J.D. Power & Associates  puts out annual customer satisfaction surveys in all types of industries from automobiles to finance to insurance to travel (and many more in between). When they published their annual scores for finance companies late last year, I wanted to write about it to see how some of the companies I work with performed against their peers.
Author’s Aside/Note: I know it’s a little late but this one had been sitting in the hopper and I felt that I should post it anyway.
The Finance category itself is broken up into retail banking, mortgage related, and credit card groups. At the time I first wrote this, I didn’t think the mortgage ratings were that interesting so I skipped over it. I chose to focus on the two services I used more – retail banking and credit cards. While I don’t discuss the mortgage ratings, go check out how well Countrywide Home Loans did (hint: not well). 🙂
The Retail Banking scores  were rated based on geographic region:
- Mid Atlantic: Commerce Bank (Bancorp)
- Midwest: Commerce Bank (Bancshares)
- Southeast: Bancorpsouth Bank
- Southwest: Wachovia Bank
- West: Bank Of The West
If you happen to have a Commerce Bank nearby and are a current customer (and you have kids), they’re running a summer reading program where kids can earn $10 for reading ten books .
Online savings account darlings WaMu  and HSBC  made appearances on the list as well (I looked primarily at the Mid Atlantic listing  because that’s where I live, I suspect the scores are similar for the same banks). WaMu scored four points in overall satisfaction (with the highest score of 5 points under the Fees category) and HSBC scored three points. This past weekend we went to a wedding in Williamsport, PA, home of the Little League World Series, and saw scores of Sovereign Bank branches. Sovereign Bank scored a mere two points overall (and across the board). It was also funny to see M&T Bank’s whole name written out, Manufacturers & Traders Bank; I use them for my business banking and they’ve kept me very “satisfied.”
In the Credit Card Satisfaction category, American Express edged out Discover for the highest rating in overall satisfaction and received the JD Power & Associates award. I personally use the American Express Costco TrueEarnings  card because because I shop often at Costco and because it gives me 3% cash back on gasoline purchases (we also use a Discover Open Road card  but that card caps rewards). My wife used to like their AMEX Blue card  but it was recently replaced with the Citi CashReturns card  because of the unlimited 1% cashback (and it once offered a 5% cashback on everything for the first three months).
The three companies that led up the rear with two points (out of five) were Capital One, Bank of America, and HSBC. I’ve never had a credit card from any of those companies. It’s interesting that when you arrange them by Overall Satisfaction (by clicking the sort arrows), HSBC appears below Bank of America. Bank of America has 2 points in all five categories while HSBC has three points for Rewards Program yet still appears below BoA. There must be some granularity within those points not captured somewhere.
Finally, the investment broker category was the last of the categories I was interested in and it was broken into Full Service Investment Firm Ratings and Online Investment Firm Ratings. Raymond James took home the award in the Full Service Category and Scottrade  (barely edging out Vanguard ) took top honors in the Online Investment Firm Ratings.
I thought it was interesting that the only other “discount” online broker that made the list (TradeKing , Zecco , and many others didn’t make the list) was E*Trade Financial  and they scored only two points.
With it being August, the 2008 ratings should be coming out soon in a few months. It’ll be interesting to see how much shifting around occurs with some of these scores.