Maritz Research Introduces CrowsNestTM To Help Banks Identify Compliance Vulnerabilities

Mystery shopping audits monitor regulatory compliance through early detection of customer communication issues

Federal regulators continue to scrutinize financial institutions’ customer protection policies. Banks and credit card providers who wish to do their part to protect customers from confusing or misleading information can avoid paying millions in damages. To help financial service providers comply with changing industry regulations, Maritz Research has announced the launch of CrowsNestTM – a mystery shopping solution that detects potential noncompliance and reduces the risk of incurring penalties or fines.

CrowsNest offers an independent assessment to help banks, credit card providers, and mortgage servicers/originators proactively monitor compliance with regulatory processes and procedures when dealing with customers and prospects. For customer-facing situations during which employees explain a credit card application process, open a checking account, handle a customer complaint about credit card terms, or respond to a question about overdraft fees,CrowsNest alerts management to risks. Maritz Research’s network includes more than 90,000 mystery shoppers who are uniquely trained to assess the actions of front-line employees. Within the CrowsNest program, mystery shoppers can audit for compliance vulnerabilities and give financial services providers the opportunity to make immediate improvements.

“As hefty fines continue to be levied against financial institutions, complying with regulatory guidelines tops executives’ lists of concerns and challenges,” said Michael Matza, senior strategic consulting director of the Financial Services Research Group at Maritz Research. “CrowsNest addresses these concerns by pinpointing highly vulnerable areas – like confusing terms and conditions – before they become a problem. By avoiding penalties and negative publicity, firms can protect their reputations and maintain confidence among customers and other stakeholders. CrowsNest is meant to complement an institution’s existing Compliance Management Systems program.”

Brian W. Smith, former chief counsel to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and a 40-plus year veteran of the financial services industry, has worked with Maritz Research to develop CrowsNest. Smith says, “It’s clear to me that this unique evaluation tool is needed. The criticisms and substantial fines regulators have recently levied in the consumer compliance arena have created a new enforcement dynamic dramatically heightening the importance of compliance for officers and directors of financial institutions offering consumer financial services.”

CrowsNest specializes in tracking regulatory issues related to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Truth in Lending Act, the Truth in Savings Act, mortgage reform and investor protections. It offers different assessments for specific needs, which are tracked and managed through an online reporting portal.

·         Reviews of disclosures in various communications and marketing materials, including websites, direct mail, statements, etc.

·         Audits of employees’ customer service, including in-person mystery shopping visits to branch staff, telephone calls to customer call centers and online communications.

“Noncompliance directly and negatively impacts the bottom line,” Matza notes. “By determining how well employees and systems are following guidelines designed to ensure compliance, firms can better understand what should be done differently to reduce risk.”

Regardless of the scope or frequency of the assessments, the CrowsNest online dashboard provides:

·         Timely access to mystery shopping results.

·         Quick identification of non-compliance issues through “hot alerts.”

·         Customized, personalized results to share with various levels, including compliance officers, individual branches, call centers or regional managers.

·         Ability to view trends over time and segment the data by regulation, location, situation, level of the organization or expected behavior.

A leader in the mystery shopping industry and a charter member of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association, Maritz Research conducts hundreds of thousands of mystery shopping audits each year. Maritz Research also serves 75 of the largest financial firms in the world, including banking, credit card services, insurance, mortgage, investment services and wealth management.

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About Maritz Research

As one of the world’s largest marketing research firms Maritz Research, a unit of Maritz, helps many of today’s most successful companies improve performance through a deep understanding of their customers, employees and channel partners. Founded in 1973, it offers a range of strategic and tactical solutions concentrating primarily in the automotive, financial services, hospitality, technology, telecommunications, restaurant and retail industries. The company has achieved ISO 20252 registration, the international symbol of quality. It is a member of CASRO, ESOMAR and MRA. Check out the Maritz Research blog at For more information, visit or call 877-4MARITZ.