November 5th 2011 has been designated by the great and popular ones as Bank Transfer Day. Facebook has a whole group dedicated to the idea that people should close their bank accounts at major banks and open accounts at smaller, regional banks and credit unions. Because of the way the calendar works out, many financial institutions will be promoting this heavily for Friday November 4th, which is one week from today. Many are planning hootenannies with balloon animals and popcorn carts or whatever cheesy marketing stunts their marketing whizzes can come up with. Because of my unique perspective as one who knows a little something about these things, I’ve been in many conversations about the Events of Bank Transfer Day with peers, family members, and even friends.
First, before I share my opinion, let’s look at what BTD is. Angered by large financial institutions that are planning on adding fees to services that have been traditionally free to customers and members, many of the same people who are occupying places in protest have decided to prove a point by closing their accounts at the large institutions in favor of smaller ones.
I’m all for free speech, and I especially am supportive of the idea of reviewing your banking situation to see if you are dealing with an institution that is best serving your needs. Further, I think Bank of America specifically sucks a very large bag of…, well, let’s just say that I’m no FAN! That being said, I’m not sure of the wisdom of jumping on a bandwagon to prove a point. I think many people make rash or quick decisions and later on regret these decisions. When changing financial institutions, the potential for real regret is very low, but not absent.
So I guess what I’m saying is go for it! I’ve talked about some things to keep in mind when considering a new financial institution HERE, and also HERE. For those of you who have read FINANCE FOR YOUTH: THE BOOK, you may remember that I dedicated a whole chapter to selecting the best financial institution. In part, what I said was this:
Do a little research first, and when you visit branch offices, go in ready
to ask questions until you are satisfied with the answers. Decide what’s
important to you when it comes to a financial institution.
Treat your initial visits to a bank or credit union like a job interview for
them. Weed through any that don’t have everything you want and you will be
left with a more manageable list of candidates. If you don’t like the answers
they are giving, you can leave quickly without wasting a lot of time.
Above all, don’t feel pressured to open an account just because of a
strong sales person. There is a phrase that you might have heard before
about putting all of one’s eggs in one basket; and this is true. Look at the
benefits for you opening an account, and go with the one that offers the
most for the least money (fees!).
If you haven’t yet read Finance For Youth: The Book, what are you waiting for?!?! Get to clickin’ on the link above to get your copy and one for a friend in time for the holidays! Aside from the above, I spend a whole chapter talking about things you need to know to make a good decision about the future of your financial institution.
So, take this week to interview a new financial institution, or ten. If you are getting feed for something that should be free, find an institution that can accommodate your needs, or reevaluate your hierarchy of financial needs. Kick the tires, ask questions, be a pest. If after all that, you decide that Financial Institution X is better than Financial institution 4, switch. But don’t switch because of a protest movement. Don’t switch because some hipster on TV said you should, or because you saw a video with some character wearing a Guy Fawkes’ mask from V for Vendetta ranting about the evils of banks. Do it because it makes sense and because you will ultimately benefit from doing so.
So after spending most of this post telling you not to get all amped up by the protest movements and the protesters, I could think of no better way to illustrate the silliness of making rash decisions than by having Flava Flav and Public Enemy performing “Fight the Power”. Enjoy!