Customer Defections Could Cost Big Banks $185 Billion Next Year

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The next year might be a particularly bad one for the nation’s largest banks if they don’t begin to address their customers’ needs more proactively.

The 10 largest banks in the U.S. are in danger of losing $185 billion in deposits during the next 12 months as more customers get fed up and choose to bank elsewhere, according to a new report from cg42, a boutique management consulting firm. Much of that will come from the four biggest banks in the country – Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC), JPMorgan Chase (Stock Quote: JPM), Citibank (Stock Quote: C) and Wells Fargo (Stock Quote: WFC) – which are projected to lose a combined $135 billion in that time period.

Cg42’s predictions are based on surveys conducted earlier this year with more than 5,000 customers from the 10 largest banks and found that 8.7% said they were likely to switch banks. The researchers then used data for the total retail deposits in 2010 – just more than $2 trillion – to come up with an estimate for how much these banks collectively stand to lose.

What is unclear though is whether all that lost revenue will go to credit unions and banks other than those listed here, or whether it will simply be redistributed among the 10 biggest as customers switch from one big-name bank to another.

Given the recent wave of consumers switching to credit unions, the big banks certainly have reason to worry that it may be the former. But either way, the data clearly show that the largest banks are in for a turbulent 2012.