Here are several of the key resources, local and national, for the banking industry.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) is the federal agency that insures deposits and acts as the receiver for most failed banks. Its website is a treasure trove of data and information, ranging from basic facts about the industry to detailed analysis of banks and sector trends. At FDIC.gov, you can easily find links to the agency’s online press room and to the agency’s RSS feeds. Just click on the “News & Events” tab for media information; for bank data and statics, click the “Industry Analysis” tab.
The FDIC maintains a frequently list of banks that have failed, at FDIC’s Failed Bank List. This list includes the names of banks that have failed, along with their locations and their acquirers. Click on a specific bank on the list for more information including a link to the FDIC’s press release announcing that bank’s failure, details about the acquiring institution, and information that customers and claimants would be interested to know.
The FDIC also maintains a list of “problem banks,” a watch list for banks considered to be at risk of failing. This contents of this list are confidential; however, in the FDIC’s “Quarterly Banking Profile,” available at the FDIC’s Research & Analysis page, the agency will disclose how MANY banks are on the list, which can be useful, along with the pace of actual failures for a given quarter.
Additionally, the FDIC site offers individual state profiles, which you can find under the Industry Analysis tab (or on this FDIC State Profiles page). Click on your state on the U.S. map, and you’ll find quarterly trends (usually only a few months behind real time) including the number of banking institutions in your state, total bank assets, the number of new institutions formed in the past three years, loan loss data, loan concentrations by category (residential real estate, agriculture, etc.), average capital ratios, employment data and so on. You’ll also find the largest deposit markets in your state. All of this can be useful as background matter in a story, or it may inspire a trend story on its own.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency charters, regulates and supervises all national banks and federal savings associations, along with the U.S. divisions of foreign banks. Its oversight can overlap with that of the Federal Reserve. For example, the Fed is the primary regulator for Citigroup, the holding company for Citibank and all the other businesses under the Citi umbrella. But the OCC is the primary regulator of the Citibank subsidiary, which is a national chartered bank. The OCC site can be useful, but in terms of covering the banking beat, it’s not as robust as what the FDIC offers.
The Federal Reserve site also has information that will be useful to banking reporters (you can see total lending by loan category, etc.), but its biggest strength in terms of data is information on the macro economy.
It varies state by state, but a quick Google search will bring you to the website of your local bank regulator, which most likely has a feed you’ll want to follow or a distribution list you’ll want to be on.
Trade groups obviously have their biases, but they can be useful sources of information on all kinds of issues. Groups such as the American Bankers Association (no relation at all to American Banker or American Banker Magazine) are frequently consulted by legislators and regulators on matters of policy, so they often are in the loop on topics reporters would want to ask about, such as economic trends, regulation, political developments and the like.
- The American Bankers Association represents banks of all sizes.
- The Independent Community Bankers of America represents smaller institutions.
- The Financial Services Roundtable represents about 100 of the biggest banks and financial services companies.
- The Institute of International Finance represents about 400 multinational firms, including some of the world’s largest investment banks and commercial banks, along with insurance and investment-management firms.
All of the above websites offer policy position papers, updates on issues affecting their membership, and media rooms and/or guides to experts.