Financial marketing spend continues to recover

Third-quarter financial data released by the large U.S. banks this week pointed to the continuation of a trend observed in the previous quarter: year-on-year growth in marketing spend. Marketing represents a leading indicator for banks, as it is one of the first expense categories to be hit at the start of a downturn. The corollary is that an increase in marketing spend is indicative of banks’ expectation that economic conditions are improving.

The following are changes in marketing spend for leading financial institutions between 3Q09 and 3Q10 (quarterly changes are not generally regarded as reliable, due to seasonal factors):

  • Huntington: +152%
  • Capital One: +140%
  • American Express: +68%
  • Discover: +68%
  • Chase: +48%
  • PNC: +40%
  • SunTrust: + 13%
  • Key: +11%
  • Wells Fargo: +6%
  • Bank of America: +6%
  • U.S. Bank: -21% (although note that U.S. Bank 3Q09 marketing spend was much higher than usual, due to the launch of a number of marketing initiatives)