council is focused on engaging our entire employee population and leveraging their diverse talents and perspectives, most significantly through our newly-formed Employee Resources Groups (ERGs).

Workforce Health and Safety. The health and safety of our employees, their families and the communities we serve is our top priority. In order to maintain safety in the workplace, Northwest Bank has an inclusive Safety Focus Group that includes various levels of positions up through senior leadership. The committee was established in order to encourage employee involvement and highlight the importance of safety in the workplace. The COVID-19 pandemic presented an unpredictable and challenging environment across the globe. Throughout this pandemic, we committed to take every measure and precaution to protect our employees while continuing to serve our customers and being mindful of the fiduciary responsibility we have to our shareholders.

Compensation and Benefits. Our compensation program is designed to attract and retain talented individuals to support our business objectives and achieve our strategic goals. We provide employees with compensation packages that include base salaries, and if eligible, incentive compensation, annual bonuses, and equity incentives. In addition, we also offer employees a 401(k) Plan with an employer match contribution, medical, dental, vision, disability, life, wellness plan, employee assistance plan, flexible work arrangement, paid time off, flexible spending accounts, and voluntary benefits.
 
SUPERVISION AND REGULATION
General

    As a bank holding company, we are required to comply with the rules and regulations of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve Board”), and are also required to file certain reports with and are subject to examination by the Federal Reserve Board. We are also subject to the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission under the federal securities laws.

Northwest Bank is a Pennsylvania-chartered stock savings bank and our deposit accounts are insured up to applicable limits by the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund (the “DIF”). Northwest Bank is subject to extensive regulation by the Department of Banking and Securities of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (the “Department of Banking”), as its chartering agency, and by the FDIC, as its primary federal regulator and the insurer of its deposit accounts. Northwest Bank must file reports with the Department of Banking and the FDIC concerning its activities and financial condition in addition to obtaining regulatory approvals prior to entering into certain transactions including acquisitions of other financial institutions. Northwest Bank is examined periodically by the Department of Banking and the FDIC to test Northwest Bank’s compliance with various laws and regulations. This regulation and supervision, as well as federal and state law, establishes a comprehensive framework of activities in which Northwest Bank may engage and is intended primarily for the protection of the DIF and depositors. The regulatory structure also gives the regulatory authorities extensive discretion in connection with their supervisory and enforcement activities and with their examination policies, including policies with respect to the classification of assets and the establishment of adequate credit loss reserves for regulatory purposes. Any change in these laws or regulations, whether by the Department of Banking or the FDIC, could have a material adverse impact on the Company, Northwest Bank and their respective operations. Additionally, when the consolidated assets of a financial institution and its holding company exceed $10 billion, such as is the case with us, the financial institution becomes subject to additional statutory and regulatory
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requirements that will result in additional costs. This includes enhanced risk management and corporate governance processes, and examination for compliance with federal financial consumer protection laws by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”).

Set forth below is a brief description of certain regulatory requirements that are applicable to Northwest Bank and Northwest Bancshares, Inc. The description below is limited to certain material aspects of the statutes and regulations addressed, and is not intended to be a complete description of such statutes and regulations and their effects on Northwest Bank and Northwest Bancshares, Inc.

Pennsylvania Savings Bank Law

The Pennsylvania Banking Code of 1965, as amended (the “Banking Code”) contains detailed provisions governing the organization, operations, corporate powers, savings and investment authority, branching, and rights and responsibilities of directors, officers and employees of Pennsylvania savings banks. A Pennsylvania savings bank may locate or change the location of its principal place of business and establish an office anywhere in, or adjacent to, Pennsylvania, with the prior approval of the Department of Banking. The Banking Code delegates extensive rule making power and administrative discretion to the Department of Banking in its supervision and regulation of state-chartered savings banks.

Although the Department of Banking may accept the examinations and reports of the FDIC in lieu of its own examination, the current practice is for the Department of Banking to conduct joint examinations with the FDIC. The Department of Banking may order any savings bank to discontinue any violation of law or unsafe or unsound business practice and may direct any director, officer, or employee of a savings bank engaged in a violation of law, unsafe or unsound practice or breach of fiduciary duty to show cause at a hearing before the Department of Banking why such person should not be removed. Legislation enacted in 2012 clarified the Department of Banking’s examination and enforcement authority over subsidiaries of Pennsylvania institutions and authorized the assessment of civil money penalties of up to $25,000 under certain circumstances for violations of laws or orders related to the institution or unsafe or unsound practices or breaches of fiduciary duties. The Department of Banking may also appoint a receiver or conservator for an institution in appropriate cases.

Northwest Bank is subject to capital guidelines of the Department of Banking. Although not adopted in regulation form, the Department of Banking requires 6% leverage capital and 10% risk-based capital. The components of leverage and risk-based capital are substantially the same as those defined by the FDIC, as discussed below.

Loans-to-One Borrower Limitation

In accordance with the Banking Code, a Pennsylvania chartered savings bank, with certain limited exceptions, may lend to a single or related group of borrowers an amount equal to up to 15% of its capital accounts, defined as the aggregate of capital, surplus, undivided profits, capital securities and reserve for credit losses. The Northwest Bank Credit Committee has established an internal lending limit, either individually or in the aggregate to one customer, or a single source of repayment, of $30.0 million, or $50.0 million for loans originated and managed within the Corporate Finance portfolio for borrowers with a strong credit profile and a risk rating of 3 or better, and Aggregate Credit Exposure of $100.0 million. As of December 31, 2023 we had 7 credit relationships that were equal to or exceeded our $30.0 million internal limit for individual borrowers, 4 credit relationships that were equal to or exceeded our $50.0 million internal limit for individual borrowers within the corporate finance portfolio, and one credit relationship that was equal to or exceeded the $100.0 million internal limit for Aggregate Credit Exposure.

Dividends

The Company’s ability to pay dividends depends, to a large extent, upon Northwest Bank’s ability to pay dividends to the Company. The Banking Code states that no dividend may be paid out of surplus without approval of the Department of Banking. Dividends may be paid out of accumulated net earnings. No dividend may generally be paid that would result in Northwest Bank failing to comply with its regulatory capital requirements.

Federal Banking Regulation

Northwest Bank is also subject to extensive regulation, examination and supervision by the FDIC, as its primary federal regulator. Such regulation and supervision:

Limits the activities and investment authority of Northwest Bank;
Establishes a continuing and affirmative obligation, consistent with Northwest Bank’s safe and sound operation, to help meet the credit needs of its community, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods;
Establishes various capital categories resulting in various levels of regulatory scrutiny applied to the institutions in a particular category; and
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Establishes standards for safety and soundness.

The FDIC is required by law to examine each regulated institution every twelve months. The FDIC has the authority to order any savings bank and its directors, officers, or employees to discontinue any violation of law or unsafe or unsound banking practice.

Insurance of Deposit Accounts

The deposit accounts of Northwest Bank are insured by the DIF to the maximum amount provided by law. The FDIC insures deposits up to the standard maximum deposit insurance amount of $250,000. This insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.

The FDIC charges insured depository institutions premiums to maintain the DIF. Under the FDIC’s risk-based assessment system, insured institutions deemed less risky pay lower FDIC assessments. Assessments for institutions with $10 billion or more of assets are primarily based on a scorecard approach by the FDIC, including factors such as examination ratings and modeling measuring the institution’s ability to withstand asset-related and funding-related stress and potential loss to the DIF should the bank fail. The assessment range (inclusive of possible adjustments specified by the regulations) for institutions with greater than $10 billion of total assets was 2.5 to 42 basis points effective January 1, 2023. On November 29, 2023, the FDIC adopted a final rule to implement a special assessment to recover the loss to the DIF arising from the protection of uninsured depositors following the closures of two regional banks in the spring of 2023; the special assessment will only be paid by banking organizations with $5 billion or more in assets.

Insurance of deposits may be terminated by the FDIC upon a finding that the institution has engaged or is engaging in unsafe and unsound practices, is in an unsafe or unsound condition to continue operations or has violated any applicable law, regulation, rule, order or condition imposed by the FDIC or written agreement entered into with the FDIC. The management of Northwest Bank does not know of any practice, condition or violation that might lead to termination of deposit insurance.

Capital Requirements

Federal regulations require federally insured depository institutions to meet several minimum capital standards: a common equity Tier 1 capital to risk-based assets ratio of 4.5%, a Tier 1 capital to risk-based assets ratio of 6.0%, a total capital to risk-based assets ratio of 8.0%, and a Tier 1 capital to total assets leverage ratio of 4.0%.

In determining the amount of risk-weighted assets for purposes of calculating risk-based capital ratios, all assets, including certain off-balance-sheet assets (e.g., recourse obligations, direct credit substitutes, residual interests) are multiplied by a risk weight factor assigned by the regulations based on the risks believed inherent in the type of asset. Higher levels of capital are required for asset categories believed to present greater risk.

Common equity Tier 1 capital is generally defined as common stockholders’ equity and retained earnings. Tier 1 capital is generally defined as common equity Tier 1 and additional Tier 1 capital. Additional Tier 1 capital includes certain noncumulative perpetual preferred stock and related surplus and minority interests in equity accounts of consolidated subsidiaries. Total capital includes Tier 1 capital (common equity Tier 1 capital plus additional Tier 1 capital) and Tier 2 capital. Tier 2 capital is comprised of capital instruments and related surplus, meeting specified requirements, and may include cumulative preferred stock and long-term perpetual preferred stock, mandatory convertible securities, intermediate preferred stock and subordinated debt. Also included in Tier 2 capital is the allowance for credit losses limited to a maximum of 1.25% of risk-weighted assets and, for institutions that have exercised an opt-out election regarding the treatment of Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income, up to 45% of net unrealized gains on available-for-sale equity securities with readily determinable fair market values. Calculation of all types of regulatory capital is subject to deductions and adjustments specified in the regulations. Northwest Bank exercised this opt-out election during the year ended December 31, 2023.

In assessing an institution’s capital adequacy, the FDIC takes into consideration not only these numeric factors but qualitative factors as well, and has the authority to establish higher capital requirements for individual institutions where deemed necessary.

Any institution that fails any of the regulatory capital requirements is subject to enforcement action by the FDIC. Such action may include a capital directive, a cease and desist order, civil money penalties, restrictions on an institution’s operations, termination of federal deposit insurance, and the appointment of a conservator or receiver. Such action, through enforcement proceedings or otherwise, may require a variety of corrective measures.



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In addition to establishing the minimum regulatory capital requirements, the regulations limit capital distributions and certain discretionary bonus payments to management if the institution does not hold a “capital conservation buffer” consisting of 2.5% of common equity Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets above the amount necessary to meet its minimum risk-based capital requirements.

