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Banks in Need of Deposits: Wall Street Journal Article


The Wall Street Journal had an article yesterday titled: "Banks' Cry: "Give Us Your Cash" Desperate for Deposits, They Pull Out the Stops." (available at the post-gazette.com) For savers, the article suggests we should be seeing some nice deals in the future as banks make efforts to boost deposits. One analyst was quoted by the WSJ as saying "Deposits are more important than ever and they are nowhere to be had, " and a bank president said "our number one strategic priority is growing deposits."

The big banks still hold a big chunk of all domestic deposits. According to the article the top 10 banks by assets in the US hold nearly 40% of all domestic deposits, but this is coming down for two reasons.

First, people are moving more of their savings into stocks, bonds and other investments rather than bank accounts. An interesting statistic mentioned by the article is that the financial assets of US households that are kept in banks have dropped from 30% in 1989 to 17% in 2004.

Although I love great bank deals, I understand the general consensus is to use stocks and bonds (or stock and bond mutual funds) for long term investing. Also, with brokerages offering high yield money market funds that have many features of checking accounts, it seems that this trend of falling bank deposits will only continue.

The second issue hurting big banks that the article mentioned should be well known to my readers. Here's a quote from the article:
Since 2004, the trend away from keeping money in low-interest-bearing checking and savings accounts has only accelerated with the ability of consumers to electronically move their money and shop around for the best money-market and certificate-of-deposit offers.

So to combat this problem, banks are creating new deposit groups that are run by a new bank specialist called the chief deposit officer. I think the money could be better spent by just improving the rates. I have a feeling that we'll see more deals, but we'll have to be careful. These chief deposit officers are not being hired just to raise rates. The deals will likely have catches.

Thanks to the readers who pointed me to the article.

[Edit 1/13/06: Added link to post-gazette.com copy of this article. Thanks to the reader who emailed me the link.]
valuestocksonly (anonymous)   |     |   Comment #1
I have been with BofA for over 25yrs, large banks have always had non-competitive rates. I keep just enough to waive monthly fees for checking, 1k that is it. They need to change or get left behind.