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I try to live my life based on two fundamental tenets: 1) When a pitcher is struggling, always take the first strike, and 2) Don’t buy gold based on TV ads. The basic premise of marketing is to persuade consumers to buy a product without the use of common sense or intuition. Marketing may take the form of humor, inducement, preconceived notions, misapplied facts, and distorted data. How consumers select an institution to handle their finances is highly influenced by marketing.

The notion of a bank or credit union charging fees for their services has caused a lot of angst among consumers and the various state and federal financial regulators. After all, lawyers, accountants, doctors, phone and cable TV companies, and colleges charge fees; why not us? 1st Nor Cal charges fewer fees than just about anyone in our industry, yet, even with constant marketing, it is barely noticeable.

Humans hear what they want to hear and block out the rest of the noise. Most of the noise does get blocked, but so does some of the pertinent data necessary to make rational decisions which can end up saving a consumer a lot of money. When a baseball pitcher has trouble throwing a strike, the manager believes there is a strong possibility the next pitch will be a ball until the umpire calls a strike. Thus, the batter, especially at the lower levels, is told to not swing at a pitch until the pitcher throws a strike. In the interest of speed due to the fear of finances, humans will make decisions that may not be in their best interest such as staying with their high fee bank than move to a low-fee credit union like 1st Nor Cal.

TV ads for gold are cyclical similar to the economy. The market value of gold has been linked to the money supply controlled by the Federal Reserve, inflation, and the Gross Domestic Product which measures the value of economic activity. All the advertising I have seen for gold is for the viewers to buy gold. That simply means someone is selling the gold. Logic would dictate if the buyers of the ads were selling, they are betting the price of gold will go down, not up. In a perfect world, one would run to the closest 1st Nor Cal branch and open an account to save on oppressive fees.

But, this is not a perfect world, and people by nature are irrational. We would love everyone eligible to join 1st Nor Cal appreciate our low fees as a significant benefit to their lives. Some will hear us through the noise, and hopefully others will eventually listen and make the move. In the meantime, we’ll keep trying, and I’ll keep taking the first strike.

David M. Green
(925) 335-3802