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Research: SMBs are increasing their banking relationships because they’re not satisfied with any of them

  • Small and medium businesses aren't getting serviced like they would like.
  • So, they're searching for greener pastures and trying new banks.
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Research: SMBs are increasing their banking relationships because they’re not satisfied with any of them

SMB pain points are up and their satisfaction with their banks down, according to new research.

The FIS 2019 Performance Against Customer Expectations Report found that the percentage of SMBs indicating they were extremely satisfied with their primary banking providers declined to 37 percent from 42 percent in the previous year's study.

The PACE report is based on a survey of 586 small to midsize businesses in the United States and gives banks actionable insight into the challenges and opportunities in servicing the SMB community.

SMB satisfaction with their primary financial institution

In general, SMBs are less satisfied with their primary financial institutions than they were a year ago. Companies with $25M to $75M in revenue reported the highest levels of satisfaction.

SMBs cited fees as the top reason they would stop or switch a banking relationship. But if you separate smaller businesses out from larger ones, only 28 percent of companies less than $5M indicated fees were their reason for change, versus 44 percent of firms between $25M and $75M.

For all categories, respondents reported on average 10 percent more difficulties than the baseline, making the case that pain may be more of a driver for change than dissatisfaction.

SMB satisfaction with different types of financial institutions

Historically, around 15 percent of SMB customers are actively involved in reviewing their banking relationships. What stands out in this year’s PACE report is how much higher the churn rate is, not only compared to last year, but when viewed over a longer period.

Much of this churn rate (35 percent) was driven not by switching outright, but by adding secondary accounts with other financial institutions. The average SMB has 2.64 banking relationships – evidence that spread of wallet may actually be the biggest threat for FIs servicing SMBs.

The average SMB has 2.64 banking relationships – evidence that spread of wallet may actually be the biggest threat.

Humans and trust

41 percent of SMBs with a relationship manager are extremely satisfied, compared to 26 percent of those who don’t have an RM. Trust means a lot in financial services and having relationship managers play this role for their financial institutions appears important to boost satisfaction levels and prevent churn.

Relationship managers also play other important roles. "[They] provide a smooth, easy customer experience – Where there are gaps in technology to enable this, RMs can help fill in and ensure that the SMBs expectations regarding enrolment, implementation or customer service are met," wrote the authors of the survey.

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