The following table shows the Basel III regulatory capital levels that must be maintained to avoid limitations on capital distributions and discretionary bonus payments.

Common equity Tier 1 ratio plus capital conservation buffer7.000 %
Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio plus capital conservation buffer8.500 %
Total risk-based capital ratio plus capital conservation buffer10.500 %

As of December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank’s capital exceeded all applicable regulatory requirements and it had an appropriate capital conservation buffer.
 
Prompt Corrective Action

Federal law requires, among other things, that federal bank regulators take “prompt corrective action” with respect to institutions that do not meet minimum capital requirements. For this purpose, federal law establishes five capital categories: well capitalized, adequately capitalized, undercapitalized, significantly undercapitalized and critically undercapitalized. Under applicable regulations, an institution is deemed to be “well capitalized” if it has a total risk-based capital ratio of 10.0% or greater, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 8.0% or greater, a leverage ratio of 5.0% or greater, and a common equity Tier 1 ratio of 6.5% or greater. An institution is deemed to be “adequately capitalized” if it has a total risk-based capital ratio of 8.0% or greater, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 6.0% or greater, a leverage ratio of 4.0% or greater, or a common equity Tier 1 ratio of 4.5% or greater. An institution is deemed to be “undercapitalized” if it has a total risk-based capital ratio of less than 8.0%, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of less than 6.0%, a leverage ratio of less than 4.0% or a common equity Tier 1 ratio of less than 4.5%. An institution is deemed to be “significantly undercapitalized” if it has a total risk-based capital ratio of less than 6.0%, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of less than 4.0%, a leverage ratio of less than 3.0%, or a common equity Tier 1 ratio of less than 3.0%. An institution is deemed to be “critically undercapitalized” if it has a ratio of tangible equity (as defined in the regulations) to total assets that is equal to or less than 2.0%. Institutions that fall into an “undercapitalized” category are subject to a variety of mandatory and discretionary supervisory actions, including a restriction on capital distributions and the requirement to file a capital restoration plan with the regulators. Performance under the capital restoration plan must be guaranteed by the parent holding company up to the lesser of the amount of the capital deficiency when deemed undercapitalized or 5% of the institution’s total assets. Federal regulations also specify circumstances under which a federal banking agency may reclassify a well capitalized institution as adequately capitalized, and may require an adequately capitalized institution to comply with supervisory actions as if it were in the next lower category (except that the FDIC may not reclassify a significantly undercapitalized institution as critically undercapitalized). As of December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank was well capitalized as defined above.

Transactions with Affiliates

Transactions between Northwest Bank and its affiliates, including the Company, are limited by Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act, applicable to FDIC-insured state nonmember banks by Section 18(j) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, and the Federal Reserve Acts implementing regulation, Regulation W. In general, transactions with affiliates must be on terms and under circumstances that are substantially the same, or at least as favorable to the bank, as comparable transactions with non-affiliates. In addition, certain types of transactions with affiliates are restricted to an aggregate percentage of the bank’s capital stock and surplus. Certain transactions with affiliates are required to be secured by specified collateral.

Activities and Investments of Insured State-Chartered Banks

Federal law generally limits the activities as principal and equity investments of state-chartered banks insured by the FDIC and its subsidiaries to those that are permissible for national banks. Before engaging in a new activity as principal that is not permissible for a national bank or otherwise permissible under federal law or FDIC regulations, an insured savings bank must seek approval from the FDIC to engage in such activity. The FDIC will not approve the activity unless the savings bank meets its minimum capital requirements, and the FDIC determines that the activity does not present a significant risk to the DIF.

Federal Home Loan Bank System    

Northwest Bank is a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank System, which consists of 11 regional Federal Home Loan Banks. The Federal Home Loan Bank System provides a central credit facility primarily for member institutions. As a member of the
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Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, Northwest Bank is required to acquire and hold share of capital stock in the Federal Home Loan Bank in specified amounts. As of December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank was in compliance with this requirement.

The Bank Secrecy Act and USA PATRIOT Act

The Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) and the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (“USA PATRIOT Act”) require Northwest Bank to implement a compliance program to detect and prevent money laundering, terrorist financing, and illicit crime. Together, the BSA and USA PATRIOT Act require Northwest Bank to implement internal controls, conduct customer due diligence, maintain records, and file reports. The USA PATRIOT Act also required the federal banking agencies to take into consideration the effectiveness of controls designed to combat money laundering activities in determining whether to approve a merger or other acquisition application. Accordingly, if we engage in a merger or other acquisition, our controls designed to combat money laundering would be considered as part of the application process. We have established policies, procedures and systems designed to comply with the BSA, USA PATRIOT Act, and regulations implemented thereunder.

Community Reinvestment Act

All FDIC-insured institutions have a responsibility under the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) and related regulations to help meet the credit needs of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. In connection with its examination of a state-chartered savings bank, the FDIC is required to assess the institution’s record of compliance with the CRA. On October 24, 2023, the FDIC, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a final rule to strengthen and modernize the CRA regulations. Under the final rule, banks with assets of at least $2 billion as of December 31 in both of the prior two calendar years will be a “large bank.” The agencies will evaluate large banks under four performance tests: the Retail Lending Test, the Retail Services and Products Test, the Community Development Financing Test, and the Community Development Services Test. The applicability date for the majority of the provisions in the CRA regulations is January 1, 2026, and additional requirements will be applicable on January 1, 2027.

Holding Company Regulation

General. As a bank holding company, Northwest Bancshares, Inc. is subject to regulation, examination and supervision by, and periodic reporting to, the Federal Reserve Board. The Federal Reserve Board has enforcement authority over the Company and any non-bank subsidiaries. Among other things, this authority permits the Federal Reserve Board to restrict or prohibit activities that are determined to be a risk to Northwest Bank.

Permissible Activities. The Company’s activities are limited to the activities permissible for bank holding companies, which generally include activities deemed by the Federal Reserve Board to be closely related or a proper incident to banking or managing or controlling banks. A bank holding company that meets certain criteria may elect to be regulated as a financial holding company and thereby engage in a broader array of financial activities, such as underwriting equity securities and insurance. Northwest Bancshares, Inc. has not elected to be regulated as a financial holding company.

Federal law prohibits a bank holding company, including Northwest Bancshares, Inc., from acquiring, directly or indirectly, more than 5% of a class of voting securities of, or all or substantially all of the assets of, another bank or bank holding company, without prior written approval of the Federal Reserve Board. In evaluating applications by bank holding companies to acquire banks, the Federal Reserve Board considers, among other factors, the financial and managerial resources and future prospects of the parties, the effect of the acquisition on the risk to the DIF, the convenience and needs of the community, competitive factors and compliance with anti-money laundering laws.

Capital. Bank holding companies with greater than $3 billion in total consolidated assets are subject to consolidated regulatory capital requirements identical to those applicable to the subsidiary depository institutions. Northwest Bancshares, Inc. was in compliance with the holding company capital requirements and the capital conservation buffer as of December 31, 2023.

Source of Strength Doctrine. The “source of strength doctrine” requires bank holding companies to provide assistance to their subsidiary depository institutions in the event such subsidiary depository institutions experience financial difficulty. The Federal Reserve Board has issued regulations requiring that all bank holding companies serve as a source of financial and managerial strength to their subsidiary depository institutions.



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Capital Distributions. The Federal Reserve Board has issued a policy statement regarding the payment of dividends by bank holding companies. In general, the policy provides that dividends should be paid only out of current earnings and only if the prospective rate of earnings retention by the holding company appears consistent with the organization’s capital needs, asset quality and overall supervisory financial condition. Separate regulatory guidance provides for prior consultation with Federal Reserve Bank supervisory staff concerning dividends in certain circumstances, such as where the company’s net income for the past four quarters, net of dividends previously paid over that period, is insufficient to fully fund the dividend, the proposed dividend exceeds earnings for the period for which it is being paid, or the company’s overall rate of earnings retention is inconsistent with the company’s capital needs and overall financial condition. The guidance also provides for prior consultation with supervisory staff for material increases in the amount of a bank holding company’s common stock dividend. The ability of a bank holding company to pay dividends may be restricted if a subsidiary bank becomes undercapitalized.

Federal Reserve Board regulatory guidance also indicates that a bank holding company should inform Federal Reserve Bank staff prior to redeeming or repurchasing common stock or perpetual preferred stock if the bank holding company is experiencing financial weaknesses or the repurchase or redemption would result in a net reduction, at the end of a quarter, in the amount of such equity instruments outstanding compared with the beginning of the quarter in which the redemption or repurchase occurred. Federal Reserve Board regulations require prior approval for a bank holding company to repurchase or redeem its equity securities if the gross consideration, when combined with net consideration paid for all such repurchases or redemptions during the preceding 12 months, will equal 10% or more of the holding company’s consolidated net worth. There is an exception for well-capitalized bank holding companies that meet specified qualitative criteria. Federal Reserve Board guidance provides for prior consultation with supervisory staff and nonobjection under specified circumstances prior to a holding company repurchasing or redeeming regulatory capital instruments, including common stock, regardless of the applicability of the previously referenced notification requirement.

These regulatory policies may affect the ability of Northwest Bancshares, Inc. to pay dividends, repurchase shares of its common stock or otherwise engage in capital distributions.

Acquisition of the Company. Under the Change in Bank Control Act, no person may acquire control of a bank holding company, such as Northwest Bancshares, Inc., unless the Federal Reserve Board has been given 60 days’ prior written notice and has not issued a notice disapproving the proposed acquisition, taking into consideration certain factors, including the financial and managerial resources of the acquirer and the competitive effects of the acquisition. Control, as defined under the Change in Bank Control Act, means ownership, control of or power to vote 25% or more of any class of voting stock. There is a rebuttable presumption of control upon the acquisition of 10% or more of a class of voting stock if the holding company involved has its shares registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), or if no other person will own, control or hold the power to vote a greater percentage of that class of voting security after the acquisition.

A company that acquires control of a bank holding company, such as Northwest Bancshares, Inc., must receive prior Federal Reserve Board approval under the Bank Holding Company Act. Control, as defined under the Bank Holding Company Act, means ownership, control or power to vote 25% or more of any class of voting stock, control in any manner over the election of a majority of the company’s directors, or a determination by the regulator that the acquirer has the power to exercise, directly or indirectly, a controlling influence over the management or policies of the company. The Federal Reserve Board adopted a final rule in 2020 that revised its framework for determining whether a company, under the Bank Holding Company Act, exercises a “controlling influence” over a bank or a bank holding company. The Federal Reserve Board’s final rule applies to questions of control under the Bank Holding Company Act but does not extend to the Change in Bank Control Act.

