Americans Confident in Own Bank, but Not U.S. Banks

by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist

Six in 10 express "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in their primary bank

PRINCETON, NJ -- The percentage of Americans saying they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in U.S. banks stands at 18%, continuing a trend of low confidence recorded throughout the economic downturn.

2009-2010 Trend: Confidence in U.S. Banks Overall

This question was asked as part of the Gallup Daily tracking survey on Sept. 17-22. Gallup has measured banking confidence in separate surveys dating to the late 1970s, and since the 2008-2009 recession and financial crisis, Americans' confidence has reached new lows. Confidence has fallen well below the low 30% range seen during the 1990-91 recession, which in turn was brought on by the fallout associated with the savings and loan bailout of the late 1980s.

Americans' Confidence in Their Main Bank Up Slightly

In the same survey, 6 in 10 Americans express confidence in their main or primary bank, defined as the place where they do most of their banking business. This figure is up slightly from 58% in April 2009 and March 2010. At the same time, fewer than 1 in 10 Americans express "very little" confidence in their primary bank.

2009-2010 Trend: Americans' Confidence in Their Main Bank

Confidence in U.S. Banks Remains Fragile

Gallup data show that the reputation of America's banks continues to suffer from the fallout of the financial crisis and bank bailout. On the other hand, bankers should take some solace in that the majority of their customers have a positive view of the place where they do most of their banking.

Today, most banks are making a major effort to increase customer service quality and build customer loyalty. Americans' continued confidence in the bank they deal with most often -- their main bank -- reflects the success much of the industry is having in this regard. Of course, there is still room for considerable improvement.

In order to have a strong and growing economy, the U.S. must have a vibrant banking system. Whether the implementation of financial reform will help achieve this goal and/or give a much-needed positive boost to the reputation of U.S. banks is yet to be seen.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking survey Sept. 17-22, 2010, with a random sample of 5,052 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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