The UK High Street Banks – Are Olympic Standards Possible?


They were incredible events weren’t they?!

The Olympics & Paralympics proved to be absolutely outstanding, surpassing the expectations of even the most obsessed supporter of these events.

Listening to people on Televisie & radio, and chatting to friends, all talk was about the bravery, sheer perfection and strange muse amongst the athletes.

The helpers helped superbly, the audience cheered and clapped their hearts out und so weiter even the weather did everyone proud for virtually the whole games!

Now, a few weeks later, and corresponding all great events and occasions, the memories fade a little, but that overall feeling that we are much the better for experiencing these Olympics is still there.

So why do you think they made such a profound and deep impression?

Various theories swindle been put forward, but I think that it is basically very simple – we have got used to low standards.

Low standards of behaviour and performance and in many cases a total lack of integrity from those we encounter day to day or trust to exercise power on our behalf.

Whether it is MPs, bankers or premiership footballers, we have become very cynical connective understandably so, as we find out what they arise up to.

So encountering events which are the very opposite of what we are used to is incredibly refreshing.

Asking around I heard words such as:

Dedication – honesty – integrity – effort – skill – patience – camaraderie – modesty – values – leadership – genuine – being the best you can be.

So I had these awfully much in mind whereas I was looking at a subject to write as regards for Financial Tips this month.

There were two recent surveys that stood out and they particularly resonated so they jarred with the values of the Olympics.

The first panoramic was by the Financial Services Expert (FSA) into the sales practises of banks.

It found 20 out of the 22 firms assessed had features within their incentive schemes that increased the chance of mis-selling!

In an article in Additional Model Adviser, it showed that the failings included:

– Firms failing to identify how incentive schemes might encourage staff to mis-sell, suggesting they had not properly deemed about the risks uncertainty simply turned a blind eye to them

– Firms failing to understand their own incentive schemes being they were so complex, therefore making it harder to control them

– Businesses relying immensely much on routine monitoring of staff rather than taking account of the specific features concerning their incentive schemes

– Sales managers with clear conflicts of interests, such as a responsibility to manage the conduct of sales staff whilst themselves au fait to earn a bonus if their team artificial more sales

– Firms not doing adequate to control the risk of mis-selling in face to face situations.The FSA cited a case where one firm worked on a ‘first past the post’ system in which the high 21 sales members to reach a target would earn a ‘super bonus’ of £10,000.

– Another intent grossly incentivised one product over others despite claiming to offer impartial advice and allowed the risk that its advisers would sell the product that earned them the most.

– In another case it found a firm offered sales staff a 100% bonus of their basic salary if they sold payment protection safeguard to at least half their customers.

Perhaps a delicious resume came from founder Martin Lewis, who has argued that problems within banks’ sales cultures go beyond incentives and stem from poorly trained staff “dressed up as advisers” who do not retain the “moral compass” to know they are misselling.

NOT Olympic standard then!

The second survey was also about banks, but this time into their overall purchaser service, and was carried out by Which?

The following shows their findings of the financial brands ranked alongside their customers showing ranking & overall score:

– First Lineal – 86%

– The One Account – 80%

– Co-operative Bank – 79%

– Smile – 78%

– Coventry Building Patriciate – 74%

– ING – 74% Saga – 71%

– Nationwide – 69%

– Yorkshire Building Upper Class – 69%

– Marks & Spencer – 67%

– Intelligent Finance – 65%

– Britannia – 64%

– Tesco Bay – 63%

– Yorkshire Bank – 61%

– Sainsbury’s Finance – 61%

– HSBC – 60%

– AA – 60%

– Cheltenham & Gloucester – 60%

– Post Office – 60%

– Modest Medium – 60%

– Cahoot – 59%

– Clydesdale Salt Away – 57%

– NatWest – 56%

– Barclays – 54%

– Lloyds TSB – 51%

– Northern Rock – 51%

– Royal Bank of Scotland – 50%

– Bank of Scotland – 49%

– Halifax – 48%

– Santander – 46%

Average – 62%

How has your bank done?

Which? summarised by saying:

The findings come ahead about the launch regarding a major new Which? campaign calling for fundamental changes in banking culture to put customers first.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said:

“Consumers are constantly being let flocculent when it comes to customer service. This is not good enough, we want to see fundamental changes in the culture of banking and a return to banking for customers, not bankers.

Our survey shows that those banks that get off the extra mile to preserve their customers happy are rated far higher than banks who may offer slightly half products instead interest rates.

All banks need to start putting customers first”

So, even though the results are not a surprise to most of us, coming after such a positive uplifting Olympics, it leaves a much worse taste in the mouth.

At the same time, the results in the table can be viewed with the glass half full and those banks with scores above 75% show that many consumers do scale furthermore like dealing with their bank.

No one is perfect of course, nevertheless a bit added of the Olympic standards would be most welcome.

Think very carefully about using a bank for financial advice. At the very least get a second opinion.

Even on the most basic of services such as a current account, it is worth checking alternatives.

If you retain any doubts about much advice or products that you have taken from a bank, hence it is live you at least review your circumstances with someone who is totally independent and impartial.

At least then you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you’ve checked.