Happiest bank customers in Canada don't know how good they have it

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National Bank and Scotiabank tops in customer satisfaction

In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1521 Canadians 18 years of age and older, one fifth claimed TD Canada Trust as their primary bank (19%), along with just fewer who claim RBC is their main bank (17%). Following these two are CIBC and Caisse Populaire Désjardians (13% each) and Scotiabank (11%). BMO claims just under a tenth of the market (9%) while the National Bank is the least used of the 7 major financial institutions in terms of consumer use (4%). One tenth uses some other financial institution (13%).

TD is especially present in Ontario (26%) while RBC (22%) and Scotiabank (26%) have higher market presence in Atlantic Canada. CIBC is common in Ontario (18%) and the Caisse is, of course, primarily a Quebec institution (48%). Residents of the Prairies are especially likely to use other banks (18%) or credit unions (14%), while BC residents are especially likely to use Vancity (6%).

Banks trusted more than health care system, less than other institutions

In a ranking of trust in Canadian institutions, universities lead, with an average score of 6.4 out of 10, and more than a tenth who give them a score of 10 (13%). The Canadian military is similarly well-rated for trust, at an average score of 6.3 and one fifth who give it a 10 (20%). The RCMP ranks in the middle of this group (6.0 and 17%), while Canadian banks (5.8, 14%) and the health care system (5.7, 9%) trail on this measure.

National Bank, Scotiabank tops in customer service

Overall, well more than half of those who bank at the National Bank (64%) or Scotiabank (59%) say they are satisfied with the service they receive. Just more than half say this of TD (55%) or CIBC (52%), which lie at the average for all banks (52%), but other institutions fall below one half on this measure (BMO - 49%, RBC - 46%, Caisse - 39%). On specific attributes of customer service, National Bank is very highly rated for personalized service (58% very satisfied), responsiveness at solving problems (58%) and valuing the respondent as a customer (50%). Scotiabank does well on having the right products and services (48%), valuing the respondent's custom (48%) and, by far above other banks, having the best rates and fees (37%). The Caisse trails on all customer satisfaction measures, as well as trailing overall.

Overwhelming agreement Canadian banks more stable than US banks

Fully 8-in-10 agree Canadian banks are more stable than their US counterparts (82%), and more than half use the strongest descriptor ("agree strongly" - 53%). Strong agreement is especially characteristic of the oldest (60%), the wealthiest (64%), customers of BMO (66%), Conservative supporters (62%) and those in Ontario (62%), but not in Quebec (40%).

Two thirds agree Canadian banks try to please customers

Two thirds of Canadians think their banks go out of their way to make customers happy (64%), but just one sixth agree strongly (17%). Strong agreement is characteristic of Gen Y (35 to 44 - 21%), the least wealthy (26%), customers of the National Bank (27%) and, to a lesser extent, Scotiabank (23%) and in the prairies (22%), where credit unions are more common.

Majority agree banks act with national interest in mind

More than half agree that Canadian banks act with the best interests of the country (58%), although few espouse the strongest view ("agree strongly" - 15%). Strong agreement is common to the least wealthy (21%), customers of the Caisse (22%) and RBC (20%) and in Quebec (19%).

Customers think TD, Scotiabank best; National worst

Customers of TD Canada Trust or Scotiabank are the most likely to think their bank is better at customer service than other banks (56% each), although when strong agreement is examined, TD leads (34%) Scotiabank (30%). In a very counterintuitive finding, customers of the National Bank, which scores highest overall and for specific customer service attributes, is least likely to be seen by its customers as offering better customer service than other banks (11% agree strongly).

Majority think Canadian banks well-regulated

More than half say Canadian banks are appropriately regulated (53%), while one quarter finds them under-regulated (24%) and less than half this proportion thinks them over-regulated (9%). A belief Canadian banks need more regulation is common to males (28%), customers of CIBC (29%) and residents of Alberta (29%) and BC (30%).


While TD is the leading bank in consumer usage in the country, and, probably as a result, scores the highest overall, when we look at specific attributes of service, the National Bank is the clear winner, along with Scotiabank. Yet National Bank customers are especially unlikely to think their bank excels when compared to others. Either their expectations are very high, or they have less experience with other Canadian banks," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at lbozinoff@forumresearch.com or at (416) 960-9603.