white piggy bank with change canadian scattered around

Canadian retail bank customers still turn to the Big Five banks for high-quality financial advice, but these institutions fail to act on opportunities to provide guidance, according to a recent study by Costa Mesa, Calif.-based research firm J.D. Power.

Specifically, the 2018 Canadian Retail Banking Advice Study reveals that 87% of Canadians surveyed want front-line advice from their financial institution, but only 33% report receiving any help.

Canadians are turning to their banks for financial advice, covering a wide range of topics. In particular, Canadians are seeking investment-related advice (47%), tips to improve their financial situation (45%), retirement advice (42%), retirement-related advice (42%), guidance on tracking spending and budgeting (32%) and an in-depth financial review (30%).

“In recent years, large retail banks in Canada have steadily improved customer satisfaction because of technology investments to provide greater banking convenience and more-consistent products and services,” says Paul McAdam, senior director of the banking practice at J.D. Power, in a statement.

“Their industry’s service improvements have led more customers to view their retail bank as a viable provider of advice,” he adds. “The challenge for banks is getting the advice formula right and delivering it in a personalized manner across all channels — not only at the branch, but also via the website and mobile app.”

The survey reveals that banks are still struggling to provide seamless digital advice. Among customers who received support through a bank’s website or mobile platform, only 37% were satisfied with the results. Additionally, only 35% of customers who received advice by email said their needs were met.

Banks still continue to perform better face-to-face, the study says. In fact, 60% of Canadians who received face-to-face advice said it met their needs.

Despite low satisfaction in regards to digital advice, 58% of customers still want support through their bank’s website or digital app. As it currently stands, only 10% of customers say they receive advice this way.

It’s unsurprising that strong financial advice from a firm helps build client loyalty, and more specifically, trust and retention. Among customers highly satisfied with their bank’s advice, 82% say they’re highly trusting of their firm and 92% say they “definitely will” use more of their firm’s products.

“For banks, the key takeaway from this study is that there is a huge opportunity to leverage a combination of in-person and digital interactions to provide advice and guidance that assist customers in their financial journey,” McAdam adds.

In the study, J.D. Power further broke down customer satisfaction by rating banks on how well they’re providing clients with advice.

Earning top marks was Royal Bank of Canada, followed by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the Bank of Montreal, the Bank of Nova Scotia, and lastly, the Toronto-Dominion Bank of Canada.

J.D. Power surveyed 1,804 Canadian retail bank customers during November and December of 2017.