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What Financial Services Do SMBs Need? How Should They Be Delivered?

Phase 5 is focusing on these questions in our annual small business market research study. If you are in the financial services industry and open to discussing how the needs of SMBs are changing, we would love to have you contact us about participating in one of our “hypotheses” interviews. Your experience can help us direct this study to better understanding the future of small business banking.

Read on to learn about our customer-centric approach and the goals for our 2022 Small & Medium Business study.


In 2021, we co-produced a study entitled the State of Small & Medium Business, a deep dive into the drivers of SMB purchase and loyalty behavior. The research results have become a valuable strategic tool, especially for large corporations such as financial institutions, whose target customers include small business owners and operators. In fact, the outcome of the 2021 study includes detailed reports by industry sector, including Financial Services, Software, Hardware, and Logistics.

A year and half later, we are returning to the market to better understand the small & medium business segment, one that generates nearly 2/3 of new private sector jobs and is considered by some to be the “backbone” of our economy. We know that the world has changed, and our new study seeks to understand how SMB needs and attitudes have changed with it.

This time, however, we are focused specifically on banking and fintech, and our approach to the research has evolved.


The goal of the SMB Study is to provide banks with the insights they need to better attract, serve, and retain their SMB customers. Hence the key consumers of our research will be strategic leaders within the banking industry, i.e. those who lead the organization’s marketing, operations, or product development functions (for example) with decision-making that ultimately influences the customer experience and the products offered.

As a first stage of “hypothesis development,” we are conducting interviews with banking leaders prior to developing the questionnaire that will ultimately go to our research subjects (small business leaders). We have begun interviewing strategic leaders within the banking sector, asking questions about what is most important and/or critical for them to know in terms of serving SMB customers.


After this hypothesis development stage, we will be interviewing SMB owners/operators to flesh out hypotheses and develop a detailed sense of their most critical banking needs. While the 2021 survey provides a solid foundation for the new study, these 2022 preliminary interviews will validate any plans to repeat or adjust specific sections from that original survey, and enable us to focus on the areas that matter most now.

Upon completion of these qualitative research stages, we will synthesize the results into the design of the final SMB questionnaire. The quantitative portion of our study will be developed specifically with banking leaders’ strategic challenges and small business leaders’ most pressing needs in mind.


The signature customer-centric approach of this research design helps increase the utility of results, leading to more actionable findings and better strategic decisions around small business products, services, and experiences. The ultimate result will be better support for the small & medium business owners, arguably the “backbone” of the North American economy.


Interested in providing your input to help drive the content of the study? We would love to talk to you. Participants in the study will receive an advance copy of the report, and a private presentation of the results as they apply to their particular institution. Contact us to discuss.

Written by Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen, MBA, is the President of Phase 5 US and the leader of the firm's Data Analytics practice. With almost 2 decades of experience in client-side marketing strategy, market research, and product management, Steve brings a client’s mindset and drive for actionable results to each project. He has extensive experience in capturing the view “from the outside” with a special focus on product and service innovation. Steve is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.