Activity in the consumer lending industry has grown over the past year, with financially vulnerable consumers making up nearly 40 percent of the customers, according to a new study from J.D. Power.
The J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study found that competitive rates, easy access and a variety of options have combined to drive the widespread adoption of personal loans. Some of the most significant growth in these loans occurred with financially vulnerable consumers who accessed loans to get through a challenging economic period, J.D. Power said in a statement.
“Increasingly, personal loans are filling the void left by the end of pandemic-era relief efforts, which introduces some important new dynamics for the banks, credit card companies and FinTechs at the center of this marketplace,” Craig Martin, managing director and global head of wealth and lending intelligence at J.D. Power, said in the statement. “While customers are largely satisfied with these products and the market is continuing to grow, it is important for lenders to ensure the experiences they deliver are matching the promises they are making to support improved financial health.”
The study, which was redesigned for 2022, was conducted from January through March 2022 and included responses from 5,269 personal loan customers. It measured satisfaction based on overall customer satisfaction with the application, loan management, shopping and terms.
The study found that 38 percent of respondents were classified as financially vulnerable. J.D. Power said that some lenders that cater to higher-risk customers have nearly doubled the average number of financially vulnerable customers.
The top three reasons for obtaining a personal loan were addressing debt, including debt consolidation; lower interest rate on current debt; and lower monthly payments on existing debt.
Customer loyalty with personal loan products was high, with 61 percent of respondents indicating that they would likely use their lender again, including for other banking products.
Advertising had a key role in personal loan growth for some lenders. The study found that 47 percent of respondents were prompted to consider a personal loan by an advertisement. J.D. Power did find a range of advertising effectiveness, with some lenders seeing 31 percent of new business through advertising and others generating 56 percent of their business through advertising.
The study also found significant differences in the responses of men and women to their experiences with specific lenders. Overall satisfaction with more than half the individual lending brands varied between men and women by at least 25 points on a 1,000-point scale, J.D. Power said, and by more than 50 points for nearly one-fourth of the lenders.
“As the personal loan market continues to grow rapidly, it is critical to note that there is not a one-size-fits-all option that can deliver all things to all consumers,” Tom Lawler, head of consumer lending intelligence at J.D. Power, said in the statement. “We’re seeing a clear phenomenon in which industry-level averages give one perspective, but the experience of certain customer groups at the brand level can be materially different. The most successful firms have a clear understanding of the different needs and expectations of their target clients and optimally invest resources to meet or exceed the expectations of those different groups.”
Marcus by Goldman Sachs ranked highest among lenders in overall customer satisfaction with a score of 776 out of 1,000, followed by U.S. Bank with 757 and American Express with 754.