Friday, November 18, 2011

Community Banks on the Winning Team

By Michael Scheibach, Executive Editor, BankNews

The Move Your Money Project and Bank Transfer Day helped set the anti-big-bank campaign in motion. And although credit unions have seen an upswing in customers, so, too, have community banks nationwide.

Quoting the Christian Science Monitor: "Bankers at the roughly 15,000 community banks and credit unions across the United States have been spending Monday running the numbers. And this is no routine tally. That's because it's two days after Bank Transfer Day, the Internet-launched call to move money from big, transnational financial institutions down to the neighborhood level. Now, the beneficiaries of this social action are reporting that Saturday was, well, a small-town banker's dream, with customers jostling for a parking spot and standing in line to open new accounts."

The California's Circle Bank, for example, opened 33 new accounts in its six-branch system (totaling $188,756) and four new business accounts (totaling $12,720) through its website as a result of Bank Transfer Day.

Kimberly Kaselionis, CEO of Circle Bank, was quoted in the Monitor as saying, “The branches had a flurry of activity, and we treated it as a celebration of community and a liberation from big-bank neglect."

On the other coast, in Portsmouth, N.H., Optima Bank and Trust is capitalizing on the movement, as well. 

Says Daniel Morrison, president and CEO of Optima, "We have absolutely seen a movement to us from big banks. I see a long-term trend. Big banks are getting bigger, and service is getting poorer."

Community banks must not relax, however, because credit unions are really marketing their "down home nice guy" image. Stay tuned.