The importance of website compliance

Websites play a key role as credit unions communicate with both prospective and current members. The website is a virtual front door, the online equivalent to walking into a physical branch.

In the same way that a credit union would strive to make sure that all of its promotional and advertising materials in a branch, from posters on the wall to handouts and forms, are fully compliant with all relevant rules and regulations, it needs to make sure that the website is equally aligned.

The question a credit union – of any size – needs to be asking itself is this: If a regulator visited our website today, are we 100 percent confident that our credit union would pass the advertising compliance test?

When it comes to website compliance, there really aren’t that many compliance rules and regulations that specifically mention websites, but that can be deceiving. All the rules that apply to credit unions’ advertising also apply to their websites.

Assessing compliance is especially important when a credit union revamps its website, updating the site’s style and adding the latest information about all the products and services that it offers.

Two credit unions that recently redesigned their websites would agree.

A $175 million community-based credit union in Pennsylvania, for instance, recently invested in redesigning its website to update content and make it easier to use and more accessible to members. Its final task before unveiling the website was a deep dive into compliance.

At the credit union, compliance is the responsibility of several departments, under the general guidance of a director of risk management. That setup highlighted the need for consultation with an outside compliance expert.

PolicyWorks reviewed the website thoroughly for compliance risks and responded quickly with a final report indicating any areas that needed polishing.

The credit union AVP of Marketing, underscored the value of the review by explaining that “Since we don’t really have a compliance person in-house, there are some things that we just never would have caught.”

A Moline, Illinois based credit union with $1.1 billion in assets performed a thorough review of its website, then followed that up with another review about a year later when it launched a new site.

Leveraging its ongoing relationship with PolicyWorks, the credit union called on the compliance experts there to thoroughly review the site on both occasions.

For any size credit union, regardless of the compliance expertise of its internal staff, it is worthwhile to have an outside analysis performed, to make sure the site is reviewed with the same rigor that a regulator would apply when examining it.

For example, there are several key elements that must be on a website to ensure compliance. The elements range from the NCUA official advertising statement or sign – and its size – to proper use of the Equal Housing logo, Regulation Z disclosures, and Truth-in-Savings compliance. To help you review your website, download this handy compliance checklist containing the most common issues found during a website compliance audit.

Jennifer Adkisson

Jennifer Adkisson

As Compliance Officer, Jennifer assists credit unions with their marketing and website reviews. Her expertise in advertising compliance helps credit unions reach their marketing goals while staying compliant with the ... Web: Details