Wells Fargo and Bank of America top the list when it comes to being the main financial institution for small businesses, according to a recent survey by Phoenix Synergistics entitled, Opportunities in the Small Business Credit Market. Chase, Capital One, and PNC comprise a second tier of top mentions.  Rounding out the top ten named financial institutions are Citibank, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, BB&T, and TD Bank. These main providers enjoy important competitive advantages as small business lenders. Small businesses typically consider their checking account provider to be the main provider.

William H. McCracken, CEO of Phoenix Synergistics stated, “Small business lending has many more challenges today than before the recession.  The environment is extremely competitive with a host of new online lenders having appeared in recent years.  Our survey indicates that the main financial institution (FI) of a small business holds a strong position as a small business lender, being most widely used and preferred for credit services by small businesses.  The main small business FI should leverage its strong position and promote credit services to its small business customer base.  Wells Fargo and Bank of America – being the top institutions identified as the main financial institution among small businesses – are in a particularly advantageous position to capture the credit business of their small business customer base.”

These are among the findings from Phoenix Synergistics study, Opportunities in the Small Business Credit Market, featuring 800 internet interviews with owners and executives of small businesses with annual sales of $50K to $5M.  Industry categories included retail, wholesale, manufacturing, and services.  This study examines small business usage of various credit products and lenders, as well as their decision-making process and future demand. In addition, the channel usage and preferences of small businesses as related to credit are measured.


Following up with new customers soon after a sale is not only a key part of the sales process but customers expect it as well, according to a recent survey by Phoenix Synergistics entitled, Onboarding Programs: The Consumer Perspective. When asked how they felt about these post-sales follow-up contacts, a majority of those who experienced this say it showed the FI appreciated them as a valuable customer.  More than one-third indicated they expected the FI to follow up with them after opening an account.  Only a very small number found this post-sales contact to be annoying.

William H. McCracken, CEO of Phoenix Synergistics stated, “Onboarding is essential and an expected part of the customer experience.  Post-sales follow-up contact is a key element in onboarding and providers should be following up with customers after account openings.  Most of those who received this type of follow-up contact react either favorably or expect this from their FI.  Those reacting positively say this simple contact makes them feel valued by the FI.  These post-sales contacts are an important building block for cementing and potentially expanding customer relationships.”

These are among the findings from Phoenix Synergistics study, Onboarding Programs: The Consumer Perspective, featuring 1,000 online interviews with consumers age 18 or older.  This study examines the consumer experience with the onboarding process including communication strategies and contact methods, cross-selling and follow-up.


Free membership in a shopping club is a winning feature for business credit cards for small businesses, according to a recent survey by  Phoenix Synergistics entitled, Expanding Small Business Card Programs. Nearly seven in ten small businesses report using business or corporate credit cards and more than half of both current business card users and nonusers indicate interest in a new or an additional business credit card.  One of the top business credit card features wanted by these prospects is a free membership in a shopping club such as Costco, Sam’s Club, or Amazon Prime.  Only zero liability for fraudulent transactions received higher response.  In general, the top 10 features small businesses want include a variety of fraud protection, shopping, travel, and customer service features.

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William H. McCracken, CEO of Phoenix Synergistics stated, “The small business credit card market is characterized by intense issuer competition, and these players are vying for share in a crowded marketplace.  Business or corporate credit card usage is strong among small businesses, but our findings indicate there are opportunities for further growth.  To stand out from the crowd and attract small businesses, issuers will need to offer the features and services small businesses most want on a business credit card.   A free membership to Costco, Sam’s Club, or Amazon Prime was found to elicit strong interest among prospects.  On the whole, small businesses want a wide variety of features encompassing liability and fraud protection, shopping, travel and customer service features.  Those associated with shopping and purchasing will have broad appeal among small businesses – all small businesses have shopping and purchasing needs but not all have travel needs.”

These are among the findings from Phoenix Synergistics study, Expanding Small Business Card Programs, featuring 600 online interviews with owners/executives of small businesses with annual sales of $50K to $5M.  This study examines small business usage of business credit and debit cards, as well as reaction to reward programs, value-added card services, and account management options.


