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Be a primary financial institution: 7 ways to win consumers for good

How deep are your consumer relationships? 

While you might think having a consumers’ checking dollars or loan puts you in a good position, the truth is they might not be considering you their primary financial institution (PFI). And that could be putting you at risk of losing their business entirely if a better offer comes along. 


Half of your account holders are playing the field. 

Studies have shown that as many as 50% of consumers have multiple accounts with different institutions, with a small percentage even having five or more. 

Image courtesy of Go Banking Rates 


So a consumer may have a loan with you but a checking and savings account with Bank of America. Or they may do all their checking and savings with you but have an auto loan with Capital One®. To truly be a primary financial institution, you must have a consumer’s checking, savings, loans, and credit card. And services that create stickiness, like direct deposit and automatic ACH withdrawals, are the holy grail. 


More consumers want to leave the megas than ever. 

The good news is that consumers are growing increasingly tired of the megabanks since the pandemic started. A consumer survey conducted in July found that 22% of consumers want to switch their institution, while that number was 12% prior to the pandemic. 

Of that 22%, big bank customers were the majority, with 27% wanting to leave their bank as compared to 13% pre-pandemic. That’s a significant jump. 

Image courtesy of The Financial Brand 


Additionally, research from Kasasa found that community bank or credit union account holders are more satisfied with their institution than megabank customers. Of those whose primary financial institutions is a community bank or credit union, 65% are satisfied with their service compared to only 54% of those using megabanks as their PFI. 

There’s never been a better time for community financial institutions to take over wallet share from the megas. So, if you’re settling for a share of consumers’ wallets, it’s time to take it all. 

Here are seven ways to become a primary financial institution for your account holders.


1. Provide an end-to-end digital experience.

Customer support now means good UX (user experience). If a new or existing account holder can’t open an account, transfer funds, deposit a check, or apply for a loan seamlessly and 100% online with your institution, then becoming their PFI is unlikely.

It’s never been more important for community financial institutions to offer an end-to-end digital experience. Try stepping into a consumer’s shoes to see if your technology is truly meeting their needs. This guide can help you test the experience you’re offering existing and potential account holders — from your website to your digital account opening process.

2. Get to know your account holders.

You know that friend who only talks about themselves and never asks how you’re doing? They’re probably not first on your outgoing call list. Creating deep relationships with your account holders starts with getting to know them — either by asking directly or gleaning the information they’ve already given you.

If you offer digital account opening (and you should, see point one again) you’re accumulating a wealth of information just in those few minutes. Birth date, family status, current financials, communication channels, current institution — all this data can give great insight into what a consumer is looking for from you. And it gives you a leg up in providing it for them before they even have to ask.

It also helps to understand generational and behavioral segmentation and the trends associated with each group. For example, did you know that 60% of Millennials identify themselves as entrepreneurs and 41% of Gen Zers are interested in owning a small business? Make sure account holders in this age range know about the commercial offerings you have, like a small business loan.

Another idea is contacting your account holders directly to see how they are and what they need. This has proven especially successful for community financial institutions since the pandemic started. Some began calling their consumer base to ask how they could help them through this time, especially since they weren’t able to interact face-to-face in a branch.

3. Go beyond run-of-the-mill products.

Understanding consumers’ needs can help you in knowing what kinds of products you should be offering them. Someone can get a checking account, savings account, or loan just about anywhere. What makes yours stand out from the crowd? What is its one differentiating feature?

Differentiated products can mean reward checking accounts, an app that goes above and beyond normal online banking with personalized financial education, or even financing that offers consumers the ability to access funds that they’ve paid ahead on their loan.

Knowing consumers are debt-conscious and often fear paying ahead on their loan, Kasasa created a new kind of a loan with one big differentiator. With its Take-Back® feature, the Kasasa Loan® has seen 93% of borrowers use an internal account to make payments, 92% use an internal account to take advantage of Take-Backs, and 20% more Kasasa Loan borrowers engage in direct deposit and debit card use than consumer loan borrowers.*

With a single differentiating feature, you can increase stickiness and your share of wallet. Take a look at the product suite you offer and think about ways to make those products stand out and serve consumers’ needs even better.


4. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Most consumers are always on the hunt for a better rate, a better deal, a better special. They want to feel like they’re getting something out of every new account or loan they open. Proactively going after their business through the promotions you’re running is a great way to catch those bargain shoppers before they’ve even started Googling “lowest mortgage rate”.

Doing a soft credit check or looking at the outgoing payments from account holders’ checking accounts can help you see who has financing elsewhere. Then you can target those individuals with an offer personalized for them.

Auto loan refinancing, mortgage refinancing, and credit card balance transfer specials are all great ways to convince consumers to switch those accounts to your institution.

5. Sell without selling.

The best way to earn a consumer’s business is to ask for it. But that takes a certain finesse — and not all frontline representatives feel comfortable wearing the hat of “salesperson.”

Coaching your front line on techniques to engage consumers and build relationships, rather than outright selling, can help boost their confidence and ability to cross-sell. For customer service-oriented individuals, it makes more sense to have a conversation and work in a product recommendation than to make a sales pitch. And that works better for building deeper relationships too.

Providing tools and technology that can help in the cross-selling process is also helpful. Software that shows the products you offer, coupled with devices like tablets, can help your front line assist consumers more easily in branch.

6. Offer financial education — online.

So many of today’s younger consumers are terrified of debt. They’re looking for a financial institution that can help with practical knowledge that helps them manage their money and achieve true financial health.

The catch? Many won’t take the time to sit through a financial seminar. In our last series of digital roundtables, we heard from community financial institution leaders who found that since moving their financial education classes online due to the pandemic, their attendance has increased significantly.

Some institutions are also creating video series on YouTube to relay actionable tips in a short, digestible format while others are beefing up their mobile app with money management tools.

7. Connect with your community.

Your institution probably has a mission statement around your community commitment. And you probably mean it. But if you’re not putting those words into action, they could be falling flat for consumers.

What are some ways you can get involved? Are there local organizations your team can volunteer with or your institution can support monetarily? Is there a need for immediate help, like a canned food drive after a natural disaster? Getting involved in your community will help you reach consumers on a deeper level than providing financial products alone will.

It might be a stretch to think of your institution as a consumer’s best friend. But maintaining strong relationships with your account and loan holders through the products, technology, and service you offer is a vital way to become something even better — their primary financial institution — and make sure you earn all their business.


*Kasasa Analytics 

What’s Kasasa?

Kasasa® is an award-winning financial technology and marketing services company dedicated to helping both community financial institutions and consumers experience what it means to “Be Proud of Your Money.” We’re known for providing reward checking accounts consumers love, the first-ever loan with Take-Backs™, relationship-powered referral programs, and ongoing expert consulting services to community financial institutions.

By working exclusively with community banks and credit unions, Kasasa is helping to strengthen local economies across the nation, building a virtuous cycle of keeping consumers’ dollars where they can do the most good. Our mission is to power a network of financial institutions in all 50 states offering products and services that are clearly beneficial for the consumer and the institutions offering them.

For more information, please visit www.kasasa.com, or visit Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.