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Your Own Private ATM
Fed up with your lender? Forget about moving your accounts to another institution. Just start your own bank.

Smart Money, Anne Kadet

One sunny morning in the midst of the stock market meltdown, several dozen men dressed in sharp suits gathered at the Vesper Club in Philadelphia. Few bothered with the buffet breakfast. Nor did they check the plunging indexes on their iPhones. They were too mesmerized by the pale, mustachioed man at the front of the room. Dan Hudson spoke in the laid-back tone of someone who's given the same pitch many times, but his words gave them hope: "I believe now is the best time to start a bank."

This was the perfect cue for the paramedics to bust in and whisk him away in a straitjacket. But Hudson, who heads NuBank, a consulting firm that launched more than 140 banks, makes a good case for why consumers will embrace the coming wave of community lenders. Over the past 15 years, two of every five U.S. banks were gobbled in merger - a trend that's only accelerating. This means plenty of us are banking with an oversize institution we never chose. (I opened an account 12 years ago at a tiny neighborhood bank. Two mergers later I'm suddenly banking with behemoth Chase.) Community banks, which still make decisions at the branch level, sore much higher on customer satisfaction surveys.

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