Banking News

Swiss Bank Customers Dissatisfied with Interest and Charges

March 19, 2019 - Benjamin Manz

A survey by independent comparison service reveals the criteria used by Swiss consumers when choosing a bank, and customer satisfaction with services delivered. The results show major differences between individual banking services in terms of their importance to consumers and customer satisfaction.

Independent online comparison service conducted a representative survey to determine what criteria residents of Switzerland look for when choosing a bank. Participants also indicated their satisfaction with their banks and their readiness to migrate to other banks for individual banking services. The survey was carried out by market research institute Ipsos as commissioned by

“The results show that although Swiss bank customers are not satisfied with the fees charged by their banks and name costs as an important criterion, they rarely migrate between banks,” states CEO Benjamin Manz.

Banking services with the highest customer dissatisfaction levels

Survey participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with individual banking services on a scale of 1 (completely dissatisfied) to 10 (fully satisfied). The results: Swiss consumers are far from satisfied with many banking services.

Interest paid by banks for savings invested in savings accounts received the lowest customer satisfaction ratings – with an average rating of just 5.4 out of 10 points. Fees and charges take second place (6 out of 10 points), followed by mutual funds (6.7 points), exchange rates (6.9 points), securities brokerage (6.9 points), personal loans (7.1 points), mortgages (7.3 points), wealth management (7.4 points), pillar 3a and other retirement solutions (7.4 points), credit cards (7.5 points), product range (7.7 points), and quality of consultation (7.8 points).

The highest customer satisfaction ratings go to online banking (8.5 points), security (8.4 points), privacy protection (8.3 points), friendliness of bank employees (8.2 points), debit cards (8.1 points), mobile banking (8.1 points), employee competence (8.1 points) and private accounts (8 points).

 “The very low customer satisfaction with interest paid and fees charged is hardly surprising,” says Benjamin Manz. Interest rates are at historic lows, while the banking fees in Switzerland remain high. What is surprising are the relatively high levels of customer satisfaction with services like mobile banking, which are still somewhat limited in comparison to those offered by some foreign financial services providers.

What do Swiss look for when choosing a bank?

Security is the most important factor for Swiss consumers when choosing a bank. 92% of participants selected security as their primary criteria for choosing a bank. Privacy protection comes second (91%), followed by low banking costs (90%), competent employees (90%), affordable bank accounts (89%), friendliness of bank employees (86%), good online banking (86%), quality of consultation (84%), bank customer secrecy (79%), distance to nearest branch office (77%), amount of interest paid on savings (74%), personal consultation (74%), affordable credit cards (72%), favorable currency exchange rates (70%), credit card benefits (69%), broad product range (58%), and affordable mortgages (52%). Criteria which are less important to consumers include retirement saving solutions (51%), affordable mutual funds (45%), the size of the bank (38%) and securities brokerage services (36%).

The survey results are interesting on many levels. On the one hand, low fees and charges are very important to Swiss bank customers. On the other hand, customers place a strong emphasis on qualitative factors like security, competent and friendly staff and solid consultation. Consumers place high importance on relatively simple and basic financial services like accounts and cards when choosing a bank, while more complex services play a less significant role. The size of banks is also not of key importance to Swiss consumers.

The fact that many decisive factors are very difficult for bank customers to determine without assistance play an obvious role. However, an ever-increasing number of Swiss consumers now use banking comparisons as a guide when choosing banks and banking services.

Swiss bank customers are loath to migrate

Swiss consumers are known for their strong customer loyalty, and their lack of readiness to migrate between service providers. This is even more true for bank accounts and other banking services than it is for mobile plans and health insurance policies. The vast majority of survey participants state that they are not likely to move to another bank in the foreseeable future.

Only 13% of bank customers are somewhat likely or very likely to change private accounts in the foreseeable future, and the same amount (13%) are likely to change savings accounts in the foreseeable future. Interestingly, the portion of bank customers who are willing to change mortgage providers is also 13%. These are followed by wealth management (12%), Pillar 3a accounts (12%), personal loans (11%) and retirement funds (9%). With regards to securities brokerage, 14% of brokerage customers are somewhat likely or very likely to migrate to a different broker.

Regional banking service satisfaction levels

Residents of German-speaking Switzerland are somewhat more content with the banking services which they use than their French-speaking compatriots, but the differences are not significant. Criteria which are slightly less important for residents of French-speaking Switzerland include security and privacy protection, affordable account, quality of online banking and interest paid on savings. Criteria which are more important for residents of French-speaking Switzerland include distance to bank branch offices, personal consultation, affordable credit cards and affordable mutual funds.

Residents of rural regions are slightly more satisfied with their banks than urban dwellers. Rural dwellers place more importance on most criteria when selecting a bank than their urban counterparts. The size of banks is a clear exception to this rule, with the size of a bank being more important to urban dwellers than to rural dwellers. That is not surprising, considering the popularity and proliferation of regional banks in Switzerland and particularly in rural regions.

Age-based differences

An interesting insight revealed by the survey is that bank customer satisfaction is not higher among older age groups. That provides a sharp contrast to insurance customer satisfaction, which is significantly higher among older age groups.

However, there are differences in the criterion used by different age groups when choosing banks. The size of banks is one example, with bank size being more important to adults between the ages of 50 and 74 years old than to adults in younger age groups. The same holds true for personal consultation, bank customer secrecy, quality of consultation, friendliness of bank staff, privacy protection, and security. All of these factors increase in importance along with the age of bank customers.

Gender-based differences

Women generally place more importance on most banking services than men do. Exceptions to this rule include affordable credit cards and mortgages, range of retirement solutions, affordable mutual funds and securities brokerage services, which are more important to men than to women.

Women are generally slightly more content with their banking services than men are. Higher customer satisfaction levels among women are also apparent in other sectors, including insurance, which is an interesting phenomenon.

More on this topic:
Mortgage and loan comparisons
Bank account and card comparisons
Investment and retirement solution comparisons

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Expert Benjamin Manz
Benjamin Manz is CEO of and an independent expert on banking and finance.