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Best and worst banks in South Africa: consumer survey

Best and worst banks in South Africa: consumer survey

MyBroadband BusinessTech recently conducted a user survey where consumers were asked to rate their banks according to service levels, pricing and convenience.

Users had to rate their bank on a 5 point scale as shown below:

5 – Excellent (much better than expected)

4 – Good (better than expected)

3 – Fair (exactly as expected)

2 – Bad (worse than expected)

1 – Pathetic (much worse than expected)

This survey attracted 690 responses from Absa, First National Bank (FNB), Nedbank, Standard Bank and Capitec clients who shared their view on their banks, and how their bank can improve.

FNB was rated as the top bank with an average score of 4.52 out of 5, closely edging out Capitec Bank with 4.51.

It is interesting to note that FNB was rated as the top bank in South Africa despite the fact that the survey ran during FNB’s online banking downtime last week.

Absa was rated as the worst bank with 2.57 out of 5 – the only bank which scored lower than the average value of 3.

The following table provides an overview of the survey results.

Bank 5 4 3 2 1 Average
FNB 260 109 18 10 4 4.52
Capitec 41 14 7 1 0 4.51
Nedbank 13 55 37 27 9 3.26
Standard Bank 23 41 85 39 18 3.06
ABSA 9 31 86 58 45 2.57

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Rudolph Muller is the editor at MyBroadband and covers telecoms and broadband news. Rudolph comes from an academic background, but left the University of Johannesburg in 2007 to ru...
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  • Rupert

    Even though this might be accurate, the sample size from each bank is warping the results. What if Absa had a set of 399 people like FNB did there, their current results could be very obscured.

    • The number of respondents is very important. The reason FNB has such a high number is most people have already rage quitted their old bank and switched to FNB.

    • Smiling

      The fact that fewer people form the other banks responded tells you something in itself. The client that has stopped voicing their problems is the client that believe you do not listen and do not care. Given an opportunity they will move.

  • Jan

    And Ramos wants to fire even more people

  • Visionary

    If the truth be told, the results should have been dead even: they should all have scored 0!!!

    • Janlombard

      I could not agree with you more, as we have accounts with 3 of the 5 and as you stated, they are ALL substandard- Instead of spending fortunes on meaningless advertising as per the Sunday Times and Rapport of the weekend they should attempt to improve their service levels? which in my opinion is the best way of gaining clients

    • My guess is you haven’t used Capitec yet. Honestly the only bank I haven’t had a complaint against. Only a few requests I hope they would implement in future.

      • Knoffelkop

        I rate them 4/10 for service, speed, website & simplicity…

        • Knoffelkop

          Sorry… 4/5! and costs as well!!

    • Waghond

      Agreed. I bank at FNB (seldom satisfies), ABSA (always disappoints) and Investec (hoorah!!!!). The retail banks think they can dictate to the customer – classic oligopoly behaviour.

  • Argus

    I would agree. these only work if the sample sizes are the same. all this shows is that people who have FNB accounts are more likely to waste their time on the phone answering the survey

  • Critical Assessment

    Forget the lack of sample space used for the establishing of the rating of the survey (any sample space of less than 1000 is questionable); there is only a 5 score rating on a emotional measure of satisfaction; for clients who often only hold one bank account.

    To get a real perspective of the actual cross rating; one would need to compare the actual value offered to the account holder to that of the number of clients that hold accounts at more than one bank. Then one would also need to measure the amount of actual assets held within the banking institution as an organization, since a measure of satisfaction would need to reflect the amount of capital invested in the organization from society as a whole.

    • Smiling

      I read your comment with amusement. If you consider statistical sampling this sample is ample for the kind of survey done. That is if you accept that you can exttrapolate from about 2500 to the SA population as is often done. And above all this is not passed off as a scientific study, it is just a survey – or happiness index – similar to those done after training. They give an impression / response on perceptions not scientific facts

    • guest

      I Hold business accounts at both Absa and FNB.
      Absa is streets ahead as far as service goes. FNB should get their staff trained, they cannot even get the basics right i.e. complete a form correctly, had to return to the branch 3 times before they eventually got it right.

      • And then pay R25 (a few years ago) just to withdraw your money. It’s all negated if you pay a premium. Really in a proper banking market you would get even better service from a bank that actually pays you for keeping your money at them and not the other way around. That is anything but satisfactory to me and then even with their exorbitant fees they can’t seem to make their organisation work properly.

  • Truer picture

    The sub-sample for each bank needs to be weighted against the total sample, in order to reflect the true average scores (if it has not been done already).

  • RedsNine

    I just dislike how Standard Bank used up nearly 10 full page adverts in yesterday’s Sunday Times and wonder how many other publications they advertised in similar fashion. Those full page adverts don’t come cheap either, and it was only last year when they decided to retrench staff to aid their cost cutting. Shame on you Standard Bank… Am crossing the floor as well, Standard Bank just don’t care anymore and am not convinced with their awful advertisements either.

  • McTSA

    This looks like a fair reflection of the banks. Congrats to Capitec and FNB.

