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How often are the star ratings updated? At least four times per year, generally in early March, June, September and December.

How can I tell when the ratings were assigned? Look right above the search results. You’ll see a statement like this: Star ratings are current as of (date) based on (quarter-end date) financial data.

Why can't I find my bank or credit union? Institutions are listed based on the state and city in which they are headquartered. Possible solutions to finding yours: 1) try searching again without entering the state  2) brand new institutions can take up to three months to appear on our site due to the lag time in receiving data from regulators  3) it is possible for foreign banks to have FDIC-insured U.S. branches. We do not have data on foreign banks. You may call the FDIC at 1.877.275.3342 or visit http://research.fdic.gov/bankfind/ to find out if your bank is a foreign branch or a new bank in the last few months.

How do you assign your star ratings? Each institution files a Call Report with government regulators each quarter. We perform our own independent analysis on the raw data supplemented with historical and other data to assign our star ratings.

If all banks and credit unions have federal deposit insurance what difference does it make what the rating is? Consumers (and businesses) that exceed the deposit insurance limit could lose some of their money in a bank failure; it is surprisingly easy to go over the insurance limit without realizing it due to interest payments, proceeds from the sale of a house, retirement accounts, death of a signer on the account, conditional clauses in trust documents, brokered deposits, etc. Additionally, an acquiring institution is not obligated to keep paying CD rates at the rate contracted with the defunct institution. Interest rates are subject (likely) to drop, especially if they are above the market averages.  Businesses have another concern; if their bank fails they can lose their "line of credit" (source of funding) until they are able to find another lender.

Regardless of insurance limitations, individuals and businesses could be subject to disruptions in direct deposits if a bank is closed with no acquirer. The same goes for any bills that you have automatically set up to pay from your checking account. Anything set up on the internet will have to be changed, but it’s not just virtual; any paper checks outstanding could be returned as unpaid if the bank fails and is shuttered. This can trigger fees or worse.

The rating went down from last time. Does that mean the institution is in trouble? Institutions rated 2-stars and below are put on our Troubled and Problematic Report. Click on the “Highlights” button below the institution's name to purchase a highlights report (only $10) that will show trends over the last year.

Do banks and credit unions pay to be rated? No, nor can an institution elect not to be rated.  We rate all U.S. chartered banks and all federally insured credit unions with assets of at least $1.5 million.

Do credit unions have FDIC insurance? Credit unions do not have FDIC insurance but they have similar government-guaranteed insurance from the National Credit Union Administration.  Please visit their website, http://www.ncua.gov/, for details.

How can I find the best banks and credit unions in my area? Do a search by selecting only a state – leave the institution name field blank. The search will return all the banks or credit unions in that state in alphabetical order. Or you can order Your Hometown Bank Ratings for information on all the banks in your city or county. (http://www.bauerfinancial.com/statewidebankreports.htm)

What if I want more than a Star-Rating? Click on the “Tell Me More” button below institution’s name. If you need more detailed information call us at 1.800.388.6686 or click on “products” for additional report descriptions.

Why are Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other territories listed? They are not states. Although they’re not states, they are U.S. territories and do share all the benefits and guarantees of FDIC insurance.

Do you use the CAMELS rating system? The CAMELS rating system is the regulators own proprietary system and is confidential. However, we take a similar approach in assigning our star ratings.

What makes Bauer different from other rating agencies? Bauer’s track record stands for itself. In fact, all banks that failed from January 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 were rated Zero-Stars at the time they failed; over 98% of all banks that failed since January 1, 2010 were rated Zero-Stars (299 out of 304).

That isn’t the only reason Bauer has not been lumped in with credit rating agencies, though. There are several problems plaguing other rating companies.

Some agencies work for and/or do consulting for the banks they rate. BauerFinancial is completely independent. It does not get paid (nor has it ever) to rate any institution, nor can any institution avoid its rating. We do have products for sale to institutions that have earned a 5-Star or 4-Star rating, but the difference is… they must earn it first.

