Only a few days ago, we all merrily rang in 1999-a new year that we accept with optimism and excitement. Yet as bankers, we must also remember that we are starting the countdown toward the much-hyped Year 2000.
Unfortunately, community banks have been subject to some negative press in recent months that suggests our industry is less than prepared for Y2K. What the press often hasn't reported is our good news:
That banking regulators announced that as of the end of July, 94 percent of all banks were making satisfactory progress in their Y2K readiness efforts;
That the Gartner Group, a computer consulting firm in Stamford, Conn., has ranked the financial services industry number one on Y2K readiness; and
Perhaps most important, that all customer deposits are insured by the FDIC. There is no safer place for your customers' money than in your community bank!
As the clock ticks ever closer to the big event (we have fewer than 365 days to get ready) and you to continue to bring your systems into compliance and establish contingency plans, the important issue becomes communicating your Y2K preparedness. This message needs to be conveyed not just to your customers, but to your entire community and local government.
Your primary message should be that community banks have been tackling this issue head-on. You have to reach out to your local press and tell your story. We've made Y2K compliance our highest priority for the past 12 months, and we'll continue to make it our top priority until after the millennium clock strikes midnight, and our customers' fears are pacified. The gremlins won't ever be found in the community banking sector.
The IBAA offers a series of Y2K pieces to communicate this message to your customers, including a four-color statement stuffer, tent card, poster and ad slick. The IBAA also has developed a Y2K "Communications Kit," which …