• Big Four continue to improve on trust, raising industry-wide trust score.
  • Internationally-owned banks out of favour, sitting bottom of ranking.
  • Top 10 switches places but remains largely unchanged, cementing second tier banks as Australia’s most trusted.

29 July 2020 – The Big Four banks continue to gain trust with the Australian public during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is sparking increased consumer confidence across the whole sector, according to the latest figures released by the Australian Banking Brand and Trust Index.

The quarterly Trust Index, developed by research tech firm Glow and now in its third edition, surveyed 1,230 Australians and measured their sentiment towards 31 bank brands, including digital ‘neo banks’. The study uses a unique methodology to rank trust relative to competitors, awarding each bank a Net Trust Score of between -100 and +100.

In the latest release, all Big Four institutions reported significant leaps in their Net Trust Scores, with Westpac making the greatest gains, nearly tripling its score from 3 to 8 since last quarter. However, despite continued improvement since it debuted at minus 2 in December, it still remains the least trusted of the big banks. Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank jumps ahead of the pack with a Trust Score of 11 (up from 7 last quarter), meaning NAB falls behind with 10 points (up from 7). ANZ’s position remains unchanged, with a modest 3-point increase (from 6 to 9).

Despite sizeable gains, the Big Four have a long way to go in terms of consumer trust, seemingly still unable to escape the bottom half of the rankings. However, their strides do seem to be having a positive impact on the banking industry at large, which, when compared with 17 other key sectors, almost doubled its Trust Score from 8 to 14.

Glow’s Head of Insights, Eddie Kowalski, agrees: “It’s pretty remarkable – the influence of the Big Four banking brands is so strong that Australians’ perception of banks in general has jumped significantly in only three months.”

Kowalski credits the pandemic as a significant turning point: “COVID-19 and the resulting mortgage freeze, recently extended to January 2021, presented the big banks with an opportunity to redeem themselves in the eyes of the Australian public following the Royal Commission last year. And so far, their efforts seem to be working.

“But it is only when the proverbial – but inevitable – financial cliff emerges and Australians are required to pay up once again, whether in the form of increased mortgage repayments or through losses to their superannuation, that this built-up trust in banks will be tested.” 

While the Big Four continue the fight to bank their own trust reserves, the study reports that smaller, less tarnished, brands are free to enjoy being among the top five most trusted institutions. Bendigo Bank, a leading community brand that also has offices in Adelaide, Melbourne and Ipswich (Queensland), returns to the top spot with 22 points after a brief dip during COVID uncertainty, while Police & Nurse Bank holds their position in close second (also at 22 points) and Bank of Sydney makes fourth place with 20 points.

Second tier banks ING, RACQ Bank, Greater Bank, CUA, Heritage Bank, Suncorp Bank and Beyond Bank shift slightly between themselves but all still remain in the top ten most trusted brands.   

Meanwhile, the swell of online-only ‘neo banks’ continue their climb up the rankings, led by “Australia’s first smartbank” 84 000, so-called after the total number of seconds in a day, and its upstart competitor Xinja, who boasted the biggest jumps (up 6 points each), while Bendigo’s digital brand Up Bank holds onto 7th place (19 points).

At the other end of the table, Bank of China, a consistently poor performer, remains in last place, with its Trust Score falling from -21 to -27. Similarly, trust in HSBC and Citibank also declined slightly, however the biggest drop was in their rankings, with HSBC coming down 8 places while Citibank lost 4 places.

Kowalski said: “Inevitably, the relative nature of the study’s Net Trust Ranking means that a rise for some brands means a fall for others. And it is internationally-owned banks that seem to have taken the hit.

“Our research appears to reflect society’s continued retreat to an increasingly nationalist mindsets and more community-based values during the coronavirus pandemic, with the suggestion that this is influencing where Australian consumers choose to bank. It will be interesting to see how this trend plays out next quarter.”

The Australian Banking Brand and Trust Index is a quarterly tracking study developed by market research tech firm Glow. It measures key attributes that assist industry participants by tracking key measures of operational success, as well as that of their competitors. For more information and to access the summary report, visit glowfeed.com/indices.

Top 10 Trust Leaderboard

  1. Bendigo Bank (Previous #5) Score: 22
  2. P&N Bank (Previous #2) Score: 22
  3. ING (Previous: #6) Score: 20
  4. Bank of Sydney (Previous #10) Score: 20
  5. Heritage Bank (Previous #9) Score: 20
  6. Greater Bank (Previous #1) Score: 19
  7. UP Bank (Previous #7) Score: 19
  8. RACQ Bank (Previous #8) Score: 19
  9. CUA (Previous #4) Score: 17
  10. Beyond Bank (Previous #8) Score: 15