Non-traditional or alternative providers pose a real threat to the future of Millennial relationships with traditional financial institutions, according to a recent survey by Phoenix Synergistics entitled, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers: Financial Insights.  Checking accounts are widely held by all three generational segments, but somewhat more narrowly among Millennials.  One in eight of all Millennial checking account holders have moved or switched their main checking account in the past two years.  By comparison, fewer than one-tenth of Gen X and Baby Boomer checking account holders have moved their accounts.  Top reasons for switching include surcharge-free ATMs, free checking, a life-changing event such as moving or getting married, and better customer service.  Millennials also express the widest likelihood of opening a financial account with a number of non-traditional or even non-financial providers, many of which have the capability of addressing some of these concerns.  Receiving the widest mentions are PayPal and Amazon, followed by Walmart, Google, Apple, and Facebook.

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William H. McCracken, CEO of Phoenix Synergistics, stated, “In absolute terms, shifting of main checking relationships has been narrow.  It is, however, of some concern that this has been somewhat more prevalent among Millennial households.  Millennials also express the widest likelihood of using non-traditional providers, and in many cases these alternative providers can address Millennials’ issues or reasons for switching.  Traditional providers should take this threat very seriously and begin addressing it in terms of pricing and promoting relationship benefits to their Millennial customer base.  Otherwise, financial provider share could be dramatically altered in the near future.”

These are among the findings from Phoenix Synergistics study, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers: Financial Insights, featuring 1,000 online interviews comprised of a minimum of 300 in each of the following age ranges: Millennials ages 18-35, Gen X ages 36-51, and Baby Boomers ages 52-70.  This study will assist providers in developing financial services products, programs, and marketing strategies to target each of these important market segments: Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers.


Marrying mobile apps and rewards is a rewarding combination, according to a recent survey by Phoenix SYNERGISTICS entitled, Revitalizing Reward Programs.  Each of the five reward-oriented mobile apps tested was rated as valuable by more than six in ten respondents.  In general, younger consumers and those with higher household income are more likely to find value in these types of apps.  Additionally, four in ten say the availability of these types of mobile apps for managing rewards would encourage them to choose one provider’s reward program over another, with this being more prevalent among younger respondents (ages 18 to 49).

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William H. McCracken, CEO of Phoenix SYNERGISTICS, stated, “As FIs fine-tune their involvement with mobile payments, they should consider incorporating mobile rewards apps into the mix.  Marrying rewards with mobile apps seems almost inevitable given the popularity of both in the current environment.  A majority see value in these types of rewards-related apps, which were also found to have potential for account acquisition, particularly among younger consumers.”

These are among the findings from Phoenix SYNERGISTICS study, Revitalizing Reward Programs, featuring online interviews with 1,000 consumers age 18 or older.  This study evaluates the consumer perspective on reward programs for financial services including credit and debit cards and checking.  It examines reaction to pricing, custom reward programs, and combined reward programs



Robo advisor services are out of the starting gate but still have a long way to go to live up to being the market disruptors many believe them to be, according to a recent survey by SYNERGISTICS Research entitled, Online Financial Management and Advisory Tools.  Survey findings reveal that somewhat more than one-third overall are aware of robo advisor services, and this widens with both household income and liquid assets.  Usage of robo advisors is found to be narrow currently, indicated by one in six of those aware of these services and representing about one in twenty internet households overall.  Usage is wider among 18- to 49-year-olds.

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William H. McCracken, CEO of SYNERGISTICS, stated, “Robo advisors are certainly a timely topic in terms of discussions in investment circles and the financial press – an impression is being created that they are causing widespread disruption in the investment advisory industry.  From the perspective of consumer households, robo advisors are still largely an unknown product.  Awareness is always an issue when a new product or service is first introduced.  Simply broadening awareness is a top priority for expanding the market.  In addition, current usage is in the ‘early adopter’ stage, but users are positive indicating the potential for wide expansion in the near future.  Younger households in the early asset accumulation stage may be key to the success of this service.”

These are among the findings from SYNERGISTICS study, Online Financial Management and Advisory Tools, featuring online interviews with 992 consumers age 18 or older.  This report examines consumer reaction to a variety of online financial management services including PFM, online tools, account aggregation, and robo advisors.  The threat of new competitors in the market is also assessed.


Financial identity theft and fraud has grown significantly over the past decade, according to a recent survey by SYNERGISTICS Research entitled, Evaluating Security and Privacy Issues for Financial Services.  Overall, more than half of internet households in the 2016 survey have experienced fraud or identity theft.  This represents a significant increase over levels seen in 2014 and 2006.  In terms of the type of fraud, the largest proportion – about three in ten – say someone used their credit or debit card account number for unauthorized purchases online or by telephone.  About one-fifth indicate someone used their lost/stolen credit or debit card for unauthorized purchases.  One-tenth or fewer mention other violations such as misuse of their online or email accounts, misuse of another financial account such as a checking account or loan, use of their personal information to open new financial accounts, and usage of personal information obtained via social media for fraudulent activities.

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Genie M. Driskill, COO of SYNERGISTICS, stated, “The numerous high profile security breaches reported in the media over the past decade have heightened consumers’ awareness and concern with financial security and privacy.  Our data confirms that ID theft and fraud is on the rise and consumers are justifiably concerned.  Incidence of fraud has increased an astounding 71% since 2006.  This only serves to underscore the urgency for providers in addressing this ongoing assault on consumers’ financial lives.  Staying ahead of fraudsters and hackers is the ongoing challenge for providers who need to communicate and demonstrate the depth of their commitment to protecting their customers’ financial information.  Organizations that address these issues will have a competitive advantage while those who neglect them will suffer the consequences.”

These are among the findings from SYNERGISTICS study, Evaluating Security and Privacy Issues for Financial Services, featuring online interviews with 992 consumers age 18 or older.  This study evaluates consumer experience with security and privacy issues related to financial accounts and services.  Consumer reaction to education and communication programs, security measures, and privacy policies is also assessed.


The technology explosion of the past decade has provided consumers with a multitude of ways to handle banking matters from the branch to ATMs and PC and mobile banking.  With this increased menu of channels, it would be logical to assume that some methods may fall into disuse.  However, consumers just seem to assimilate the new channels into their banking repertoire, according to a recent survey by SYNERGISTICS Research entitled, Omni-Channel Strategies for Financial Services.  According to findings from the survey of 1,000 Internet households, the proportion of consumers using a larger number of channels has increased dramatically over the past five years.  Three-fourths in the current survey use four to six of the channels included in the analysis (branches, ATMs, automated telephone systems, telephone calls to representatives, PC banking, and mobile banking).  This compares with four in ten who did so in 2011, representing an increase of 80% in five years.  Only one in seven in the current survey use three banking methods and one-tenth use one to two, both representing declines from 2011.

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Genie M. Driskill, COO of SYNERGISTICS, stated, “Today, consumers can interact with their financial services providers using a multitude of channels.  There are traditional channels associated with financial activity including the branch, telephone, and ATMs, as well as more recent options such as mobile and PC banking.  Consumers often use a mix of channels for simple transactions, customer service activities, and for shopping and obtaining financial products and services.  Our data has consistently shown that consumers are largely additive in their channel usage, and do not abandon channels when new ones are introduced.  This is made quite clear by the growth in the proportion of consumers using a large number of channels.  As a result, providers are faced with the challenge of developing integrated omni-channel strategies in order to meet the needs of today’s consumers who expect to perform financial activities when, where, and how it is most convenient for them.  Information content and the consumer’s experience need to be consistent across channels.”

These are among the findings from SYNERGISTICS study, Omni-Channel Strategies for Financial Services, featuring online interviews with 1,000 consumers age 18 or older.  This study evaluates consumer usage of various channels – from traditional branches and ATMs to online and mobile methods. It will assist providers in maximizing their omni-channel programs.

SYNERGISTICS Research Celebrates 35th Anniversary

SYNERGISTICS Research Celebrates 35th Anniversary

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SYNERGISTICS Research Corp., an industry leader in financial services marketing research, announces its 35th anniversary.  Founded April 1, 1981, by William O. Adcock and Anne M. Moore, the company is now jointly owned by William H. McCracken, CEO, and Genie M. Driskill, COO.  The current SYNERGISTICS team of professionals, including executives and support staff, have been with the company an average of 19 years and bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the company and its clients.  Our more than 100 clients include the 25 largest banks, other major banks and thrifts, card organizations, insurance companies, brokerage firms, mutual fund companies, retailers, and FinTech companies, as well as other organizations in the financial services industry.

SYNERGISTICS is the leading provider of syndicated consumer and small business marketing research intelligence for the financial services industry.  Our shared-cost or syndicated research represents a cost-effective and time-efficient way for clients to obtain current survey research data, interpretation, and strategic analysis.  SYNERGISTICS provides an integrated package of survey research and strategic analysis, combined with our extensive experience in the financial services area, to assist our clients with developing, designing, and marketing competitive and profitable financial products, services, and systems.  More than 500 financial services projects on both consumer and small business topics have been conducted over the last 35 years.  SYNERGISTICS conducts an average of 16 multi-sponsor studies annually on traditional and innovative topics in the areas of transaction accounts, credit, card products, payments, branches and other delivery channels, investments and insurance, as well as segmentation studies exploring the small business market, Hispanics, mass affluent consumers, and generational segments such as Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers.  SYNERGISTICS flagship project, The Home Equity Lending Monitor was launched in 2001 to track important issues in the continually changing home equity lending market and is unique in the industry.  At the request of clients, The Mortgage Market Monitor, a companion project, was launched in 2016.  Since its founding, SYNERGISTICS has gone on to conduct a number of studies in the Canadian market covering areas such as card products, channels, payments, and students and recent graduates.

Designed to provide actionable information and recommendations, each of our studies includes an executive summary, a concise summary of strategic insights, and an extensive analysis of the survey data.  SYNERGISTICS also invites clients to join a teleconference discussing findings and recommendations at the end of most projects.  Custom research services are also available to assist clients with customer satisfaction, brand and advertising awareness, product design, positioning strategies, identifying target markets, and optimizing delivery systems.


For information about SYNERGISTICS contact Genie M. Driskill, COO/SVP-Research, or William H. McCracken, CEO, SYNERGISTICS, 3091 Governors Lake Dr., Suite 520, Norcross, GA 30071. Tel: (800) 423-4229 or (404) 237-3373 ¨ Fax: (404) 237-6470 ¨ Email: ¨ Website:


Resolving merchant acceptance issues may be the key to mobile contactless payments taking off in a big way, according to a recent survey by SYNERGISTICS Research entitled, Revolution in Payment Choice at the Point of Sale.  Currently, actual usage of mobile contactless payments is reported by one in six Internet households.  To identify potential barriers to adoption of this new payment option, these users of mobile contactless payments were asked if they have had any of a number of experiences or problems when using this payment method at the point of sale.  Most widely indicated is simply finding there are a limited number of places where mobile contactless payments can be used.  This is followed by being uncertain whether mobile contactless payments are accepted at particular merchants or locations because of a lack of signage or other information.  Other experiences include mobile contactless payments not being accepted or not working at locations that are supposed to accept it, not being able to use the payment method desired, and errors in transactions – such as purchases being posted multiple times.  Overall, two-thirds of the users identified at least one of these problems.

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Genie M. Driskill, COO of SYNERGISTICS, stated, “The introduction of any new payment technology is prone to have a number of ‘bumps in the road’ as it is rolled out.  Mobile contactless payments is not an exception, and all players involved should be very focused on addressing customers’ issues.  A bad experience with a mobile phone provider, financial institution, or merchant when making a significant purchase may result in a damaged or even lost relationship.  The top issue — a lack of locations — is, of course, a function of a growing infrastructure that should be satisfactorily addressed over time.  Indeed, the more recent introduction of Samsung Pay has the potential to dramatically impact the current environment for mobile payments.  Chase Pay and Capital One Wallet are two other recent additions available to consumers.  However, it should be a cause of some concern – and attention – for providers that some users are experiencing problems with a lack of information or signage about merchant acceptance, as well as finding a lack of acceptance in supposedly valid locations.”

These are among the findings from SYNERGISTICS study, Revolution in Payment Choice at the Point of Sale, featuring online interviews with 1,000 consumers age 18 or older.  This study examines consumer payment behavior at the point of sale.  Current usage of various payment methods and consumer reaction to innovative payment options and technology are assessed.