The competition just got a bit tougher for credit unions thatlend to small businesses, particularly those owned by women andminorities.

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The overall satisfaction score among small business owners whohave a relationship with big or super-regional banks was 754 thisyear. That's down from 2014's overall customer satisfaction scoreof 766, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Small Business Banking Satisfaction Study releasedThursday.

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However, overall banking experience satisfaction was higheramong female business owners than male business owners (766 versus746). Women own 35.4% of small businesses in the U.S.

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What's more, women were more satisfied than men with allfactors, with the widest gaps existing in product offerings,account activities, credit services and fees, the survey found.

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More than 70% of women were optimistic about the outlook fortheir businesses compared to 69% of men, according to the survey,which was conducted earlier this year.

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With higher satisfaction and a more positive outlook on theirbusiness, 35% of women said they “definitely will not” switch banksin the next 12 months, compared to 32% of men.

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Banksare paying attention, and they have to as the number of women-ownedsmall businesses in the U.S. has grown to 9.9 million,” Jim Miller,senior director of banking at J.D. Power, said. “With theiroptimistic outlook, women are likely to want to grow theirbusiness, which means their banking needs will also increase,specifically their need for more credit.”

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Miller pointed out banks also are focusing on minority-ownedsmall business.

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“Asians and Hispanics are the two fastest-growing ethnicpopulations in the U.S., so the expectation is that their ownershipof small businesses also will increase,” Miller said. “Lookingforward, it is very important for banks to help minority-ownedbusinesses open their doors and grow.”

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Overall satisfaction with their banking experience is highestamong African-American small business owners (785), followed byHispanics (781), Caucasians (754) and Asians (744).

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Chase ranked highest in small business banking satisfaction inthe West region for a third consecutive year, performingparticularly well in product offerings, facility, credit services,account manager and channel activities, according to thesurvey.

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Ranked second in the West was Wells Fargo while U.S. Bank tookthird place. Citibank and Bank of America were ranked fourth andfifth, respectively.

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In the Midwest region, Chase also ranked highest, while U.S.Bank and Huntington National Bank were ranked second and third,respectively. Bank of America was fourth and PNC Bank wasfifth.

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TD Bank ranked highest in small business banking satisfaction inthe Northeast region and led in product offerings, facility, fees,account information and channel activities.

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Chase ranked second and Wells Fargo ranked third in theNortheast, while Citibank and PNC took the fourth and fifthranks.

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In the South region, Citibank ranked highest and received highmarks in product offerings, fees and account information.

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Chase and PNC were ranked second and third, respectively, in theSouth, while Regions Bank was fourth and Wells Fargo took the fifthspot.

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The 2015 U.S. Small Business Banking Satisfaction Study includedresponses from nearly 9,000 small business owners or financialdecision-makers who use business banking services. The study wasconducted from June 2015 through August 2015.

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The study did not include credit unions.

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