First, we must recognise that fact and perception frequently differ but what people think is often downplayed. A 2013 YouGov-Cambridge, Public Trust in Banking, report said that:
· 83% agree that “Bankers are greedy and get paid too much”;
· 82% agree that “there is still an unhealthy bonus culture at the banks”;
· 73% of the public describe the reputation of banking as ‘bad’;
· 73% think that senior management at banks in the UK come across as arrogant, whereas;
· 6% believe UK banking is trustworthy, 4% say it has high ethical and moral standards and only 7% actually think the industry cares what the public thinks about it.
For about 20 years prior to 2008, the retail banking market was characterised by consolidation; high street banks aggressively seeking greater market share and moving away from the core functions of retail services and the friendly faced local branch. Concurrently, banks were integrating with investment services and providing non-banking products (insurance for example) to improve profit margins over the relatively low margins in the retail sector (typically driven by large branch structures, complex processes and increasing IT costs). This re-structuring, coupled to low historical switch rates (<2.5%), meant that the customer service focus had moved to ‘no-change’ thinking and ‘free' banking.
The 2008 sub-prime initiated ‘credit crunch’ significantly destabilised the financial services market and led to the ‘too big to fail’ mantra and, in turn, a desire to increase competition in banking. Enabled by government policies, the new regulatory systems, improved risk and compliance regimes provide a more flexible route for new ‘challenger banks’. The challengers will help diversify the market, increase competition, drive innovation and offer greater customer choice. The key challenge is to convince or attract customers away from the big banks through competitive products or customer beneficial services. Some new challenger banks have focused on regional markets, loans and private banking and some offer a broad range of products including a current account. In addition, branded retailers have moved into banking to maximise the benefit from perceived customer loyalties.
· 71% consider their banking relationship to be transactional rather than relationship driven - Viacom Media Network, Millennial Disruption Index, Accenture, 2014 North America Digital Bank Survey
· 22% of switchers cite customer service as the reason for leaving a high street bank - TNS Current Account Switching Index - Sep 2014
Yet! - According to Chartered Banker Magazine; 'Time to switch banks?', consumer body Which? says firm loyalty could be costing customers over £550 per year.
The Harris Interactive Poll (Feb 14) says - The challenge today is for banks to move from a retail model that focuses on transaction processing to one that more effectively meets the needs and wants of customers in order to increase bonds and retain or onboard customers, thereby increasing their potential value. Nearly three quarters (74%) state that they would like to see a return to ‘old fashioned banking’ with a more personal service with 43% wanting a closer relationship with their bank.
We agree but would add that customers should get easier, helpful and safe services from their bank. Do you agree? Let us know. Fill in the survey on the home page because, with a little help from our friends, we want to help stop 'banker bashing' and start banking better.