DENVER -- The Colorado Bankers Association has created on on-line communications network complete with an electronic bulletin board that allows compliance officers to question their supervisors.
Dubbed Regulators Anonymous, the bulletin board enables bankers to send by computer questions they have about compliance and get an electronic answer from state or federal regulators. The banker does not attach a name or an institution, so the query is without risk.
"We thought the regulators might be irritated, but we've gotten a very positive reaction," said Don A. Childears, the association's chief executive officer.
Another bulletin board allows compliance officers to swap information. For example, an officer can log on and tell colleagues what the regulators emphasized during a recent examination.
"They can say, 'We just finished an exam and they hammered us on these three issues,'" Mr. Childears explained.
These are just two of 21 electronic bulletin boards offered on the Colorado Bankers All News Connection. The system will get a big marketing push next month when the association holds a series of 11 meetings with members around the Centennial state.
Mr. Childears said the network was dreamed up last fall and rolled out in February. After just one sales pitch, the trade group has signed up 115 bankers. Mr. Childears said he hopes the meetings in May will triple or quadruple that total.
The association wants to get its message deeper into its 360 member banks. Its weekly newsletter often stops on the CEO's desk, Mr. Childears said. But now the publication is on-line and subscribers can call it up on their computers.
The association is still printing and mailing the newsletter, but not for long. Once the system is up, "we will cease all the other publications," Mr. Childears said.
Instead, a weekly one-page fax of headlines will be sent to members. Those enticed by a particular entry can call up the whole story on the network.
Mr. Childears figures the association will save $30,000 a year on printing and postage. The trade group has invested about $100,000 in the network, which it developed with a partner, Colorado Capitol Connection.
Colorado Bankers can add information anytime to the network, which Mr. Childears figures will be a big advantage when the association needs to call out the troops.
"We can flash 'urgent message' to anybody who signs on the system," Mr. Childears explained.
The network has a number of other features, including electronic mail among subscribers, a calendar listing events of importance to bankers, and industry statistics for the last three years.
Four people at any bank can join for free through 1994. In January 1995, the cost for four subscribers at a bank will be $11.95 a month for access. If a bank wants to sign up more than four employees, the price will drop, but Mr. Childears said the cost has not yet been set.
Like other on-line services such as Compuserve and Prodigy, the association's system has several features that carry an additional cost.
For a fee, banks can tap into the Colorado secretary of state's lien records, search any existing state laws, or read any pending legislation, including amendments filed in the preceding 12 hours.
Future features may include Dun & Bradstreet credit reports and access to stories in American Banker.
The network isn't all work. One of the most popular features is USA Today, especially the sports section. Mr. Childears plans to add a ticket exchange, so bankers needing tickets to a Rockies game can contact other bankers who have them.