The American Innovation Index

Customers Identify the Most Innovative Financial Institutions

With Chase Leading the List

JPMorgan Chase Bank took the No. 1 spot among banks and credit unions in the third annual American Innovation Index™, which measures how customers experience innovation in doing business with their financial institutions.  Chase also ranked at the top on customer perceptions of being socially innovative.

The American Innovation Index™ ( is a project of Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, New York; the Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen, Norway; and market research firm Illuminas, Austin, TX.  The index score is based on the customer perceptions of companies as being innovative, creative, pioneering and transformational.

Following New York based Chase Bank, the top 5 financial institutions (from highest to lowest) included:

  • Capital One
  • TD Bank
  • Citizens Bank, and
  • Citi

The study also had customers evaluate institutions on the Social Innovation Index™, which includes perceptions of the company caring for and innovating for the greater good of society and the environment.  The top 5 ranked institutions, starting with the highest, consisted of Chase Bank, Citizens Bank, Fifth Third Bank, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo.

“Our research shows that brands are viewed as more innovative when customers notice changes in the products and services, the ease and speed of service delivery, customer care and physical and digital presence,” Charles Colby, Strategic Advisor and Methodologist at Illuminas and the chief methodologist for the study.

The scores are based on the experiences of consumers interacting with financial institutions over a 12-month period.  In the banking sector, the study found that several factors drive customer perceptions of innovation, including products that help streamline accounts and responsive customer service across multiple channels. Customers also notice positive changes in security and privacy with real-time alerts and loyalty programs that reward consumers in original ways.

Social innovation consists of perceptions of a company being a leader in and placing a priority on benefiting society and the environment. In the banking industry, these perceptions are reinforced when customers are aware of novel products and services that lead to social benefits. Customers are aware of nationwide efforts institutions make to adapt their business practices to help society and the environment, but also credit local community involvement and creating economic opportunities for people in those communities.

Areas that may lead to customers rating Chase Bank high in innovation are its product line and strategic partnerships. In the last year, Chase launched Secure Banking, a low-cost checking account that makes a traditional banking relationship accessible to a larger share of the population. More recently, Chase Bank secured a partnership with Sensibill, a receipt capture and management solution. As a result, by logging into the Chase Mobile Banking app, customers gain greater functionality including the ability to manage home office expenses, submit proof of purchase for insurance claims, track spending at a detailed level.

Chase bank also continues to invest back into local communities. Late last year, the bank opened its first community-inspired branch model where they collaborate with local community organizations to offer free skills training, small business pop-ups, and fintech innovation to Harlem residents.  “By connecting neighbors with local businesses, Chase promotes local communities’ well-being and economic growth,” said Charles Colby.

The banking industry in general performs lower than other sectors on their innovation index, according to the study. Out of 173 companies, the American Innovation Index™ Scores range from 84.2 (by top-ranked Ikea) to 51.4, with the median score being 68.2. The majority of banking companies Illuminas captured have scores below the median. Only Chase Bank and Capital One landed above the median (70.3 and 69.2 respectively).

Ikea took the No. 1 spot overall in the survey this year, proving the most innovative companies are not always tech firms. Apple (No. 2), Trader Joe’s (No. 3), John Deere (No. 4), and Weber (No. 5), a manufacturer of grilling equipment, complete the top 5 customer-perceived most innovative companies. Major tech brands such as Twitter (No. 71) and Facebook (No. 137) lag behind.

“This year, the American Innovation Index™ observed an across the board increase in innovation scores by companies, a phenomenon driven by their response responding to the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic, economy and social movements.  While most companies were seen as more innovative than in the past, the ones that leap to the top of their industry will experience the most positive growth and financial performance,” said Lerzan Aksoy, professor of marketing at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. “The American Innovation Index™ is unique because it recognizes the companies with the highest innovation index scores based on customer ratings.”

“Companies can excel in satisfaction, but if they do not deliver an innovative customer experience, they face extinction in challenging times as we experienced in 2020,” said Gina Woodall, VP of Client Services and Group Director, Illuminas. “Your industry does not matter. For example, among supermarkets, Trader Joe’s is an innovation leader while other supermarkets rank near the bottom.”

The American Innovation Index™ study was conducted in July 2020 and covers 173 firms from 20 industries. The researchers surveyed 5,012 consumers and covered more than 23,000 customer-company relationships.