Thursday, February 4, 2010

Is Huf's "Moving Your Money" Enough?

For several weeks the Huffington Post has been encouraging its readers to pull their money out of the Big 6 banks and invest it in smaller, more community-oriented banks. I have to say I am definitely behind Ariana Huffington 110 percent. It is time we leave the toxic relationships we have with our larger banking institutions and return banking to the community. But even though I am in agreement with Huf about the idea, I feel it just isn’t enough. The plan falls short of reaching its potential. And here’s the reason I say that…

To start with, banks stop working for the community when they get to be too big (or get bought up by bigger banks). Money has a corruptive quality about it when there’s a lot of it in the same place. We should be cautious about bank-building as the cycle of bank corruption could easily repeat itself if a financial institution should grow too rapidly.

My second concern, and perhaps the more valid of the two, is that by simply walking into a bank and closing our accounts we aren’t helping the bank (and by "the bank" I mean the upper echelon of executives at the bank) fix its problems. Heads will roll once the number of runs on the bank reach a certain critical mass, however without knowing why we are leaving and what it would take to keep us or regain our trust, I’m afraid those wicked little men at the top of the company will be completely perplexed.

OK… for the point of illustration, let’s say that someone who you considered a good friend just got up and walked away one day with no explanation. The reason they walked out of your life was because you had a history of being rude and argumentative and your selfish lack of compassion hurt them too many times. But they didn’t tell you this. So, you wonder about it for a few days, and then just go on with your life - never thinking that what sent your friend and many others away was your really crummy behavior… and thus never changing as a result. But if you knew what it was that your friend and others found so distasteful about you, you could face it head on and try to change yourself for the better. The same is most likely true of bankers as well, although there’s a thick crust of corruption and entitlement that has to be jackhammered first and that could take a while.

That is why I believe it is in our best interests overall to provide the bank with a list of reasonable demands at the time we withdraw our money. This will give the bank something to focus on in its attempt to regain the public trust. It lets them know in no-nonsense language that we are fed up with the way they have been conducting business and that sufficient changes are going to have to be made if they are to ever see our business again.

If this were only about Bank of America I think I’d acquiesce to just pulling out our money and letting the chips fall where they may. But the problems that plague the depositors and customers of BofA are industry-wide. BofA is just a bit more aggressive than some of the others. The distribution of the Proclamation will have much more far-reaching results as other banks start to understand we mean business… and that our business can be won by conceding to as many of the demands as possible. Ideally, a race to see which bank can "nicen up" the best and quickest could ensue, and that could definitely work in our favor.

Nearly all of us here may hate Bank of America for one reason or another. I support that. But I do feel as though we owe it to OURSELVES to draw up our human compassion and help the bank understand the error of its ways, and what it will take to fix them. A lot of good can come of this.

To Ariana Huffington, YOU GO GIRL! But be sure to bring one of our proclamations to the bank when you yank your moolah out.

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