Hard economic lessons learned as result of storm

Filed under: Banking & Finance |

Members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors are sharing their experiences from Hurricane Katrina.

The organizations have released “Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina: Preparing Your Institution for a Catastrophic Event.”

The booklet relays information to help other institutions plan for an emergency.

The organizations reason that financial institutions across the country face a wide variety of disasters that could have devastating consequences.

Following Hurricane Katrina, disaster recovery and business continuity plans generally worked well in enabling institutions to restore operations swiftly.

However, the unprecedented destruction and aftermath of the hurricane caused disruptions that exceeded the scope of some institutions’ disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

Major hardships faced by some institutions included:

  • Communication outages made it difficult to locate missing personnel.
  • Access to transportation into restricted areas was not available.
  • Lack of electrical power or fuel for generators rendered computer systems inoperable.
  • Some branches and ATMs were under water for weeks.
  • Mail service was interrupted for months in some areas.

The booklet is available at www.FFIEC.gov as well as on each agency’s Web site.

Insured depository institutions will receive a hard copy or an electronic copy of the booklet.

U.S. Bank e-performance among the best

U.S. Bank has been ranked among the best in the credit card industry for providing technical service, according to the Internet Performance Authority

American Express and HSBC bank took top honors along with U.S. Bank.

The Keynote Service Level Rankings for Credit Card Customers tested the technical performance of leading credit card Web sites including an evaluation of overall site responsiveness and reliability.

In its service level studies, Keynote uses an electronic measurement tool, called Transaction Perspective measurement, to mimic the actions of a consumer trying to access Web sites.

Tests included making an online transaction, downloading from a home page, accessing the most recent charges on a credit card, paying a credit card bill and logging out. The tests were performed using various connection speeds and from a distribution of geographic location during a one month period.

Computers tracked more than 40 performance criteria and collected more than 6,500 data points on each site studied.

Analysts then used the data points to rank the sites based on seven key performance factors.

To read the study, visit www.keynote.com.

Bookkeepers’ site offers helpful links

The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers’ is reminding business professionals that the AIBP’s Web site is useful for making a number of numerical conversions, including mortgage, paycheck withholding, profit and loss, currency, calendar, weight and volume calculations.

The site also offers links to templates for daily cash sheets, monthly bank reconciliations, loan applications and a preview of what a bank will ask you for if you want a loan. Churches and charities can log on and link to nonprofit accounting regulations, explanations of Form 990, the unified chart of accounts and state-by-state nonprofit resources.

In all, there are links to more than 150 free indexes.

The 30,000-member American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers is the national association and certifying body for bookkeepers and founded in 1987 to upgrade bookkeepers’ professional status through education.

Visit www.aibp.org to access the links.

Wells Fargo offering contactless card

After Chase announced last year that it would offer a contactless credit card, bank industry professionals knew it was only a matter time before competitors began offering their own version of the debt-inducing technology.

And that time has come for Wells Fargo. The financial institution plans to roll out Visa contactless credit cards later this year.

The credit card will use built-in radio frequency technology that allows customers to wave the card within a few inches of a reader as opposed to swiping the card or giving it to a cashier.

The chip inside the card contains the same personal information found on a traditional magnetic strip card, and signatures will not be required for most purchases under $25.

Record year for private equity

2006 is on pace to be a record year for private-equity backed mergers and acquisitions in the United States.

More than 500 deals, worth $157.4 billion and backed by private equity, have been announced this year. That total includes the announcement of a $26.5 billion management buyout of Kinder Morgan Inc. which is awaiting shareholder approval.

The statistics come from research firm Dealogic, which speculates that while interest rates have been rising, buyout firms have still been able to borrow relatively easily to finance deals.

Rob Larimer covers banking and finance for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.