Confidence in Banks Plummets

Americans have less confidence in banks than ever, but most like the bank they do business with and few plan to switch any time soon.

That’s what The Gallup Poll found April 23 in a nationwide survey conducted at the same time the Treasury Department was stress testing banks to determine which could best survive economic pressure.

Only 18 percent  of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in U.S. banks — down 14 percentage points from a June 2008 Gallup Poll and 23 points from a June 2007 poll. That’s the lowest level since Gallup began asking about the subject in April 1979. More than one in three Americans currently say they have “very little” confidence in U.S. financial institutions.

Yet many Americans continue to express confidence in the main or primary bank where they do most of their banking business. In fact, 25% say they have “a great deal” and 33% “quite a lot” of confidence in their main bank. Only about 1 in 10 Americans express “very little” confidence in the bank where they do most of their banking.

Such a finding is consistent with what Gallup has found in ratings of other areas such as education, healthcare, and crime. Americans generally rate their own local providers and institutions as much better than those in the broader United States.  The classic case is Congress-voters consistently dislike Congress but support their local member of Congress.

Faith in their existing banking relationships will translate into greater investments with primary banks.  Gallup found that more Americans intend to increase their money with their primary bank than to decrease it. In this regard, the poll shows that over the next three months, 29% of Americans say they plan to increase the money they have with their main bank while 9% say they intend to decrease their balances. And while 72% say they are “not at all likely” to switch their main bank in the next three months, 7% say they are likely to do so.

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