UK banks see mixed trends

30 January 2012

LONDON: Consumers in the UK have conflicting views about banking brands, displaying higher levels of loyalty but a declining willingness to recommend them to friends and family.

Accenture, the consultancy, polled 3,873 account holders in the UK and Ireland to gauge popular perceptions of leading financial services companies in the country.

Overall, the number of respondents in Great Britain who were satisfied with their bank stood at 60%, versus the total of 56% logged during similar research from 2011.

Moreover, the proportion of Britons expressing negative opinions concerning their current provider had dropped from 17% to 13% in the same period.

Elsewhere, 39% of relevant British interviewees were pleased with the complaints handling process they had experienced, an improvement from 34% year on year.

Perhaps most positively for banks, only 11% of the panel across the UK and Ireland had recently switched one or more products from their existing bank, down from 16% in the last research round.

An even more modest 6% did so with their current account. Of this group, 23% had endured problems in achieving such a goal, but 75% also believed they had made the correct decision.

For the vast majority of customers not switching their current account, 90% simply had "no desire" to, and 10% outlined reservations about the process, either because it would be "risky" or "take too long".

Despite the broadly favourable results, the share of contributors who would recommend their bank to family and friends declined from 61% to 47%.

Indeed, just 43% of participants described their bank as "transparent", exactly the same amount as those perceiving it to offer "good value for money".

"These results show that the banks' efforts to fix underlying service issues and engage better with their customers are working," Peter Kirk, Accenture's head, banking distribution and marketing services, UK and Ireland, said.

"However, while customers may think their own bank is doing a decent job, the banking industry as a whole still has a long way to go to rebuild its reputation and win back the advocacy of its customers."

Data sourced from Accenture; additional content by Warc staff