Seven in 10 middle-income Americans (68%) believe they are on the right track, despite concerns about inflation.

Middle-income Americans are highly confident in banking, and few have made behavioral shifts in response to recent banking events.

United States, July 24, 2023.
Santander Holdings USA, Inc. (“Santander US”) today announced findings from a new survey showing Americans remain optimistic about their financial prospects, despite strong concerns about inflation. The results show 68% of middle-income households believe they are on the right track toward financial success, relatively unmoved from the first quarter. While inflation is a top concern for most respondents (80%), just 3% considered recent bank failures a barrier to their financial prosperity.

Middle-income Americans overwhelmingly remain confident in their banking providers and the banking sector, with few taking meaningful actions in response to recent events in the industry, according to the survey. The survey found 95% of middle-income households remain confident in their banking provider and 84% are confident in the banking sector. Eight in 10 middle-income Americans (79%) say their behaviors have remained unchanged as a result of recent bank failures, which are not viewed as an obstacle to their ability to achieve financial prosperity. Only 5% of respondents changed banking providers as result of the turmoil. 

At Santander, we understand the important role banks have in providing stability, support and 24/7 access to American households, especially during times of uncertainty. This research helps us better understand our customers’ needs and the challenges they are facing right now, so we can meet our customers where they are, speak to their challenges and deliver the support they need.

Tim Wennes, Santander US CEO

The study, which builds upon research conducted in the first quarter, assessed middle-income Americans’ current financial state and future aspirations, with a focus on how current economic conditions have impacted households. It also further explored various drivers of financial prosperity—such as vehicle access and access to financial services—as identified by middle-income Americans in the initial Santander survey.

Vehicle Access

Vehicle access is a critical factor in achieving financial prosperity, as nearly eight in 10 respondents (78%) require a vehicle and nine in 10 say it provides them with more flexibility in where they can live. Given the importance of vehicles in their lives, about three-quarters of middle-income Americans (74%) are willing to sacrifice other budgetary items to maintain access to a vehicle. Pleasures such as eating out, vacations and entertainment would be the first items to be cut, according to the survey. The survey also found that, since the pandemic and the rise in auto prices, cost considerations are the most important factors driving vehicle purchase decisions.

Hybrid Banking

The survey further explored many middle-income Americans increasing preference for digital banking access. Digital offerings are one of the top factors influencing the selection of banking providers, with 97% of middle-income Americans saying it is important to them, including 75% who consider it very important. More than 90% of respondents have completed a digital banking transaction in the past month, a finding that was generally consistent across generational cohorts. Additionally, most middle-income customers (88%) are completing at least half of their transactions digitally.

A Missed Opportunity?

While concerns about inflation persist, just over three in 10 middle-income Americans have moved deposits to higher-yielding accounts in an effort to take advantage of rising interest rates since the beginning of 2022. Still, 68% of middle-income Americans have not moved deposits into higher-yielding accounts, possibly leaving billions on the table in earned interest. Middle-income customers appear to have interest in higher-yielding accounts though. More than nine in 10 (93%) said competitive rates are an important factor when selecting a banking provider, and when asked what they would do with a $50,000 inheritance, saving it in a high-yield account such as a savings account or CD ranked #2 on a list of options. 

The study was conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of Santander US from May 23-24, 2023. The research surveyed 2,213 American bank and/or financial services customers, ages 18-76.  All participants have annual household income between $47,000 and $142,000, and were employed or looking for work. The interviews were conducted online, and the margin of error is +/- 2 percentage points for the total audience at a 95% confidence level. The data was weighted to target population proportions for a representative sample based on age, gender, ethnicity, region, and education.

Santander US Paths to Prosperity

Deepening relationships with customers by understanding the evolving needs of American households 

The full report and more information about the Santander US survey is available here.