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Picking a New Bank? Try the Most Recommended Banking Brands

Banks are notoriously disliked by customers and the public alike -- but two banks and one credit card company have the greatest number of customers who sing their praises.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) estimates a typical consumer in developed nations faces 3,000 brand impressions each day. Whether from advertisements, conversations, or simply on products themselves, individuals are inundated by logos, slogans, and more. But despite the constant viewing of adds, it turns out face-to-face recommendations are still the most likely to drive sales.

Source: 401(K) 2013 on Flickr.

As a result, BCG created its Brand Advocacy Index (BAI), in which it surveyed more than 32,000 individuals in five different countries to determine which brands customers were most likely to recommend. Unsurprisingly, only 10% of customers in the retail banking category would recommend their bank to others, versus 50% of non-luxury automotive customers. However there were a number of standouts, and the success of one bank in Spain and Germany could mean big things for another bank here in the U.S.

A possible indicator of success
ING (NYSE: ING  ) held the top spot in both Germany and Spain, with a ranking of 34% and 43%, respectively. While this may seem irrelevant to Americans, it is critical to note that ING operates its ING Direct platform in those counties -- along with Austria, France, and Italy -- and the ING Direct platform was acquired by Capital One (NYSE: COF  ) , which was completed in February of 2012, and is now CapitalOne 360.

When the acquisition was completed, one of the things Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank highlighted was the supreme loyalty of the ING customers, saying, "ING Direct brings the leading direct-banking franchise in the nation, over 7 million loyal customers who are early digital adopters, and national reach in banking with proven digital capabilities." 

Although coming to conclusions based on the successes of other companies is always a tricky endeavor, the reality is, the success of ING Direct in other countries could be a big benefit to Capital One here in the U.S. as it continues to charge into the consumer banking space.

No surprise
Taking a more direct route -- the brand with the third highest BAI ranking was American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) , with a ranking of 23%. AmEx has long been a favorite of customers, and despite its premium pricing, many people sing its praises, and this is only further evidence of the reality that it is an industry favorite.

Source: Images of Money on Flickr.

This favoritism by consumers is one of the reasons the company was able to increase its cards year over year by 4.8 million accounts, a gain of 5%. This increase in accounts was one of the many contributing factors to American Express seeing its income rise by an astounding 20%.

BCG even noted that the difference between the revenue growth of the highest and the lowest ranked brands was a staggering 27 percentage points, which is all the more reason to see why American Express has been so successful through the years.

Two private companies take the top
At the top of the rankings in the U.S. were Ally and USAA, coming in at 24% and an astounding 44%, respectively. The ranking of Ally is notable for any bank seeking to expand its operations; its customer count rose by 30% year over year.

All of these rankings show clearly that any bank seeking to grow its base of customers first should focus on satisfying its current ones, knowing that if that is done, the customers themselves will in turn become the most profitable and useful advertisements.

The one bank set to benefit from major change
Would you not recommend your bank, or do you even hate it? If you're like most Americans, chances are good you answered yes to those questions. While that's not great news for consumers, it certainly creates opportunity for savvy investors. That's because there's a brand-new company that's revolutionizing banking, and it's poised to kill the hated traditional brick-and-mortar banking model. And amazingly, despite its rapid growth, this company is still flying under the radar of Wall Street. For the name and details on this company, click here to access our new special free report.

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Patrick Morris

After a few stints in banking and corporate finance, Patrick joined the Motley Fool as a writer covering the financial sector. He's scaled back his everyday writing a bit, but he's always happy to opine on the latest headline news surrounding Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett and all things personal finance.

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