Federal Securities Laws

Our common stock is registered with the SEC under Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act. We are also subject to the proxy rules, tender offer rules, insider trading restrictions, annual and periodic reporting, and other requirements of the Exchange Act.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was enacted to increase corporate responsibility, to provide for enhanced penalties for accounting and auditing improprieties at publicly traded companies, and to protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures pursuant to the securities laws. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act generally applies to all companies that file or are required to file periodic reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, under the Exchange Act. The Company has policies, procedures and systems designed to comply with this Act and its implementing regulations.





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FEDERAL AND STATE TAXATION
 
Federal Taxation.  For federal income tax purposes, Northwest Bancshares, Inc. files a consolidated federal income tax return with its wholly-owned subsidiaries on a calendar year basis. The applicable federal income tax expense or benefit is properly allocated to each subsidiary based upon taxable income or loss calculated on a separate company basis.
 
We account for income taxes using the asset and liability method which accounts for deferred income taxes by applying the enacted statutory rates in effect at the balance sheet date to differences between the book basis and the tax basis of assets and liabilities. The resulting deferred tax liabilities and assets are adjusted to reflect changes in tax laws.

Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law on August 16, 2022, among other things, implements a new alternative minimum tax of 15% on corporations with profits in excess of $1 billion, a 1% excise tax on stock repurchases, and several tax incentives to promote clean energy and climate initiatives. These provisions are effective beginning January 1, 2023.

State Taxation.  As a Maryland business corporation, Northwest Bancshares, Inc. is required to file annual tax returns with the State of Maryland. In addition, Northwest Bancshares, Inc. is subject to Pennsylvania’s corporate net income tax. Dividends received from Northwest Bank qualify for a 100% dividends received deduction and are not subject to corporate net income tax.
 
Northwest Bank is subject to Pennsylvania’s mutual thrift institutions tax based on Northwest Bank’s net income determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, with certain adjustments. The tax rate under the mutual thrift institutions tax is 11.5%. Interest on Pennsylvania and federal obligations is excluded from net income. An allocable portion of interest expense incurred to carry the tax-free obligations is disallowed as a deduction. Northwest Bank is also subject to taxes in the other states in which it conducts business. These taxes are apportioned based upon the volume of business conducted in those states as a percentage of the whole. A majority of Northwest Bank’s affairs are conducted in Pennsylvania; however as the Company’s operational footprint expands, taxes paid to other states, such as New York (with a 7.25% rate) and Indiana (with a 6% rate) have grown slightly in significance.
 
The subsidiaries of Northwest Bank are subject to a Pennsylvania corporate net income tax and are also subject to other applicable taxes in the states where they conduct business.

We are subject to routine audits of our tax returns by the Internal Revenue Service as well as all states in which we conduct business. We are subject to audit by the Internal Revenue Service for the tax periods ended after December 31, 2019 and generally subject to audit by any state in which we conduct business for the tax periods ended after December 31, 2019.

ITEM 1A.                                       RISK FACTORS
 
In addition to factors discussed in the description of our business and elsewhere in this report, as well as other filings we make with the SEC, the following are factors that could adversely affect our future results of operations and financial condition.

Risks Related to our Lending Activities

Our commercial loan portfolio is increasing and the inherently higher risk of loss may lead to additional provisions for credit losses or charge-offs, which would negatively impact earnings and capital.

Commercial loans generally expose a lender to greater risk of non-payment and loss than one- to four-family residential mortgage loans because repayment of the loans often depends on the successful operation of the business and the income stream of the borrowers. Such loans typically involve larger loan balances to single borrowers or groups of related borrowers compared to one- to four-family residential mortgage loans. Also, many of our commercial borrowers have more than one loan outstanding with us. Consequently, an adverse development with respect to one loan or one credit relationship can expose us to a significantly greater risk of loss compared to an adverse development with respect to a one- to four-family residential mortgage loan. Commercial business loans expose us to additional risk since they typically are dependent on the borrower’s ability to make repayments from the cash flows of the business and are secured by non-real estate collateral that may depreciate over time. Further, our commercial business loans may be secured by collateral other than real estate, such as inventory and accounts receivable, the value of which may be more difficult to appraise, control or collect and may be more susceptible to fluctuation in value at the time of default. In addition, if we foreclose on these loans, our holding period for the collateral may be longer than for a single or multi-family residential property if there are fewer potential purchasers of the collateral.

The level of our commercial real estate loan portfolio may subject us to additional regulatory scrutiny.
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The FDIC and the other federal bank regulatory agencies have promulgated joint guidance on sound risk management practices for financial institutions with concentrations in commercial real estate lending. Under the guidance, a financial institution that, like us, is actively involved in commercial real estate lending should perform a risk assessment to identify concentrations. A financial institution may have a concentration in commercial real estate lending if, among other factors, (i) total reported loans for construction, land acquisition and development, and other land represent 100% or more of total capital, or (ii) total reported loans secured by multi-family and non-farm residential properties, loans for construction, land acquisition and development and other land, and loans otherwise sensitive to the general commercial real estate market, including loans to commercial real estate related entities, represent 300% or more of total capital. Based on these factors, we have a concentration in multi-family and commercial real estate lending, as such loans represent 356% of total bank capital as of December 31, 2023. The particular focus of the guidance is on exposure to commercial real estate loans that are dependent on the cash flow from the real estate held as collateral and that are likely to be at greater risk to conditions in the commercial real estate market (as opposed to real estate collateral held as a secondary source of repayment or as an abundance of caution). The purpose of the guidance is to guide banks in developing risk management practices and capital levels commensurate with the level and nature of real estate concentrations. The guidance states that management should employ heightened risk management practices including board and management oversight and strategic planning, development of underwriting standards, risk assessment and monitoring through market analysis and stress testing. While we believe we have implemented policies and procedures with respect to our commercial real estate loan portfolio consistent with this guidance, bank regulators could require us to implement additional policies and procedures consistent with their interpretation of the guidance that may result in additional costs to us or that may result in a curtailment of our multi-family and commercial real estate lending that would adversely affect our loan originations and profitability.

If the allowance for credit losses is not sufficient to cover actual credit losses, our earnings could decrease.

Our customers may not repay their loans according to the original terms, and the collateral, if any, securing the payment of these loans may be insufficient to pay any remaining loan balance. We may experience significant credit losses, which may have a material adverse effect on operating results. We make various assumptions and judgments about the collectability of the loan portfolio, including the creditworthiness of borrowers and the value of the real estate and other assets serving as collateral for the repayment of loans. If our assumptions prove to be incorrect, the allowance for credit losses may not be sufficient to cover losses inherent in our loan portfolio, resulting in additions to the allowance. Material additions to the allowance would materially decrease net income.

Our emphasis on originating commercial real estate and commercial loans is one of the more significant factors in evaluating the allowance for credit losses. As we continue to increase the amount of such loans, increased provisions for credit losses may be necessary, which would decrease our earnings. In addition, any future credit deterioration could require us to increase our allowance for credit losses in the future.

Bank regulators periodically review our allowance for credit losses and may require an increase to the provision for credit losses or further loan charge-offs. Any increase in our allowance for credit losses or loan charge-offs resulting from these reviews may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition.

The foreclosure process may adversely impact our recoveries on non-performing loans.

The judicial foreclosure process is protracted, which delays our ability to resolve non-performing loans through the sale of the underlying collateral. The longer timelines have been the result of the economic crisis, additional consumer protection initiatives related to the foreclosure process, increased documentary requirements and judicial scrutiny, and, both voluntary and mandatory programs under which lenders may consider loan modifications or other alternatives to foreclosure. These reasons and the legal and regulatory responses have impacted the foreclosure process and completion time of foreclosures for residential mortgage lenders. This may result in a material adverse effect on collateral values and our ability to minimize its losses.

Risks Related to Laws and Regulations

Changes in laws and regulations and the cost of compliance with new laws and regulations may adversely affect our operations and our income.

The Company and Northwest Bank are subject to extensive regulation, supervision and examination by the Federal Reserve Board, the Department of Banking and the FDIC. These regulatory authorities have extensive discretion in connection with their supervisory and enforcement activities, including the ability to impose restrictions on Northwest Bank’s operations, reclassify assets, determine the adequacy of Northwest Bank’s allowance for credit losses and determine the level of deposit insurance premiums assessed. The laws and regulations applicable to us are subject to frequent change and interpretations. Any change in these regulations and oversight, whether in the form of regulatory policy, new regulations or legislation or additional deposit insurance premiums could have a material impact on our operations.

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The potential exists for additional federal or state laws and regulations, or changes in policy, affecting lending and funding practices and liquidity standards. Moreover, bank regulatory agencies have been active in responding to concerns and trends identified in examinations, and have issued many formal enforcement orders requiring capital ratios in excess of regulatory requirements. Bank regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Reserve Board, the Department of Banking, the CFPB and the FDIC, govern the activities in which we may engage, primarily for the protection of depositors, and not for the protection or benefit of potential investors. In addition, new laws and regulations may increase our costs of regulatory compliance and of doing business, and otherwise affect our operations. New laws and regulations may significantly affect the markets in which we do business, the markets for and value of our loans and investments, the fees we can charge and our ongoing operations, costs and profitability.

Non-compliance with the USA PATRIOT Act, Bank Secrecy Act, or other laws and regulations could result in fines or sanctions.

The USA PATRIOT and Bank Secrecy Acts require financial institutions to develop programs to prevent financial institutions from being used for money laundering and terrorist activities. If such activities are detected, financial institutions are obligated to file suspicious activity reports with the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. These rules require financial institutions to establish procedures for identifying and verifying the identity of customers seeking to open new financial accounts. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in fines or sanctions or affect our ability to pursue further acquisition opportunities. During the last year, several banking institutions have received large fines for non-compliance with these laws and regulations. While we have developed policies and procedures designed to assist in compliance with these laws and regulations, these policies and procedures may not be effective in preventing violations of these laws and regulations.

We are subject to the Community Reinvestment Act and fair lending laws, and failure to comply with these laws could lead to material penalties.

The Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act and other fair lending laws and regulations impose nondiscriminatory lending requirements on financial institutions. A successful regulatory challenge to an institution’s performance under the CRA or fair lending laws and regulations could result in a wide variety of sanctions, including the required payment of damages and civil money penalties, injunctive relief, imposition of restrictions on mergers and acquisitions activity and restrictions on expansion. Private parties may also have the ability to challenge an institution’s performance under fair lending laws in private class action litigation. Such actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We could become subject to more stringent capital requirements, which could adversely impact our return on equity, require us to raise additional capital, or constrain us from paying dividends or repurchasing shares.

