The Bank Securities Association has opened a World Wide Web site on the Internet, hoping to use on-line technology to lure new members and unite factions within its industry.
By opening the Web site Oct. 2, the group has enabled the public to browse through information that had previously been available only to its 278 members.
"It's a multi-industry type of a system, as is our association," said James M. Shelton, executive director of the association.
The association focuses on marketing. Its membership includes banks, insurance companies, and securities firms.
A growing number of banking groups are engaged in Internet activities. The most ambitious such project may be Ben, the Bankers Electronic Network, introduced by the American Bankers Association at its annual convention on Oct. 7.
Ben is described as an America Online for bankers. The ABA already has a home-page site for its Center for Banking Information, a research library location.
In another move, the Independent Bankers Association of America is developing a network for community bankers.
The securities association, a smaller group with a narrower purpose, plans to provide a bulletin board for members to discuss industry topics. A job bank is expected to be on its site in the next two months. And starting Nov. 1, its bimonthly magazine, Bank Securities Journal, will be accessible through the Web site.
J. Heywood E. Sloane, editor-in-chief of the magazine, said it's distribution shouldn't be limited to members of the trade group. "It has a mission to educate people in the industry," he said.
The magazine's content changed two years ago when it became more of a forum of ideas-before that, it tended to deliver information without an exchange of views. The popularity of the Internet inspired the change.
"Essentially, we saw it coming," Mr. Sloane said. "We changed the content to build something that would be more suitable for electronic delivery."
"Now, we have the ability to broaden the reach of who can contribute to this forum we've created, first in print and now in electronic form," he added.
In the last issue, half the contributions were submitted via on-line services or the Internet. A year ago, only 5% of the contributions were received electronically.
"A year ago it was Greek to everybody, now they can do it," Mr. Sloane said, noting that most others are upset that they can't access it yet.
Mr. Sloane sees a growing demand for real-time information access. One measure is the number of anxious calls he says he receives from people who are doing research.
"If I had to field every phone call, I wouldn't be able to put anything out. Putting a tool out there for people to do it themselves works for everybody," Mr. Sloane said.