Unlike other rating agencies, Bauer does not tell a bank what it would be rated so it can go out shopping for a better rating. It uses the same strict barometer to rate all institutions and makes those ratings available to all—for free—on its web site.  Bauer has nothing to hide.

Over the past quarter of a century, this practice, along with an excellent track record, has earned the respect of regulators, bankers and consumers across the country. So when you read about rating agencies being under fire, don’t think of BauerFinancial.  We have been analyzing and reporting on the industry since 1983. Nobody knows this business better, nor is better respected.

What is the difference between a credit union and a bank? Banks and credit unions can both carry federal deposit insurance (FDIC for banks; NCUA for credit unions). Without federal deposit insurance, an institution will not be rated by Bauer. FDIC and NCUA carry the same guarantees and are both backed by the Federal Government. What primarily sets banks and credit unions apart is their ownership. Banks can be owned by stockholders, individuals or groups. Credit unions are not-for-proft entities, owned by their members. The allegiances vary according to who owns the institution.

What is a Corporate Credit Union? A corporate credit union is a credit union for credit unions. Unlike regular credit unions that have a membership made of individual or “natural” persons, a corporate credit union has other credit unions as its members. More information can be found on the subject by visiting bauerfinancial.com/previousarticles.htm.

What is a Banker’s Bank? A banker’s bank is a bank for banks. Unlike regular banks that have a customer base made up of individuals and businesses, a bankers bank has other banks as its customers and provides a number of correspondent services for them.

What is TAG? The Transaction Account Guaranty Program, or TAG was originally part of the Temporary Liquidity Guaranty Program (TLGP) of 2008. The TAG came to have a life of its own, however. For several years TAG added unlimited insurance coverage to “noninterest-bearing transaction accounts” (like checking accounts) regardless of the balance of the account. One could theoretically have a fully insured $250,000 CD at a bank and also have another $500,000 (or more) at the same bank. As long as it is in a noninterest-bearing checking account, it was also fully insured. TAG, this unlimited coverage on the transaction accounts, expired at the end of 2012. More information can be found on the subject by visiting bauerfinancial.com/previousarticles.htm.

What is the significance of the Elephant on Jumbo Rate News? In 1882, P.T. Barnum acquired a renowned elephant from a collector in France: Jumbo the elephant was known world-wide as the “Children’s Giant Pet” and was a major boost to the Barnum circus. Unfortunately, three years later, Jumbo met up with an untimely death when he encountered an unscheduled train on tracks on which he was walking. The story has nothing to do with CD rates per se, but when Jumbo CDs were created by the increase in deposit insurance (from $40,000 to $100,000) in the 1980s, the iconic “Jumbo the Elephant” seemed a fitting mascot for the newsletter that Mr. Bauer launched in 1983.

What is Due Diligence? Any person, agency, or association that is in charge of watching over money for someone else, has an obligation to make sure it has, to the best of its abilities, determined that the place it selects for those funds, is strong. This process is known as “Due Diligence”. Visit http://www.bauerfinancial.com/duediligencebpr.htm for more information.  

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BauerFinancial, Inc.
P.O. Box 143520, Coral Gables, FL 33114
800.388.6686     FAX: 800.230.9569  Email:  customerservice@bauerfinancial.com

Ratings are independent. No institution has ever paid us to rate it, nor can any institution choose not to be rated.

Bank and Credit Union data compiled from financial data for the period noted, as reported to federal regulators. The financial data obtained from these sources is consistently reliable, although; the accuracy and completeness of the data cannot be guaranteed by BauerFinancial, Inc.. BauerFinancial relies upon this data in its judgment and in rendering its opinion (e.g. determination of star ratings) as well as supplying the data fields incorporated herein. BauerFinancial, Inc. is not a financial advisor; it is an independent bank research firm. BauerFinancial is a registered trademark. Any unauthorized use of its content, logos, name, and/or Star-ratings is forbidden.

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