Federal regulations establish minimum capital requirements for insured depository institutions, including minimum risk-based capital and leverage ratios, and define “capital” for calculating these ratios. The minimum capital requirements are: (i) a common equity Tier 1 capital ratio of 4.5%; (ii) a Tier 1 to risk-based assets capital ratio of 6%; (iii) a total capital ratio of 8%; and (iv) a Tier 1 leverage ratio of 4%. Unrealized gains and losses on certain “available-for-sale” securities holdings are to be included for purposes of calculating regulatory capital requirements unless a one-time opt-out was exercised. The Bank exercised this one-time opt-out option. The regulations also establish a “capital conservation buffer” of 2.5% and the following minimum ratios: (i) a common equity Tier 1 capital ratio of 7%, (ii) a Tier 1 to risk-based assets capital ratio of 8.5%, and (iii) a total capital ratio of 10.5%. An institution will be subject to limitations on paying dividends, engaging in share repurchases, and paying discretionary bonuses if its capital level falls below the buffer amount. These limitations will establish a maximum percentage of eligible retained income that can be utilized for such actions.

At December 31, 2023, Northwest Bank has met all of these requirements, including the full 2.5% capital conservation buffer.

The application of more stringent capital requirements could, among other things, result in lower returns on equity, require the raising of additional capital, and result in regulatory actions if we were to be unable to comply with such requirements. Implementation of changes to asset risk weightings for risk-based capital calculations, items included or deducted in calculating regulatory capital and/or additional capital conservation buffers could result in management modifying its business strategy, and could limit our ability to make distributions, including paying out dividends or buying back shares. Specifically, Northwest Bank’s ability to pay dividends to stockholders will be limited if it does not have the capital conservation buffer required by the capital rules. Furthermore, the imposition of liquidity requirements in connection with the implementation of Basel III could result in our having to increase our holdings of liquid assets, lengthen the term of our funding, and/or restructure our business model.



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The Federal Reserve Board may require us to commit capital resources to support Northwest Bank.

Federal law requires that a holding company act as a source of financial and managerial strength to its subsidiary bank and to commit resources to support such subsidiary bank. Under the “source of strength” doctrine, the Federal Reserve Board may require a holding company to make capital injections into a troubled subsidiary bank and may charge the holding company with engaging in unsafe and unsound practices for failure to commit resources to a subsidiary bank. A capital injection may be required at times when the holding company may not have sufficient resources and therefore may be required to borrow the funds or raise capital. Any borrowing or capital raise could occur at a time that is more difficult and expensive and could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

Future legislative or regulatory actions responding to perceived financial and market problems could impair our ability to foreclose on collateral.

There have been proposals made by members of Congress and others that would reduce the amount distressed borrowers are otherwise contractually obligated to pay under their mortgage loans and limit an institution’s ability to foreclose on mortgage collateral. Were proposals such as these, or other proposals limiting our rights as a creditor, to be implemented, we could experience increased credit losses or increased expense in pursuing our remedies as a creditor.

Legal and regulatory proceedings and related matters could adversely affect us or the financial services industry in general.

We, and other participants in the financial services industry upon whom we rely to operate, have been and may in the future become involved in legal and regulatory proceedings. Most of the proceedings we consider to be in the normal course of our business are typical for the industry; however, it is inherently difficult to assess the outcome of these matters, and other participants in the financial services industry or we may not prevail in any proceeding or litigation. There could be substantial cost and management diversion in such litigation and proceedings, and any adverse determination could have a materially adverse effect on our business, brand or image, or our financial condition and results of our operations.

Monetary policies and regulations of the Federal Reserve Board could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In addition to being affected by general economic conditions, our earnings and growth are affected by the policies of the Federal Reserve Board. An important function of the Federal Reserve Board is to regulate the money supply and credit conditions. Among the instruments used by the Federal Reserve Board to implement these objectives are open market purchases and sales of U.S. government securities, adjustments of the discount rate and changes in banks’ reserve requirements against bank deposits. These instruments are used in varying combinations to influence overall economic growth and the distribution of credit, bank loans, investments and deposits. Their use also affects interest rates charged on loans or paid on deposits.

The monetary policies and regulations of the Federal Reserve Board have had a significant effect on the operating results of financial institutions in the past and are expected to continue to do so in the future. The effects of such policies upon our business, financial condition and results of operations cannot be predicted.

Risks Related to Market Interest Rates

The reversal of the historically low interest rate environment has and may continue to adversely affect our net interest income and profitability.

The Federal Reserve Board decreased benchmark interest rates significantly, to near zero, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in 2022, the Federal Reserve Board reversed its policy of near zero interest rates given its concerns over inflation. Market interest rates have risen significantly in response to the Federal Reserve Board’s rate increases. As discussed below, the increase in market interest rates has had, and may continue to have, an adverse effect on our net interest income and profitability.

Changes in interest rates could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

While we strive to control the impact of changes in interest rates on our net income, our results of operations and financial condition could be significantly affected by changes in interest rates. Our results of operations depend substantially on our net interest income, which is the difference between the interest income we earn on our interest-earning assets, such as loans and investment securities, and the interest expense we pay on our interest-bearing liabilities, such as deposits, borrowings and trust preferred securities. Because it is difficult to perfectly match the maturities and cash flows from our financial assets and liabilities our net income could be adversely impacted by changes in the level of interest rates or the slope of the Treasury yield curve.

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Changes in interest rates may also affect the average life of loans and mortgage-related securities. Decreases in interest rates can result in increased prepayments of loans and mortgage-related securities, as borrowers refinance to reduce their borrowing costs. Under these circumstances, we are subject to reinvestment risk to the extent that we are unable to reinvest the cash received from such prepayments at rates that are comparable to the rates on existing loans and investment securities. Additionally, increases in interest rates may decrease loan demand and make it more difficult for borrowers to repay adjustable rate loans. Also, increases in interest rates may extend the life of fixed rate assets, which would restrict our ability to reinvest in higher yielding alternatives, and may result in customers withdrawing certificates of deposit early so long as the early withdrawal penalty is less than the interest they could receive as a result of the higher interest rates.

Changes in interest rates also affect the current fair value of our interest-earning investment securities portfolio. Generally, the value of securities moves inversely with changes in interest rates. At December 31, 2023, the fair value of our investment and mortgage-backed securities portfolio totaled $1.743 billion. Net unrealized losses on these securities totaled $312.0 million at December 31, 2023. During the year ended December 31, 2023, we incurred other comprehensive gains of $7.9 million related to net changes in unrealized holding losses in the available-for-sale investment securities portfolio.

The current level of, or any increases in market interest rates may reduce our mortgage banking income. We generate revenues primarily from gains on the sale of mortgage loans to investors, and from the amortization of deferred mortgage servicing rights. We recognized noninterest income of $2.4 million on mortgage banking activities during the year ended December 31, 2023. We also earn interest on loans held for sale while awaiting delivery to our investors. In a rising or higher interest rate environment, our mortgage loan originations may decrease, resulting in fewer loans that are available for sale. This would result in a decrease in interest income and a decrease in revenues from loan sales. In addition, our results of operations are affected by the amount of noninterest expense associated with mortgage banking activities, such as salaries and employee benefits, occupancy, equipment, data processing and other operating costs. During periods of reduced loan demand, our results of operations may be adversely affected to the extent that we are unable to reduce expenses commensurate with the decline in mortgage loan origination activity.

Hedging against interest rate exposure may adversely affect our earnings.

On occasion we have employed various financial methodologies that limit, or “hedge,” the adverse effects of rising or decreasing interest rates on our loan portfolios and short-term liabilities. We also engage in hedging strategies with respect to arrangements with our customers. Our hedging activity varies based on the level and volatility of interest rates and other changing market conditions. Hedging strategies can be imperfect and may fail to protect us from loss. Moreover, hedging activities could result in costs if the hedge proves to be ineffective. Additionally, hedging activities could fail to protect us or adversely affect us because, among other things:

available interest rate hedging may not correlate to the risk for which protection is sought;
the duration of the hedge may not match the duration of the related asset or liability;
the counterparty in the hedging transaction may default on its obligation to pay;
the credit quality of the counterparty may degrade to such an extent that it impairs our ability to sell or assign our side of the hedging transaction;
the value of derivatives used for hedging may be adjusted from time to time in accordance with accounting rules to reflect changes in fair value; and/or
downward adjustments, or “mark-to-market” losses, would reduce our stockholders’ equity.

Risk Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak could continue to affect our financial condition and results of operations.

Global health concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions taken to reduce the spread of the virus have continued to affect the macroeconomic environment, both nationally and in the Company’s existing geographic footprint.

Given the ongoing and dynamic nature of the circumstances, it is difficult to predict the full impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on our business. The extent of such impact will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain, including when the coronavirus can be fully controlled and abated. The COVID-19 pandemic and the related adverse local and national economic consequences could result in a material, adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, and results of operations.

Risks Related to Economic Conditions

A worsening of economic conditions in our market area could reduce demand for our products and services and/or result in increases in our level of non-performing loans, which could adversely affect our operations, financial condition and earnings.

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Our performance is significantly impacted by the general economic conditions in our primary markets in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Indiana. At December 31, 2023, 38% of our loan portfolio was secured by properties located in Pennsylvania, and 12% of our loan portfolio was secured by properties located in New York, with a large portion of the rest of our loans secured by real estate located in Ohio and Indiana. Local economic conditions have a significant impact on the ability of our borrowers to repay loans and the value of the collateral securing loans.

A deterioration in economic conditions could result in the following consequences, any of which could have a material adverse affect on our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations:

demand for our products and services may decline;
loan delinquencies, problem assets and foreclosures may increase;
we may increase our allowance for credit losses;
collateral for loans, especially real estate, may decline in value, in turn reducing customers’ future borrowing power, and reducing the value of assets and collateral associated with existing loans; and
the net worth and liquidity of loan guarantors may decline, impairing their ability to honor commitments to us.

In addition, deflationary pressures could have a significant negative effect on our borrowers, especially our business borrowers, and the values of underlying collateral securing loans, which could negatively affect our financial performance.

Inflation can have an adverse impact on our business and on our customers.

Inflation risk is the risk that the value of assets or income from investments will be worth less in the future as inflation decreases the value of money. Inflation generally increases the cost of goods and services we use in our business operations, such as electricity and other utilities, which increases our non-interest expenses. Furthermore, our customers are also affected by inflation and the rising costs of goods and services used in their households and businesses, which could have a negative impact on their ability to repay their loans with us. Sustained higher interest rates by the Federal Reserve Board to tame persistent inflationary price pressures could also push down asset prices and weaken economic activity. A deterioration in economic conditions in the United States and our markets could result in an increase in loan delinquencies and non-performing assets, decreases in loan collateral values and a decrease in demand for our products and services, all of which, in turn, would adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Beginning in 2022, in response to a pronounced rise in inflation, the Federal Reserve Board reversed its policy of “near zero” interest rates and has materially increased the target Fed Funds rate. As discussed under “Risks Related to Market Interest Rates - Changes in interest rates could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition,” as inflation increases and market interest rates rise the value of our investment securities, particularly those with longer maturities, would decrease, although this effect can be less pronounced for floating rate instruments.

