BULGARIANS AND THE BANKS - COMMON SENSE AND NO EMOTIONS
Bulgarians tend to choose a bank for their deposits mainly because of its reputation, a poll of the agency for marketing research Market Test, shows. A bank's reputation is the most important thing for well-to-do Bulgarian families, as well as for those with monthly incomes up to BGN400. The same motive is shared both by higher graduates and by people of lower education. Although Bulgarians work for over 40 hours a week or have been jobless for quite a long time, they consider seriously the decision where it would be best to open their first bank account and bind it mainly with the image of one or another financial institution.The method used by Market Test for its poll is called Target Group Index (TGI). This international system for studying consumers' disposions is used in 40 countries worldwide where more than 500,000 people are interviewed each year. In Bulgaria 3,500 citizens of bigger and smaller towns, aged over 15, have been polled. According to international standards, it's a representative poll for the citizens and reflects the consumer disposition of about 4,565,000 Bulgarians.The interviewed have been grouped according to their education, employment, and monthly income of their families. Potential bank clients have been offered eleven criteria for a choice of a financial institution: reputation, ads campaigns, number of servicing personnel, proposed interest rate, presentation of the banks' operation, location, schemes for preferential treatment of loyal clients, overdraft fee, experience of the bank's staff, range of the offered services, and recommendations from friends and relatives. Almost 12% of all citizens whose families have at their disposal more than BGN400 a month have pointed a bank's reputation as the most important criteria for opening an account with that financial institution. The way in which a bank's personnel presents its activities is the most important thing for 6% of the polled.Eight per cent of the interviewed with monthly family income below BGN400 bind their investment with the credit institution's image. Each 10th of those employed on a pay-roll believe that a bank's reputation is the most important requirement when picking a financial institution for their deposits. Well-educated people share the same opinion. Fifty per cent of university graduates insist on keeping their money with a bank of good reputation, and almost 10% of secondary school graduates share the same opinion.For more than 5% of the citizens, working for more than 40 hours a week, a bank's image comes second in importance. The most important criteria, according to them, is the way in which a credit institution presents its activities among potential clients. Almost the same percentage of Bulgarian businessmen look first of all at the interest rate, offered by a financial institution. Together with the location of the bank's branch office and the recommendations from other people, they are the second important group of criteria for Bulgarians when they choose a place to deposit their money in. Market Test's data show that the location has a slight priority over the higher interest rate, and recommendations come next. Unemployed housewives tend to choose the nearer bank if there are two financial institutions with good reputaion in their housing quarters. Market Test's research has also shown that mainly families of monthly income above BGN400 are impressed by bank schemes for incentives to loyal clients and the larger range of offered services.Among the other Balkan countries only Romania's citizens pay more attention than Bulgarians to the bank's reputation. The eleven criteria have almost the same importance in Turkey where the customers pay most attention to the number of offered services. Judging from Market Test's poll, only 20% of the Bulgarians living in towns have one or more bank accounts. Research in other countries according to the TGI methodology have established that the same correlation can be witnessed in Russia as well, while Romania and Mexico are with worse indicators. Germany's citizens are record-holders in terms of personal bank accounts: 97% of them have deposits in credit institutions. Great Britain (with 90%) is second in terms of number of personal bank accounts. Surprisingly, Greece comes before the USA with 82% against 75% respectively. In India half of the citizens have current accounts. DSK Bank is the financial insitution with the best repuation in Bulgaria, the data show. 9.1% of the 4,000,000-plus people living in towns have pointed to the state-run financial institution as the one preferred by them. United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) is second with 3.44 per cent, and SG EXPRESSBANK comes next with 1.41 per cent. BULBANK, Bulgarian Post Bank, First Investment Bank, Biochim Commercial Bank, Municipal Bank, and Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria) follow on the list of the top ten preferred financial institutions in this country.The data of Market Test show that 41% of the Bulgarians living in towns, for whom a bank's good reputation is the main motive for trusting it its savings, have a monthly family income of at least BGN400. Twenty per cent of the polled live on between BGN300 and BGN400 a month and only 4% rely on BGN100 at the most.