American S&L; Customers Unfazed : Say Bank's Woes No Concern Since Deposits Are Insured

Times Staff Writer

Thursday was a day like any other at branches of American Savings & Loan, whose parent company reported a huge $468-million loss Wednesday and proposed a $1.5-billion federal loan.

There was no repeat of the frightening deposit runs that American, a subsidiary of Financial Corp. of America, experienced in 1984 and 1985--totaling $6.8 billion and $1 billion, respectively. In fact, at a few branches sampled Thursday, most customers were unaware of the S&L;'s problems and said they were not concerned about their deposits.

Businesswoman Joan Furn said she had not heard about the staggering loss and bailout plan. But, when told, she said she has no plans to move her money or change her banking habits.

"I've been with them since the day they opened," she said. "They have come through on everything."

"It's been business as usual," FCA spokeswoman Layna J. Browdy said. "Frankly, that's exactly what we anticipated."

In 1984, about half of American's deposits were from institutions and most of the $6.8 billion withdrawn was institutional money, Browdy said. "Even then, our retail branch system was very stable," she said. Now, about 90% of deposits are from individual depositors through the retail branch system.

Many depositors interviewed were aware that their money is federally insured up to $100,000. For that reason, many said, they are willing to stick with American Savings.

"I wish I had enough money to worry about," said Kim Beycek at the Santa Monica branch.

At the Beverly Hills office, located between Saks Fifth Avenue and Gump's, one man, who declined to give his name, said: "I heard about it, but my money is under $100,000 so I'm not going to worry."

Said another loyal depositor, an elderly woman who has been a customer for more than 10 years: "It doesn't bother me. I guess I have enough confidence."

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