05/10/2010 11:26 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

For Biggest Banks, Deposits Remain Sticky

With over 7,200 CALL reports now captured and analyzed from the FDIC's Central Data Repository by IRA, the results are in for the first quarter of 2010. Despite the high intrigue of Washington politics and the grass roots displeasure across the nation, it remained business as usual for the big four banks as far as Main Street's deposits were concerned.

Deposits at J.P. Morgan Chase actually gained about $4 billion for the quarter which amounts to a mere 2/3'rds of a percent of their over $657B domestic deposits. The only gainer among the big four, Chase pushed hard in 1Q with media advertising and "toaster" inducements and they have something tangible to show for it. They stumbled at first boasting about their New York "Wall Street" roots but have since emphasized a "we want your business" marketing persona more akin to the sales pitch of the smaller banks. It seems JPM does have some business acumen west of the Hudson River after all. Still the biggest notional balance of OBS derivatives on Manhattan Island though.

Citigroup's domestic deposits declined around $4 billion overall. This represents roughly 1.5% of their deposits across the various subsidiary units. This truest of the U.S. "money center" banks has been on a journey to improving asset quality for some time. That means reducing credit card limits, cancelling accounts and other not so fun things. As they continue to adjust their risk exposures, the process will generate a not unexpected on the margin run-off in some deposits.

Wells Fargo was also a wash. The notable event for this big four bank is that their lead bank's deposit base now also reflects the completion of the integration of Wachovia adding about $300 billion deposits to Wells Fargo Bank, National Association in Sioux Falls, SD. Their media campaign announcing this change is hitting the airwaves now I'm guessing because their next business step will be to start consolidating excess branches to manage expenses. Well Fargo, the brick and mortar presence leader, has the highest number of physical branches to deposits ratio of any of the big four, often nearly twice the number of branches as Bank of America per county.

Bank of America -- the subject of more media and public ire than any other bank except possibly Goldman Sachs -- saw domestic deposits decline around $5 billion. That's a fair amount of fuel for the smaller banks that benefitted with fresh millions in new "Move Your Money" deposits coming into their institutions. However, the big picture reality check is that this amounts to just under one percent of BAC's overall deposits base. Bank of America, already the most efficient of the big four Main Street competitors, continues to aim its marketing at capturing or retaining higher end clientele and their attendant larger balances.

If the above business synopsis sounds so oblivious to the media and politics of the last several months, you have to bear in mind that at the top of the banking pyramid these mega banks live in a universe of their own. The lower castes of the banking industry have traditionally not intruded upon their realm. It will take substantive and sustainable reforms to do so. The concerns of ordinary people meant even less at least until recently when initiatives like "Move Your Money" began to popularize educating people about how to express their displeasures substantively. These are industry realities that are not going to change overnight regardless of the emotion or intellect arguing otherwise. That kind of fundamental change, if it's going to happen, takes time. Then again, furthering the national interest should be a long haul process.

So what's the bottom line one can glean from the numbers? We get an estimate of how big the MYM campaign might be so far. Using an estimated average value of $2,500 per account, a $5 billion net shift from the demigods to the mortals indicates as many as 2,000,000 people did something tangible between New Year's Eve and April Fools Day. That's not a small constituency of "actives"; one that continues to grow.

To see the domestic deposits changes for various units of the big four banks please click HERE.

Support the Move Your Money campaign here.

Additional Notes:

5/10/2010 8:57a PT - Revised arithmetic for BofA net change calc to $5 bil taking FIA Card and BAC RI into account.