Americans still angry at big banks

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About a quarter of megabank customers sometimes feel guilty for banking at a big bank, according to a survey on consumer banking released this week.

The Consumer Banking Insights Study found that resentment toward big banks over their role in the financial crisis still lingers among consumers. Two-thirds of Americans say they’re still angry at big banks.

“There’s definitely pent-up resentment toward the nation’s biggest banks,” says Gabe Krajicek, chief executive of Kasasa, which partnered with 200 community banks and credit unions to commission the survey conducted by The Harris Poll.

Krajicek says that while the financial crisis broke years ago, people are still feeling the effects today, which may be why it hasn’t faded to the back of Americans’ minds.

“There are many people who aren’t as well employed as they were five or six years ago,” he says. “They see the bonuses paid to the big bank executives, and it doesn’t feel fair.”

The survey found 78 percent of Americans say big banks are to blame for the financial crisis, and 71 percent think those big banks have not yet made up for the role in the crisis.

The survey also found that consumers of big banks report lower levels of trust in and loyalty to their banks than consumers who use community banks or credit unions.

But despite this anger and frustration, the market shares of big banks have been growing, Krajicek says. Less than a quarter of megabank customers said they are at least somewhat likely to switch to a community bank or credit union in the coming year.

One main reason consumers are sticking with big banks is that people think smaller banks can’t offer what the big banks can, the survey found.

“There’s this perception gap … where the consumer thinks the best technology, the best features out there, are from the big banks,” Krajicek says. He says that perception is not always actually the truth, saying many small banks have mobile apps and other technology and amenities.

Krajicek says small banks can “run themselves ragged” trying to get the latest technology, but the issue is about perception and marketing. “You don’t have Samuel L. Jackson telling (consumers) about your rewards program,” he says.

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