Canadian banks get poor marks on trust in customer survey

Canadian banks are failing to meet the expectations of 75 per cent of their customers, according to a survey from bank technology company FIS.

Survey finds only 25% of respondents say their bank meets or exceeds expectations

Only a quarter of respondents to survey on Canadian banking said their bank met or exceeded expectations. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Canadian banks are failing to meet the expectations of 75 per cent of their users, according to a survey from bank technology company FIS.

The survey gave banks high marks for digital innovation, but suggests they fail to meet customer expectations for fairness and transparency, especially around bank fees.

The findings were based on an online survey of 1,000 bank customers, performed for Jacksonville, Fla.-based FIS by research firm TNS in August 2015. The survey sample was adjusted to represent Canadian demographics.

Only one-quarter of respondents said their bank met or exceeded expectations, with credit unions getting the highest level of approval.

Canada's big banks were ranked much lower on fairness, transparency and reliability, mainly around the issue of hidden charges and fee levels.

"Canadian banks need to do more to satisfy consumer expectations in the area of trust," FIS said in a report based on its findings.

Canada's big banks instituted a round of fee increases earlier this year that angered customers.

This week, they are reporting profits that increased anywhere from four to seven per cent in the second quarter of the year.

Respondents to the survey also said the banks fell short on safety and security, customer recognition and tailoring bank products to their individual needs.

Banks did well globally

But bank customers said they were satisfied with the way Canadian banks provided connectivity and with their innovations in digital technology. Most were happy with the in-person service, though credit union users were more satisfied than customers of the big banks.

Despite the gap between customer expectations and performance, Canadian banks did quite well on a global scale.

The top performing banks were in Germany, followed by the U.K. and U.S., with Canada in fourth place. FIS surveyed 1,000 bank customers in nine different countries to create the ranking.

FIS CEO Gary Norcross said younger Canadian consumers are the least satisfied with the banks and are looking elsewhere for financial services.

But he said financial institutions have to find a way to gear their service toward all consumers.

"Canadian banks have an important chance to get personal using digital and reengage currently dissatisfied young customers as well as establish rich advisory relationships with growing numbers of other customers who prefer to engage digitally," he said. 

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