The other day I caught a news segment on the newest outrage facing American [and many International] consumers: banking institutions’ plans to increadse service fees (some of which have been free services until now…). This includes, but is not limited to: elimination of “free” checking accounts, increased fees for overdrafting, bad checks, increased ATM fees, and even requirements to maintain a minimum balance in checking accounts that many people simply cannot afford today.
Word of a new wave of fee hikes for checking accounts seems to be the last straw for many already dissatisfied customers. Despite being recanted by many bank reps as only “talk,” this seems to be the “straw” that broke the consumer’s back, but more importantly…this seems to be serving as the impetus for action. And my guess is that banks may have underestimated the power of customer perception and the reality that a paradigm shift (even if shifted identically across competing banks and done so for good reason) might be met with more than grumbles and hateful letters from bank patrons.
For decades, the question has not been whether or not consumers will choose to employ the services of conventional banks…instead, the only question has been which bank to choose. But today we are panicking, and all that’s necessary for a very different kind of paradigm shift is present– but this shift is made up of consumers; and all this could take is for a few members of the herd to break away…and BOOM – Mass Exodus!
Although there are probably a lot of people keeping money under their mattresses, in shoe boxes, or buried in the backyard…the Mass Exodus that I’m referring to (and that I saw in the news a few days ago) is the reallocation of many of America’s Working/Middle Class personal funds to credit unions and other, similar nonprofit financial institutions.
The choice to move from banks to credit unions will yield even lower interest rates on savings and deposit accounts, and the services offered by these institutions will be greatly reduced. Honestly, I think the trend will continue, but the reason seems to be less in anticipation of accruing (or maintaining) greater wealth, than it is just a means to “stick it” to Big Finance that we feel so betrayed by. I have no clue what is the overall best decision, but I just hope that we employ more reason than emotion in our future financial decisions.
I can’t help but think of the National Geographic video of the wildebeest crossing that crocodile infested river in their seasonal migration. They line the river banks (irony…), sensing eminent danger, but pressed by starvation they wait for one member of the herd to jump in the muddy water, and then GREEN LIGHT. Crossing means risking a grisly death, but by staying on the side that they’ve already pillaged, they are ensured death. So they take the plunge. The Water’s Warm…
I’m not advising that you immediately withdraw all of your funds from the bank(s) you’ve long trusted, nor do I plan to do so. My purpose is to relate to you that some folks have already taken the leap of faith, and many more will likely continue to do so in what looks to be a major change in the way we approach the management and storage of personal income/assets. Only time will tell if the grass is actually any greener over there…
p.s. Thanks for reading this far considering the impracticality or just improper word usage in the title…but anyone that knows me – knows that a play on words temps me beyond reason (ex bank patrons are moving to credit unions…thus the latter half of the title, “…Patrons “Unionize…”); regardless, I was going to change the title until I realized that it rhymed… DEAL SEALER!