Have You Done Your Homework On Your Bank?

Banking, Banks, Borrowing, Investing & Retiring

How do you know that your bank is the best one for you? You can consult all the advertising flyers and conventional information available at bank branches — or you can do some homework on the fundamentals of your bank with help from the online Bank Data Guide from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). What better source of information could you find than the organization that insures your deposits up to $250,000?

The FDIC Bank Guide has links to lots of information, far more than you are likely to care about as a depositor. However, it does have several functions that are geared to depositors, starting with the BankFind menu.

BankFind does just what the name implies — it allows you to find information about a particular bank. A drop-down menu will attempt to guide you through options as you type in the bank name. The main menu will give you the FDIC certificate number, when the bank was established and insured, the Bank Charter Class, location of the headquarters, and the webpage contact for the bank. FDIC contacts for consumer assistance regarding the bank are also included.

The location drop-down menu allows you to find a specific location or all locations where your bank does business. The history tab lists all major changes within the bank including acquisitions, mergers, name changes, organization type, and changes of regulatory agency. The identification tab lists all relevant identifiers from the FDIC and the Federal Reserve.

The financial snapshot tab gives the basic financial information about your bank’s relative strength. Available information includes total assets and deposits, bank equity capital, and year-to-date and quarterly reports on net income, post and pre-tax return on assets, and return on equity.

Click on the link for comprehensive financial reports and you will find a menu that goes further in depth, even allowing you to create comparison reports and to check FDIC ratings via the Community Reinvestment Act. The Details and Financials – ID tab will take you to that same menu, and the Reports and Analysis tab allows you to go to a user-friendly comparison page where you can compare dollars/percent of assets or rankings for up to four banks.

Once you have located the branches of interest, you can use the Branch Office Deposits tab to find out the deposits at any particular location. Totals are available for each branch, including the countywide total for all branches in that category, and the statewide total. Bank robbers, don’t get any ideas.

The Bank Guide contains far more information that is useful primarily for analysts and regulators, such as downloadable reports on various banking institutions and cumulative data about the banking industry. As an individual depositor, you are probably not going to care about such in-depth information, but it is available if you find it interesting.

The FDIC Bank Guide’s real benefit to most people is the ability to find basic bank information quickly, to help you make decisions about your banking options. Do the locations and services at those locations match your convenience needs, is the bank stable with sufficient deposits, assets and returns, is it prone to acquisitions or changes, and how does it rate among its peer institutions? You may find that you have a better banking choice available to you, or you may find peace of mind in confirming that you already use the best bank for your needs.

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