What upsets us most about our bank? Here in Leicester, large salaries and bumper bonuses paid out to bank bosses are more likely to rankle than anything else, according to a revealing new poll.
According to campaign group Move Your Money, half of the respondents across the East Midlands reported that excessive salaries were their chief concern about a bank, followed by the general number of complaints it received (45%) and any criminal behaviour or fines it had received (44%).
The poll showed the degree to which consumers are thoroughly dissatisfied with the behaviour of the big banks. The four big banks which control around 75% of the current account market recorded particularly dismal satisfaction ratings.
Customers were invited to rate their bank through a sequence of questions that generated a score out of five criteria: honesty; customer service; culture; impact on the economy; and ethics.
Barclays finished rock-bottom of the table, scoring just 4% overall. The RBS Group, which includes NatWest and Ulster Bank, fared little better with 7%. HSBC, which includes First Direct, scored just 18%, while Lloyds, which recently launched TSB as a standalone bank, scored 21%.
While salaries were the chief gripe across the Midlands, the national picture showed that high levels of complaints were the most offputting factor about a bank (47%), followed by salaries, and then criminal behaviour. Of the institutions providing current accounts, the high-fliers and low-riders are provided below.
- Cumberland Building Society – 89%
- Coventry Building Society – 85%
- Reliance Bank – 85%
- Leeds Building Society – 79%
- Lloyds – 21%
- HSBC – 18%
- RBS / NatWest – 7%
- Barclays – 4%
The results are not entirely dissimilar to those generated by Which? earlier this year following an investigation into the quality of advice provided on ISAs, even if they are more polarised. They also support Chris Taylor’s claim that small lenders may be preferential to larger high-street competitors.
Another noticeable point from Move Your Money’s poll is that women were more likely to be aggrieved at the large salaries dished out to (predominantly male) executives, whereas men were more likely to be put off by high numbers of complaints.
There is also an interesting shift in attitudes towards remuneration down the generations, with the elderly more likely to be offended by larger pay-packets (61%) compared to youngest age group (23%).
Generation Y accepts that banking is a lucrative industry, but is more likely to respond negatively to a bank rated ‘unethical’ by an independent group.
So, opinions about banks remain diverse and complicated. I’m not convinced that grouping institutions together makes for the most accurate results. First Direct, for example, has recently been named among the UK’s top three favourite companies, which distinguishes it completely from its parent bank, HSBC.
Nor am I convinced that giving all of these factors the same weighting makes for entirely accurate results. As cumbersome as the old current account switching system was, it’s not enough to retain 12.5 million current account customers at Barclays entirely against their will. Anna’s testimony shows that the bank is certainly not irredeemable.
The point the poll is making, albeit sensationally, is that the opportunity to switch banks more easily gives customers a wider choice than they may expect, and highlights a number of smaller providers that often remain under the radar.