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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Who will the banks lend to if more than half of the population is in default?

The 'First-Time Defaulter': the Newest Customer Segment for Banks RISMEDIA, December 2, 2010—Over the last two years, a new customer segment—the "first-time defaulter" (FTD)—has emerged and is presenting a new challenge for banks, according to a new survey examining the future of consumer lending by the Deloitte Center for Financial Services.

According to Deloitte's survey, 11 percent of bank customers surveyed have been hit with a negative credit experience for the first time in their lives during the past two years. Overall, 22 percent of consumers have experienced a serious negative credit situation since the peak of the crisis in September 2008, including events such as delinquency, foreclosure, bankruptcy and charge-offs.

"This is a significant new customer segment that banks should be aware of," said Andrew Freeman, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, Deloitte LLP. "Our research shows just how sizeable the first-time defaulter group has become."

More than half of FTDs (58 percent) have been contacted by a collection agency, and 43 percent have been delinquent in their medical bills.

According to the survey, these events could be costly for financial institutions, as poor interactions and unmet customer expectations may cause the first-time defaulters to look elsewhere: 63 percent of respondents say they are not at all likely to borrow from their current institution in the future based on the lender's efforts to help resolve their issues.

"Today, retail banks are rethinking their broader lending strategies and practices," said Freeman. "As part of this reassessment, lenders are likely to be paying careful attention to how they serve this new segment. When implementing strategies to re-engage with these customers, financial institutions may want to recognize that once many of these individuals are able to regain their economic footing, they may become profitable again."

Other findings of the survey, from the full base of respondents, include:
• Almost two-thirds of consumers (65 percent) say they have the same level of satisfaction relative to two years ago with their bank.
• At the same time, most respondents have seen little change in the lending process overall, although 16 percent said they have seen higher fees associated with loans and credit.
• Only 28 percent believe the Dodd-Frank Act and other new regulations will have immediate benefits for consumers. Furthermore, a significant proportion of consumers expect higher fees, higher rates, more paperwork and fewer offers from lenders in the next 12 months.
• More than half of those surveyed (52 percent) would prefer to use a single bank for all their financial services needs. But, with consumers' interest in obtaining loan products from their primary bank surprisingly low, the survey findings indicate that banks' cross-selling efforts will likely require some fresh, creative efforts.

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