Smaller banks sense a big marketing opportunity

November 30th, 2010  |  Source: FierceFinance.com

 

Will customers ever rebel against the big national consumer banks?

There are more than a few retail customers who feel like they're getting the shaft. A Zogby International survey concluded that 14 percent of all adults have switched to a community bank or credit union in the last year, reports the Boston Globe.

Nearly 30 percent said they seriously are considering a move to another bank. Of those who switched to smaller institutions, about 60 percent said they moved their accounts to "protest policies or behavior of large national banks.'' Other reasons include lower service charges and better interest rates. 

The Globe takes an anecdotal look at this trend. It noted that smaller institutions in the Boston area are tapping a big opportunity. "Eager to seize on the discontent, area banks are among those finding creative ways to woo disaffected customers," the newspaper reports.

"'Getting Attacked by Your Bank Fees?' asks Lowell Cooperative Bank. Cambridge Savings Bank advertises 'SuperSmart Checking' with a startling 4 percent interest rate--at a time when the average checking account rate stands at about 0.25 percent in the region--and Marblehead Bank is raffling iPads to lure customers," it notes.

My sense is that community banks across the U.S. are also pondering how the financial crisis might play to their advantage. It's unlikely that all of this will meaningfully affect the likes of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase. But they should be prepared for local offensives. One of the first battlegrounds will probably be high-interest checking accounts, which customers still seem to want.

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