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EDITOR’S COMMENT: People are voting with their feet. The fact is that Credit Unions and Community Banks provide all the services that the average customer needs at a lower cost than the Mega banks. If this leads to decentralizing the power of the Mega Banks, it will change the landscape of finance and politics.

BOA and other large banks use their dominance in ATM services to attract customers. For twenty years I have labored to awaken the small bankers to the fact that the infrastructure already exists for the compete on the same playing field with the same services at lower cost to the customer and higher profit for the small financial institution.

We’ve seen the result of allowing the giants to grow and exercise their power over the marketplace and lawmaking and enforcement of laws. The latest revelations show that the small banks and credit unions were a far safer place to be than any of the banks “playing” in the securitization markets. Now that people are awakened to this risk, they have the opportunity to do something about it with their money and hopefully with their vote.

Local customers switching to credit unions for better service

See Entire Article in Yakima Herald Republic


Local customers switching to credit unions for better service
Carol Pimentel endorses a check at the Fifth Avenue branch of the Solarity Credit Union in Yakima on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, as member services representative Kristie Therkelsen waits. Pimentel recently switched her bank account from the Bank of America to Solarity because she was unsatisfied with the Bank of America service.

YAKIMA, Wash. — After 14 years banking with Bank of America, Carol Pimental was ready for an alternative.

She didn’t like the five-day holds on her financial aid checks, having fees to keep a savings account or to receive printed bank statements, or the confusing changes that required hours of reading bank documentation.

She switched to Solarity Credit Union in Yakima three months ago.

Pimental was familiar with credit unions — her parents have banked with one for years — but her frustrations put her over the edge.

“I got tired of dealing with it,” said Pimental, a 41-year-old Yakima resident who is studying accounting at Yakima Valley Community College.

While the concept of credit unions — nonprofit, membership-driven financial institutions — dates back decades, the industry may look back at 2011 as the year that consumers nationwide took notice.

“Our efforts in raising awareness in credit unions have been extensive but only when consumers decide they want to look,” said David Bennett, a spokesman for the Northwest Credit Union Association (NCUA), a trade group of 168 credit unions in Washington and Oregon.

Indeed, many larger banks drew more ire from consumers in 2011 with an increasing number of fees for its products and services.

In September, several banks announced plans to charge a $5 monthly fee for debit cards. Most banks ultimately dropped such plans, but not before drawing a backlash from consumers.

Meanwhile, consumers and other groups, such as the Occupy movements nationwide, pushed consumers to leave big banks. In November, Kristen Christian, a Los Angeles business owner, organized Bank Transfer Day to encourage consumers to pull their money out of large banks and into credit unions and other locally owned financial institutions.

In Washington state, credit unions reported a collective gain of 1,430 new members, according to the NCUA.

According to the latest data, Washington saw a year-over-year gain of 121,339 members in 2010. Data for 2011 is not yet available, but Bennett expects that credit unions will easily surpass those numbers.

These days, it’s not unusual for Solarity Credit Union to get new members disgruntled by big banks.

But by no means is it a huge influx, said president and CEO Mina Worthington.

“We did receive some increases in select markets,” she said.

While consumers are fed up with the fees and service issues of larger banks, that doesn’t always result in action.

“It’s so complicated to switch that people just generally don’t move,” she said.

Still the positive attention gives credit unions leverage, whether it’s in gaining new customers or persuading legislators to not pass burdensome legislation, she said.

HAPO Community Credit Union has seen year-to-year increases of 10 percent to 20 percent in both deposits and loans in 2011, said Scott Mitchell, vice president of lending and chief lending officer for HAPO.

But the movement toward credit unions in the Yakima Valley may not be as obvious as other areas because many consumers already bank with credit unions or other locally owned financial institutions, he said.


7 Responses

  1. Aw, this was a very nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to generate a great article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.

  2. I’m an old BOA customer that’s switched to a credit union back in 2009. Best move I’ve ever made!

  3. Time for states to move their money to credit unions too – they are in business with Chase and Bofa and all the rest and pay them big time for the favor (credit unions also under the big thumb though). Start their own state banks would be better choice and make a ton of money while saving people a ton of money and stimulating business – a no brainer.

  4. Customers of mine figured this out without anyone telling them, a lot of my customers have come in here for the past two years grumbling about the big banks and told me they moved their money to credit unions. I was ahead of most of them. As soon as our credit union opened business accounts I was there, about six years ago. I have believed the big banks to be a criminal organization for a long time. However I honestly did not realize they were this bad until they mod defrauded me and I began to find out how this could have happened. They are worse than I ever imagined possible. I thought they were held to some accountablity but “[NOT]” . It is hard for the honest person to think the banks could be so criminally organized. But [“NOT NOW”]. They need to be held accountable. A customer of mine is the secretary for one of our state Senators, here in Washington State, and al great lady fighting for our rights, she has put another great lady fighting for our rights with the right people K.P. and they have a bill about to be numbered and put in for a vote in legistation, and I and many I have met are invited to go to the legistlature here in Washington state to speak on behalf of this bill. I have not read it yet, but I know it has to be good and I hope it opens up eyes for good bills in other states that protect the homeowners, the tax payers, the harmed victims of these banks. I was e-mailed by multiple people yesterday, including Senator Roaches secretary, telling me it is ready to be numbered. and public soon! I trully believe it will be a good bill and not a veiled bill that does not protect us. Distressed homeowners had a say in its authoring, and I have great hope! I have been “impatiently” waiting for it to come out for several months. Knowing it was in the making. Senator Roaches office knows the harm that has come to us and is diligently working on protecting us. Senator Kline endorsed it yesterday and Marie Cantwell has been openly claiming the people need to be protected in Washington State, so give a great big thanks to these people, and I believe we have help coming soon. We dont need another bill to lead us to the banks to be victimized. We are their victims not their clients. They are not even banks, they dont loan money they steal money, use investors money and they steal houses and ruin the economy and our neighborhoods our families and our lives. My heart aches for the homeless and a lot of us are close to being homeless ourselves. This is not right and this must be stopped and the perpetrators need to be on the hot seat and in ankle cuffs.

  5. Neil where do you think I should recomend to my 94 year old grandfather move his money that he has in BOA ? He lives in E. Mesa AZ. Thank you for all you have done to try and fix this mess. Very truly yours Todd Hess

  6. A much better idea than big banks.Big banks keep trying all these different fees they want to collect,the fine print is very confusingand the results are usually heavy handed banking techniques that just serve to confuse people even more.Down with big banks give your business to a local bank or credit union you will be much happier.After all its only common sense.

  7. How do you think the credit unions get liquidity?

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