Magazine article American Banker

Texas Banks Battle Bad Year-2000 Press with a Media Blitz

Magazine article American Banker

Texas Banks Battle Bad Year-2000 Press with a Media Blitz

Article excerpt

Fed up with bad press about banks' year-2000 readiness, some Texans are taking the bull by the horns.

The Independent Bankers Association of Texas, along with state banking commissioner Catherine A. Ghiglieri, launched a media blitz designed to ease public concerns that banks will not be prepared. They said they hope the campaign will ultimately convince depositors to leave their money in the bank and ignore some national magazines' advice to withdraw.

The media offensive, which has included several press conferences, one- on-one interviews with reporters, and an upcoming op-ed piece for Texas newspapers, describes what banks have been doing to make sure their computer systems recognize dates in 2000 and beyond.

"I don't think people realize how much has been done in the banking industry already," said Ms. Ghiglieri, referring to banks' testing and contingency planning.

On the subject of the year-2000 problem, one of the more humorous moments at this week's American Bankers Association conference in Orlando occurred during a panel discussion in which bankers, journalists, attorneys, and consultants debated its implications.

The panel was presented with a hypothetical story of a consultant who is spreading disaster stories of airplanes crashing and financial markets collapsing when the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1, 2000.

Asked how to deal with this doomsayer, the bankers said they are already meeting with individual customers to assure them that their money is safe in the bank.

That prompted one panelist, an Orlando television reporter, to ask why no one at his bank has told him how it is preparing for potential year-2000 glitches.

A banker in the audience had the answer.

"You need a bigger balance," he quipped.

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