Bankers are turning to a computer-based system to help them keep up with regulatory changes that affect their investment products programs.
The system provides electronic versions of rules issued by regulatory agencies that oversee the brokerage business. Accessing the information through a personal computer eliminates the need for bankers and brokers to pore over mountains of paper.
"It's a vast improvement over written copies that can sometimes take months to print and update," said John Pettifor, president of Compliance International, the Pine Brook, N.J., company that developed the system.
The software product, called C-Text, displays the full text of rules and guidelines from regulatory agencies such as the National Association of Securities Dealers, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the New York Stock Exchange.
Since the system works with many word processors, compliance officers can copy rules into other documents, such as memos to sales representatives.
"It's been invaluable," said Kelly Gibbs, an assistant vice president at the brokerage unit of Zion Bank, Salt Lake City. "We just cut and pasted the rules right into our procedures so we would have the words verbatim."
Searching for specific passages electronically also cuts down on the time it takes to do research.
But not all bankers are convinced that the computer will replace paper copies of the regulations anytime soon.
"It's possible," said Larry C. Kreul, treasurer for Comerica Securities, Detroit, "But we feel that the regulators want us to keep our paper [copies] current as well."
Mr. Kreul, who has used the C-Text software for about a year, says the real advantage is its portability. "You can put it on a laptop [computer] instead of having to lug around a library," Mr. Kreul said.
Although the bank brokerage pays Compliance International a fee for each computer that uses the data base, it saves money by eliminating the need for several sets of compliance materials, Mr. Kreul said.