HAMILTON, Ont. (1/12/12)--The average Canadian has been with the same bank for more than 15 years, yet more than 40% of those surveyed are unhappy with high fees at their bank, says a survey report from FirstOntario CU, based in Hamilton, Ont.
Like credit unions in the U.S., Canada's credit unions are fighting misconceptions about credit unions and the difficulty of switching financial institutions.
"There are serious misconceptions among Canadians about what's involved in leaving your bank for another institution, and for many people even the thought of switching is daunting," said Dave Schurman, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the credit union. "The reality is that if you are unhappy with your bank, switching is simple and straightforward."
He cited these misconceptions:
- Switching banks can negatively impact one's credit rating;
- It's complicated to change banks.
- The bigger the bank, the better the benefits.
- Only chartered banks in Canada are regulated.
- Only big banks offer online banking.
The credit union is launching a public awareness campaign to educate consumers about the benefits of a community-based credit union over Canada's big banks. It is urging consumers to make the change in 2012.
The survey, conducted by the credit union in November, polled more than 2,500 Canadians about their banking practices, preferences, satisfaction levels and whether they would leave their bank. Of the respondents, 432% indicated they are either "unsatisfied completely" or "somewhat dissatisfied" with their current institution. Nearly 10% said they were reluctant to switch because the bank is the only bank they've ever used or that switching would be too much trouble.
Canada has the world's highest per capita membership in the credit union movement, with more than 10 million Canadians and small business owners--about one-third of Canada's population--as members of a credit union or caisse populaire (Quebec's credit unions).