Gen Y likes advice it's getting from big banks: Survey

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Generation Y customers are increasingly satisfied with the way their banks dole out advice via digital channels, and that’s driving an overall improvement in customer satisfaction, according to a recent J.D. Power study.

Out of all the generational cohorts surveyed in the firm’s third annual retail banking advice study, people born between 1977 and 1995 were the most satisfied with retail banking advice. Overall satisfaction scores for that group, often referred to as millennials, jumped 10 points from last year, to 855 on a 1,000-point scale.

The report’s authors said that group is the most receptive and active users of retail banking advice largely because they are most in need of financial advice. They also said that overall customer satisfaction with digitally delivered advice rose much faster than satisfaction with in-person advice and suggested this could indicate an inflection point for the industry.

“Based on this year’s study results, it is safe to say we’ve reached the tipping point, where banks that get their digital formulas right are seeing strong gains in both adoption of and satisfaction with advice and guidance delivered via digital channels,” Paul McAdam, senior director of banking intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a press release. “Within the next year, digital will surpass the branch as the most commonly used retail banking customer advice channel.”

Satisfaction with retail banking advice improved across most generational segments, although Gen Y made up the greatest proportion of survey respondents at 40%. Satisfaction among baby boomers, pre-boomers and Gen X was 821 points for each group. Only Gen X respondents were slightly less satisfied than they were a year ago.

Overall customer satisfaction improved 14 points to an average score of 833 out of 1,000, J.D. Power said. Customers were the most satisfied with the very biggest banks in the study. Citibank, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank held five of the top six spots in this year's survey. The sixth, BB&T, recently joined the ranks of the nation's largest banks when it merged in December with rival SunTrust Banks to form Truist Financial. (The survey was completed before the merger closed.)

Citibank’s overall score rose 26 points from last year, and it edged out Bank of America for the top spot, with a score of 852 points. J.D. Power said that Citi significantly improved satisfaction with its online and mobile banking tools and also had the highest rate of satisfaction among Gen Y and Generation Z respondents.

M&T Bank, at 787, and KeyBank, at 811, had the lowest scores among the 17 banks.

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