Banks say customers remain calm despite market crash

Joanna Dornfeld

Many stockholders watched in despair Monday as their investments plummeted.

But local banks and investment firms didn’t see a fleet of panicked customers rushing to withdraw their life savings.

John Oakes, first vice president and sales director for Wells Fargo Private Client Services, said he was surprised at how smoothly Monday went despite substantial drops in stock prices.

“It was an absolutely normal day,” Oakes said.

Wells Fargo Private Client Services – the investment firm for Wells Fargo bank – prepared for an onslaught of customer concerns but their preparations were unnecessary, he added.

Although TCF Bank also prepared for additional customer worries, the bank reported normal operations at its branches Monday, said Jason Korstange, director of corporate communications. In preparation, the bank liquidated additional assets in case many customers withdrew large sums of cash or closed their accounts.

TCF did have a few customers last week withdrawing large sums of cash from their accounts.

“It was very similar about what was going on with Y2K,” Korstange said. “Most people were kind of stockpiling some additional cash.”

U.S. Bank also made preparations last week in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

“Last week we were a little more concerned,” said Steve Schmidt, U.S. Bank branch manager.

The bank made sure to have every branch staffed and open to reassure its customers.

“We were expecting most questions last week,” Schmidt said. “We haven’t seen a whole lot of panic here.”

To prevent alarm and problems similar to those of the Great Depression, all banks are insured up to $100,000 for each account by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This protects bank customers from losing all of their savings if a bank folds.

Elizabeth Child, vice president for public relations for U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, said the stock market remained more stable than was expected.

“At Piper and Jaffray, there has been as many buyers as sellers,” Child said. “We were expecting a lot of volatility. It definitely wasn’t the type of day that everyone came in and sold.”

Much of today’s trading at Piper Jaffray wasn’t in response to last week’s attack, she said. People who were intending to sell before last Tuesday sold today.

Some sectors, such as the airline and hotel industries, were adversely affected, Child said.

“By the end of the day, firms were really pleased that things ran smoothly,” she said.

 

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected]