Agency 101: Department of Financial Institutions

Oct 19, 2022 | Administration

Click here for a printable version of our report or read the full version below.

State Agency Fast Facts: 

  • The Department of Financial Institutions regulates Wisconsin’s state chartered financial institutions, securities brokers and agents, and financial services industry.
  • DFI is also the filing office for:
    • Corporations, Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, Common Law Trusts, and Foreign entities
    • Uniform Commercial Code
    • Charitable Organizations and Professional Employer Groups
    • Apostilles, Notary Publics, and Trademarks
  • DFI’s 2021-2023 budget is set at $39,086,800 and has 141 employees.

Did you know?

Prior to a 1902 constitutional amendment, any and all changes to banking regulation in Wisconsin required a popular referendum. The amendment in 1902 gave authority to the legislature to change banking regulation.

Reform History:

The Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) was created by 1995 Wisconsin Act 27. Prior to this, all of the functions of DFI were spread across multiple commissions, offices, and divisions around state government. Act 27 organized these separate agencies into divisions within the Department.

Keep an Eye on…

Digital currency, commonly referred to as cryptocurrency, is largely unregulated by the federal government.

The Department of Financial Institutions has stated that they do not have the authority under Wisconsin law to regulate digital currency.

There are a number of states that have created digital currency sandboxes as a way to handle the ambiguity in the current regulatory environment.

Close Call:

In the 2021-2023 budget, the Governor proposed creating the Office of Student Loan Ombudsman at the DFI. The Office would have investigative, examination, and regulatory authority over an industry that is already highly regulated.

The Governor’s proposal called for $345,000 in new spending and creating two new positions at DFI. This also would have been the 3rd Office within the agency, joining the Office of Financial Literacy which is under the Office of Financial Capability.

Thankfully the legislature did not include this in the budget that was passed.

IRG Wants to Know:

If you were in charge for a day, what reforms would you make to the department? Email Alex Ignatowski, IRG’s Director of State Budget and Government Reform, at AI@reforminggovernment.org.