July 9, 2004
The purpose of this guidance is to address questions which have been raised relative to any potential disruption that may be caused by the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Boston during the last week of July 2004 and its potential impact on state-chartered banks and credit unions.
State-chartered banks and credit unions in Massachusetts are authorized by law to close banking offices on an emergency temporary non-mandatory basis. Pursuant to G.L. c. 167 §21 (available at http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/167-21.htm), and as more fully described in Regulatory Bulletin 2.1-105 (available at http://www.mass.gov/dob/2_1-105.htm), under such circumstances the final determination to close offices rests with the institution itself. The closing of banking offices does not have to be reported to or approved by the Commissioner of Banks, although a brief written notification to the Division is often provided voluntarily under such circumstances. Should a bank or credit union deem it necessary to close branches as a result of the DNC written notification to the Division is recommended.
Section 21 does, however, outline certain requirements to be met. First, that such closings are duly recorded in the records of the next meeting of the governing board with the cause and time of such closing. Second, that reasonable efforts are made by the institution to notify the banking public in advance of the emergency temporary closing of any of its offices. Third, that each bank or credit union advises the appropriate personnel of the decision to close such banking offices. Bank and credit union officers are encouraged to review Regulatory Bulletin 2.1-105 for more detailed guidance.
In terms of other matters that may be impacted by the DNC, such as the safety of bank or credit union personnel within downtown Boston, courier and armored car services, and other security measures, the Division views the DNC as it would any other known future disruption to the financial services industry. Not unlike the preparations required of the Y2K century date change, the Division expects institutions to develop contingency plans and consider other best practices in advance of the DNC to ensure the safety of their employees and the continued sound operations of their institutions.