New York-area consumers are more interested in saving money than Americans have generally been given credit for, and those savings are much more likely to wind up in a bank, according to a survey released today by Dime Bancorp's Dime Securities unit.

"Among financial institutions, banks are still the most frequent investment designation, followed by mutual funds. A typical New York household keeps the largest proportion, or 44%, of its investable assets at a bank," the Dime said.

The survey, conducted by New York market research firm SE Surveys Inc., interviewed financial decision-makers at 801 households with total incomes of $35,000 or more. The interviews were held between April 26 and May 11.

"Americans are often criticized for being spenders and not savers, and clearly there is a relationship between income and the ability to save," said J. Edward Diamond, president of Dime Securities. "But we were encouraged to learn that when New Yorkers can save, they do, and then they make an effort to become investors."

However, the study also showed that the higher up the income ladder a household is, the more likely it is to keep the greater percentage of its investable assets with mutual funds and full-service brokerage firms. Of households with between $50,000 and $150,000 in liquid assets, 49% keep those assets in a bank, compared to 55% of those with between $35,000 and $50,000 of assets. Of those households with more than $150,000 in liquid assets, only 32% keep them in banks.

Another of the survey's noteworthy findings is the source of investment information for most New York consumers. Banks came in dead last on this list, or a lowly 12% of those interviewed, after stock brokers, financial planners, accountants, and investment-oriented radio and TV programs.

Family and friends were the most likely source of financial information, garnering 36% of the vote, followed closely by business magazines at 32%.

The survey also confirmed the popularity of automated teller machines. It found that 57% of all transactions are conducted by ATM, ahead of tellers at 34% and home banking by computer at 9%.

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