Americans overwhelmingly believe that our economy needs banks of all sizes, and a majority is concerned about the falling number of banks, according to a recent survey conducted for the American Bankers Association by polling company Morning Consult. According to the survey, 89 percent said that it is very important or somewhat important to the U.S. economy that banks of all sizes continue to operate. Only 5 percent said it was unimportant or not too important.
The survey showed that Americans widely understand the benefits banks bring to their communities, with 79 percent agreeing that banks play an important role through financial education offerings and community event sponsorships, and 87 percent agreeing that neighborhood branches play an important role by supporting local businesses.
“We’re heartened that an overwhelming majority of Americans recognize that all banks — large, small and everything in between — play an essential role in both their communities and the broader economy,” said ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols. “These results should inform policymakers as they consider important regulatory changes that would allow banks to better serve their customers and spur economic growth. An $18 trillion economy needs a banking system large enough, diverse enough and integrated enough to meet the needs of local, regional and global businesses.”
Meanwhile, as the banking industry continues to consolidate — with total bank charters dropping from about 8,700 to 5,900 over the past decade — 54 percent said they were very or somewhat concerned about this trend. This concern stems in part from Americans’ desire to have bank services close by. Eighty-seven percent said that it was somewhat or very important to have a local bank branch easily accessible from their home — and 67 percent even said it was important to have any physical bank location nearby, even if it is not their own bank’s branch.
Americans also recognize that excessive regulatory burden is holding back banks’ ability to serve their customers. By a two-to-one margin, survey respondents said policymakers have made it more difficult for banks to make mortgage loans, and by a three-to-one margin (47 percent to 17 percent), they said regulations have made bank loans for business startups too difficult. ABA today released an infographic illustrating these findings that bankers can use and share.