Customers’ perceptions of fairness in financial services
Developing close professional relationships is key to the fair treatment of financial services customers, according to a report released by Finsia on 14 August 2012. The research highlights a number of areas where improvements could be made to improve customers’ perceptions of fairness of their financial services providers. Fairness in financial services is defined and measured in a number of different ways and the report provides insights into customers’ perceptions about procedural fairness, interactional fairness and distributive fairness.
The research was undertaken by Professor Steve Worthington F Fin, Department of Marketing, Monash University and James Devlin, Professor of Financial Decision Making, Nottingham University and Director, Financial Services Research Forum and was sponsored by Finsia. The research builds upon important research undertaken by the UK Financial Services Research Forum. The research involved analysing the results of an online poll conducted in April 2012 of a total of 750 respondents. Two hundred and fifty respondents were surveyed for each of the following three contexts: a customer’s main bank, a customer’s credit card provider; and a customer’s financial adviser.
The research results indicate that those financial service providers able to develop professional relationships with customers over a period of time have a distinct advantage over others in positively influencing their perceptions of fairness. Distributive fairness, in other words how the ‘pie is shared’ between the customer and their financial services provider, is the cause for most concern among consumers – they don’t believe they are getting their fair share across the three types of financial service providers surveyed.
Overall, financial advisers did well compared with their bank and credit card counterparts. This was not surprising given the opportunities they have to build personal relationships with their clients. Interestingly, banks suffered significant decreases in perceptions of fairness as customer relationships lengthened. Customers did not perceive that long relationships with their banks led to improved treatment.
Credit card providers fared worse than financial advisers and banks in a number of respects. They do not have the benefit of strong interpersonal relationships with their customers and may need to review their policies and procedures impacting customer interactions in order to explore other ways to encourage greater perceptions of fairness among users.