Skyline of the financial district

Clients are acting on the financial advice they receive from their banks — they just don’t want that advice.

According to the fourth annual Canada Retail Banking Advice Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power, 74% of clients who received financial advice from their bank acted on it. But only 19% said they were “very interested” in receiving advice, and 26% said they were “not at all interested.”

Still, clients’ overall satisfaction with banks increased by 235 points (on a 1,000-point scale) when they received advice that completely met their needs, the survey found.

“There is a huge opportunity for retail banks to forge closer relationships by helping customers with things like advice on investment and retirement planning, as well as providing quick tips and information to help them improve their financial situation or stick to a budget,” Paul McAdam, senior director of banking intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a release.

RBC Royal Bank had the highest score (603) for customer satisfaction with retail banking advice, followed by Bank of Montreal (583). The average score was 572.

The survey also found that banking clients could really use advice, even if they don’t want it. Only 39% of the clients polled by J.D. Power were financially healthy. Twelve per cent were overextended, 13% were financially stressed and 36% were vulnerable.

Further, only 42% of retail banking clients could pass a basic financial literacy test, though that was four percentage points higher than U.S. retail bank customers.

J.D. Power reported that advice was best delivered in person. Customers said their needs were most often addressed when they met with a licensed rep (69%), a branch rep (63%) or a loan or mortgage specialist (59%).

J.D. Power surveyed 2,154 retail bank customers in Canada in March 2021 as part of its Canada Retail Banking Advice Satisfaction Study.