Do you trust your bank? As the bad behaviour of international banks make headlines post-recession, it’s only natural for consumers to be wary of those holding the wealth. According to a recent survey, though, the real confidence shaker for Canadians isn’t rate tweaks or shady investments – it’s hidden fees.
The Truth In Numbers
The survey, conducted by J.D. Power & Associates and called the 2012 Canadian Retail Banking Customer Satisfaction Study, shows Canadians are losing faith in the banks – and the annual study has found this decline has been happening for years.
It casts some light on why fees are the biggest quibble for Canadians. This year, 27 per cent had changes to their fee structures compared to just 17 per cent in 2011. Satisfaction with fees declined 25 points to 592 on a 1,000 point scale.
According to J.D. Powell, the problem with fee changes is not just the fact that Canadians are often paying more money, but the fact that the fee changes are often confusing and not well explained by the banks.
While more customers are banking online, satisfaction levels in that services are not on the rise. A drop of 8 points in online satisfaction over 2011 was due to problems navigating web sites and frustration in the limited number of services available online.
Using a financial advisor at a bank had a big impact on how people felt overall about the bank. For instance, people ranked their overall satisfaction at a healthy 824 points when they used a financial advisor and felt that person met their needs. However, when an advisor let customers down, they rated the bank at a mere 585 points.
Fighting The Frustration
Despite our ongoing frustrations with our highly profitable banks, Canadians are still very reticent to break free and try something new. Here’s some tips for dealing with your bank and your finances if you’re not happy.
- Reassess your banking fees frequently. Call the bank and make sure you’re on the right package. Ask if there’s a current promotion and if there’s a way you can get a better deal on your fees, particularly if you’re a longtime customer.
- Find a real person at your bank. Talk to an advisor at your branch and develop a relationship with a person you can trust. That person can help you now with your concerns or investments. And this will be someone in your corner later on when you’ve got a problem, are renewing your mortgage or need a creative financial solution.
- Try something new. Set up a credit card, line of credit or registered education saving plan (RESP) at someplace other than a big bank. Seek out some of the new online only financial institutions or a credit union, just to test it out. Who knows, you might find out that later on this financial institution is where you want to put your mortgage or your bigger investments.
- Be firm. If something has gone wrong with your bank, don’t sit idly by. Go into your branch, demand to speak to a manager and talk to this person about what’s happened and what can be done to solve the problem.
- Break up with your bank if you need to. If your relationship with your bank has deteriorated and the services are not adequate, you need to move on. Shop around to other big banks, online lenders and credit unions and compare services to find a new financial home that truly works for you.
Pressing your bank, shopping around for services and even moving on sends a clearer message than any survey: Canadians deserve great service for the money they pay when it comes to financial services.