Reaches more households: Bank of America is a Top Performer. (Photo: AP)
Reaches more affluent households: Fidelity is a Top Performer. (Photo: AP)
Earns high trust: USAA and Edward Jones are Top Performers.
Main Source of Retirement Advice: Edward Jones is a Top Performer. Edward Jones Managing Partner Jim Weddle. (Photo: AP)
Intent to Invest More: Edward Jones, Scottrade are Top Performers. (Photo: John Disney/ALM)

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Intent to Recommend: Charles Schwab, Edward Jones, Scottrade, Vanguard are Top Performers. (Photo: AP)

(Related: Top 14 Finance & Insurance Companies With Happiest Workers)

Which financial firms do customers trust most? Which ones are they most likely to recommend? And with which firms do customers plan to invest more money?

Research firm Hearts & Wallets answers those questions in a new report on success metrics across the financial services industry.

The Stores & Success Metrics: Winning the “Hearts & Wallets” of Customers insight module analyzes customer success metrics nationally for the top 26 investment, banking and retirement plan participant firms for more than 8,000 sets of customer ratings of different firms from more than 5,000 investors.

The report measures customer trust, loyalty, the intent to invest more and intent to recommend.

Consumer trust overall is increasing at the national level, with 80% of consumers saying they have moderate to high trust in their primary or secondary retail firms, an increase of 6 percentage points from five years ago.

To earn the “High Trust Top Performer” designation, firms had the highest proportion of customers who rate them a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale to assess the level of trust, where zero equals “very little trust” and 10 equals “very high trust.”

This year, USAA and Edward Jones are the top performers for the trust success metric this year.

“The continued improvement in consumer trust opens the door to building stronger relationships for [firms] with their customers,” Laura Varas, CEO and founder of Hearts & Wallets, said in a statement.

Hearts & Wallets finds that consumers are also citing greater satisfaction with their firms as indicated by an increase in their intent to invest and intent to recommend.

Likelihood to recommend a firm that the consumer has a relationship with increased nationally by 6 percentage points in five years with 42% saying they were extremely likely to recommend and 31% saying they might recommend. Likelihood to invest more is lower but also improving, up 3 percentage points in five years, reaching 33%.

The report also finds that the average consumer is adding more firms, now using 1.9 stores, up from 1.7 stores four years ago. The average consumer with $500,000 in investable assets uses 3 or more firms, also up slightly. One third of consumers with $500,000 or more have four or more firm relationships. Growth in store relationships is because consumers without saving and investing relationships decreased to 13%, along with an increase of consumers who added two or more relationships.

“The trend of consumers seeking out more [firms] despite the rise in satisfaction is also a positive,” Varas said in a statement. “Firms have an opportunity to identify the unmet needs that prompt consumers to add stores. Recognize consumers may want to fund goals beyond retirement, like college savings or obtain assistance in taking income tax efficiently during retirement. Firms who excel in solving these needs with niche accounts will be able to expand their relationship with the customer.”

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