Consumer Notes

You’ve probably never heard of IRA but we’ve been around since 2003.

In 2004, we began to describe the extraordinary risks we saw looming. We were mostly ignored in the euphoria of a housing boom.

In mid-2007 before the crisis fully erupted, we were told in a meeting that our numbers were crazy because “if your numbers are correct, there is no way these large banks could survive without some sort of massive government infusion … so will you change your numbers?” We said no.

In May 2008, CBS Evening News reporter Bill Whitaker challenged us to find a way to make it so the public could see what was going on inside their banks. We took up the challenge and created the system so consumers would have as much if not more visibility than professionals.

In December 2009, the Huffington Post asked us help an idea by donating a part of our intellectual property into a free tool that Americans could use to ponder how they could become a market force to bring the U.S. financial system back into good order. We said yes.

More about IRA’s MoveYourMoney Zip Code Tool

The IRA Zip Code Tool is a powerful piece of software. It sifts through every active bank and thrift running calculations to identify the very top of the industry performers so people can physically visit these banks and begin to discern what safety and soundness feels like. IRA creates many screening filters to highlight aspects of the banking industry. In this case the filter is that it doesn’t show you every small bank in your area, just the ones that meet certain qualifying criteria. And it deliberately omits larger banks in order to help highlight the availability of small bank options to the reader.

This filter has built into it what people call by names such as “socially responsible” or “sustainability focused” strategies that deliberately bypass certain purely mathematical selection criteria in order to pursue a change in behavior outcome. Similar causes are things like child labor, tobacco, petroleum, nuclear power, global warming and other cause based issues. For this one we were asked to identify a fulcrum to enable people to affect the overall behavior of banks, a simple tool that creates a point of leverage to change the game. Prior to December 28, 2009 we were looking at a 2010 where people would be at the mercy of the system. That game is now changed. The system is just beginning to realize it.

The Limit of Free

In a truly altruistic world we’d now give you the details on these banks. But we can’t. It takes money to operate the apparatus of an analytical system. We must reluctantly declare a point where we transition back to the business of IRA.

If you proceed from here you’ll enter the pay for reports service environment we created in 2008 because of that challenge to us by CBS Evening News to create a pathway for consumers to see details on the banks in which they have their deposits.

If you enter and register there’s another zip code tool that shows you the full list banks in a zip code including small and large banks with both sound and risky track records. We have to charge for the ratings and reports. If we did not, we’d quickly become unable to stay in business and contribute to the process. For this we apologize but that is how one survives in a free market economy.

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