A New Way to Display ‘FDIC’

By Sharon Klocek-Ibbotson

Something exciting is happening, and it could have a remarkably simplifying effect for bank marketers and their vendor partners.

What if you didn’t have to put “Member FDIC” on (what feels like) everything?

As a digital signage vendor and content creator for banks throughout the U.S., I see the struggle. About 60 percent of our bank customers, typically those with strong compliance departments, dutifully require “FDIC” on every screen for display where a bank logo or name is used.

In contrast, 40 percent of our bank customers choose specific, more product-focused screens to include “Member FDIC” or a logo. Our content team works with each bank to match customer preferences for when, where and how large to make FDIC disclosures.

When you multiply these custom requirements across a multitude of platforms and vendors supporting bank marketing, the investment to display “FDIC” is dizzying.

The good news? All this could change for the better, if the collaborative recommendation from the American Bankers Association and the Bank Policy Institute spur the FDIC to change requirements.

ABA’s letter, written in response to a request for information in June, urged the FDIC to “modernize its signage requirements to reflect new technologies and provide clarity about requirements regarding displays, promotional materials, and social media advertising.”

ABA’s recommendations included:

  • Allow banks to display a single sign in one prominent location per branch and permit electronic displays, such as TV or video. monitors, to satisfy multiple disclosure requirements.
  • Require FDIC sign or logo only on the homepage or landing page of online or mobile platforms.
  • Clarify requirements related to promotional materials and social media use and activities.
  • Define the obligations of nonbanks to facilitate consumer understanding of insured or non-insured products and services.
  • Increase accessibility and transparency of FDIC tools to help customers differentiate between insured and noninsured institutions.
  • Keep changes flexible to allow banks to adjust to the needs of an ever-changing marketplace and its consumers.

We applaud these recommendations, especially the options to display FDIC disclosures digitally and potentially remove FDIC from each individual media item from a lobby TV playlist. Among other things I’d like to see addressed are whether banks should dedicate an electronic sign to FDIC membership and disclosures. Or would there be an option to allow FDIC disclosures to be part of a marketing playlist on an existing digital signage system? Furthermore, is the intention of electronically displaying multiple disclosures to create a hub of sorts? If yes, would this hub of disclosures be able to show all product and service disclosures that are often too wordy to be read on digital signage?

One thing is clear: It’s easy to complicate the digital display of disclosures of any kind unless you do one thing: centralize.

“As marketers, we’re always trying to create efficiency and simplicity, especially in regards to compliance,” says Jill Bush, second VP for marketing at MidWestOne Bank. “All marketing efforts, including point-of-sale signage, should lead to your website. It’s your one source of truth. That’s not only efficient, it’s safer and smarter.”

To that end, we envision a world where the FDIC allows websites to become the central source of all disclosures and allows banks to reference disclosures with a referring web link or a simplified URL displayed on screen. Banks can provide access for all customers by installing a touchscreen kiosk, or touchpad, dedicated to the bank website in bank lobbies.

However, is access enough? Are customers aware of what the FDIC stands for or if they are working with a nonbank? If not, will they bother to look for the disclosures?

“I definitely think there’s a lack of understanding regarding what FDIC insurance actually means and how it affects consumers. It’s something easy to take for granted,” says Heather Miltenberger, SVP and director of marketing and business services at Pennian Bank in Pennsylvania. “With so many nonbank organizations coming on the scene and offering banking products, consumers should really know where they put their money and what kinds of protections are in place.”

The FDIC can help by increasing accessibility, transparency, nonbank obligations and the role of insurance. Furthermore, electronic bank lobby signage, social media and trained staff can be a part of an FDIC toolset to educate consumers about the value of insurance, as well as the differences between bank and nonbank providers.

Until then, it’s clear from the continued growth of marketing platforms and rapid adoption of electronic customer aids that regulatory agencies need to provide new flexibility to ensure the mutual success of bank marketing and consumer protection.

“With the constant technological changes and marketing methods of products and services, it is imperative for banks and regulatory agencies to [work]together in order to adapt,” says Mike Moore, EVP and chief risk officer at Pennian Bank. “This includes dissemination of compliance information used to protect our customers and the communities we serve.”

Sharon Klocek-Ibbotson is the director of content strategy for digital signage and touchscreen products at Kiosk & Display, based in Atlanta. Her responsibilities include viewer engagement strategies, new media integration and best practice education through her work as a speaker.