Nov. 5 has been proclaimed by a California credit union member as Bank Transfer Day. Because of her antipathy for large national banks, she has asked that people with accounts switch to local institutions.
Todd Pietzsch, spokesman for BECU, says the Washington credit union counted 16,000 new members in October, upwards of 10,000 more than seen in a typical month. So far this year, the institution has opened 86,000 new checking accounts – compared with 60,000 year-to-date in 2010.
Some news reports have people being asked to switch to community banks or credit unions.
Here’s what a few banks have to say:
• “We’re seeing an increase in account openings of 25 percent year-over-year. It’s incredible,” said Eve Callahan, senior vice president of corporate communications at Umpqua Bank. “We’ve seen a lot of traffic over the past few weeks. People are recognizing that a Wall Street bank is a very different entity than a Main Street bank. That’s something that people understand.”
• “We understand that people are looking for more from their fianancial institutions,” said Lara Underhill, spokeswoman for Wells Fargo. “If a customer chooses to close an account, we will try to address any of their concerns. We understand that while we can’t control what people do to express their views, what we can do is to continue to provide jobs and services to our customers and our communities.”
• Steve Maxwell, President of KeyBank’s South Puget Sound District, said, “As bank customers consider whether to move their accounts to a credit union or small community bank, we recommend that they consider how well all their financial needs will be met. KeyBank offers the best of both worlds – financial strength, a local community presence, and a broad range of products and services that smaller banks can’t offer, delivered locally. As for imposing new debit card fees, Key is going in a different direction.”
If you make a move on Switch Day, be careful. Leave enough money in your old account to cover any administrative fees – so that you aren’t charged for insufficient funds. Ask if your new institution has a “switch kit” to assist you.
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535