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Occupy anniversary Anti-bank sentiment still strong
NEW YORK (9/19/12)--Monday's protests to mark the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street, a movement that attacked arrogant big banks' policies, fees and bailouts among other things, were a shadow of the events of a year ago. However, the estimated 1,000 people at the scattered protests indicate dissatisfaction with big banks still exists.

Credit unions likely will pay attention to anything sparked by the protests in case a good marketing opportunity develops, as it did last year when anti-bank sentiment and dissatisfaction with bank fees expressed on Facebook and other social media morphed into a nationwide Bank Transfer Day, a day set aside on Nov. 5 to switch accounts from big banks to credit unions and small local banks.

That resulted in something of a lovefest for credit unions, with unsolicited member testimonials and the media praising the benefits of credit unions.  The positive press resulted in heightened consumer awareness of credit unions, with a huge boost of membership and deposits for credit unions as consumers switched their accounts to credit unions.

American Banker Tuesday reported that the resurgence this week indicates many people "still hold strong negative feelings toward all things capitalist--especially banks."  However, The New York Times and ABC News (Sept. 17) noted the police presence was stronger and that 185 people were arrested as protesters tried to block access to the New York Stock Exchange. Some were also arrested at a Bank of America branch and at Goldman Sachs headquarters.

They also noted that the Occupiers seemed less focused, and crowds of protesters numbering in the hundreds caused little disruption on Wall Street as they marched and chanted, among other things, "We got sold out, banks got bailed out."

Credit unions continued to see growth sparked by last year's Bank Transfer Day publicity well into the first half of 2012, with 1.3 million new members added to credit unions, a sign that the Credit Union National Association said shows more and more consumers are eager to take advantage of the financial benefits they can realize at credit unions (News Now Aug. 31).

The National Credit Union Administration reported a membership increase of 643,322 during second quarter of 2012, with 93.1 million credit union members nationwide depositing an additional $2.7 billion in savings into their credit unions.

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