MADISON, Wis. (10/27/11)--With Bank Transfer Day (BTD) looming on the horizon Nov. 5, it's difficult to forecast how much of the pent-up frustration and anger against big banks will result in consumers switching their business from banks to credit unions.
However, it is abundantly clear that the idea of BTD, originated by California art dealer Kristen Christian, has captured the public's imagination. Therefore, credit unions want to be willing and ready to welcome new members.
Evidence indicates that people are already acting to transfer their business into the more consumer-friendly credit union model. Media outlets nationwide are reporting on BTD momentum, in which people are signing up to leave large banks in favor of credit unions on or before Saturday, Nov. 5. As of a week ago, more than 51,000 people had signed up for Bank Transfer Day on Facebook, and a cause page for the event has garnered more than 15,000 "likes." More than 400,000 Facebook users have been exposed to the idea of Bank Transfer Day via the Facebook page.
Yet, it is also true that the difficulty of transferring all business from one institution to another may impede all but those with the keenest desire from acting on a single day.
Just as National Credit Union Administration issued guidance to bank examiners on how to treat an influx of deposits if they occur on Nov. 5, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has also acted to help credit unions prepare.
In addition to its own extensive and ongoing outreach to the media, CUNA provided materials to the state leagues in advance of BTD that include a "ready sheet" on how to prepare for BTD; question-and-answer pages to help credit unions answer negative questions that banks are feeding reporters to help their customers from moving to credit unions; talking points so credit unions nationwide can share the same position about BTD; and a model press release for credit unions to use to indicate how they are ready to accept new members as a result of BTD.
Also, CUNA is offering two new T-shirt designs aimed to give credit unions another option to capture the energy of this event. These T-shirts are designed to thank new joiners and reward existing members--in conjunction with Bank Transfer Day or any other time. The T-shirts are available for sale at CUNA's ICU Day website. Use the link.
There also are several drive-up envelopes and statement stuffers on CUNA's website that share the benefits of credit union membership, including one new drive-up envelope created in response to the unhappiness with increasing fees:
In tandem with CUNA, state credit union leagues nationwide have taken action in advance of BTD:
- The Pennyslvania Credit Union Association used its daily newsletter, Life Is A Highway, to announce Monday that resource materials were posted on its website to help credit unions prepare for Bank Transfer Day. Another article with tips to help new members in transferring their funds will be included in this week's biweekly online newsletter, Keystone Extra. The association knows that credit unions were interested in this material because it received some questions and requests for password access to the information on the website.
- Northwest credit unions continue to experience a surge in new memberships, due to backlash from recent big bank fee increase announcements and fueled by the BTD organic Facebook movement, said the Northwest Credit Union Association, which represents credit unions in Washington and Oregon. Credit unions are extending hours and outreach in many cases to help new members. The association published an article "Northwest Credit Unions Respond to Bank Transfer Day," in its newsletter today to pique members' interest.
- The Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD), which represents credit unions in North Dakota and South Dakota, held a conference call for its member credit unions to prepare them for the potential impact of BTD. About 40 Dakota credit unions participated in the conference call that focused on preparing members for potential media inquiries and prospective consumer calls. Materials were sent to each credit union that provided background information, talking points, a sample press release and other suggestions to ensure that participants are prepared for the influx of new accounts.
- The Texas Credit Union League established an 11-event calendar of activities running from Oct. 5 through Nov. 5 to inform members and garner support for BTD. The league said it will heavily use social media on all of the calendar activities. Some events are "Blog Talk Radio" in which a special credit union guest talks about BTD; a debit card factoid release for credit unions; and a statewide event, activity or action that still is being formulated for Nov. 5.
- The Ohio Credit Union League has been working individually with credit unions that are showing an interest in BTD. The league's message to its credit unions has been simple: Take advantage of the heightened media awareness and consumer angst, but do so by sharing positive credit union messages and avoiding bank bashing. It also has heard from a couple of credit unions, so far, planning to run promotions on BTD involving staff and members.
- The New Jersey Credit Unions League set up a page on its website with various resources. Use the link. It also is running 10-second radio spots this week and next, pointing consumers to aSmarterChoice.org to find a credit union to which they can transfer.
- The Utah Credit Union Association had its president, Scott Simpson, interviewed in two state media outlets, The Salt Lake Tribune and Fox 13now.com, promoting BTD.