As activists call on public treasurers to pull money from big banks, money managers at area town halls have already shifted funds to local banks.
As activists call on public treasurers to pull funds from big banks, money managers at local town halls are way ahead of the curve: They are already moving money to local banks.
Their reasons have little to do with the political debate over the bailout recipients’ lending and foreclosure policies. Local banks now offer competitive terms and better customer service than the Wall Street giants, local financial officers say.
“The larger banks were very much unresponsive to our needs,” Weymouth Chief Financial Officer James Wilson said.
Lawmakers in at least four states have introduced bills designed to steer more public dollars into community banks. Proponents say the measures are designed to reward small banks that are more likely to lend money to local businesses and to punish national banks for tight credit standards.
Locally, Bank of America is under fire from the Brockton Interfaith Community, which recently asked the city to pull its payroll account from the bank as a way to protest the bank’s foreclosure policies.
Treasurers in several communities say they have shifted money out of national banks for practical rather than ideological reasons.
Weymouth took most of its money out of large banks such as Citizens and BNY Mellon two years ago, Wilson said. Poor service and local banks’ increasingly competitive interest rates and fee structures prompted the switch.
The town has about $30 million invested at Bank of Canton, S Bank, Rockland Trust Co. and Weymouth Bank.
After BNY Mellon last year announced plans to eliminate its government banking unit, Milton Treasurer James McAuliffe switched two accounts totaling $2 million to Rockland Trust. The local bank offered a 0.75 interest rate, compared with 0.01 from the New York bank.
“You’re better off with a middle-sized local bank than a large bank,” McAuliffe said.
One exception, McAuliffe said, is Citizens Bank. Hanover also uses Citizens Bank for most of its accounts, and Treasurer Joan Port-Farwell said customer service gives it the edge.
“I’m getting excellent service from Citizens, and that’s what I’d base my decisions on,” she said.
Patriot Ledger writer Steve Adams may be reached at email@example.com.