According to the latest FDIC Quarterly Banking Profile, U.S. credit card loan growth accelerated in 4Q17, rising 8.2% to $865 billion.
Given the strong overall growth in credit card receivables, are issuers focusing their growth ambitions on particular FICO Score categories? To address this question, EMI analyzed 10K SEC filings for leading credit card issuers. Overall, we found that issuers reported strong credit card loan growth across their FICO Score segments. We also studied trends in different issuer categories.
In the aftermath of the Financial Crisis, the three leading issuers—Chase, Bank of America and Citi—focused attention away from near-prime and sub-prime segments and towards superprime consumers. This led to significant declines in both outstandings and charge-off rates. More recently, as economic growth and consumer confidence returned, these issuers have refocused on loan growth and are once again targeting lower FICO Score segments. This is seen in the chart below that shows changes in outstandings by FICO Score segment between end-2016 and end-2017. As these issuers are pursuing loan growth, their credit card net charge-off rates have also increased (+26 bps y/y at Bank of America, +30 bps to at Chase, +59 bps at Citi-Branded Cards North America). However, charge-off rates remained below 3% for each of these issuers in 4Q17, and issuers should continue to focus on loan growth while charge-off rates continue at these low levels.
Second-tier national credit card issuers—Discover, Capital One and Synchrony—reported relatively strong growth, but with different FICO Score segment trends. Discover reported 9% y/y growth, with no y/y change in share of outstandings for the <660 and 600+ segments. Capital One had a similar overall growth rate (8%), but this was driven in part by the acquisition of the Cabela’s card portfolio, which boosted the >660 FICO segment’s share of outstandings. It is also worth noting that the <660 FICO segment accounted for 34% of Capital One’s credit card portfolio at the end of 2017, compared to 25% of Synchrony’s portfolio, and 18% at Discover.
Regional credit card issuers present a mixed picture when it comes to the FICO Score segment composition of their credit card portfolios. This is driven by a number of factors, including a large variation in portfolio sizes, as well as their credit card underwriting standards. Most issuers report growth across their portfolios, with strong growth rates in the low FICO Score segments. Fifth Third reported very strong growth for its <660 segment, but this segment only accounts for 3% of its portfolio. Regions’ 20% growth in its <620 FICO segment was driven by its launch of a credit secured card in July 2017.
Finally, as most issuers reported strong growth in their credit card portfolios in 2017, charge-off rates are also on the rise, growing 45 bps y/y to 3.61% at the end of 2017. While the overall charge-off rate has risen from a low of 2.19% in 3Q15, it is down both from post-recessionary highs of 13.13% in 1Q10, and even the 4% levels in 2007, prior to the Financial Crisis. With charge-off rates still below 4%, the leading issuers continue to be comfortable with promoting credit card loan growth.
In recent weeks, a range of leading national and regional banks have carried out small business surveys, many of which were timed to coincide with 2017 National Small Business Week (April 30-May 6). These include new surveys from Citizens Bank (Small Business Pulse) and Fifth Third Bank.
These surveys are designed to:
Generate brand awareness among small business owners
Underline the bank’s commitment to this market
Position the bank as a thought leader in the small business space
Promote the bank’s small business solutions
The following are six approaches that banks are using to leverage small business surveys to drive engagement with their small business clients and prospects:
Establish a branded index. Many banks measure small business optimism via an index. This enables them to both track this metric over time, as well as generate general business press attention. Citizens recently-published survey includes the Citizens Business Pulse Index, which is its measure of the small business climate. Other indexes include the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index and the Capital One Small Business Growth Index.
Create a recurring survey. Many of the leading banks now conduct surveys on a quarterly, biannual or annual basis, which enables them to track small business metrics over time. Capital One has been tracking a Small Business Confidence Score consistently since 2008.
Survey topics of interest. Most surveys focus on small business optimism and outlook. However, surveys also look to differentiate by covering other issues that should be of interest to small businesses. The U.S. Bank Small Business Annual Survey studies small business owners’ personal satisfaction as well as the desired attributes they want from their business bank.