  • sedtech

    Just testing out Excel 2011 for Mac, here’s a couple of SUM() results:

    Total respondents for each bank and as % of total respondents
    FNB 401 38.6%
    ABSA 229 22.0%
    Standard Bank 206 19.8%
    Nedbank 141 13.6%
    Capitec 63 6.1%

    Total respondents 1040

    • Andre

      It seems that because FNB’s Internet banking was down, thier customers had time to take the survey, the other banks’ clients did apparently not have that much time to participate…

  • Totally off topic but i love the bank graphic on the header.

  • Will agree with FNB being the best. Surprised at Capitec bank seating seconds, good for them. The other three need a serious wake up call.

    • Surprised that they’re 2nd as opposed to 1st or surprised that they’re at the top? Really for anyone that’s ever bank with them the latter shouldn’t be any surprise. With the numbers being that close though and the small sample size it’s actually more like they share 1st place.

  • rise_above

    Absa was rated as the worst bank with 2.57 out of 5…could not have said it better myself
    ps: standard bank taking out numerous paged ads in the w’end paper, also got me

    • Well we know what they say about advertising. If you need to use it then your product isn’t selling. I wouldn’t be surprised if we look at top advertisers we’ll see the exact table in reverse.

      • I think Coca Cola might sorta disagree with your comment re advertising:-)

  • I’m glad that FNB won the top position, they just have to keep up the good work to keep ahead of the rest. Capitec is also doing some good work and although I do not bank with them, credit should be given where credit is due. I have to comment on RedsNine’s comment, we as a group of franchises advertise in large publications regulalrly and I can in all honesty say that it is not cheap with full page adds in some publications running up to R80 000 per page. This is how the banks spend the money that they are getting from us. You have to ask yourself whether it is worth paying those high banking costs when banks can sponsor millions for sports and competitions, mentioning events such as the ABSA curry cup, FNB Premier Soccer league and various others.

  • Stefan

    I’ve got an account with ABSA and FNB, and this makes no sense to me. FNB’s online service doesn’t match ABSA’s for thoroughness and functionality. You can’t go more than half a month back in your immediate credit card history without having to request a back statement. I like to stay on top of my finances, and this is a dealbreaker for me. Until they bring back a three-month history (which they did use to have, and then took away), I can’t recommend them to any one.

    • It may not make sense to you but obviously that doesn’t mean as much to others. On overall service FNB and Capitec is best for most. Credit where credit’s due. Though I wouldn’t rank any of the 4 banks as good being the best of a bad bunch apparently counts for a lot in this country.

  • I’m glad Capitec is finally getting into these comparisons. I hope they are included in this years banking fees comparison and FNB don’t get to advertise themselves as the cheapest bank for another year.

    • Those comparisons are generally just as dubious as the best broadband reward. It’s usually people who are more well off that take part in them. If you have a lot of money in your account you don’t pay FNB’s fees. The majority of people however do and for them FNB is anything but the cheapest.

      That brings me to point no. 2. If the poorer black population was represented here at all then why is African Bank not mentioned? The sample size is large enough but it’s not representative of the real demographics.

      • African bank doesn’t have any accounts as such, it’s more into ripping off the poor, aka micro lending. I think the real problem with comparing other banks with Capitec is that Capitec doesn’t have the same ‘basket’ of products as other banks do it makes it very difficult to compare offerings. No ecuse though. Capitec is by far the cheapest and I will be can canceling my std bank account shortly.

    • Lee Grant

      FNB is not cheap at all, but that is not their positioning Capitec is the price leader

  • Visionary

    If the survey was done at the time when everyone has worn their shoes out waiting in a queue as long as the queues in a national election and there are two equally wornout tellers behind their desks to serve everyone, I guess the vote would slant heavily toward leaving the money under your mattress! There would probably be more growth and zero sevice fees!

    • LHMeier

      I am planning to leave ABSA , credit card teller have been removed, you now have to que at information for 45minutes to collect or rectified a problem on a faulty credit card..

      Looking at FNB as replacement bank, their data package might give me a saving of say R400/month which will make them worthwhile..

  • righto! now i am better armed to bounce. Standard band rock it.

  • Warmachine K

    I changed to FNB to find them to be just as useless as ABSA! Their advertising campaign is deceitful there service is pathetic. The only thing that is commendable is their website/online banking.

    • Jblundell

      I have been with FNB and always get greeted by my name when I walk in
      Hang in till you become a meneer there

  • Dumb-Struck

    Although I share the centiments of Visionary 🙂 (that all should score 0), I must say that ABSA went out of their way to ensure they are the worst bank on the Planet. After I decided to bank elsewhere 4 years ago – and I still maintain that they turned for the worst after the Barclays buy-out, I heard identical complaints about the way clients are treated from high-profile and lower-profile clients alike.. It is a shame !!!

    • Knoffelkop

      Can’t agree more… Vowed to never do business with them 20 years ago!!! Never been sorry! Tried Std for a while and moved back to FNB again..

