OPTIMIZING SMALL BUSINESS CHECKING (Feb 2016)

Acquisition, Retention, and Cross-Selling

Pricing and Rewards

PC and Mobile Access

Key Finding from the Report:

Results from SYNERGISTICS 2014 study, Revitalizing Small Business Checking, show there was a significant degree of volatility in the small business checking marketplace during the previous two years.  How can your organization attract and retain small business checking relationships?

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Highlights of the Study

This study examines small business checking account usage patterns, selection factors, and online service needs.  Response to relationship strategies and innovative services such as remote deposit capture is measured as well.
National Internet Survey – 600 small business owners/executives – 150 in the following sales volume categories – $50K-$99.9K, $100K-$499.9K, $500K-$999.9K, and $1M-$5M.  Industry categories include manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and services.

Key Dates

November 20, 2015 – Charter fee/Intro pricing ends.
November 20, 2015 – Final acceptance of comments on questionnaire.
February 2016 – Project Report available.

Strategic Questions

  • What is the overall checking account activity profile of small businesses and how should providers respond to this in positioning the product? Do small businesses view checking as the “core” to financial relationships or something less important?  Is interest checking becoming a factor in the market?  Is there a segment of small businesses not using checking and can they be converted?
  • How should providers approach the pricing of small business checking accounts?  How are accounts currently priced – in terms of fees, charges, or balance requirements?   Are small business customers receptive to fee waiver requirements?
  • Can providers leverage the checking account relationship to expand financial relationships with small business customers?  What other business accounts and services are held with checking providers?  How effective have onboarding and other cross-selling efforts been for additional account acquisition?
  • Is there potential for using relationship pricing to enhance the small business checking relationship?  To what extent does this exist – on a service by service basis and in more formal packages?  Should providers place emphasis on developing small business packages as a relationship strengthening and share-shifting tactic?
  • What features or benefits – in terms of relative importance – should providers promote to capture small business checking relationships?  What factors or criteria have driven recent openings and closings of small business checking accounts?
  • How can providers increase or expand online activity?  How are small businesses accessing their checking accounts online – PCs, mobile phones, or tablets – and what activities are they performing? Is small business usage of remote deposit capture growing, and is there a preference for PC-based or mobile RDC?
  • How should providers segment and target the small business market so as to match customers with the most appropriate checking product?  Which variables and identifiers – sales volume, type of industry, number of employees, or other business measures – might be most effective?

Research Issues

  • Small business checking accounts are the core of small business relationships.  They are a key source of deposits and can represent a launching point for multiple service usage through onboarding and cross-selling.  Many strategies and tactics can be used to attract small business checking relationships such as packages, relationship pricing, rewards, and incentives.
  • Do reward programs enhance and add value to the small business checking account product? How widespread is experience with checking-based rewards? Small business checking packages and sweeps may be effective relationship building tools.  In today’s low rate environment is interest checking still a viable option or are sweep accounts a more appealing alternative for small businesses?
  • Debit cards, although increasing in usage among small businesses, have yet to achieve the level of success they have had among consumers.  Can rewards lead to increased usage of business debit cards?  Remote deposit capture is also growing in usage and can represent a new source of revenue.  Online PC account access and management has virtually become a traditional method, and mobile and tablet applications may be growing in importance in this market.  SYNERGISTICS latest survey will examine the market for small business checking and assist providers in developing and fine-tuning small business checking programs. [F240]

ONLINE BANKING: THE NEXT STEP (Jan 2016)

PC, Mobile, and Tablets

Enhancements and Apps

Personal Financial Management

Key Finding from the Report:

Results from SYNERGISTICS 2014 survey, Maximizing Online and Mobile Banking and Payments, revealed that one-third of Internet households only use PC banking, while an equal number use PC banking and Mobile or Tablet banking.  About one-fifth were found to use all three channels.  Has this picture changed and if so, how?

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Highlights of the Study

This study examines consumer usage of online banking via PC, mobile and tablets.  The potential for broadening usage of these services and consumer reaction to innovative applications are examined as well.
National Internet Survey – 1,000 consumers age 18 or older.

Key Dates

October 23, 2015 — Charter fee/Intro pricing ends.
October 23, 2015 — Final acceptance of comments on questionnaire.
January 2016 — Project Report available.

