Nearly a third of U.S. consumers are concerned about the year-2000 readiness of financial services providers, and many more than that are looking for specific assurances on the safety of their accounts, according to a survey by the research firm PSI Global.
The Tampa-based company also found that some consumers will not be convinced of the safety of their money no matter what banks do.
PSI Global estimates that 32 million households are planning to build a year-2000 contingency fund. Cash withdrawals could total $99 billion, $44 billion of which would be withdrawn in the fourth quarter, said Rohit Vaidya, senior vice president of the firm's retail financial services group.
Thirty-two percent of 3,217 respondents said they were concerned about the preparedness of financial services companies, fewer than the 38% concerned about the readiness of any industry, PSI Global said.
The survey also showed that 25% were concerned about their primary banks, 22% about credit card issuers, 20% about insurance providers, and 16% about mortgage companies.
Many banks already have customer-awareness programs, offering information in ways PSI Global discovered consumers preferred to receive it -- through statement stuffers, the mail, and in-branch communications.
But the research firm said consumers are looking for more. Fifty-seven percent want to know that backup records exist, 42% want service guarantees, 37% would like to receive preliminary yearend account statements, and 19% want other assurances, Mr. Vaidya said.
Only 18% said they do not need any assurances.
Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union Corp.'s campaign consists of messages on automated teller machine screens and receipts, a hot line, branch merchandising, public presentations, advice for customers on the bank Web site, and employee education, in addition to statement stuffers.
Chicago-based Bank One Corp.'s efforts similarly include updates on its Web site, brochures for retail and corporate customers, a hot line, and statement stuffers relaying the message, "We're O.K. with Y2K."
Chase Manhattan Bank's tagline, "Chase is looking forward to the year 2000," can be found on billboards, brochures, bank and credit card statements, and receipts. Chase also has trained bank representatives to respond to inquiries regarding the date change and has a brochure on consumer fraud prevention in branches.
"I think the banks are doing enough but there is a core of consumers that won't be convinced no matter what the banks do," Mr. Vaidya said.