The New Role of the Primary Financial Institution

June 2022 | Defining the Primary FI | Loyalty vs. Fragmentation | Traditional vs. Alternative Providers

In today’s competitive financial industry, the position of primary financial-services provider is highly coveted. Traditionally, consumers have defined their primary financial institution as the provider of their main checking account. Contemporary definitions of a primary financial institution may be changing, particularly for consumers in younger age segments. While the checking account may still be important, other factors (such as mobile banking apps and other digital capabilities) can come into play when identifying a primary financial institution.

Consumers (particularly those in younger generations) appear to be less receptive to the concept of having all of their financial eggs in one basket. Account relationships can be fragmented. Remaining in the primary position is increasingly difficult as a host of attractive new providers vie for slices of the consumer financial relationship. Banks and credit unions are competing with fintech organizations and other alternative providers.

This project will examine and define the changing role of the primary financial institution. It will evaluate selection factors, usage of products and channels, switching and retention, and other key issues that impact the position of primary financial relationships.


Research Objective

This study evaluates the consumer perspective on the changing role of the primary financial institution, important selection factors, usage of services/channels, and customer retention.

Research Design

National survey – The survey will include 1,500 online interviews with consumer financial decision makers age 18 or older.

Questionnaire Review

Clients will have the opportunity to review the questionnaire and provide comments. The cut-off date for client input is April 1, 2022.

Project Report

The final report, available in late June 2022, includes a Strategic Insights commentary and executive summary, a Competitive Intelligence section, and full survey results section.

Competitive Intelligence

A profile of overall financial activity for a number of the top financial institutions identified as the respondent’s primary financial institution or the issuer of the respondent’s primary credit card will be included as part of the project report.


A project webinar is offered to all sponsors of the study. Private project webinars will be offered to full-program sponsors at no additional cost. Customized private webinars involving a specialized focus or additional analysis will be offered at an additional cost.

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