We may be negatively impacted by customer and depositor reaction to unrelated bank failures.

On March 9, 2023, Silvergate Bank, La Jolla, California, announced its decision to voluntarily liquidate its assets and wind down operations. On March 10, 2023, Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, California, was closed by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. On March 12, 2023, Signature Bank, New York, New York, was closed by the New York State Department of Financial Services, and on May 1, 2023, First Republic Bank, San Francisco, California, was closed by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. These banks had elevated levels of uninsured deposits, which may be less likely to remain at the bank over time and less stable as a source of funding than insured deposits. These failures led to volatility and declines in the market for bank stocks and questions about depositor confidence in depository institutions.

These bank failures have led to an increased customer and regulatory focus on funding and liquidity at financial institutions, the composition of its deposits, including the amount of uninsured deposits, the amount of accumulated other comprehensive loss, capital levels and interest rate risk management. If we are unable to meet the increased expectations of our customers and regulatory agencies, it may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

A lack of liquidity could adversely affect the Company’s financial condition and results of operations.

Liquidity is essential to the Company’s business. The Company relies on its ability to generate deposits and effectively manage the repayment of its liabilities to ensure that there is adequate liquidity to fund operations. An inability to raise funds through deposits, borrowings, the sale and maturities of loans and securities and other sources could have a substantial negative effect on liquidity. The Company’s most important source of funds is its deposits. Deposit balances can decrease when customers perceive alternative investments as providing a better risk adjusted return, which are strongly influenced by such external factors as the direction of interest rates, local and national economic conditions and the availability and attractiveness of alternative investments.
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Further, the demand for deposits may be reduced due to a variety of factors such as negative trends in the banking sector, the level of and/or composition of our uninsured deposits, demographic patterns, changes in customer preferences, reductions in consumers’ disposable income, the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve or regulatory actions that decrease customer access to particular products. If customers move money out of bank deposits and into other investments such as money market funds, the Company would lose a relatively low-cost source of funds, which would increase its funding costs and reduce net interest income. Any changes made to the rates offered on deposits to remain competitive with other financial institutions may also adversely affect profitability and liquidity. Other primary sources of funds consist of cash flows from operations, maturities and sales of investment securities and/or loans, brokered deposits, borrowings from the FHLB and/or FRB discount window, and unsecured borrowings. The Company also may borrow funds from third-party lenders, such as other financial institutions. The Company’s access to funding sources in amounts adequate to finance or capitalize its activities, or on terms that are acceptable, could be impaired by factors that affect the Company directly or the financial services industry or economy in general, such as disruptions in the financial markets or negative views and expectations about the prospects for the financial services industry, a decrease in the level of the Company’s business activity as a result of a downturn in markets or by one or more adverse regulatory actions against the Company or the financial sector in general. Any decline in available funding could adversely impact the Company’s ability to originate loans, invest in securities, meet expenses, or to fulfill obligations such as meeting deposit withdrawal demands, any of which could have a material adverse impact on its liquidity, business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to our Business Strategy

Acquisitions may disrupt our business and dilute stockholder value.

We regularly evaluate merger and acquisition opportunities with other financial institutions and financial services companies. As a result, negotiations may take place and future mergers or acquisitions involving cash, debt, or equity securities may occur at any time. We would seek acquisition partners that offer us either significant market presence or the potential to expand our market footprint and improve profitability through economies of scale or expanded services.

Acquiring other banks, businesses, or branches may have an adverse effect on our financial results and may involve various other risks commonly associated with acquisitions, including, among other things:

difficulty in estimating the value of the target company;
payment of a premium over book and market values that may dilute our tangible book value and earnings per share in the short and long term;
potential exposure to unknown or contingent liabilities of the target company;
exposure to potential asset quality problems of the target company;
potential volatility in reported income associated with goodwill impairment losses;
difficulty and expense of integrating the operations and personnel of the target company;
inability to realize the expected revenue increases, cost savings, increases in geographic or product presence, and/or other projected benefits of the acquisition;
potential disruption to our business;
potential diversion of our management’s time and attention;
the possible loss of key employees and customers of the target company; and
potential changes in banking or tax laws or regulations that may affect the target company.

Loans that were acquired as part of our acquisitions of other depository institutions were not underwritten or originated in accordance with our credit standards, including environmental matters, and we did not have long-standing relationships with many of these borrowers at the time of acquisition. The acquired loans are re-risked at that date of acquisition based on our credit standards, which can temporarily increase loans classified as special mention and substandard for a period of time until these loans are integrated and conform to our credit standards. Although we reviewed the loan portfolios of each institution acquired as part of the diligence process, and believe that we have established reasonable credit marks with regard to all loans acquired, we may incur losses in excess of the credit marks with regard to these acquired loans, and any such losses, if they occur, may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

Acquisitions may not enhance our cash flows, business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects as expected and such acquisitions may have an adverse effect on our results of operations, particularly during periods in which the acquisitions are being integrated into our operations.

Our continued pace of growth may require us to raise additional capital during unfavorable market conditions.

We are required by federal regulatory authorities to maintain adequate levels of capital to support our operations. We anticipate that we will have sufficient capital resources to satisfy our capital requirements for the foreseeable future. We may at some
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point, however, need to raise additional capital to support our continued growth. If we raise capital through the issuance of additional shares of our common stock or other securities, it would dilute the ownership interests of existing stockholders and may dilute the per share book value of our common stock. New investors may also have rights, preferences and privileges senior to our current stockholders, which may adversely impact our current stockholders. Also, the need to raise additional capital may force our management to spend more time in managerial and financing-related activities than in operational activities.

Our ability to raise additional capital, if needed, will depend on conditions in the capital markets at that time, which are outside of our control, and on our financial performance. Accordingly, we may not be able to raise additional capital, if needed, with favorable terms. If we cannot raise additional capital when needed, our ability to further expand our operations through internal growth and acquisitions could be materially impaired.

New lines of business or new products and services may subject us to additional risks.

From time to time, we may implement new lines of business or offer new products and services within existing lines of business. In addition, we will continue to make investments in research, development, and marketing for new products and services. There are substantial risks and uncertainties associated with these efforts, particularly in instances where the markets are not fully developed. In developing and marketing new lines of business and/or new products and services we may invest significant time and resources. Initial timetables for the development and introduction of new lines of business and/or new products or services may not be achieved and price and profitability targets may not prove feasible. Furthermore, if customers do not perceive our new offerings as providing significant value, they may fail to accept our new products and services. External factors, such as compliance with regulations, competitive alternatives, and shifting market preferences, may also impact the successful implementation of a new line of business or a new product or service. Furthermore, the burden on management and our information technology of introducing any new line of business and/or new product or service could have a significant impact on the effectiveness of our system of internal controls. Failure to successfully manage these risks in the development and implementation of new lines of business or new products or services could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our business strategy includes growth, and our financial condition and results of operations could be negatively affected if we fail to grow or fail to manage our growth effectively.

Our business strategy includes growth in assets, deposits and the scale of our operations. Achieving our growth targets will require us to attract customers that currently bank at other financial institutions in our market, thereby increasing our share of the market. Our ability to successfully grow will depend on a variety of factors, including our ability to attract and retain experienced bankers, the continued availability of desirable business opportunities, the competitive responses from other financial institutions in our market area and our ability to manage our growth. In order to successfully manage our growth, the Company may need to adopt and effectively implement new or revise existing policies, procedures, and controls, as well as hire additional employees or pay higher salaries to retain existing employees, to maintain credit quality, control costs and oversee the Company’s operations. Growth opportunities may not be available or we may not be able to manage our growth successfully. If we do not manage our growth effectively, our financial condition and operating results could be negatively affected.

Uncertainties associated with increased loan originations may result in errors in our judgment of collectability, which may lead to additional provisions for credit losses or charge-offs, which would negatively affect our operations.

Increasing loan originations would likely require us to lend to borrowers with which we have limited experience. Accordingly, we would not have a significant payment history pattern with which to judge future collectability. Further, newly originated loans have not been subjected to unfavorable economic conditions. As a result, it may be difficult to predict the future performance of newly originated loans. These loans may have delinquency or charge-off levels above our recent historical experience, which could adversely affect our future performance.

Risk Related to Competitive Matters

Strong competition may limit growth and profitability.

Competition in the banking and financial services industry is intense. We compete with commercial banks, savings institutions, mortgage brokerage firms, credit unions, finance companies, fintech companies, mutual funds, insurance companies, and brokerage and investment banking firms operating locally and elsewhere. Many of these competitors (whether regional or national institutions) have substantially greater resources and lending limits than we have and may offer certain services that we do not or cannot provide. In addition, some have competitive advantages such as the credit union exemption from paying federal income tax. Competitive factors driven by consumer sentiment or otherwise can also reduce our ability to generate fee income, such as through overdraft fees. Our profitability depends upon our ability to successfully compete in our market areas.

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Risks Related to Operational Matters

Risks associated with system failures, interruptions, or breaches of security could negatively affect our earnings.

Information technology systems are critical to our business. We use various technology systems to manage our customer relationships, general ledger, deposits, and loans. We have established policies and procedures to prevent or limit the impact of system failures, interruptions, and security breaches, but such events may still occur or may not be adequately addressed if they do occur. In addition, any compromise of our systems could deter customers from using our products and services. Although we rely on security systems to provide security and authentication necessary to effect the secure transmission of data, these precautions may not protect our systems from compromises or breaches of security.

Our business is subject to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which, among other things: (i) imposes certain limitations on our ability to share nonpublic personal information about our customers with nonaffiliated third parties; (ii) requires that we provide certain disclosures to customers about our information collection, sharing and security practices and afford customers the right to “opt out” of any information sharing by us with nonaffiliated third parties (with certain exceptions); and (iii) requires that we develop, implement and maintain a written comprehensive information security program containing appropriate safeguards based on our size and complexity, the nature and scope of our activities, and the sensitivity of customer information we process, as well as plans for responding to data security breaches. Ensuring that our collection, use, transfer and storage of personal information complies with all applicable laws and regulations can increase our costs. Despite the defensive measures we take to manage our internal technological and operational infrastructure, threats may originate externally from third parties such as foreign governments, organized crime and other hackers, and outsource or infrastructure-support providers and application developers, or may originate internally from within our organization. Furthermore, we may not be able to ensure that all of our clients, suppliers, counterparties and other third parties have appropriate controls in place to protect the confidentiality of the information that they exchange with us, particularly where such information is transmitted by electronic means. Our heavy reliance on information technology systems exposes us to operational risks, which include the risk of malfeasance by employees or persons outside of our organization, errors relating to transaction processing and technology, systems failures or interruptions, failures to properly implement systems upgrades, breaches of our internal control systems and compliance requirements, and business continuation and disaster recovery.

