Banks Push Harder to Get You to Switch [Wall Street Journal]
Summary: Commercial banks, under pressure from online banks with lower cost structures and eager to capture potentially lucrative checking-account deposits, are outdoing one another in their attempts to poach customers. Tactics include bettering one another’s rates, providing more convenient branch locations, and, perhaps most critically, offering to handle bank-switching paperwork. Many customers are reluctant to disarrange their online bill payments and direct deposits, so the banks themselves are taking responsibility for the switches. The banks have largely made their own bed: by aggressively supplying free online bill payment services and rewards, they have diminished consumer interest in switching banks and are now scrambling to compensate.
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Commerce Bancorp (CBH), National City Corp. (NCC), PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (PNC), Wachovia (WB), Vanguard Financials ETF (VFH), streetTRACKS KBW Bank ETF (KBE), iShares Dow Jones US Financial Services Index Fund (IYG), iShares Dow Jones US Financial Sector Index Fund (IYF), Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF)
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