Notes from The Occupy Bank working group
Meeting of Tuesday 1-3-12
Held at 45 East 20th Street- Office of Independent Diplomat
Mary Houghton, one of the founders of Shorebank, joined the group via conference call.
Carne R. – Think BIG…or go home. It’s time for action.
This was a basic hallmark of this meeting.
Mark A. suggested that the group’s name be changed to provide focus for the group and to reflect a different identity from the Alt-Banking groups.
Name of group is now: The Occupy Bank working group.
Michele M. – here we go! http://TheOccupyBank.com
Next scheduled meeting was set for Tuesday January 10th. 7pm. Location: 45 East 20th street – Office of Independent Diplomat.
Carne Ross convened the meeting a little after 7:30pm. Facilitation duties were handled very ably by Charles. Jim C. took stack.
Rick D. gave an update as to e3Bank and plans to acquire American Eagle Savings Bank. The deadline nature is coming from the problems at American Eagle Savings. They are in danger at this point of getting shut down by the FDIC. He also made the point that it was Common Good Bank that would be of interest to the group. Common Good Bank has a relationship with e3Bank.
Note: e3Bank is organized as a B Corp. with a triple bottom line focus. It has sustainability as a key mission. Presently it is not operational. Upon completion of the proposed acquisition of American Eagle, e3holdings will become a thrift holding company which will re-capitalize and rebrand American Eagle as e3bank.
Detailed article about the germination and ideas behind e3Bank—anyone with a serious interest in e3 should read this at least: http://archives.citypaper.net/articles/2009/04/23/e3bank-sustainable-banking
Sandy Wiggins, Co-Founder + Chairman – short bio here: http://www.consilience.net/people_sandy.htm
Note: off topic note – Sandy Wiggins interviewed as part of an excellent PBS film on green buildings and sustainability: http://www.pbs.org/greenbuilders/watch-the-film.html
Carne brought up the point that in reference to e3bank, we need to look at many avenues and need to do our due diligence. He brought up that HSBC has some branches that they are selling in Buffalo New York.
Note: A local Occupy organizer in Buffalo had seen Carne’s article in The Nation and contacted him about HSBC selling its branches. – this is an example of how news spreads and ideas come from all sources.
Richard H. brought up the point of just what would be our relationship with e3Bank ? Where would the equity come from?
Discussions continued about what other sources and avenues we could pursue. The Bank of Cattaraugus came up as an example of a bank truly connected with their community. New York’s smallest bank- the Bank of Cattaraugus was established in 1882, has one branch and $12MM in assets. It is family run. ( Think- Bailey Savings and Loan). New York Times article of 12-23-11 on the Bank is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/nyregion/the-bank-of-cattaraugus-new-york-states-smallest-bank-plays-an-outsize-role.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
Mary H. suggested that a small rural bank may not be very replicable . She suggested four banks in the area that she thought highly of, that would be worth looking at and talking to: — all are certified community development financial institutions.
1- Carver Federal Savings Bank – New York City based
2- City National Bank – Newark and NYC
3- First American International Bank – serving Asian population in NYC
4- Lower East Side Federal Credit Union
Michele M. suggested that if we want to pursue anything with e3Bank, we really need to have a face to face meeting.
Jeff suggested that perhaps we could get some pro-bono work from some attorneys. He also suggested that the Occupy brand would be valuable and could offer a deposit base.
Carne made the point, that at this point we should just go public….go public with the message that we are looking for a possible entity to acquire.
Mary H. made the comment that community serving banks have the similar problem of having a high cost low balance deposit base and that nobody yet has invented the combination of local presence with online cost benefit.
A general discussion ensued on the creativity, or lack thereof, of bank people in general.
A gentleman who had worked for ebay suggested that :
1- The Occupy brand is monetizable.
2- The message for Move Your Money Day, can become Move Your Money To _______ Day.
Fran Q made the point that the FDIC has a lot of control, and any endeavor would need the blessing of the FDIC.
Note: Fran Q was involved in getting $270MM returned for thousands of depositors after the collapse of IndyMac Bank. IndyMac Bank was founded as Countrywide Mortgage Investment in 1985 by David Loeb and Angelo Mozilo. A very informative interview of Fran Q—an example of how people can be brought together to achieve something thought unachievable— can be seen here: http://www.indymacdepositors.com/?s=fran+quittel
Carne— We need to do something quickly to capture the present momentum. We should just go public …..resources may appear that we don’t even know about. He stated that as far as he was concerned we could –Think BIG…or Go Home.
Mark A. strongly suggested that the group needed to change its name for a number of reasons.
1- To promote a distinct identity from the many Alternative Banking Group groups that have interests and agendas much different than ours.
2- To focus our own attention to what we are working on – the creation of a banking entity.
3- As media attention increases – we need to be separate and distinct from other groups.
Discussion ensued concerning using The Commons Bank working group and other similar identities.
Mary H — stated that we should use Occupy in the title, that the name is very valuable, that we would be losing out by not using such a strong name.
Well……..this comment seemed to galvanize the group – Janu seemed to jump up and said –The Occupy Bank. Everyone seemed to instantly recognize the power of this. (Mark A note- I admit to balking at first)
Carne, in complete agreement with the suggested name, stated—-there we go…we have made a complete 180 in 1 minute.
So by universal acclamation a new name–The Occupy Bank and the Occupy Bank working group.
Animated discussion now focused on media considerations about making some announcement that we were seeking some sort of banking acquisition or partnership.
Richard H –who had called in from warm California –suggested that we need specific and precise talking points. We would next have to think about the best channels—he suggested the FT and Bloomberg. Richard also commented that further momentum will come from offering something completely different…that we could compete successfully with present institutions.
Michele M – we need to come up with marketing advantages for Occupy Bank.
Carne— we have enough detail at this point….let’s move on.
Formal meeting closed.
Next meeting to be held at the same location:
45 East 20th Street, office of Independent Diplomat— January 10th around 7pm