Use infographics to summarize survey findings. Presenting key findings from the survey (which will typically include a series of statistics) in a visually-appealing format allows readers to quick grasp important points the bank wants to make. Wells Fargo published a lengthy survey report, but it also created a one-page infographic that summarizes key takeaways.
Version the survey for target markets. Bank of America creates versions of its Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report for 10 target markets (Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Dallas/Fort Worth; Houston; Los Angeles; New York; Miami; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C.). Similarly, PNC publishes its Spring Economic Outlook Survey findings for 10 regional markets.
Position the bank (subtly) as a small business solutions provider. Fifth Third’s recent small business survey included findings on funding growth, while also positioning the bank as “committed to the development of small businesses throughout the Bank’s footprint.“
In a recent EMI blog post, we discussed ways that banks could re-engage with the small business market. One of these ways was to develop content of interest to small businesses. The development and distribution of targeted content can enable banks to re-establish credibility, act as a proof point of banks’ commitment to small businesses, and reposition banks as a key source of advice for small business owners.
The following are six tips for developing a content program aimed at small businesses:
Conduct due diligence. Survey small businesses and company stakeholders to develop insights into what content topics small business owners are interested in, how they consume content, and how they perceive banks as content providers. In addition, banks should study competitors’ content development to identify best practices as well as approaches to avoid. And banks should also assess content topics and styles deployed by dedicated business media, such as Inc. and Entrepreneur.
Develop a content portal. Large banks—such as Bank of America (Small Business Community), Capital One (Spark Business IQ), JPMorgan Chase (Chase for Business Resource Center), U.S. Bank (Connect), and Wells Fargo (Wells Fargo Works for Small Business)—have all developed small business portals. These portals publish a regular stream of small business-related content, which aim to drive small business awareness, interest and engagement. Establishing content templates and guidelines—covering content length, styles, colors, fonts, logo treatment, images and graphics, and approval processes—facilitate timely content development and publication.
Focus on topics of interest to small businesses. Content developed for small business owners tends to be focused on key business life stages (e.g., starting a business, growing, selling), and related business challenges and financial needs. Such content positions the bank as a trusted advisor for small businesses at different stages of evolution, and can act as a catalyst for small business engagement.
Utilize a range of content types. Banks have a range of different content types at their disposal, each of which offers specific advantages in terms of developing and presenting content. These include articles and blog posts, case studies and success stories, podcasts and webcasts, videos and infographics. Wells Fargo has a dedicated “Wells Fargo Stories” section on its website, which include thumbnail summaries, which link to additional detail, including video. Content should be presented in easy-to-consume formats for small business owners who are bombarded with information on a daily basis.
Promote content across multiple channels. Banks should aim to present this content across a number of channels, including social media (in particular LinkedIn and Twitter), the company website, small business media, and small business-oriented events. In addition, this content should be adapted for use by the bank’s small business bankers in branches or on the road. Some banks that maintain small business content and advice portals extend this branding into social media. A standout example here is the @WellsFargoWorks Twitter handle, which mirrors the bank’s Wells Fargo Works for Small Business portal.
Carry out small business surveys. Many of the large banks now conduct and publish regular (annual, quarterly or even monthly) surveys that track business sentiment and key challenges. These surveys help demonstrate the banks’ commitment to the small business market. And findings from the surveys provide fodder for content development that can be used across a range of channels. Many of these have been in place for more than a decade (PNC has published a semi-annual PNC Economic Outlook since 2003), and some include a metric that is tracked over time (e.g., the Bank of the West Small Business Growth Index). A number of banks create market-specific versions of these surveys (U.S. Bank publishes versions of its annual small business survey for 11 markets in its footprint), which help raise the bank’s profile in these markets. Banks have also conducted one-off surveys of current hot topics (e.g., the TD Bank EMV Survey in November 2015) or focused on targeted segments (the August 2016 Bank of America Women Business Owner Survey).
Developing relevant and engaging content across multiple media enable banks to position themselves as aware of small business ambitions and needs, and committed to partnering with small business owners to develop pathways to business success.