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Posters and Notices: Mandatory Lobby Decor

Many compliance regulations require some form of public notification to be sure that consumers are aware of the regulation and their rights as consumers. Lobby posters are a popular technique. Lobbies are accessible to the public (remember to comply with ADA!) and have walls. What better place to put information?

The problem becomes one of management. Poster and notice requirements sit buried in small subparagraphs in the dark regions of different regulations. Being responsible for bringing all the requirements to the light of day - in the lobby - leaves some of us with lurking concerns. Have we found all the poster and notice requirements?

Let's talk posters. There are now so many that it can be difficult to find wall space for them all. In fact, it begins to look like "compliance wallpaper." Unfortunately, posters are used to provide information and therefore tend not to be very decorative. Perhaps it is the lack of aesthetic value that causes compliance posters to disappear without warning.

It is important to check your own lobby on a regular schedule several times a year to be sure the posters are correct and present. Also check your lobby posters when you receive your notice of examination. Posters have a way of falling down or being removed from the wall. Often they are removed by someone who wants to make the lobby look better. Unfortunately, aesthetics are not contained in the regulation. You simply have to put up with the "compliance wallpaper look."

When you check your posters, don't stop at simply verifying that the right number of posters are somewhere on the wall. Look for several content details. Check each poster for accuracy. For example, be sure that, when required, your posters correctly identify your regulatory agency (not another bank's) and that the poster shows the agency's current address. Every now and then, a regulatory agency moves its office, triggering a poster correction.

For posters such as Expedited Funds, review the content for accuracy and consistency with your policies and procedures. For posters such as the Community Reinvestment Act Notice, review the poster to be sure it contains the current requirements and accurately reflects your CRA program and assessment area.Is this worth the time? Definitely. Posters are considered to be a key means of communicating important information to customers. Your regulator wants you to get it right. Also, checking posters is an easy and fairly pleasant task. It makes a nice break from a tedious file review. Next time you see your examiner relaxing in your lobby, you too can relax if you have already gotten your posters right.What posters must you have and where should they be? There are six federal poster requirements: Equal Housing Lender Poster, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Notice (if your bank is subject to HMDA), Community Reinvestment Act Notice, Funds Availability Policy, FDIC Deposit Insurance signs, and Notice of Availability: Financial and Other Information.

The Equal Housing Lender Poster is a combined poster providing information about both the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act. This belongs in every public lobby. It should contain the addresses for both the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and your supervisory agency. A common poster mistake is to borrow or copy a poster from another financial institution and thus post the wrong supervisory agency name and address.

The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Notice should be in a prominent place on the wall of your lobby - if, of course, your bank is subject to HMDA. The notice must be posted in the main office and any physical offices located in an MSA. The notice explains the availability of HMDA data and may, at your option, include information on where the data is located.

Community Reinvestment Act Notices are revised under the new regulation. If you haven't updated your notice, it is time to do so. The reporting and notice requirements take effect when your bank becomes subject to the new regulation. For small banks, that was January 1, 1996. These posters must be places in the lobby of every bank office.

The Funds Availability Policy notice must be located in a conspicuous place wherever deposits are received. The regulation does not specify precisely where the notice must be placed. Some examiners have criticized banks for not having a notice at each teller window. Regulation CC does not specify the location. You should use your best judgment, keeping two essentials in mind. First, the notice should be placed in a location that customers are likely to see and be able to stop and read. Second, the notice should be visually readable. The type should be large enough to be easily seen and read in the location you have chosen. It helps to make the notice attractive, but this, of course, is not a regulatory requirement.

FDIC Deposit Insurance signs must be posted prominently at each teller station and wherever deposits are taken. The FDIC notice need not be displayed at ATMs but must be posted at each night depository. A Notice of Availability of Financial and Other Information must be displayed in the main office and each branch. The notice explains that certain financial information about the bank is available upon request. Be sure that the notice includes a name to contact and a phone number for individuals wishing to request the financialinformation.

Before thinking that this is the end of the list, find out whether there are any state poster requirements you should comply with. Also be sure to check your state and local ordinances to find out whether you must post notices or make information available in a second language.

ACTION TRAINING

  • Check each branch for posters and notices as soon as you get the notice of examination. If you can't get to each branch, delegate the responsibility to a branch manager. Have them report to you in writing.
  • 0Keep their report.
  • Maintain a check list of your poster requirements for branches, ATMs and night depositories. Include the correct name and address for your regulatory agency.
  • Keep a list of your sources for the posters. When you need new ones, it will save a lot of time if you can find out where you obtained them the last time.
  • Check your state regulations to find out if there are state poster requirements.
  • Designate someone in each branch to be your "poster police." They should periodically check the walls and teller stands to make sure no posters or notices have been moved. They need to be especially alert during the Christmas holidays.
  • Include information about posters in your compliance training. Even tellers may get asked questions about CRA or HMDA data. It helps if the teller understands the question!

Copyright © 1996 Compliance Action. Originally appeared in Compliance Action, Vol. 1, No. 5, 3/96

First published on 03/01/1996

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