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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Young Customers Find Digital Brands More 'Relatable' Than Big Banks: Survey

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Move over, traditional banks, the disrupters are here. So say millennial and Gen Z consumers.

BrandCap, a performance branding specialist, has created a financial relatability index for financial services brands. Four key indicators of relatability underpin the index:

  • Competence: Does this brand allow me to interact with it in a way that suits me best?
  • Empathy: Does this brand understand my changing needs?
  • Character: Does this brand reflect me and my values?
  • Confidence: Can this brand be relied upon?

Millennials and Gen Zers, ages 18 to 34, chose three digital entities as the most relatable brands: Marcus, a Goldman Sachs online lending company; Venmo, PayPal’s mobile payment service; and Finn, Chase’s mobile banking tool.

What made these digital brands so relatable?

The biggest drivers were double-digit scores above the index median on competence and character. Marcus, Venmo and Finn are digital-savvy brands that meet and often exceed customers’ expectations of their products and services, according to BrandCap.

It noted that the Marcus financial services platform aims to eliminate customer pain points and build competence with its approachable way of managing finances.

In addition, it demonstrates empathy and character by showing customers how to manage debt and set achievable financial goals, and it aligns itself to its parent brand — consumers are much more willing to provide personal information when they know it is backed by Goldman Sachs, according to BrandCap.

“As we’ve seen from the top performers on the relatability index, the winners are iterating their products and services quickly to meet user needs, creating mobile-first experiences that build loyalty, and are offering new ways of banking that put flexibility and convenience front and center of the customer experience,” BrandCap director Lindsay Beltzer said in a statement.

BrandCap’s research found that millennials and Gen Zers had different priorities when it came to the drivers of relatability.

Confidence and competence counted most for millennials, suggesting that although they are comfortable with digital banking, they are less inclined to stray from traditional banking. They considered JPMorgan Chase, Venmo and Capital One as the most relatable brands.

Gen Z consumers prioritized character and empathy, indicating that they are more at ease with financial disrupter brands. For them, Marcus, Finn and Venmo were most relatable.

However, common to both cohorts was the relatively low relatability of big traditional banks. HSBC, Wells Fargo and TD Bank ranked among the least relatable brands within the index. BrandCap said that in an era of cyberattacks and digital fraud, customers want financial service providers to make honesty, ethical practices and transparent communication top priorities.

“Bringing relatability to life needs to become inherently part of the brand experience,” Beltzer said.

“If built through a progression of steps — by instilling competence, empathy, confidence and character — the financial leaders of tomorrow have the potential to win over young audiences and develop lifetime loyalty throughout their prime earning, spending and borrowing years. It’s an opportunity finance brands surely can’t afford to miss.”

Following are the BrandCap financial relatability index’s constituents and the scores they received:

  1. Marcus (136)
  2. Venmo (127)
  3. Finn (121)
  4. JPMorgan Chase (116)
  5. Robinhood (112)
  6. Capital One (112)
  7. Credit Karma (108)
  8. Zelle (103)
  9. Bank of America (97)
  10. Citi (91)
  11. PenFed (87)
  12. MoneyLion (86)
  13. Wells Fargo (79)
  14. TD Bank (78)
  15. Navy Federal Credit Union (72)
  16. HSBC (60)


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