The 7th Edition ath Power Small Business Banking Study


Small Business Banking remains the most robust growth segment in today’s financial services markets. Banking institutions of every size are scrambling to create strategies to make the Small Business market a top strategic priority. And, while highly profitable Small Business customers expect more from their banking relationships, there are huge gaps in the service experiences banks provide their business customers.

The ath Power Small Business Banking Study is a unique account that ranks the Small Business Banking practices and benchmarking profiles, detailing the current marketplace. Our in-depth view of the industry provides the information needed to target strategic sales and service initiatives aimed at growing Small Business Banking revenues while increasing retention rates, profitability and shareholder value.

Purpose of the Small Business Banking Study

The ath Power Small Business Banking Study is a one-of-a-kind detailed assessment of the sales and service processes, product and service offerings, delivery methods and customer experiences of the nation’s premier institutions within the Small Business banking target market. Each year, ath Power conducts extensive audits on the Small Business Banking efforts at banks across the United States to determine how they are performing within this crucial market segment and what needs to be done to deliver the customer experiences that will ultimately increase acquisition, improve retention and drive revenue.

  • Discover what small business clients expect from their banking relationship and whether or not they are satisfied with their current experience.
  • Find out what gaps in the service experience would deter a potential SBO from bringing their business to a bank.
  • Learn how individual banks are performing within the competitive landscape of small business banking.
  • Obtain valuable information that can help target strategic sales and service initiatives within the small business banking arena.
  • Gain the strategic insight needed to achieve a dominant position in the highly profitable Small Business Banking market.


During Q3 and Q4 of 2015, a total of 959 in-person audits were performed by Small Business Owners at 40 leading banks across the U.S. in an effort to understand the competitive customer experience environment associated with front-line sales and servicing protocols regarding Small Business Banking products and services. Evaluations were completed in metropolitan areas within 5 different regions throughout the United States – Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest and West. Banks of national, regional and local scope are included in this study. Some banks were audited in multiple regions.

Findings are segmented by Bank, Region and Small Business Revenue Size. Banking relationships for businesses with $400k to $4M in annual revenue were used for individual banking center visits of potential small business clients. There were no statistically significant differences in service provision for any cohort with regard to annual revenue size.

An Overall Evaluation Score was calculated based upon the in-branch experience and banker behaviors in four categories:

  • Product and Services Information Sharing
  • Ease of Doing Business
  • Knowledge of Products and Services
  • Closing Elements

Additionally, customers were asked to evaluate their overall experience by indicating how it compared to other recent banking experiences, as well as whether they were likely to return to the bank in the future.

Institutions Evaluated

Associated Bank, Bank of America, Bank of the West, BB&T, BBVA Compass, BMO Harris Bank, Capital One Bank, California Bank & Trust (a subsidiary of Zions Bancorporation), Chase, Chemical Bank, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Comerica, Commerce Bank, Fifth Third Bank, First Citizens Bank, First Niagara Bank, First Tennessee Bank, FirstMerit Bank, Frost Bank, Huntington Bank, IBERIABANK, M&T Bank, MB Financial Bank, New York Community Bank, People’s United Bank, PNC Bank, Regions Bank, Santander Bank, SunTrust Bank, Synovus, TCF Bank, TD Bank, Union Bank of California, U.S. Bank, Washington Federal, Webster Bank, Wells Fargo, Woodforest National Bank, and Zions Bank (a subsidiary of Zions Bancorporation).

National Survey Supplement

For this report, ath Power also surveyed 305 small business owners from across the country to assess their business banking needs and evaluate their current business banking experience. Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative questions, ath Power sought to determine the following aspects:

  • Identify what the priorities are for small business owners are in selecting a financial institution as well as those that maintain the relationship.
  • Examine how banks are doing with regard to these priorities and what drives the overall relationship.
  • Assess how small business owners currently conduct their business banking and how they would prefer to do so.
  • Evaluate the prevalence and depth of current relationship manager and business banking customer relationships.

* Previous versions of each ath Power study are also available. Please email with your request and a team member will assist you.

ideal-graph-imageath Power Custom Research

If you are interested in obtaining a customized competitive analysis for your own institution, please contact Kevin Nixon via email at or call  +1.978.474.6464 Ext. 138.