Banks typically take four to six times longer to complete call reports than regulators estimate according to a survey of 88 banks by the American Bankers Association.

The average bank took 179 hours to finish its Sept. 30 consolidated report of condition and income, the survey found.

Yet the Federal Reserve Board estimates its state-chartered member banks should need only 44 hours; the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency projects national banks should take 38 hours; and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. expects the state-chartered banks it regulates should require just 28 hours.

Time is money, and the ABA found that the average bank spent $56,000 a year on its four call reports while the average holding company spent about $123,000 a year compiling reports for the Federal Reserve.

The trade group said it found that banks spent from 47 to 440 hours completing one call report and that bank holding companies spent an average of 908 hours per Fed report.

In general, the study found that the larger the bank, the longer it takes to complete its reports.

Various schedules and other attachments to call reports drove up the time and cost, according to Paul Salfi, the ABA's senior financial policy analyst.

Some of the most burdensome items in call reports cover deposit liabilities, loan schedules, and off-balance-sheet items, the survey found.

And risk-based capital, off-balance-sheet items, and separate filings for nonbank subsidiaries took up most holding company time, according to the survey.

Officials at the OCC and Fed were not available for comment. But Bob Storch, the FDIC's chief of accounting, said his agency based its estimate on a 1992 survey of more than 6,700 banks.

He also said the ABA's numbers might be higher because the FDIC surveyed a greater proportion of small banks, which usually need less time to complete call reports.

The agencies will consider the ABA's survey results as they review what changes, if any, to make in call reports, Mr. Storch said.

Mr. Smith writes for the Medill News Service.

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