Publicly traded banks must disclose the totals they expect to spend rectifying possible year-2000 computer problems, according to guidelines issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday.
Institutions must also outline their general plans for addressing looming computer glitches in their financial statements, and provide a timetable for carrying them out, the SEC said.
And companies must include warnings if the cost of the year-2000 fix is expected to significantly hurt their earnings. Institutions that fail to correct possible problems must tell shareholders if an adverse effect on company performance is "reasonably expected."
Also, companies must disclose when year-2000 problems are expected to affect a company's products, services, or competitive conditions.
The requirements also apply to SEC-registered investment advisers.
The SEC's action was praised by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, who has sponsored legislation with identical disclosure requirements.
"I'm personally gratified to see public recognition of this problem," Sen. Bennett said in a statement.
Financial institutions face technology breakdowns because many computer systems register years by the last two digits. Experts fear data systems will confuse the dates 1900 and 2000.