Bolder Thinking Blog

Ally sounds like a broken record

October 12th, 2020 | Rachel Arndt

Across a half year of notices about falling savings APYs, Ally has encouraged people to keep saving. 

At one time, Ally was near the head of the pack with its savings rates. But the COVID-19 pandemic has stuck around, and in response—according to the bank—it has had to lower its rates, again and again. The bank has blamed the decreases on both the pandemic itself and on the Fed’s response to it. Simultaneously, the bank has promoted its savings tools. That creates a mixed message: A low savings rate suggests saving isn’t the best course of action, while savings tools suggest saving is still worthwhile.

In both the APY notice and after, Ally reminded customers they could get up to a $250 bonus for moving at least $1k from another institution into an existing Ally account.

Source: Comperemedia Omni

Ally promoted its savings tools to try to make an Ally savings account still feel worth it. In May—this time in a less visually appealing email—Ally once again ascribed its rate lowering to the Fed’s response to COVID-19.  

Source: Comperemedia Omni

Ally reminded customers that its savings rate was still much higher than the national average. A few days later, Ally hyped one of its newer tools, Surprise Savings, which automatically transfers “unused” money from checking accounts to a savings account.  

Source: Comperemedia Omni

Despite continuing to drop its rate, Ally stressed that it was still helping customers “grow [their] money.” In encouraging consumers to set recurring transfers into their savings account, Ally attempted to make the account still feel valuable.  

Source: Comperemedia Omni

In its August notice, Ally linked to educational resources and, in other messages, shifted the focus away from savings. Ally skipped the post-notice promo email in August. Instead, much of its email that month and into September was about other low rates—namely, mortgage rates.

Ally’s messages continue to be contradictory. 

Source: Comperemedia Omni

What we think 

Ally is trying to strike a balance: On the one hand, in letting consumers know savings rates are continuing to decrease, Ally is making its savings accounts less useful. On the other hand, by showcasing savings features and tools, Ally is still trying to demonstrate their utility. 

But there was an important, though subtle, change in September: Ally’s first recommendation was about investing, not saving. It’s a savvy strategy to keep people’s money in the bank’s products while steering it away from savings accounts. And the advice makes Ally out to be a benevolent brand.

Rachel Arndt

Rachel Arndt

Rachel Arndt is a Senior Research Analyst, interpreting cross-channel marketing and consumer trends with a focus in telecom.