Small banks, credit unions welcome new customers

November 5, 2011 6:04:49 PM PDT
Bank customers on Saturday said they're fighting back as part of a national day of action.

Those customers removed their money out of corporate banks like Chase, Bank of America and wells Fargo in search of cheaper banking options.

This protest had no yelling or shouting, just protesters quietly pulling their money out of big banks and opening accounts at smaller institutions.

"We want the large corporate institutions to hear that and to change their policies," said Peter Gabel of San Francisco, "to stop paying themselves large bonuses and to act like small community banks that reinvest in their neighborhoods."

Gabel was not alone at the Circle Bank in Noe Valley where others made the switch from big banks to smaller ones.

"I switched my money from a big bank to here," said Barbara May. "When I grew up in the 50s, everyone trusted each other."

Using the lure of homemade cookies and consumer anger, officials at Circle Bank said they signed up nearly a dozen new customers -- more than twice of the usual amount.

Senior Vice President Erick Kostucheck said some of the bank's branches typically aren't open on Saturday, but "we decided to open all our branches and focus on that so we can open our doors to all the community and the banking needs of the community."

The protest spilled in front of the Chase Bank in Walnut Creek.

"A small group of people seized control of the country and are running it into the ground," said Walnut Creek resident Gordon Miller.

One protester said she probably doesn't have the credit rating or the money to open a new account.

"I lost my job, then I lost my savings, then I lost my home," Sally Weed said while holding back tears. "I probably just don't qualify."

The Credit Union National Association said over 600,000 consumers nationally have moved their money from banks to credit unions over the past month.

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