Strategic Questions

  • What opportunities exist to expand and enhance PC-based online financial activities – those done via desktop, notebook, or laptop computer?  Beyond account information and basic account transactions, is their further potential for functions related to customer education, account management, and marketing-related activities?
  • What is the role of mobile phones – particularly smartphones – in consumers’ online banking and financial activities?  Are consumers oriented to doing only certain activities on their mobile phones?  Should providers place emphasis on expanding mobile activities or widening the user base?
  • How much share have tablets captured of consumers’ online financial activities and will this continue to expand?  Do they have a position among users as computers, mobile devices, or as something unique?
  • How can financial institutions strengthen and expand customer relationships in the online environment?  What is the experience with and reaction to personal financial management (PFM) applications and tools?  Can apps and alerts create account”stickiness?”  What should be the role of social media?
  • What is the relative preference among consumers for online PC, mobile, and tablet financial activities?  What factors or perceptions drive these preferences?  How wide is multiple channel usage and does this ever impact the completion of a single online activity?
  • What are the relative advantages or benefits of online PC, mobile, and tablet financial activities that should be promoted to expand and increase activity?  Are there perceived problems or disadvantages that may represent barriers to wider usage or adoption among nonusers? Are there segments of consumers that will never move beyond using PCs for online financial activities?
  • Which traits or characteristics – behavioral, attitudinal, or demographic – best identify users of online PC, mobile, and tablet financial activities?  Can shifts in channel preferences over time due to segment preferences – such as younger consumers’ affinity for mobile phones – be anticipated and reacted to by financial providers?

Research Issues

  • Online banking and financial activities, particularly those done by computer, have reached a level of usage that can be described as “mainstream.”  Financial providers are faced with a challenge – and opportunity – in developing future strategies and tactics that will differentiate their online programs from those of competitors. Mobile banking, that is financial activities done via mobile phones, has achieved a notable level of usage but still has wide potential for expansion.  Given that the mobile phone user base is now widespread across virtually all customer segments, promoting the value-added utility of using these devices to access financial accounts and services is a priority for all providers.
  • Tablet banking – encompassing devices such as the iPad, Surface, and e-readers with Web browsing capability – has emerged as the newest innovation in online banking.  Previous research by SYNERGISTICS has already shown some impressive consumer adoption of tablet and e-reader usage for online banking and financial activities.  There is ongoing analysis as to whether this is regarded as a computer to consumers, a mobile device, or something in between.
  • In approaching their online strategies, providers must consider a number of issues. Will consumers have preferences for certain devices over others for specific activities – such as balance inquiries vs. bill payments vs. customer service?  Will apps designed specifically for mobile phones or tablets add utility to those devices in terms of ease of use and convenience?  Should PFM programs be integrated across all three types of devices?  Will the younger, affluent cohort that typically adopts channel innovations maintain this behavior as they move through their financial life cycles or will they establish more long term preferences?  Will widening concerns about financial security and privacy impact usage of all online channels?  To be successful, it is essential for providers to understand the overall consumer perspective on online banking and the attitudes toward and preferences for various devices. [F239]

MASS AFFLUENT AND HIGH NET WORTH HOUSEHOLDS: INHERITED OR SELF-MADE?

So far, the transfer of wealth from the previous generation is said to be having only a minimal impact on the net worth of the current mass affluent and high net worth segments, according to a recent survey by SYNERGISTICS Research entitled, Transitioning from Mass Affluent to High Net Worth. Somewhat more than four in ten mass affluent and high net worth respondents (those with investable liquid assets of $100K+) indicate that their household has ever received an inheritance. The incidence of receiving an inheritance increases as respondent age and liquid assets increase. In measuring the impact of inheritance on the net worth of these households, it was found that less than one-tenth indicate it had a major impact – accounting for more than half of their net worth. A significant impact – accounting for a large portion but less than half of their net worth – is reported by one-fifth. A minor impact – a nice addition but accounting for a small portion of their net worth – is cited by half. One-fifth indicated that receiving an inheritance had no real impact on their net worth as it was a small amount of assets.

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Genie M Driskill, COO of SYNERGISTICS, stated, “Mass affluent and high net worth households with investable assets of $100K+ are important in today’s savings and investment marketplace. But how much of their net worth has been accrued on their own and how much through inheritance? Findings from our survey reveal that a striking proportion of these households received an inheritance. However, most feel this had only a minor impact on their net worth. Providers would do well to approach inheritance events in a way that somewhat parallels retirement plan rollovers – presenting customers with alternatives for preservation and growth over time. Ideally, providers could identify such customers through relationship management strategies, perhaps emphasizing personal banker contacts. Strategies for managing an inheritance should be part of ongoing advertising and communications aimed at the mass affluent and high net worth markets.”

These are among the findings from SYNERGISTICS study, Transitioning from Mass Affluent to High Net Worth, featuring online interviews with consumers age 18 or older having household liquid assets of $100K or more. This study examines the financial activity, behavior and perceptions of these households in order to assess the changes that occur as the mass affluent market transitions to a high net worth segment.