What Consumers Want

What Consumers Want

January 5, 2022

By: Kate Drew

As we begin 2022, it seemed fitting to kick off our first research snapshot of the year with a discussion on what banking is really all about — the customer. Specifically, we are going to focus on the US consumer and what exactly it is they are looking for from a financial services provider. Banking institutions in the US have done a great job in the past two years (and even before that) embracing digital channels and giving their customers more technology-based tools. However, when we think about the deepest and most basic consumer needs, they actually tend to be more analog. In fact, according to Ernst and Young’s 2021 NextWave Global Consumer Banking Survey, privacy and trust benefits is the number one factor impacting purchase decisions in financial services, followed by rate and fee benefits as well as rewards.

This points to a very important idea — at the end of the day, consumers are ultimately not concerned with snazzy apps and interfaces; rather, they are simply trying to manage their financial lives. And their bank should be their number one champion in helping them to do that. That means using technology thoughtfully in ways that are truly adding value, while at the same time doubling down on areas like trust where traditional institutions have always excelled. Technology can be a little scary, even for younger generations, so providing tools with security at the center and communicating that marriage effectively could translate into a major competitive advantage for US banks. Additionally, banks should be thinking about how they can make financial services more accessible by taking a page out of the fintech playbook, perhaps by taking a look at things like overdraft programs, as a number have recently done.

Fintechs have been nipping at the heels of America’s legacy providers for quite a while. But there is one thing they don’t have — experience. And banking is an industry that demands experience, that insists on expertise, and that leaves little room for error. The recent fraud woes of neobanks across the country proves this. And, while these agile players will likely learn from their mistakes and shore up their defenses (Read: These competitors are here to stay.), their novel nature represents an opportunity for longstanding banks to stress the security and experience they provide. Those that combine that message with a leveling up on user experience and centricity are likely to be unstoppable. So, here’s to a new year — who is up for the challenge?

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