In addition, we outsource a significant amount of our data processing to certain third-party providers. If these third-party providers encounter difficulties, or if we have difficulty communicating with them, our ability to adequately process and account for transactions could be affected, and our business operations could be adversely affected. Threats to information security also exist in the processing of customer information through various other vendors and their personnel.

The occurrence of any system failures, interruption, or breach of security could damage our reputation and result in a loss of customers and business, could subject us to additional regulatory scrutiny, or could expose us to litigation and possible financial liability. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

Our risk management framework may not be effective in mitigating risk and reducing the potential for significant losses.

Our risk management framework is designed to minimize risk and loss to us. We seek to identify, measure, monitor, report and control our exposure to risk, including strategic, market, liquidity, credit, interest rate, compliance and operational risks. While we use a broad and diversified set of risk monitoring and mitigation techniques, these techniques are inherently limited because they cannot anticipate the existence or future development of currently unanticipated or unknown risks. Recent economic conditions and heightened legislative and regulatory scrutiny of the financial services industry, among other developments, have increased our level of risk. Accordingly, we could suffer losses as a result of our failure to properly anticipate and manage these risks.

Our board of directors relies to a large degree on management and outside consultants in overseeing cybersecurity risk management.

The Board of the Company has an Innovation and Technology Sub-Committee, consisting of wholly independent directors chartered, among other items, with a focus on cybersecurity risk. Additionally, the Company’s Board has a designated Risk Management Sub-Committee with the responsibility of monitoring enterprise level risks, including those related to cybersecurity. Furthermore, management of the Company has both an Enterprise Risk Management Committee and an Information Technology Steering Committee (ITSC), both of which are comprised of the most senior members of management, including the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Information Officer, and Chief Operating Officer. The ITSC meets monthly, or more frequently if needed, and the ERMC meets quarterly, or more frequently if needed. Material items related to cybersecurity are reported to the Innovation and Technology and Risk Management Sub-Committees. The Company also engages outside consultants to support its cybersecurity efforts. The directors of the Company do not have significant experience in cybersecurity risk management in other business entities comparable to the Company and rely on members of management, including, but not limited to, the Chief Information Security Officer, Chief Information Security Officer, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Data Officer, for cybersecurity guidance.
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Our business may be adversely affected by an increasing prevalence of fraud and other financial crimes.

Our loans to businesses and individuals and our deposit relationships and related transactions are subject to exposure to the risk of loss due to fraud and other financial crimes. Nationally, reported incidents of fraud and other financial crimes have increased. We have also experienced losses due to apparent fraud and other financial crimes. While we have policies and procedures designed to prevent such losses, losses may still occur.

We could be adversely affected by the soundness of other financial institutions and other third parties we rely on.

Financial services institutions are interrelated as a result of trading, clearing, counterparty or other relationships. We have exposure to many different industries and counterparties, and routinely execute transactions with counterparties in the financial services industry, including commercial banks, brokers and dealers, investment banks and other institutional customers. Many of these transactions expose us to credit risk in the event of a default by a counterparty or client. In addition, our credit risk may be exacerbated when our collateral cannot be foreclosed upon or is liquidated at prices not sufficient to recover the full amount of the credit or derivative exposure due. Furthermore, successful operation of our debit card and cash management solutions business depends on the soundness of third party processors, clearing agents and others that we rely on to conduct our merchant business. Any losses resulting from such third parties could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Environmental and Other Global Matters

We are subject to environmental liability risk associated with lending activities.

A significant portion of our loan portfolio is secured by real estate, and we could become subject to environmental liabilities with respect to one or more of these properties. During the ordinary course of business, we may foreclose on and take title to properties securing defaulted loans. In doing so, there is a risk that hazardous or toxic substances could be found on these properties. If hazardous conditions or toxic substances are found on these properties, we may be liable for remediation costs, as well as for personal injury and property damage, civil fines and criminal penalties regardless of when the hazardous conditions or toxic substances first affected any particular property. Environmental laws may require us to incur substantial expenses to address unknown liabilities and may materially reduce the affected property’s value or limit our ability to use or sell the affected property. In addition, future laws or regulations or more stringent interpretations or enforcement policies with respect to existing laws and regulations may increase our exposure to environmental liability, and heightened pressure from investors and other stakeholders may require to incur additional expenses with respect to environmental matters. Although we have policies and procedures to perform an environmental review before initiating any foreclosure action on nonresidential real property, these reviews may not be sufficient to detect all potential environmental hazards. The remediation costs and any other financial liabilities associated with an environmental hazard could have a material adverse effect on us.

Societal responses to climate change could adversely affect our business and performance, including indirectly through impacts on our customers.

Concerns over the long-term impacts of climate change have led and will continue to lead to governmental efforts around the world to mitigate those impacts. Consumers and businesses also may change their behavior on their own as a result of these concerns. We and our customers will need to respond to new laws and regulations as well as consumer and business preferences resulting from climate change concerns. We and our customers may face cost increases, asset value reductions, operating process changes and other issues. The impact on our customers will likely vary depending on their specific attributes, including reliance on role in carbon intensive activities, among the impacts to us could be a drop in demand for our products and services, particularly in certain sectors. In addition, we could face reductions in creditworthiness on the part of some customers or in the value of asset securing loans. Our efforts to take these risks into account in making lending and other decisions, including by increasing our business with climate-friendly companies, may not be effective in protecting us from the negative impact of new laws and regulations or changes in consumer or business behavior.

Our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be adversely affected by natural disasters, health epidemics, and other catastrophic events.

We could be adversely affected if key personnel or a significant number of employees were to become unavailable due to a pandemic, natural disaster, war, act of terrorism, accident, or other reason. Any of these events could result in the temporary reduction of operations, employees, and customers, which could limit our ability to provide services. Additionally, many of our borrowers may suffer property damage, experience interruption of their businesses or lose their jobs after such events. Those borrowers might not be able to repay their loans, and the collateral for such loans may decline significantly in value.


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Risks Related to Accounting Matters

If our intangible assets, including goodwill, are either partially or fully impaired in the future, it would decrease earnings.

We are required to test our goodwill and other identifiable intangible assets for impairment on an annual basis and more regularly if indicators of impairment exist. The impairment testing process considers a variety of factors, including the current market price of our common stock, the estimated net present value of our assets and liabilities and information concerning the terminal valuation of similar insured depository institutions. Future impairment testing may result in a partial or full impairment of the value of our goodwill or other identifiable intangible assets, or both. If an impairment determination is made in a future reporting period, our earnings and the book value of these intangible assets will be reduced by the amount of the impairment. However, the recording of such an impairment loss would have no impact on the tangible book value of our shares of common stock or our regulatory capital levels.

Changes in management’s estimates and assumptions may have a material impact on our Consolidated Financial Statements and our financial condition or operating results.

In preparing this annual report as well as periodic reports we are required to file under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including our Consolidated Financial Statements, our management is and will be required under applicable rules and regulations to make estimates and assumptions as of a specified date. These estimates and assumptions are based on management’s best estimates and experience as of that date and are subject to substantial risk and uncertainty. Materially different results may occur as circumstances change and additional information becomes known. Areas requiring significant estimates and assumptions by management include our evaluation of the adequacy of our allowance for credit losses.

Risks Related to Investment Activities

We could record future losses on our investment securities portfolio.

A number of factors or combinations of factors could require us to conclude in one or more future reporting periods that an unrealized loss that exists with respect to these and other securities constitutes a credit related impairment, which could result in material losses to us. These factors include, but are not limited to, failure by the issuer to make scheduled interest payments, the issuer of the securities and their creditworthiness, any changes to the rating of the security and any adverse conditions specifically related to the security that would render us unable to forecast a full recovery in value. In addition, the fair values of securities could decline if the overall economy and the financial condition of some of the issuers deteriorates and there remains limited liquidity for these securities. During the year ended December 31, 2023, we incurred other comprehensive gains of $7.9 million related to net changes in unrealized holding losses in the available-for-sale investment securities portfolio.

See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Balance Sheet Analysis-Securities” for a discussion of our securities portfolio and the unrealized losses related to the portfolio, as well as the “Marketable Securities” and “Disclosures about Fair Value of Financial Instruments” footnotes to the audited financial statements.

Our exposure to municipalities may lead to operating losses.

Our municipal bond portfolio may be impacted by the effects of economic stress on state and local governments. At December 31, 2023, we had $85.8 million invested in debt obligations of states, municipalities and political subdivisions (collectively referred to as our municipal bond portfolio). We also had $194.3 million of loans outstanding to municipalities and political subdivisions. State and local governments may experience financial stress due to: (i) declining revenues; (ii) large unfunded liabilities to government workers; and (iii) entrenched cost structures. Additionally, the debt-to-gross domestic product ratios for the majority of states have been deteriorating due to, among other factors, declines in federal monetary assistance. These challenges have led to speculation about the potential for a significant deterioration in the municipal bond market, which could materially affect our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity. We may not be able to mitigate the exposure in our municipal portfolio if state and local governments are unable to fulfill their obligations. The risk of widespread issuer defaults may also increase if there are changes in legislation that permit states, or additional municipalities and political subdivisions, to file for bankruptcy protection or if there are judicial interpretations that, in a bankruptcy or other proceeding, lessen the value of any structural protections.

The financial services sector represents a significant concentration within our investment portfolio.

Within our investment portfolio, we have a significant amount of corporate debt and mortgage-backed securities issued by companies in the financial services sector. Given current market conditions, this sector has an enhanced level of credit risk.

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Potential downgrades of U.S. government securities by one or more of the credit ratings agencies could have a material adverse effect on our operations, earnings and financial condition.

A possible downgrade of the sovereign credit ratings of the U.S. government and a decline in the perceived creditworthiness of U.S. government-related obligations could impact the value of our investments, and the availability and pricing of funding transactions collateralized by those instruments. We cannot predict if, when or how any changes to the credit ratings or perceived creditworthiness of these organizations will affect economic conditions. Such ratings actions could result in a significant adverse impact on us. Among other things, a downgrade in the U.S. government’s credit rating could adversely impact the value of our securities portfolio and may trigger requirements that we post additional collateral for trades relative to these securities. A downgrade of the sovereign credit ratings of the U.S. government or the credit ratings of related institutions, agencies or instruments would significantly exacerbate the other risks to which we are subject and any related adverse effects on the business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Our Debit and Credit Activities

Changes in card network rules or standards could adversely affect our business.

