What do students want from their bank?

A survey by SPC reveals how Canadians under 25 interact with financial institutions and what will keep them from switching.
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Students are more comfortable using digital platforms to interact with their banks, but they do still see some reasons for visiting a branch in person, a new survey by SPC suggests.

SPC polled roughly 800 of its student loyalty club members through an online survey. Most of the respondents (87%) were between the ages of 13 and 25.

The predominant reason for a student choosing a bank is because their parents bank there (66%), with 33% saying it was because of convenience and 25% saying it had low fees. Only 9% said it was due to loyalty rewards, with 6% saying it was because of a promotion or because a friend recommended it. Recommendations from family and friends are the most trusted source when researching banking and financial products (61%), followed by 47% from bank employees, 29% a bank website and 24% from online consumer reviews. Family and friends are also the most common thing that will make a student take action on their research.

Very few respondents – just under 25% – have ever switched banks, but those who did cited high fees (33%), general unhappiness with their previous bank (30%) and better products at a different bank (30%) as the top reasons for doing so. Whether its with a new or current bank, back-to-school is the most common time for students to consider new financial products (66%), followed by the holidays (31%).

When it comes to what students want from their banks, 70% say being rewarded for their loyalty will help ensure they stay loyal in the future, 65% say they appreciate transparency and clarity and 62% say they are affected by hidden fees and would like to know more about what they mean. Lower on the list, only 30% said they want banking products that connect with their lifestyle, 27% said they wanted help managing their finances and putting limits on spend and 11% said they wanted to know more about how a bank serves their interest as a way to build trust.

Budgeting isn’t a big priority for students: 65% say they don’t use any budgeting or personal finance apps, though some use general programs, like Google Docs (14%), Microsoft Word (14%) or a notes program on their phone (13%).

In terms of interacting with their bank, 40% said they bank most often through a mobile platform, with 38% saying through desktop. While roughly half of respondents said their use of both platforms has stayed roughly the same over the last year, 37% said their online banking increased (compared to only 9% who said it decreased) and 48% said their mobile banking increased (compared to 4% who said it decreased).

With so many young people turning to digital platforms for banking, it makes sense that 32% said they never visit a bank branch and 51% said they visit roughly once a month. Only 11% visit at least once every two weeks, with only the remaining 6% visiting once a week or more. Half of the respondents said the amount they visit a bank branch hasn’t changed over the last year, with 26% saying it has decreased and 24% saying it had increased.

Despite that, 55% of respondents said visiting a branch would be the most convenient way for them to switch banks or open a new account, with 40% saying online and 26% saying through mobile.

As non-cash payment methods increase in popularity, ATM interactions are also becoming sparse among students. One quarter of students say they never use a bank ATM, with 44% saying they use one roughly once a month and 17% saying they use one every two weeks or so. Despite this, 87% have not used a mobile wallet or other mobile payment tech, suggesting they are turning to other payment methods, like cards. Security concerns were the main reason for not using mobile wallets for 45% of respondents, while 43% said they simply don’t feel they need it.

The quality of service doesn’t seem to be a defining factor in the way students interact with their bank, with respondents ranking it as “very good” or “excellent” at 64% for mobile banking, 71% for desktop and 76% for in-branch. Overall banking satisfaction is high, as 72% said they were likely to recommend their current bank to friends and family. However, that doesn’t mean students are willing to interact with their banks on other platforms: only 13% said they follow their bank on social media.

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