Flickr photo by Colin Robertson
Circle Bank, a community bank with a five branches in the Bay Area, works to attract those who want to move their money away from big banks, but a San Francisco Magazine reporter writes this one bank is just a part of a national reaction to big-bank behavior.
The article highlights a March Zogby poll that shows 32 percent of U.S. adults have thought about "moving some or all of (their) banking from a large national bank to a community bank or credit union because (they) are unhappy with the policies or behavior of large national banks."
Nine percent of all U.S. adults did so in protest as of the March poll.
San Francisco Magazine reporter David V. Johnson recently used the Move Your Money movement to take a closer look at Circle Bank, its past and those who run it – including the roles played by Kim Kaselionis, Circle’s president, and her mother, Kit Cole, chairwoman of its parent corporation.
Johnson writes that he has completed months of research, looking at bank brochures, websites and spreadsheets in addition to talking to many people as he looks for a new bank of his own. And he found this nugget:
Some of Cole’s investments scored big, others ran into legal and financial trouble. But her problems really began piling up around 2004, after the dot-com bust. A number of her clients sued, alleging fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. They claimed that Cole had promised to tailor their portfolios to their individual circumstances, only to put much of their money into volatile Internet and biotech stocks, even though, lawyers said, many of the plaintiffs were nearing retirement and should have been invested much more conservatively. Among those who lost as much as 80 percent of their savings was a longtime friend for whom Cole had served as matron of honor. The friend eventually won more than $1.2 million in arbitration, one of several awards against Cole.
Johnson encourages other citizens to take up these practices as they look to move their assets, since some banks will use the Move Your Money movement to their advantage
The magazine offers a few pointers for weeding through banks in your area, but warns that none of them are foolproof ways to find the bank of your dreams.
The Move Your Money movement has been heavily promoted by the Huffington Post, which has a section of its well-traveled site devoted to blogs on the subject, including the story of a St. Louis public-employee union that dumped Bank of America, "closing a $100,000 account to spank the bank for its bailouts, bonuses and foreclosures."
The Huffington Post site also includes YouTube video featuring comedian Bill Maher encouraging people to end their "abusive relationship" with their big bank.