Almost half of all banking customers would switch providers for better client service, according to a recent YouGov survey of more than 2000 Britons. The only problem is… they don’t know where to find it.
It is important to go for loans and savings accounts that offer the best rates, a bank with good customer service will have advisers who honestly tell you about the best products available rather than promoting those that bring them in the highest commission. That’s even if you can get through to the bank.
In its annual financial satisfaction survey, consumer group Which? polled thousands of banking customers for their views on current accounts, savings, credit card and mortgage providers and how likely customers would be to recommend them to others.
Last year, the winner was First Direct, which had the top score in most Which? current account, savings and mortgage satisfaction surveys, and came third in its credit card survey. Second place went to the One Account, owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, which only offers current account and mortgages, whilst Smile, the internet bank owned by the Co-Operative, came third.
Beyond the surveys, however, Londoners are giving glowing reports on a host of small players in the market, who are willing to go beyond computerised credit ratings to get to know customers.
One such group is the excellent Handelsbanken, the second-biggest bank in Sweden, which has under 100 branches in the UK, including Charles II Street in the West End, Piccadilly Circus and Wapping. Each branch is run on a delightful customer first basis: decisions are made locally by branch managers and they offer impressive low percentage mortgage rates for borrowers. For good reason the bank took top place in the EPSI Rating independent survey of the UK banking sector last year.
Handelsbanken is not covered by the City watchdog’s financial compensation scheme, which pays out in the event of a bank’s collapse, but customers would be covered by the Swedish state scheme, which guarantees up to €100,000.
Another small provider that is stirring up the market is Metro Bank, whose London branches include Holborn, Fulham Broadway and Earl’s Court. None of its products top the best-buy lists, but it allows customers to open a current account and get a debit card within 15 minutes at its branches, which are open seven days a week,