May 2014: Hardcopy Statement Analysis

When analyzing paper statements, we looked for statements that make it easiest for clients to understand the basics of their account status, along with those that provide in-depth transactional information and announcements. Ideal statements include initial references to all account balances, group information in a logical and easy-to-follow order and offer tools that help clients understand their balance from the start of the statement period to the end. With these concepts in mind, we focused on the following aspects of each paper statement we reviewed:

  • Is an Account Summary section provided at the beginning of the statement?
  • Does the firm offer a consolidated statement for clients with more than one bank account?
  • Are colors, capital letters, shading or different fonts used to signal section breaks?

Overall,
Bank Monitor firms could improve their statement designs, some more than others. The highest grade assigned in our report, an A-. Nine firms received a B- or worse. The best statements are those that are easiest to read and make consistent use of headers and font styles to clearly distinguish between sections. We also looked favorably on statements that put account balance summaries ahead of all other statement features. Clients should not have to flip through their statement in order to get a basic understanding of where their accounts stand.

 

Of the banks that send hardcopy statements, six send a consolidated statement that includes multiple accounts by default. A total of 13 banks offer a consolidated statement, but many require clients to contact the firm and request one. All six of the firms that send consolidated statements by default provide a total combined balance figure for the accounts.

 

Banks take two approaches to presenting transactions in their statements. Half of the banks in our report offer a single transactions table that includes debits and credits, while the other half provide separate tables for each type of transaction. Of the firms that provide transactions tables for each type of transaction, only one does not provide a sub-total for each. Five banks include a daily balance summary table that displays the balance on each day the client made a transaction. All of the firms that provide a unified transactions table also include a running balance column – the approach we liked best.

 

Additional key findings include:

  • Five firms include color in locations other than the logo.
  • Eleven provide account news or announcements in recent statements.
  • Seven provide APY for interest-bearing accounts.