The conventional wisdom was just certain that, within the banking industry, anyway, the big winner from the Occupy Wall Street fracas would have to be the credit unions. How could they not be? Credit unions and the occupiers have a certain confluence of priorities, after all. The OWS types turn up their noses at the profit motive-and so do credit unions! CUs aren’t big and impersonal (well, mostly) like those evil Wall Street banks! And they’re even kind of like communes, but without the tarpaulins! So it was natural that, once the momentum behind “Bank Transfer Day” got rolling, people would expect that the bulk of the bank transferring that was going to happen would come out of the big banks and into the lovable, down-to-earth CUs.
Except . . . not. The Credit Union National Association initially reported that from September 29 through November 4-the big runup to Bank Transfer Day-the credit union industry added just 650,000 new members, which is basically nothing compared to the 90 million credit union members it already has nationwide. And CUs were said to have added $4.5 billion in savings deposits-a sub-rounding error against the industry’s $914 billion in assets. An underwhelming showing, given all the publicity surrounding the event.
And now it turns out that even those early numbers were too optimistic. Now we learn that credit unions added just 214,000 new members in the month prior to transfer day, rather than 650,000 first reported, and lost $400 million in savings deposits rather than adding $4.5 billion.
Pathetic. The banking industry has a lot of legitimate complaints about the unfair advantages credit unions have. Marketing smarts, apparently, is not one of them.
What do you think? Let me know!