An open letter to all Americans
Enough is enough
Bank of America recently decided to charge $12 for checking accounts to people who have a balance under $1,500. 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their account – think about the impact.
Two facts make this decision especially disgusting.
1. It targets customers who are already in financially tight situations.
2. Bank of America posted the most profitable year in six years last year, earning $5.59 Billion.
Not the first, or the only
This isn’t new behavior, nor is it exclusive to Bank of America. Playing fast and loose with customer money has been business as usual for the biggest banks — J.P Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo:
- They have a history of making decisions that serve only their self-interest, including the issuance of mortgages that played a critical role in the 2008 financial crisis.
- They have a long history of systematically using government assistance or funds to stabilize their own institution, then growing even larger by purchasing smaller rival banks.
- They enroll customers in accounts or features that are meant to trigger more fees or drive profit, like automatic overdraft protection, or the most recent Wells Fargo scandal.
- And finally, they simply seem to make decisions either without concern for their account holders well being or just with blatant disregard for the impact that they have on the lives of people in every community.
It’s time to send a message.
We should hold our financial partners to a higher standard. And that standard has to indicate that consumers have the right to expect a fair exchange. When a consumer trusts a financial institution with their income and savings, that institution should honor them by respecting how hard it is to earn every nickel that goes into the account. People don’t have to put up with this type of abuse from the megabanks. We can send them a message that the blatant abuse of power just won’t be tolerated. These banks have a long-standing history of consistently acting in their own self-interest regardless of the impact on account holders or the economy at large. If you are an investor, they are in your corner, if not they really seem to care less about your well being.
I’ve seen a petition going around that is getting some great traction encouraging Bank of America to remove their $12 fee. This is not the first time consumers have tried to get their attention. I’m afraid it won’t work any better this time than in times past. You can see for yourself at www.change.org.
It is time to send a message, but to do so, we have to do more than sign a petition. It’s time to hit their balance sheet…vote with your feet and move your money to an institution that cares.
You have options.
Full disclosure, I am the CEO of a company called Kasasa. We work with community banks and credit unions and make our money by providing them financial products. So yes, I have a vested interest in seeing them do well, but I chose this line of work because I truly believe it is in every individual's (as well as the country’s) best interest to have a thriving community bank and credit union system.
And I’m not alone. The data backs me up.
- It’s an investment in your community. Small banks make up 54% of small business lending. Small businesses are critical to innovation, thriving local economies, and reduce wealth inequality.
- Your money might be safer. Local institutions can more easily train their small staffs to prevent phishing attempts, and they are less likely to engage in risky financial behavior.
- You get better service. 64% of people surveyed in the Consumer Banking Insights Study believe community banks and credit unions provide better personal service in any kind of interaction — be it face-to-face, over the phone, or online — than big national banks.
- You get rewarded for your business. All Kasasa accounts are FREE and PAY REWARDS for things you already do. And only community banks or credit unions offer them. It’s no wonder megabanks don’t offer FREE accounts that pay rewards…these accounts are too consumer-friendly for their taste.
Of course, I would love for you to do business with us, but honestly, at this point I just want everyone to be aware of the truth. I want everyone to know that there are other better options out there. If you're ready to take back banking then I encourage you to share the message by clicking one of the social network icons below.