In order to provide our debit card and cash management solutions, we are members of the Visa network. As such, we are subject to card network rules that could subject us to a variety of fines or penalties that may be assessed on us. The termination of our membership or any changes in card network rules or standards, including interpretation and implementation of existing rules or standards, could increase the cost of operating our merchant services business or limit our ability to provide debit card and cash management solutions to or through our customers, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Changes in card network fees could impact our operations.

From time to time, the card networks increase the fees (known as interchange fees) that they charge to acquirers and that we charge to our merchants. It is possible that competitive pressures will result in us absorbing a portion of such increases in the future, which would increase our costs, reduce our profit margin and adversely affect our business and financial condition. In addition, the card networks require certain capital requirements. An increase in the required capital level would further limit our use of capital for other purposes.

Our business could suffer if there is a decline in the use of debit cards as a payment mechanism or if there are adverse developments with respect to the financial services industry in general.

As the financial services industry evolves, consumers may find debit financial services to be less attractive than traditional or other financial services. Consumers might not use debit card financial services for any number of reasons, including the general perception of our industry. If consumers do not continue or increase their usage of debit cards, including making changes in the way debit cards are loaded, our operating revenues and debit card deposits may remain at current levels or decline. Any projected growth for the industry may not occur or may occur more slowly than estimated. If consumer acceptance of debit financial services does not continue to develop or develops more slowly than expected or if there is a shift in the mix of payment forms, such as cash, credit cards, and debit cards, away from our products and services, it could have a material adverse effect on our financial position and results of operations.

Other Risks Related to Our Business

The corporate governance provisions in our articles of incorporation and bylaws, and the corporate governance provisions under Maryland law, may prevent or impede the holders of our common stock from obtaining representation on our Board of Directors and may impede takeovers of the Company that our board might conclude are not in the best interest of us or our stockholders.

Provisions in our articles of incorporation and bylaws may prevent or impede holders of our common stock from obtaining representation on our Board of Directors and may make takeovers of Northwest Bancshares, Inc. more difficult. As a result, our stockholders may not have the opportunity to participate in such a transaction, which could provide a premium over the prevailing price of our common stock. The provisions that may discourage takeover attempts or make them more difficult include that our Board of Directors is divided into three staggered classes. A classified board makes it more difficult for stockholders to change a majority of the directors because it generally takes at least two annual elections of directors for this to occur. Our articles of incorporation include a provision that no person will be entitled to vote any shares of our common stock in excess of 10% of our outstanding shares of common stock. This limitation does not apply to the purchase of shares by a tax-qualified employee stock benefit plan established by us. In addition, our articles of incorporation and bylaws restrict who may call special meetings of stockholders and how directors may
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be removed from office. Additionally, in certain instances, the Maryland General Corporation Law requires a supermajority vote of our stockholders to approve a merger or other business combination with a large stockholder, if the proposed transaction is not approved by a majority of our directors.

We are a community bank and our ability to maintain our reputation is critical to the success of our business and the failure to do so may materially adversely affect our performance.

We are a community bank, and our reputation is one of the most valuable components of our business. A key component of our business strategy is to rely on our reputation for customer service and knowledge of local markets to expand our presence by capturing new business opportunities from existing and prospective customers in our current market and contiguous areas. As such, we strive to conduct our business in a manner that enhances our reputation. This is done, in part, by recruiting, hiring and retaining employees who share our core values of being an integral part of the communities we serve, delivering superior service to our customers and caring about our customers and associates. If our reputation is negatively affected by the actions of our employees, by our inability to conduct our operations in a manner that is appealing to current or prospective customers, or otherwise, our business and operating results may be adversely affected.

If our government banking deposits were lost within a short period of time, this could negatively impact our liquidity and earnings.

As of December 31, 2023, we held $602.3 million of deposits from municipalities throughout Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Indiana. These deposits may be more volatile than other deposits. If a significant amount of these deposits were withdrawn within a short period of time, it could have a negative impact on our short-term liquidity and have an adverse impact on our earnings.

Our funding sources may prove insufficient to replace deposits at maturity and support our future growth.

We must maintain sufficient liquidity to respond to the needs of depositors and borrowers. As such, we utilize a diverse set of funding sources in addition to core deposits. As we continue to grow, we are likely to become more dependent on these sources, which may include FHLB advances, proceeds from the sale of loans, federal funds purchased and brokered certificates of deposit. Adverse operating results or changes in industry conditions could lead to difficulty or an inability to maintain timely access to these additional funding sources. Our financial flexibility will be materially constrained if we are unable to maintain our access to funding or if adequate financing is not available to accommodate future growth at acceptable interest rates. If we are required to rely more heavily on more expensive funding sources to support future growth, our revenues may not increase proportionately to cover our costs. In this case, our operating margins and profitability would be adversely affected.

A protracted government shutdown may result in reduced loan originations and related gains on sale and could negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.

During any protracted federal government shutdown, we may not be able to close certain loans and we may not be able to recognize non-interest income on the sale of loans. Some of the loans we originate are sold directly to government agencies, and some of these sales may be unable to be consummated during the shutdown. In addition, we believe that some borrowers may determine not to proceed with their home purchase and not close on their loans, which would result in a permanent loss of the related non-interest income. A federal government shutdown could also result in reduced income for government employees or employees of companies that engage in business with the federal government, which could result in greater loan delinquencies, increases in our nonperforming, criticized and classified assets and a decline in demand for our products and services.

Our inability to tailor our retail delivery model to respond to consumer preferences in banking may negatively affect earnings.

We have expanded our market presence through acquisitions and growth. Our branch network continues to be a very significant source of new business generation, however, consumers continue to migrate much of their routine banking to self-service channels. In recognition of this shift in consumer patterns, we regularly review our branch network, which has resulted in branch consolidation accompanied by the enhancement of our capabilities to serve its customers through alternate delivery channels. The benefits of this strategy will depend on our ability to realize expected expense reductions without experiencing significant customer attrition.
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ITEM 1B.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
 
Not applicable.
 
ITEM 1C.    CYBERSECURITY

Risk Management and Strategy

Our risk management program is designed to identify, assess, and mitigate risks across various aspects of our company, including credit, market, treasury, operational, compliance, model and data, and reputational. Cybersecurity is a critical component of this program, given the increasing reliance on technology and potential for a cybersecurity incident to occur, which could disrupt business operations or compromise sensitive data. Our Chief Information Security Officer (“CISO”) is primarily responsible for this cybersecurity component and is a key member of the organization, reporting directly to the Chief Information Officer and, as discussed below, periodically to the Innovation and Technology Committee of our board of directors. To date, the Company has not, to its knowledge, experienced an incident materially affecting or reasonably likely to materially affect the Company.

To prepare and respond to incidents, the Company has implemented a multi-layered cybersecurity program that is intended to comply with Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) 12 CFR 364, Appendix B, integrating people, technology, and processes. This includes employee training, the use of innovative technologies, and the implementation of policies and procedures in the areas of Information Security, Data Governance, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, Privacy, Third-Party Risk Management, and Incident Response. Our objective for managing cybersecurity risk is to avoid or minimize the impacts of external threat events or other efforts to penetrate, disrupt or misuse our systems or information. The cybersecurity program is built upon a foundation of advanced security technology, our internal employee team, and operations based on industry best practices recommendations from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Guidelines, and Center for Internet Security (CIS) Benchmarks. This consists of controls designed to identify, protect, detect, respond and recover from information and cyber security incidents. Our Chief Information Security Officer and our Chief Information Officer, who reports directly to our Chief Executive Officer, along with key members of their teams, regularly collaborate with peer banks, industry groups, and policymakers to discuss cybersecurity trends and issues and identify best practices. The information security program is periodically reviewed by such personnel with the goal of addressing changing threats and conditions.

We also employ a variety of preventative and detective tools designed to monitor, block, and provide alerts regarding suspicious activity, as well as to report on suspected advanced persistent threats. We have established processes and systems designed to mitigate cyber risk, including regular and on-going education and training for employees, preparedness simulations and tabletop exercises, and recovery and resilience tests. We engage in regular assessments of our infrastructure, software systems, and network architecture, using internal cybersecurity experts and third-party specialists. We also actively monitor our email gateways for malicious phishing email campaigns and monitor remote connections as a significant portion of our workforce has the option to work remotely.

The Company relies on third-party vendor solutions to support its operations. Many of these vendors, especially in the financial services industry, have access to sensitive and proprietary information. To mitigate the operational, informational and other risks associated with the use of vendors, the Company maintains a Third-Party Risk Management Program, which is implemented through a Third-Party Risk Management Policy and includes a detailed onboarding process and periodic reviews of vendors with access to sensitive Company data. The Third-Party Risk Management Policy applies to any business arrangement between the Company and another individual or entity, by contract or otherwise, in compliance with the Interagency Guidance on Third-Party Relationships: Risk Management. The Third-Party Risk Management Program is audited periodically in accordance with our Board approved Internal Audit plan.

We leverage internal and external auditors and independent external partners to periodically review our processes, systems, and controls, including with respect to our information security program, to assess their design and operating effectiveness and make recommendations to strengthen our information security and risk management programs. Regular internal monitoring is integral to the Company’s risk assessment process, which includes regular testing of internal key controls, systems, and procedures. In addition, independent third-party penetration testing of the effectiveness of security controls and preparedness measures is conducted at least annually or more often, if warranted by the risk assessment or other external factors. Management determines the scope and objectives of the penetration analysis.

We maintain both an Incident Response Plan and a Crisis Management Plan (the “Plans”) that provide a documented framework for responding to actual or potential cybersecurity incidents, including timely notification of and escalation to the appropriate Board-approved management committees, as discussed further below, and to the Innovation and Technology Committee of our board of directors. The Plans are coordinated through the Business Resiliency Manager and Major Incident Manager, who
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ultimately report to the Chief Information Officer, and key members of management are embedded into the Plans by their design. The Plans facilitate coordination across multiple parts of our organization and are evaluated at least annually.

Integral elements of the Plans related to the Company’s response to security vulnerabilities include the following.

