Wednesday, July 29, 2020 Stamford, CT USA — The shift to digital banking will outlast the COVID-19 shutdown among U.S. small businesses and mid-sized companies, but company owners and executives are not prepared to give up their access to local branches and in-person meetings with relationship managers. 

Almost half the small businesses and mid-sized companies taking part in the latest Greenwich Market Pulse Study would like to expand their banking activities through digital channels, including opening and managing accounts and applying for loans. 

However, small businesses and mid-sized companies continue to place a high value on the ability to visit a banker when necessary, and nearly all study participants plan to see their relationship manager in person before the end of the year. 

“This is an incredibly important message for banks,” says Greenwich Associates Managing Director Chris McDonnell. “Despite the impact of COVID-19 and the necessity for widespread remote work policies, there is surprisingly little anticipated change between pre-COVID and post-COVID levels of branch utilization and meeting frequency with relationship managers for both small and mid-sized businesses.”

Companies Ready for Banks to Reopen Branches
Small businesses are ready for banks to reopen branches. Nearly 55% of small businesses say they would have a more positive impression of banks that reopened branches within 30 days and with full COVID-19-related safety measures in place.  

“Although only a smaller share of mid-sized companies say that a near-term branch re-opening would improve their perceptions of a bank, the data show clearly that, at the very least, banks will not offend clients or weaken relationships by re-opening branches in a careful and safe manner,” says Greenwich Associates Managing Director Ron Balmer.

Commercial Bank Standouts in COVID-19 Crisis
There is no silver bullet approach to meeting customer needs the tumultuous environment of 2020. However, banks that have found ways to make it as easy as possible for companies to do business during the crisis have actually had an opportunity to strengthen banking relationships.  

Greenwich Associates has identified banks viewed by their commercial banking clients as “Standouts” in their response to COVID-19. In small business banking, the Q2 2020 Standout Banks Amid Crisis are First Citizens Bank, FNB Corp., Frost Bank, Huntington National Bank, M&T Bank, and Synovus. In Middle Market Banking, the Q2 2020 Standout Banks Amid Crisis are BBVA, Comerica, Frost Bank, Huntington National Bank, KeyBank, and Zions Bancorporation.