US consumers prefer local banks

19 July 2013

LOS ANGELES: Local community banks and credit unions are the preferred banking options for the majority of US consumers, with less than a third opting for national banks, a new study has shown.

GoBankingRates.com, the personal finance website, polled 1,508 consumers in June 2013 via Google Consumer Surveys, measuring consumer preference of banking options.

Local community banks were most popular, with 41.2% of respondents preferring them, followed by credit unions on 34.4% and national banks on 22.9%.

"The results are not surprising considering that community banks [are] a source of leadership and local decision-making authority," Andrew Howard, managing editor of CBInsight.com, a community bank portal, told GoBankingRates.com.

Casey Bond, GoBankingRates.com managing editor, noted a surge from banks to credit unions in recent years but said Americans were still "an incredibly diverse group when it comes to financial priorities and concerns".

The survey showed that women were more likely than men to choose a local community bank, with 45.2% preferring them compared to 37.8% of men.

The positions were reversed when it came to nationwide banking institutions, with 25.8% of men choosing these against 20.3% of women.

Age was also a factor, with 50.5% of over 65s choosing local community banks but just 33.5% of 18-24 year olds. And once again these positions were inverted when considering national banks. Just 17.6% of over 65s preferred these while 38.5% of 18-24 year olds chose them ahead of the other options.

Higher earners, and those living in cities were more likely to prefer national banks, while those in rural communities, at 49.7%, much preferred local community banks.

This was also reflected in the geographical breakdown of respondents' preferences, with the Midwest, on 50.8%, strongly favouring local banks and those in the Northeast preferring national banks the most.

When Huntington Bank, headquartered in Ohio in the Midwest, relaunched it ran a campaign focused on the bank's roots in the region and its shared values with the local community. It struck a chord with locals: consideration rose 125% and new accounts increased 65%.

Data sourced from GoBankingRates; PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff