Small businesses see little difference between the Big4 major banks and regional bank brands such as BankWest, BankSA and St George, new research has found.
According to data from DBM Consultants’ Business Financial Services Monitor (BFSM), only a small (and shrinking) difference in average business satisfaction exists between the Big4 and their regional brands or “allied” banks.
In June, satisfaction with the Big4 among micro and small businesses averaged 7.1 (on a 0 to 10 point rating scale), compared to an average of 7.4 with the allied banks. This represents a satisfaction gap of only 0.3 points, which has shrunk from 0.6 points in January 2011.
In comparison, regional banks that operate independently of the Big4, such as Bendigo Bank and Bank of Queensland, enjoyed much higher levels of business satisfaction, with an average score of 8.2 points.
DBM’s Chief Statistician John Hinchy said the data shows major banks shouldn’t expect customers to see regional bank brands allied to the Big4 in the same way as an independent, regional bank.
“Our survey data seems to show that business customers don’t buy the branding story. That doesn’t mean they rule out a regionally branded unit of one of the Big4, but these brands are not the marketing opportunity that many might have believed.”
“Business customers look closely at the merits of what’s on offer and they seem to have a real awareness of the Big4 parent that’s in the background.”
According to Hinchy, during 2011 the satisfaction gap between the Big4 main bank and businesses’ other banks began to open up significantly, especially among smaller businesses.
“Business customers whose main provider was a Big4 bank saw themselves as being increasingly better off with their Big4 provider than with their other bank. The one exception to that was the regionals, which remained a real, potential threat to the Big4 banks.”
“There is good evidence that the gap is now closing as business customers of the Big4 banks are once again viewing their other, Allied banks more favourably. Nonetheless, they continue to lag well behind the satisfaction of the Regionals.”