A recent report on large banks’ brand vulnerability shows that big banks could risk losing more and more customers and deposits if they don’t start treating their customers better. Bank of America, according to the survey, has the most to lose.

The report, by a boutique management consulting firm called cg42, examined the ten biggest retail banks’ collective vulnerability to customer attrition. It examines a metric the firm calls brand vulnerability, which they define as “a measure of a brand’s level of risk for increased customer attrition, decreased acquisition effectiveness, and the associated financial loss.”

A Good Time to Look at Big Banks’ Brand Reputation

Retail banking is obviously prime territory for a study of this nature, given the widespread frustration with the introduction of fees to formerly free services, and the collective outrage against Wall Street that has manifested itself into the Occupy Wall Street movement. To find out about the public’s perception of big banks, cg42 interviewed around 500 (give or take) customers from each of the top ten big banks and asked them about their frustrations with the bank and their willingness to leave.

The study found that the top ten retail banks stand to lose a substantial portion of their deposits — $185 billion, by their estimates — if “existing customer frustrations are not addressed.” Brand vulnerability, they find, is more or less inversely related to a bank’s size: the big four (BofA, Chase, Citi, and Wells) are the most vulnerable, while smaller banks (PNC and SunTrust) are less vulnerable.

And, because the bigger banks stand to lose higher percentages of their customers, they also stand to lose massive amounts of deposits. The big four, according to the study, could lose $135 billion in deposits, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of the $185 billion cg42 estimate big banks could lose.

Well Fargo stands to lose the most in deposits, an estimated $48 billion over the next twelve months; they are followed by Bank of America ($42B), Chase ($31B), and Citibank ($14B).

Bank of America is the Worst Off

The most vulnerable brand, not surprisingly, is Bank of America, who could lose an estimated 10.3 percent of their customers over the next year, should they not do anything to make their customers happy. They are followed by Citibank (9.8%), Wells Fargo (9.1%), and Capital One (9%).

Fortunately for all these banks, they have all worked to improve their public image in the wake of the debit card fee fiasco. Will it mean that they prevent themselves from shedding customers and deposits in massive amounts? Also, will they care? Some say that the accounts they’re shedding aren’t profitable to keep around anyway.

Time will tell, but banks have shown people their bad side in a major way, and it’s on them to convince us that they’re alright again.

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