  • Goolam

    Standard Bank is the old elephant that is just prodding along, it needs to become like the modern flexible cheetah

  • mharvey

    Agree @Visionary

  • Gavin

    Of the 4 banks that I have actually tried, I would rate them in this order: FNB, Standard, Nedbank, ABSA, with FNB receiving a “3”, and the others all get “1”

  • Southern

    How can ABSA say they do not accept driving licences as proof of identity.
    We have to pay a lot of cash for our licenses because they the Government say they are secure. If ABSA have a problem with this then let them take it up with Government, they have more sway than their customers.

    • That’s precisely why. You can pay any home affairs personnel to buy one. The expectation was that we could use them to replace IDs then for a while that was the case but then everybody realised what a stupid idea that was. Not that the barcoded IDs are secure either but it leaves less room for fraud.

    • don’t be a fool

      Dude, unless it is your primary bank NO ONE WILL ACCEPT drivers licenses

  • Jblundell

    Always been with FNB
    Now you know why ?

  • Jblundell

    I always get what i need from FNB
    ABSA what a joke !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Paul

      HOW ABSA OR GAPPSA is still in business could be one the the worlds wonders.

  • Even with the FNB downtime, they at least let you know what is going on, whether it be by radio, website or SMS!
    FNB is still the best!

    Sorry for you ABSA!!!!! 🙁

  • Justnotthat

    My conclusion is completely different –

  • David2dag

    I quit Standard Bank go back to Absa. Unless things have changed you can’t even call a branch to deal with an issue as their branches are not listed the phone book, the call centre refuse to transfer you despite not being able assist.
    A staff member at one branch took my number knowing that Iwas unhappy, only to try and sell me a cheque account, rather than first trying to make me a happy client.

    And these were only some of the complaints I had. I’d rather pay banking fees at Absa than go back

    Standard Bank seem to put processes and procedures in place that were thought up by
    deranged pencil pushers who have no idea about efficiency,customer service or staff sanity. Do they 1st drive there staff crazy and then promote them to decision makers?


  • Cyndi

    I’d like to see the full results presentation and just not the overall score.

  • zackie

    considering the amount of complexity that goes into running a
    bank. the issue is the people delivering the bad service is mostly in branches

  • Pottiecarol

    ABSA has lost its skill to interact with clients and has a “stuff you” attitude when it comes to
    bank costs!!

  • FFS, FNB can’t even setup an account for me…

  • Mooo

    I am happy to see people share my view….ABSA is the worst bank i have ever used..

    • zackie

      100% agree

  • Service

    Absa is a disaster. I really do not know what else to say. Just happened to come across this forum because I am leaving that bank and wanted some ideas not to make the same mistake. I have used Nedbank – effective, Standard not bad but rather rigid. I would not know where to start with Absa. Are they aware of the service st the other banks. It boggles the mind.

  • Lee Grant

    I don’t think that this survey accurate, it would be nice to see the accompanying demographics of the people who responded to this survey

  • Noti’

    I think a person should choose a bank that works for them… Speakin on my behalf i cant stand fnb queues but i hear the prices are good. As for standard bank what a bumber Iv had the account without a card for 2months … I use Absa im not promoting them in anyway, im still using it. If your bank makes you happy stick with it. And I think Capitec is a good bank though I’ve never used it.

  • Fortune teller 101

    All their services are not forthcoming. FNB will loose market share by 2021 when people realise that they are actually funding it to make us vulnerable as nobody owns the ether that connnects us electronically. With so many products and gadgets, security is always substandard and compromised. They all need to grow up and adapt to our needs.
    When they fail they blame our government.

    Once you sign a contract with a bank your interests fly out the window. We pay more on charges and they can never justify them. The SA bank system needs reform as they offer a SERVICE.

  • Stressed-out-Student

    Nedbank is the WORST BANK ever!!! Please do not bank with them. They are practically living in the Jurassic period. I don’t understand what the staff do in any Nedbank branch, either they are playing a game of pretending to be bankers or are busy masturbating behind the desk while you are trying to maintain your peace of mind over your savings. All I want is a simple bank account to keep my savings safe, and not to have some idiotic bank steal the money for their convenience behind my back. F*#@+ you Nedbank, I wished I never bank with you in the first place.

  • Bruce Ungersbock

    I agree with visionary…that why I use a prfessional company like to do my banking for me

  • Prem

    Am really dissapointed with Standard Bank, after they refused to assist me while I was stranded in Zanzibar. Imagine having lots of cash in your account and you are unable to withdraw it ??? I have been their client for the past 19 years now, but am forced to move to another bank now, as I am not prepared to be stranded again especially in another country.

  • Greyville

    FNB is by far the best… apart from some techical glitches with their cellphone banking sometimes… I still commend them on service and convinience!

  • Guset

    Your average is incorrect. The average of your 5 averages is 3.58 and the average of all the responses taken together is 3.63. One just has to look at the number of responses for FNB to realise that the average must be much closer to the FNB average.

  • thomasmarche

    KIA Motors South africa don’t trust them at all, your car value lose 145000 rand in one year. wtf

  • aorticDefiance

    Had major security issues with FNB, their systems and checks are sub par and their service terrible. If you want your account to be stolen the go with FNB.

    Been with them 7 years and they are useless. Std Bank may be pricier but at least I feel safer with them, been with them 20 years

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