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February 28, 2012

Dumping the Big Banks: More Americans Saying 'No Thank You' to Large Banks

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

Big banks, customers just aren't that into you anymore, and it's your own fault. 

This is according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates, called "2012 U.S. Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition Study." The report, which was released today, found that customer backlash against bank fees, coupled with poor service and unmet customer expectations, has fueld increases in defection rates among customers of large, regional and mid-size banks.

So where are all these customers going? Smaller banks and credit unions, as it turns out.

Several grass roots initiatives to get people to move their money (“Move Your Money”) and national “Bank Transfer Day,” which took place on Nov. 5, 2011, have borne fruit. Acquisition of new customers by smaller banks and credit unions has increased by 2.2 percentage points to an average of 10.3 percent in 2012 from 8.1. Among big banks, regional banks and midsize banks, switching rates average between 10.0 and 11.3 percent, while the defection rate for small banks and credit unions averages only 0.9 percent, a significant drop from 8.8 percent in 2011, said the market research company in a press release.

The study, which examines the bank shopping and selection process, found that 9.6 percent of customers in 2012 indicate they switched their primary banking institution during the past year to a new provider. This is up from 8.7 percent in 2011 and 7.7 percent in 2010.

Unsurprisingly, customers are citing new fees from national and international banks as the reason for switching.

“When banks announce the implementation of new fees, public reaction can be quite volatile and result in customers voting with their feet,” said Michael Beird, director of the banking services practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

But large bank customers have been unhappy for a long time, particularly with large bank customer service.

“It is apparent that new or increased fees are the proverbial straws that break the camel’s back,” said Beird. “Service experiences that fall below customer expectations are a powerful influencer that primes customers for switching once a subsequent event gives them a final reason to defect. Regardless of bank size, more than one-half of all customers who said fees were the main reason to shop for another bank also indicated that their prior bank provided poor service.”

For more information about the report, visit

Edited by Tammy Wolf
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