Privacy and information security research firm the Ponemon Institute announced the results of its 11th annual Privacy Trust Study for Retail Banking, measuring consumer perceptions of trustworthiness for retail banking institutes.
First conducted in 2004, the study examines how issues related to consumer privacy and data security, and the ways in which retail banking institutions address those issues, translate to consumers' trust.
An important finding in this year's study is the slight rebound in consumers' trust in the privacy commitments of their banks, despite the occurrence of highly publicized data breaches in the financial services sector. Since 2009, trust in banks' privacy commitments has steadily declined from 44 percent to 34 percent of consumers surveyed in 2014. The downward trend was broken this year when 38 percent of consumers surveyed say they have trust in the privacy and data security practices of their bank, an increase from 34 percent in last year's study.
"We believe consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about what constitutes a secure banking experience. They are choosing to bank with those institutions they believe are making the necessary investments in people, processes and technologies to safeguard their personal information, said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. These investments are critical because as revealed in this and past studies, a significant number of customers will abandon their relationship with the bank if their personal information is lost or stolen."
It is also noteworthy to announce that U.S. Bank is the only bank to rank in the top five for all 11 years and has been number one for the past nine years. For the second year, Ally Financial has achieved second place. Rankings for the past two years are shown below. This year PNC Bank and Wells Fargo are tied for third place.
Ponemon Institute research has revealed that there are specific factors that contribute to a trusted relationship. These are the perceived financial stability of the bank, the quality of customer service, a respectful approach to advertising with easy opt-out features, rigorous online identity and authentication procedures and a stated or implied commitment to stand behind the customer in the event of identity theft or other related crimes.
The 11th annual Privacy Trust Study for Retail Banking was conducted over a 12-month period and the analysis was completed in April 2015. Findings were derived from a final sample of 5,453 surveys returned from U.S. adult consumers. The survey covered such topics as the disclosure quality of privacy policies and other related notices, customer outreach activities for privacy and data security, online experience with a special focus on privacy and data security, perceptions about advertising, promotions and marketing and overall perceptions about the bank's services, especially customer contact experience.
"Security and trust are key to building strong customer relationships and loyalty," said Dan Burks, chief privacy officer for U.S. Bank. "Customers want to know that their bank is looking out for them and the safety of their financial information. We take that role seriously, and are pleased to be recognized consistently by the renowned Ponemon Institute for successfully delivering on that trust."