Why Shift to a Community Financial Institution?
Note: The term CFI (community financial institution) is used throughout this page to include both community banks and local credit unions.
Moving your money to a locally-owned bank or credit union is rarely a sacrifice. In fact, most people and businesses will save money by choosing to “bank local.” Shifting personal, business and institutional bank accounts (including your town’s or city’s) to local CFIs is one key way to:
- Build wealth locally instead of exporting it to Wall St.
- Expand opportunities for local entrepreneurs and create more local jobs (see 2nd graph below)
- Keep decision-making power in your community. When absentee-owned corporations have your money, they wield unaccountable power over you and your community.
We hope the resources below help you learn about the ownership and practices of the banks in your area and instigate shifts in your community. Also, if you have loans or credit cards, consider that using a local CFI is equally important for these transactions. In addition to accepting deposits, your community banks and credit unions are must be able to loan out those funds to sustain its services! And just like bank accounts, you’ll often find CFIs offer better loan and credit card terms.
How to Assess Your Options Before Choosing Where to Bank
Bank Local is an online database lets you easily look up the banks with branches in your area and see their performance on values such as local ownership, community reinvestment, small business support and more. Highly recommended!
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provides a simple online tool to learn the market share of banks in your area. This allows you to track shifts in your area over time, which will yield valuable data for “Move Your Money” campaigns.
Charts and graphs on the state of the banking industry and benefits of banking locally from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
FDIC Community Banking Study is a data-driven effort to identify and explore issues and questions about community banks.
Representatives of Credit Unions and Community Banks
ICBA (Independent Community Bankers of America)
ICBA’s mission to “Create and promote an environment where community bank flourish” is thriving. They are currently the voice for nearly 5,700 community banks and are dedicated to representing and advocating for the interests of the community banking industry.
CUNA (Credit Union National Association)
CUNA is the only national association that advocates for the entire credit union movement. They make sure that credit unions can serve their members with strongest advocacy, promotion, and support.
CDBA (Community Development Bankers Association)
CDBA is the national trade association of the community development bank sector. They are the championing voice for banks with a mission of serving low and moderate income communities.
CDCU (Credit Unions United to Serve the Underserved
CDCU specializes in serving populations with limited access to safe financial services. This includes low-income wage earners, recent immigrants, people with disabilities, young people, and the growing number of Americans seeking financial independence through credit unions.
Beyond Banking: Your Community Investment
- Michael Shuman’s book “Local Dollars, Local Sense”
- Locavesting.com provides a wealth of news and resources about diverting investments from Wall Street to Main Street.
Planning group action to shift accounts in your community? See Partnering With Community Banks and Credit Unions