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New Account Holders are Looking for Branches, ATMs, and Convenience

The average US consumer stays with their primary bank or credit union for an average of fourteen years. But this perceived loyalty often has little to do with genuine satisfaction. When faced with a new financial requirement, many account holders turn to other institutions. Or they look to third-party apps. The result is financial services such as loans, investments, debit cards, credit cards, and money transfers are increasingly poached – because account holders aren’t loyal. They’re lazy.

But the COVID-19 pandemic changed some of that laziness. People were cut off from extracurricular activities, stuck at home, and often struggling with money. As a result, they had a chance to take a hard look at their finances and make some serious decisions. The result was a startlingly large number of new financial relationships. One in five people began using a new banking provider, according to a study by FIS.

What Account Holders Want

Most experts will argue that consumers want mobile banking and more digital options. But most people’s reasons for switching and the features they want are far more straightforward.

One-third of new banking seekers (33%) are looking for better benefits. These individuals want higher savings yields and monetary rewards. This data might be a factor in the growing number of institutions literally paying individuals hundreds of dollars to open accounts. But it doesn’t explain the increasing number of individuals under forty-years-old seeking out new primary banks.

Another of the most acknowledged drivers to switch financial institutions is banking fees. Overdraft charges, fees for being below a specific balance, and ATM surcharges are just a few of the ways some consumers get dinged regularly. Millennials and Gen Z have felt these fees much more than older generations over the past year and a half. They were the hardest hit by the pandemic and saw the most significant income and account balance fluctuations. Together they averaged $14+ in fees per month.

But one of the most important features the “experts” regularly overlook is convenience. Branch locations and easy-to-access ATMs are routinely reported as a driving consideration for all age groups. Banking seekers under forty list convenient access through branches and an ATM network even higher than online banking and mobile applications.

Chart of Different Generations Likelihood to Use Negative Descriptions About Their Own Generation


Why Physical Access?

Younger generations want physical access. But why? The answer is two-fold. When it comes to accessing and maintaining their money, no one wants to pay fees. For Millennials and Gen Z, especially during the pandemic, $13-$15 per month in additional charges could be unreasonably detrimental. What if that money was for rent, a car payment, or food? But the bank account dipped below an allowed balance, or they accidentally overdraft. Even an additional $3 ATM convenience fee could significantly impact monthly finances. So, it follows that a broad ATM network with surcharge-free access is essential to offer access to cash, account balance information, and (if your institution uses any ITMs or VTMs) safe human contact with advanced account services.

Branches, on the other hand, are less cut-and-dry. Older generations used the branch because that was what was available. And they still use them because that is what they grew up with and consider most comfortable. However, those under forty don’t look to the branch for simple transactions they can complete on their phones, computers, or at the ATM. Instead, they seek out brick-and-mortar for more complex questions, things that require a human.

So, branches and ATMs are a crucial factor in attracting new account holders or simply keeping the ones you have. Credit Unions and Banks should take the time to advertise their convenience and find ways to promote their branch locations, surcharge-free partnerships, and commitment to availability – both online and in-person.

That Sounds Like a Lot of Location Details!

You’re right. Luckily, the Wave2 locator is designed especially to help credit unions and banks pull in the data from surcharge-free networks, shared branches  and your own locations to make it easy to find all your convenient access points all in one place, inside your trusted branded web and mobile environments. 

Find out how the Wave2 locator can help your financial institution with all of these issues and more!

Wave2 Contact:
Jason Green, Co-Founder
Schedule a Demonstration & Discussion