Clear and open communications are often immediate casualties when a natural or man-made disaster hits an area. As a community leader, you'd want your financial institution up and running again as quickly as possible to help your area return to normal. You may not have the time or the people to address the informational needs of regulators.
The Federal Reserve will provide help through an online tool that will initially be deployed to Arkansas state-chartered banks later this year. The Fed and the Arkansas State Bank Department will use the new Emergency Communications System (ECS) to contact financial institutions quickly and simultaneously during a crisis, gather basic information from institutions and provide them with information on state and Fed regulatory actions. Because the tool is designed to be self-service, the institutions will determine what key personnel should be contacted.
The concept of an ECS grew from discussions between the Fed and Eighth District bank commissioners. "The tool is for crisis and contingency purposes only, and the information would never be used for marketing," says the Fed's John Hussey, who is overseeing the tool's development. "ECS could also be used for nonphysical disaster situations, such as information on critical activities within the banking system or operational changes affecting state and federal banking regulators."
The Arkansas State Bank Department and two Arkansas banks—Eagle Bank and Trust in Little Rock and Cross County Bank in Wynne—participated in the ECS pilot program.
Future opportunities and partnerships are being explored with the remaining Eighth District states (Missouri, Indiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois) and other Reserve banks and regulators so that state-chartered banks in those states could use the system as well.