By Jeff Matteuzzi, SVP of Accounts, Digital and Analytics


The big keep getting bigger. Forget Dodd Frank. The three largest US banks by assets just keep getting bigger and have stolen significant deposit share from all the others. According to a recent Wall Street Journal Article, Bank of America, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo have taken in over $2.4 trillion of US deposits over the last 10 years. To put that in perspective, in 2007 the Big 3 held 20% of the country’s deposits (oh yeah – in 1994 it was 5%). By the end of 2017, they held 32%. That’s $3.2 trillion (yes, a “t”) in deposits. Some was brought in through acquisition – in 2007 Wachovia held the #3 slot but was then acquired by Wells Fargo. But others are just doing the blocking and tackling to better deliver what new retail clients want – service and convenience.

Why are deposits important? Many reasons. A new retail checking account is often opened by younger folks which provide a longer-term stream of deposits. While older clients may have more assets, younger clients can provide for longer term relationships. From those relationships, the bank can deliver more services – home mortgages, brokerage accounts, credit cards, and loans – which earn them higher fees.

And retail checking accounts provide cheap and sticky capital to banks; they’re paying low interest rates, if any, to hold depositors’ money and this provides cheap financing to loan out at higher margins. In 2007, the average checking account balance was $2,000. Now it’s $7,000.

As mentioned earlier, people often turn to banks for their service and convenience. Having a retail bank outlet and readily available ATMs is a principle reason often cited for selecting a local bank. Now the Big 3 are expanding their retail operations into more urban centers. JP Morgan alone plans to open retail operations in 15-20 new markets.

People also demand a bank that they can trust.  A recognized brand name and strong reputation in the community are the hallmarks of trust and often take many years to build. Recent name bashing of The Big 3 by politicians has not diminished their power. But, the recent fraud challenges faced by Wells Fargo and regulatory limits could provide the opening smaller banks need – provided they take advantage of the digital transformation shaping the market.

But brand and retail alone will not bring in new depositors. New depositors, particularly millennials, are more comfortable – and outright demand – enhanced mobile and web-based banking services.

At Working Media Group, we proved that brand and retail were NOT a key factor in driving depositors.  Depositors prefer a compelling offer to a brand name and retail presence. With very limited budget, strong upfront analysis, and optimization, we helped a small regional bank open a US online presence and drive incredible results.

In a twelve month period, we were able to secure over $750 million of new deposits nationwide for a bank that most, if not all, had ever heard of.  In month 1, we were getting a head turning 800% return on our ad spend and by campaign end, we had garnered an unheard of 3,000% return. In short, with relatively few marketing dollars, we were able to drive incredible awareness and returns by using optimized tactics as well as compelling messages and offers.

Working Media Group is a strategic, data-driven agency that helps clients to successfully navigate the complex media landscape and drive business results.

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