Bank Transfer Day: Consumers Search, CUs Savor, CUNA Cautions
Social media and other websites continue to show surges in interest about credit unions on Tuesday as Bank Transfer Day approaches.
The anti-bank ferment sparked by the Bank of America debit fee announcement two weeks ago also has prompted CUNA leadership to speak up in an attempt to tamp down possible fears about bank runs the nascent movement might trigger.
Hard numbers of how many accounts have actually shifted from banks to CUs were hard to come by, but inquiries at state leagues and trade groups continued to soar and individual credit unions were looking for ways to make the most of it, launching “ditch-your-bank” promotions, for instance.
Meanwhile, caution also was in the air, too, specifically about the impact sudden large amounts of deposits would have on balance sheets at credit unions, particularly mid-sized organizations worried about their capital ratios.
There was also concern the account switch, as some analysts have suggested, might draw less-than-profitable accounts into CUs, in effect allowing big banks like BofA and Wells Fargo and regional banks to dump bad business on CUs.
“We’re happy about the 25% increase in new account openings we’ve seen and we continue with our marketing promotions about joining our credit union, but we are of the school that there is both good and cautious news here,” said Paul Stull, senior vice president of the $1.3 billion Arizona State CU in Phoenix.
Meanwhile, CUNA said it has received favorable reviews from the public and CEOs to an interview conducted Monday by Bill Cheney, president/CEO, who told CNBC anchors that a run caused by Bank Transfer Day is unlikely.
Rather, the message from CUNA is that big bank customers would likely “find a better value” at their local CU, Cheney said.
Based on the increase in new account openings and a doubling of traffic on its www.asmarterchoice.org website, it seems consumers are not waiting until Nov. 5 to make their move, he said. CUNA said it’s now seeing the same traffic per week as it had been seeing per month.
NAFCU also said its www.culookup.com website has seen more than three times its usual traffic in recent days.
“That is wonderful news,” spokeswoman Patty Briotta said, adding that the trade group is helping its members “capitalize on the opportunities with marketing materials, daily inserts and talking points. But each credit union ultimately must determine what kind of strategy fits its needs.”