The Bank Brands Customer Loyalty Market Research report, published by London-based Brand Finance explores changing customer opinions across 22 markets.
Based on feedback from 19,000 respondents, the report identifies those bank brands most likely to lose customers to the competition.
In the UAE, 34 percent of First Gulf Bank’s customers stated that they were “very likely” to leave the bank, a higher proportion than any other bank brand in the country.
“The data was gathered after the merger with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi was announced but before it was completed, demonstrating the impact that M&As and associated risk may have on perceptions of a brand and therefore on customer loyalty,” said Andrew Campbell, regional managing director at Brand Finance.
Emirates NBD came out top, with 81.8 percent of its customers declaring their trust in the brand and 36 percent stating that they were unlikely to switch to the competition.
It was also the most popular bank among customers looking to leave their current wealth managers, with 15.4 percent of respondents choosing Emirates NBD over other brands.
“In general, the UAE banking market is more flexible when it comes to customer preferences than some of the long-established banking markets, especially Switzerland, the US, or Britain,” said Campbell.
Growth market customers are generally more likely to switch between bank brands, with more than a quarter ready to try banking with the competition in the UAE.
The changing landscape of banking since the global economic downturn has shifted the balance for big brands as fintechs and niche challenger banks bite into their profits and lure customers away with the promise of superior service and lower prices.
Established banks, which have traditionally relied on established customer loyalty rather than rapid innovation across their products and services, have faced mounting pressure to keep up.
This includes keeping pace with digital banking developments. “The banks that are slow to adopt new technologies risk losing their customers’ trust and pushing them to switch to more technology-savvy competitors,” said Campbell.
“Customer-friendly digital banking used to be an extra service that could help bank brands get ahead of their competitors in the race for attracting new customers among millennials. These days, this is a given,” he added.
With the rise of bank fraud and identity theft a major concern for many UAE customers, security is another key criteria for establishing loyalty.
“Those bank brands that firstly provide robust internet security and secondly walk the extra mile to communicate with their customers and demonstrate their readiness to help those that fall victim to scams, can be perceived as more trustworthy and not only retain current customer base but also broaden it,” Campbell said.
The report shows which have fared best across the board, with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank followed by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank scoring second and third respectively in terms of customer loyalty, while Dubai Islamic Bank and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi were identified as the most popular banks after Emirates NBD.
Mashreq and RAKBANK were near the top of the table in terms of customers most likely to switch, scoring 29.9 percent and 29.1 percent respectively.