Consumer satisfaction with banks’ financial advice dips

J.D. Power finds that the Big Five could be missing an opportunity to reach clients on digital platforms.

Financial advice is, unsurprisingly, a major focus in marketing from Canada’s Big Five banks. As Canadians become increasingly worried about their financial situations, banks have responded with campaigns  and platforms  positioning them as places where customers can feel comfortable going to feel more confident about their money.

But despite those messages, the latest edition of J.D. Power 2019 Canada Retail Banking Advice Study shows customers are slightly less satisfied with the advice they’ve actually been getting, and that banks might be missing an opportunity to provide that advice on a platform clients would be most engaged with.

According to the study, 85% of bank customers in Canada are interested in receiving financial advice from their primary bank and 72% of those who receive advice later act on it. However, overall customer satisfaction with the advice provided has dropped by two points to 789 (on a 1,000-point scale) compared to last year, with customers under the age of 40 slightly less satisfied with their advice than those older than 40.

The dip in sanctification is small, but J.D. Power points out that in the U.S. edition of the survey, satisfaction was up by 15 points, which was driven largely by younger customers. And even a slight improvement in satisfaction can drive big results for banks: among respondents who rated their satisfaction above 850 on the 1,000-point scale, 86% say they “definitely will” reuse their bank for another product and 49% say they have opened a new account based on the advice received.

“There is clear demand for financial advice among Canadian bank retail customers, and when banks get the formula right, that advice drives significant customer loyalty and advocacy, but many banks are still missing the mark,” said Paul McAdam, senior director of J.D. Power’s banking practice, in a press release. “Increasingly, all signs are pointing to digital advice offerings as the channel where retail banks can drive the most significant improvement.”

But while 57% of consumers say their preferred means of receiving advice is through content like interactive tools, articles and videos delivered through a bank’s website or app, just 10% of bank customers say they have received their most recent advice in this manner, pointing to a need for banks to make these offerings more of a draw for consumers.

Scotiabank received the highest customer satisfaction rating (806), followed by RBC (803), BMO (792), TD (780) and CIBC (762).

Among the most common types of advice customers are looking for are related to investments (49%), “quick tips” to improve their financial situation (44%), retirement (44%), keeping track of spending and budgets (34%) and getting an in-depth view of their current financial situation (32%).

The 2019 edition of J.D. Power’s Canada Retail Banking Advice Study surveyed 1,451 retail bank customers in Canada who received advice from their primary bank in the past 12 months, as well as 1,291 who opened a new account within the past 12 months.