Most Oklahoma voters agree that Oklahoma banks are different than “Wall Street firms,” a new SoonerPoll study shows.

Results indicate that 73.6 percent of likely Oklahoma voters polled agreed with the statement “Oklahoma banks are much different from the “Wall Street firms” that are often referred to as “banks” by the media.”

The study found that 48.6 percent of respondents said they “strongly agreed” with the statement, while another 25 percent said they “somewhat agreed.” Only 16.8 disagreed, and 9.6 had no opinion.

“It is reassuring to see that Oklahomans draw a distinction between their community banks and Wall Street,” Roger Beverage, Oklahoma Bankers Association President, said. “These results are especially encouraging during this time of economic uncertainty that has yielded large scale backlash at Wall Street.”

Beverage said that though the poll questions only focus on the voting public’s perception, the difference between “Wall Street firms” and OBA-member banks is real.

Traditionally, Oklahoma banks take in money through consumers’ account deposits, which are insured through the FDIC, and then loan it back to the community in the form of auto, home, or business loans. By comparison, Wall Street firms focus primarily on facilitating the sale of stocks and bonds and operate as advisers and agents for companies that want to raise capital.

SoonerPoll asked respondents the same question last January and found that 60.9 percent of respondents saw a difference between Oklahoma banks and “Wall Street Firms.” Only 12.8 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement, which left 26.4 percent undecided.

In January, Beverage suggested that the 26.4 percent of undecided respondents presented an opportunity for improvement. Since then, the undecided rate has dropped 16.8 points and the percent who agreed with the statement has increased 12.7 points.

By comparison, the percentage of respondents who disagree with the statement has only increased 4 points.
“By a three-to-one margin, those who were undecided are beginning to agree with the statement,” Beverage said. “Last January I said the undecided percentage was a number we had to improve on, and I’d say these results indicate that Oklahoma banks have done a pretty good job of demonstrating those significant differences.”

When results concerning the difference between Oklahoma banks and “Wall Street firms” are broken down by party very little variation is evident, but political label did affect results. Of those who consider themselves conservatives, 77.8 percent agree there is a difference, compared to just 59.2 percent of liberals.

Beverage said there is no doubt that Oklahoma bankers have helped Oklahomans better understand the differences between Oklahoma’s traditional community banks and Wall Street firms, but that there is always more work to be done.

“When Oklahomans understand that difference they realize that OBA-member banks are the solution to the nation’s problems, not the cause of them,” Beverage said.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Bankers Association. SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 512 likely voters from Nov. 17 – Dec. 6. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.3 percent.

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