WASHINGTON -- Federal financial regulators have issued a joint policy statement aimed at improving communication between bank's outside auditors and their examiners.

The guidelines took effect when they were issued last Thursday by the Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Office of Thrift Supervision.

One item that could prove controversial - a move to increase supervisory authority - would permit external auditors and examiners to hold confidential meetings without the presence of a bank's management.

One Rule Called |Odd'

"If there's a special meeting, it seems odd that you wouldn't include the party you're talking about," said a banking lobbyist, who requested anonymity.

But little else is likely to raise eyebrows. Similar ground rules were adopted for auditors in 1990 by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The new guidelines tell bankers and examiners what information should be provided to external auditors.

Guidelines for Meetings

They also set rules for meetings between external auditors and examiners at which safety-and-soundness exams are discussed. For instance:

* Auditors and examiners may schedule their work for the same time, if the bank wishes. The agencies encouraged banks to notify auditors of the dates and scope of forthcoming examinations. And they urged auditors to keep regulators posted on planned on-site audits.

* Auditors may attend "examination exit conferences," at which examiners discuss the findings of an exam with the institution's management.

But they need approval from regulators before attending other conferences between examiners and management.

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