Identifying the appropriate team and any appropriate sub-teams to address specific information and/or cyber security incidents, or categories of information and/or cyber security incidents.
Coordinating Incident or Crisis Management activities, including developing, maintaining, and following appropriate procedures to respond to and document identified information and/or cyber security incidents.
Conducting post-incident reviews to gather feedback on information and/or cyber security incident response procedures and address any identified gaps in security measures.
Providing training and conducting periodic exercises to promote employee and stakeholder preparedness and awareness of the Plans.
Reviewing the Plans at least annually, or whenever there is a material change in the Company’s business practices that may reasonably affect its cyber incident response procedures.

Notwithstanding our defensive measures and processes, the threat posed by cyber-attacks is severe. Our internal systems, processes, and controls are designed to mitigate loss from cyber-attacks and, while we have experienced cybersecurity incidents in the past, to date, risks from cybersecurity threats have not materially affected our company. For further discussion of risks from cybersecurity threats, see the section captioned “Risks Related to Operational Matters” in Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Governance

Our Chief Information Security Officer is accountable for managing our enterprise information security department and delivering our information security program. The responsibilities of this department include cybersecurity risk assessment, defense operations, cyber incident response, vulnerability assessment, threat intelligence, identity access governance, and the evaluation of third-party risk management and business resilience as it relates to the cybersecurity program.

The foregoing responsibilities are covered on a day-to-day basis by our Chief Information Security Officer and their team. The department consists of information security professionals with varying degrees of education and experience. Individuals within the department are generally subject to professional education and certification requirements. Our Chief Information Security Officer has substantial relevant expertise and formal training in the areas of information security and cybersecurity risk management, including 20 years of cybersecurity experience, 12 of which was spent at the Company.

Our Operational Risk Management group provides guidance, oversight, monitoring and challenge of the first line’s activities. The second line of defense function is separated from the first line of defense function through organizational structure and ultimately reports directly to the Chief Risk Officer.

Our board of directors has established management committees including the Information Technology Steering Committee, which focuses on technology and business impact, and the Operational Risk Management Committee, which focuses on the identification, monitoring, assessment, and management of risk associated with our cyber and information security programs. These committees provide oversight and governance of the technology program and the information security program and are chaired by the Chief Information Officer and Chief Operational Risk Management Officer, respectively, and include the Chief Information Security Officer and other key departmental managers from throughout the entire company. The Information Technology Steering Committee meets monthly and the Operational Risk Management Committee meets at least quarterly to provide oversight of the risk management strategy, standards, policies, practices, controls, and mitigation and prevention efforts employed to manage security risks. More frequent meetings occur from time to time in accordance with the Incident Response Plan to facilitate timely informing and monitoring efforts. The Chief Information Security Officer reports summaries of key issues, including significant cybersecurity incidents, discussed at committee meetings and the actions taken to the Innovation and Technology Committee of our board of directors on a quarterly basis (or more frequently as may be required by the Incident Response Plan).

The Innovation and Technology Committee of our board of directors is responsible for overseeing our information security and technology programs, including management’s actions to identify, assess, mitigate, and remediate or prevent material cybersecurity issues and risks. Our Chief Information Security Officer and our Chief Information Officer provide quarterly reports to the Innovation and Technology Committee of our board of directors regarding the information security program and the technology program, key enterprise cybersecurity initiatives, and other matters relating to cybersecurity processes. The Innovation and Technology Committee of our board of directors reviews and approves our information security and technology budgets and strategies annually. Additionally, the Risk Committee of our board of directors reviews key metrics summarizing our cyber security risk profile on a quarterly basis. The Innovation and Technology Committee and Risk Committee of our board of directors each provide a report of their activities to the full board of directors at each board meeting.
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Lastly, at least annually, the CISO reports directly to the Board the overall status of the Information Security Program and the Company’s compliance with the Interagency Guidelines for Safeguarding Customer Information. Any material findings related to the risk assessment, risk management and control decisions, service provider arrangements, results of testing, security breaches or violations are discussed as are management’s responses and any recommendations for program changes.

ITEM 2.    PROPERTIES
 
As of December 31, 2023, we conducted our business through our main office located in Warren, Pennsylvania, 77 other full-service offices and six free-standing drive-through locations throughout our market area in central and western Pennsylvania, 27 full-service offices and one free-standing drive-through location in western New York, 10 full-service offices and one free-standing drive-through location in eastern Ohio, and 20 full-service office locations in Indiana. At December 31, 2023, our premises and equipment had an aggregate net book value of approximately $138.8 million. 

ITEM 3.     LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
 
Northwest Bancshares, Inc. and its subsidiaries are subject to various legal actions arising in the normal course of business.  In the opinion of management, the resolution of these legal actions is not expected to have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and/or results of operations. See Note 19 in the notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

ITEM 4.      MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
 
Not applicable.

PART II
 
ITEM 5.    MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
 
Our common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “NWBI”. As of February 20, 2024, we had 22 registered market makers, 9,433 stockholders of record (excluding the number of persons or entities holding stock in street name through various brokerage firms), and 127,112,705 shares outstanding.

Payment of dividends on our shares of common stock is subject to determination and declaration by the Board of Directors and will depend upon a number of factors, including capital requirements, regulatory limitations on the payment of dividends, our results of operations and financial condition, tax considerations and general economic conditions. No assurance can be given that dividends will continue to be declared or, if declared, what the amount of dividends will be. See “Item 1. Business Supervision and Regulation — Holding Company Regulation — Source of Strength/Capital Distributions” for additional information regarding our ability to pay dividends.
 
There were no sales of unregistered securities during the quarter ended December 31, 2023.
 
On December 13, 2012, the Board of Directors approved a program that authorizes the repurchase of approximately 5,000,000 shares of common stock. This program does not have expiration date. During the year ended December 31, 2023, we did not repurchase any shares and there are a maximum of 2,261,130 remaining shares that can be purchased under the current repurchase program.















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Stock Performance Graph
 
The following stock performance graph compares (a) the cumulative total return on our common stock between December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2023, (b) the cumulative total return on stocks included in the Total Return Index for the NASDAQ Stock Market (US) over such period, and (c) the cumulative total return on stocks included in the NASDAQ Bank Index over such period. Cumulative return assumes the reinvestment of dividends, and is expressed in dollars based on an assumed investment of $100. 

There can be no assurance that our stock performance will continue in the future with the same or similar trend depicted in the graph. We will not make or endorse any predictions as to future stock performance.

COMPARISON OF 5 YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN
Among Northwest Bancshares, Inc., the NASDAQ Composite Index, and the NASDAQ Bank Index
2405
At December 31,
 201820192020202120222023
Northwest Bancshares, Inc.100.00 102.35 83.94 98.89 103.43 98.90 
NASDAQ Composite100.00 136.69 198.10 242.03 163.28 236.17 
NASDAQ Bank100.00 117.98 107.14 151.35 126.88 135.67 

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ITEM 6.                [RESERVED]

ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
Our principal business consists of collecting deposits and making loans primarily secured by various types of collateral, including real estate and other assets in the markets in which we are located. Attracting and maintaining deposits is affected by a number of factors, including interest rates paid on competing deposits and other investments offered by other financial and non-financial institutions, account maturities, fee structures, and levels of personal income and savings. Lending activities are affected by the demand for funds and thus are influenced by interest rates, the number and quality of alternative lenders and regional economic conditions. Sources of funds for lending activities include deposits, borrowings, repayments on loans, cash flows from investment and mortgage-backed securities and income provided from operations.
 
Our earnings depend primarily on net interest income, which is the difference between interest earned on our interest-earning assets, consisting primarily of loans and investment securities, and the interest paid on interest-bearing liabilities, consisting primarily of deposits, borrowed funds, and trust-preferred securities. Net interest income is a function of our interest rate spread, which is the difference between the average yield earned on our interest-earning assets and the average rate paid on our interest-bearing liabilities, as well as a function of the average balance of interest-earning assets compared to the average balance of interest-bearing liabilities. Also contributing to our earnings is noninterest income, which consists primarily of service charges and fees on loan and deposit products and services, fees related to investment management and trust services, net gains and losses on the sale of assets, including SBA loans, and mortgage banking income. Net interest income and noninterest income are offset by provisions for credit losses, general administrative and other expenses, including employee compensation and benefits, occupancy expense and processing costs, as well as by state and federal income tax expense.
 
Our net income was $135.0 million, or $1.06 per diluted share, for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to $133.7 million, or $1.05 per diluted share, for the year ended December 31, 2022, and $154.3 million, or $1.21 per diluted share, for the year ended December 31, 2021. The provision for credit losses was $22.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to $28.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2022, and a provision credit of $15.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2021.
 

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Selected Financial and Other Data

The summary financial information presented below is derived in part from the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements. The following is only a summary and should be read in conjunction with the Consolidated Financial Statements and notes included elsewhere in this document. The information at December 31, 2023 and 2022 and for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021 is derived in part from the audited Consolidated Financial Statements that appear in this document.
 At December 31,
 20232022
 (In thousands)
Selected Consolidated Financial Data:  
Total assets$14,419,105 14,113,324 
Cash and cash equivalents122,260 139,365 
Marketable securities held-to-maturity124,458 124,455 
Marketable securities available-for-sale182,068 224,537 
Mortgage-backed securities held-to-maturity690,381 756,794 
Mortgage-backed securities available-for-sale861,291 993,571 
Loans receivable, net of allowance for credit losses:
Residential mortgage loans held-for-sale8,768 9,913 
Residential mortgage loans3,401,224 3,469,425 
Home equity loans1,222,455 1,291,772 
Consumer loans2,097,917 2,144,931 
Commercial real estate loans2,918,968 2,775,045 
Commercial loans1,640,234 1,111,330 
Total loans receivable, net11,289,566 10,802,416 
Deposits11,979,902 11,464,548 
Borrowed funds398,895 681,166 
Subordinated debt114,189 113,840 
Shareholders’ equity1,551,317 1,491,486 

 For the years ended December 31,
 202320222021
 (In thousands except per share data)
Selected Consolidated Operating Data:   
Total interest income$587,922 448,798 418,508 
Total interest expense152,239 28,117 27,246 
Net interest income435,683 420,681 391,262 
Provision for credit losses22,874 28,315 (15,788)
Net interest income after provision for credit losses412,809 392,366 407,050 
Noninterest income113,823 110,849 142,889 
Noninterest expense351,554 329,523 348,815 
Income before income taxes175,078 173,692 201,124 
Income tax expense40,121 40,026 46,801 
Net income$134,957 133,666 154,323 
Earnings per share: 
Basic$1.06 1.05 1.22 
Diluted$1.06 1.05 1.21 
 
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 At or for the year ended December 31,
 202320222021
Selected Financial Ratios and Other Data:   
Return on average assets (1), (6), (7), (8), (9)0.95 %0.94 %1.08 %
Return on average equity (2), (6), (7), (8), (9)8.94 %8.80 %9.91