More financial services companies are demonstrating that they have their customers’ best interests at heart, according to Forrester Research, Inc.’s (Nasdaq: FORR) fourth annual customer advocacy scorecard. Based on a survey of 5,000 US consumers, the rankings evaluated 53 leading US banks, brokerages, insurers, and credit card issuers. The scorecard was released today at Forrester’s Finance Forum 2007 in New York.

Customer advocacy is the perception on the part of consumers that their financial services firm does what’s best for its customers, not just the firm’s own bottom line. According to the report, customer advocacy drives real loyalty — a willingness to buy and borrow more from, and save and invest more with, a firm that a consumer already uses. For the fourth consecutive year, USAA retained the top spot in Forrester’s rankings. In all, 13 firms rose significantly in the rankings from last year. Also rated high by their customers on customer advocacy were independent financial advisors, A.G. Edwards, credit unions, independent insurance agents, GEICO, Edward Jones, AAA, and State Farm. Rounding out the bottom of this year’s list are HSBC, Citibank, Chase, US Bank, and Suntrust.

“As a key driver of consumers’ future purchase intent, customer advocacy is becoming a higher priority for firms that realize how important organic growth is,” said Bill Doyle, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. “The top-rated firms recognize the importance of improving the customer experience so they can deepen relationships with existing customers.”

Highlights from the Forrester report:

  • Insurers lead. This year, 20 financial services providers, 13 of them insurers, were rated high on customer advocacy by a majority of their customers. Property and casualty insurers scored particularly well, led by USAA.
  • Brokerages are back. Beaten down in the rankings two years ago, full-service brokerage firms scored particularly well, with A.G. Edwards, Ameriprise, Edward Jones, Merrill Lynch, and Smith Barney all rising significantly over last year. Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade also rose significantly over last year.
  • Banks bounce along near the bottom. Four of the five largest US banks — Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo — are in the bottom quartile of the rankings. Less than one-third of those banks’ customers rate them high on customer advocacy. However, Wachovia scored better than its big bank brethren; regional and local banks are in the top half of the rankings; and credit unions remain near the top of the list.
  • Card issuers establish a new floor. For the first time, the Forrester survey asked consumers to rate their credit card firms, and card issuers scored lower, on average, than any other group of retail financial services firms. Just one-third of all credit card customers feel that their firms put customers’ best interests above the firm’s bottom line.

At Forrester’s 10th annual Finance Forum, running from June 25¿26, more than 400 financial services executives have gathered to learn how to build and sustain long-term competitive edge for their firms by improving the customer experience they deliver. Speakers include industry leaders from Fidelity Investments, TD Banknorth, Sun Life Financial, Bank of America, Capital One, Charles Schwab, TIAA-CREF, and Wells Fargo. In addition, participants are gaining information on how to create better customer experiences through one-on-one sessions with Forrester analysts, peer networking, and a technology showcase where 15 sponsors are sharing their solutions, including platinum sponsor Yahoo!, and gold sponsors IBM, Interwoven, and Sapient.

“Customer Advocacy 2007: How Customers Rate Banks, Brokerages, Insurers, and Credit Card Issuers” is currently available to Forrester RoleView™ clients and can also be purchased directly at,7211,41572,00.html