J.D. Power offers certification to banks, credit card issuers who promote financial health

The data analytics and consumer intelligence company is offering a certification in recognition of financial wellness programs.
Written by Evan Zimmer, Staff Writer

J.D. Power announced Thursday that the company will be offering a Financial Health Support Certification to banks and credit card issuers. Bank of America is the first to receive the certification.

"We play a critical role in our clients' lives, and it is imperative that we honor that position by providing the resources to help them achieve financial wellness in their everyday lives," said Holly O'Neill, president of retail banking at Bank of America.

According to the press release, the certification looks at the company's ability to support customers' financial health and its adherence to industry best practices when creating financial health programs. To qualify, brands need to rank highly in the J.D. Power Financial Health Study, pass a comprehensive evaluation of best practices, and undergo leadership validation interviews conducted by J.D. Power. 

The certification lasts for one year. 

"Consumers need personalized communications directing them to the best products and services for their individual needs from their banking institutions now more than ever," said Bob Neuhaus, executive managing director of banking and payment intelligence at J.D. Power, in the release.

The certification could help consumers choose one bank over another and determine what credit card issuer they trust. Banks and credit card issuers alike have put a greater emphasis on financial wellness lately as the number of digital banking clients increases.

FICO found recently that 80% of digital banking customers will remain so post-pandemic. In another J.D. Power study, the company found that customers who engage with financial wellness programs experience higher levels of satisfaction.

The recent influx of digital banking customers, both retail and commercial, has led banks and digital payment processors to provide greater transparency around how digital systems work. How competent digital clients feel using these systems also contributes to customer satisfaction levels, J.D. Power found. 

Paul McAdam, senior director of Banking & Payments Intelligence with J.D. Power told ZDNet that both perception of fees and the feeling that the client has some degree of control are important factors as the digital banking space grows.

Bank of America saw an impressive increase in satisfaction levels among its clients by reducing overdraft fees and providing many resources for its business and retail customers to take advantage of. The financial institution revealed in a recent study that the use of digital channels by small business owners contributed to an almost 300% increase in digital sales.

As FinTechs and credit card issuers see the positive changes that fee structures and transparency of systems have on customer satisfaction, McAdam said, they'll start to make similar changes.

"If you look at reasons why consumers pick Chime, SoFi, or Credit Karma and other neo-bank challenger brands, low fees and no overdrafts are a big part of the equation," McAdam said.

Also: Square developers and partners can now use Afterpay in their checkouts

PayPal and Square consistently receive high customer satisfaction ratings due to their simple and easy to understand digital payment systems.

American Express recently announced a new digital, high-yield consumer checking account with very few fees for its cardholders as a banking alternative for digital customers. The debit card offers rewards for purchases as a way to attract younger generations.

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