By Lisa Hochgraf
It's campaign season and a candidate I've been following with interest sent me several brochures about his merits. I read and was interested. Then he sent one dissing his opponent and I had to take a pause. Was this person still someone I wanted to support?
I think the same idea applies to "Bank Transfer Day."
BTD is a Facebook-based movement encouraging people to move their accounts from banks to credit unions on Sat. Nov. 5 in protest of bank fees. I say, great! As a result of the movement, some credit unions are already seeing upticks in their new membership applications. Again, great! Some credit unions are printing fun T-shirts to give to members who move their account or are opening their doors special this Saturday. Great! Let's have fun with this!
But as soon as credit unions themselves (as opposed to members of the public on Facebook) would start dinging the banks too publicly for charging fees, I say "Wait." What if later on credit unions need to charge a particular fee? Their earlier comments may come back to haunt them.
Last week CUES members talked about the event on CUES Net, our members-only listserve. The overwhelming consensus of that community was caution in messaging. One CUES member likened the situation to the famous "Read my lips" quip from the first Bush president that related to a later-broken promise of no new taxes.
A white paper from PayFusion (reqistration required to download) takes a slightly different angle. It suggests being careful with what sort of checking accounts credit unions call "free" during this time of increased focus on marketing of financial products and services.
Congress is also discussing the possibility of a new law that would allow consumers to keep the same account number when changing financial institutions, much like people now can keep the same cell number when changing carriers. In an ideal world all the kinks in such a large proposal would get worked out and consumers would simply need to "flip the switch."
In the meantime, tools like switch kits--which guide a member through the intricate process of moving their accounts from one institution to another--should prove helpful with the process.
CUES members can download sample credit union switch kits by logging in, choosing "Members Share" from MyCUES and finally searching for "switch." (If you need password assistance, please email CUES.) And everyone reading can read more about switch kits in "Moving Over", from CUES' Credit Union Management magazine.
Without a doubt, changing institutions is still a tricky and fairly time intensive endeavor. So I hope credit unions can capture even a few good members motivated by the hype of Bank Transfer Day to put in the effort.
Lisa Hochgraf is a CUES editor.
Also read "4 Ways Bank Transfer Day is Silly" from The Financial Brand blog.