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The banks lost our trust – but can they win it back?

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Our executive director, Richard Lloyd, appeared on BBC 5 Live on Monday to discuss the future of banking with a panel of experts. As trust and culture topped the agenda, aren’t we overdue a big change in banking?

British banking culture is under more scrutiny than ever. As staff incentives have focused on sales for too long, the ‘sales first’ culture has leaked from top executives right down to front-line bank staff. Richard Lloyd added this morning that the culture of banking will only change when customers are put before sales.

Philip in Nottingham called in to BBC 5 Live and told the panel:

‘They need a good spanking all these bankers. We need to tell them there are new terms and conditions – take it or leave it. And we, the public, should run the renumeration committees responsible.’

Bank service versus sales

Mark, a Natwest employee, texted the show to say:

‘I worked for NatWest for almost 20 years. Until banks return to a service-based outlook as opposed to an aggressive sales culture, bad behaviours will continue. Sales sales sales, sorry, ‘meeting customers’ needs’ – is the underlying problem in branch banking.’

A listener named Jan also rang the panel to share her view on one way to change banking culture:

‘There are not enough women in banking, and certainly not at the top levels – I believe there’s not a single global bank that’s run by a woman. Clearly the culture which runs through an organisation is determined by the people who run it, and a little less testosterone and a little more conversation might help.’

Have banks been trading on our trust?

So consumers’ trust in banks has been seriously shaken. Greg Clark, financial secretary to the Treasury, made a point that people trust their banks to act in their best interests. But he added that, , that trust has been abused. In our recent research, we found that over two-thirds of people don’t trust bankers – leaving them less trusted than estate agents and lawyers.

To highlight the problem, one consumer texted the show to talk about the PPI mis-selling scandal:

‘This was not perpetrated by a tiny number of bankers… this was the whole of the banking profession, from directors to clerks.’

One tweeter contacted us to talk about his lack of confidence in bankers’ training:

‘My 24yr niece. No academic qualification to her name, earns enough at [Big Bank] to run new Range Rover and has a penchant for spending! It beggars belief and makes a mockery of having need for academic qualifications.’

When Ross McEwan, head of retail banking for NatWest and RBS, suggested that consumers lacked confidence to borrow, one tweeter said:

‘Lack of confidence’ – not surprising. RBS et al wiped all possibility of financial confidence from UK’.

Can switching make a difference?

It’s often suggested that people should switch their banks if they are dissatisfied with their service. But our research found that UK consumers are more likely to get a divorce than they are to switch their bank accounts. One caller to BBC 5 Live explained their reason why:

‘You say ‘why don’t you move banks?’ It’s because they’re all the same.’

While another tweeter made us laugh by suggesting:

‘Could banks not attract customers by combining both in special offers? #Divorce #SwapBanks’

If you want to find out some of the suggestions the panel made for improving banking in the future, you can tune in to replay the show. Our Big Change campaign is working hard to try and fix some of these issues, but in the meantime, how do you think we can change banking culture in Britain?

Stephen Rosling says:
13 November 2012

I think Lloyds and the Coop are already making changes to their incentive schemes. I noticed this a few months ago shortly after I received a redundancy payment into my account, i.e. no-one has been in touch with me, even though I would have welcomed a discussion!

As someone who has worked in financial services for over 25 years and for the last few years has been deeply involved in the FSA’s TCF initaitive, they key issue is that customer risks and issues aren’t treated with the same priority when compared to other issues – shareholder priorities, sales volumes, profit margins etc. Yes, there has been a focus on customer satisfaction, but this is different to fair treatment.

For the culture to change, there needs to be a new and sustained set of behaviours from the top of the organisation. It seems that many organisations treated TCF as a project, i.e. with an end date and then delegated it to others. Rather than “numbers” people being at the top, how about people who have a genuine interest and desire to do what’s best for their customers, (not the shareholders.) “Fairness” also needs to be part of the recruitment and selection process.


Despairing at the pathetic service and rip off culture of the big banks I turned to the Co-op Bank in the hope of something better.
So much for ethics, they are the same or worse than the others. Getting money back from them(on maturity of a fixed deposit) has been a nightmare.I am now fighting for interest for the time they enjoyed my funds free of charge.
When I worked in banking it was against the rules to allow deposits to mature on non-banking days eg the weekend. The Co-op seems to think it is tough luck on the customer if they can’t get their cash back nor receive interest for the weekend.

Dawn Richardson says:
22 November 2012

Its not just the Banking System that is untrustworthy it is Society itself.. Government promises which Fail and Let us down Continually always about Money… The UK is money driven and this country is all Spent out due to Toxic Debt and Greed..
What a future for our children?…I forsee there will be struggles, poor compliance and Lawsuits..
Corrupt practices is the name of the Game today..
FSA is useless and need to play by the rules..What chance has the individual got in this country today. None!. Unless you have Money you are on the treadmill for the rest of your days..


Deregulation has a lot to answer for allowing the banks to defraud us colluded to by the Government .At the moment I am watching Santander represent large cheques it has not paid out on when told by me would represent correct one . They have been using automatic robots to tell you being defrauded calling their number which the banks say never do .I am on telephone preference service too. Then they say would never call you personally??!! While they are refusing access they are becoming richer by £1000+. Do they think we are stupid ? And pretending we haven’;’t noticed.? This is what happens when control is given to dubious accountants.

Dawn Richardson says:
5 December 2012

Control is the Operative word! …you have hit the NAIL ON THE HEAD our money is not our own.. The FSA have failed us the public in many ways in order to protectour interests legaly with Financial Institutions that is what they are there for! I am one of them who was with KSFIOM BACK IN 2008 involving the Kaupthing Bank situation..domicled in the UK they were questioned and got away with it..

William France says:
5 December 2012

I live in France and I have been watching the banking scandal in the UK unfolding with alarm but without surprise.

I was in the UK when the Government relaxed the rules on the banks. At college I was told on a liberal studies course, that the amount of money a bank could safely lend was roughly ten times the value of its liquid assets. I assumed that this was one of those natural laws that anyone in a position of trust would follow rigorously. It was pointed out that the UK banks (this was in the 1960s) had always stuck to this rule and had survived safely through the depression of the 1930s. The US banks on the other hand had overlooked this rule and lent money to fools betting on the US stock exchange. Their banks collapsed.

Starting in the 1980s with internationalism, the British banks eyed with envy the prophets being made by the US banks who had not learned their lesson in 1929. Everyone thought that they were protected by computers; What could go wrong? The Property market was proving to be as lucrative as that promised by the South Sea Bubble. It appears that greed has prevented the banks from learning the lessons from History.

Banks should return to looking after money, not making it. Of course they should make profits and of course the employees should be well paid for doing so. However, nobody should be paid a bonus for doing their job for which they are well paid. That is what they are paid for. Suggesting that they need a bonus to work properly is tantamount to saying that they can’t be trusted to work properly. Who wants people working in a bank that can’t be trusted?
No wonder the banking system is sick.

Dawn Richardson says:
5 December 2012

Absolutely William
My impression is that the Bankers think they are “Little tin Gods” and have a power over people because the country is in Debt, people are in genuine need in these times of austerity.
Maladministration by the FSA, Faults and Greed in the Banking industry due to a lack of control during the profit years.

Admittedly I made a profit from my properties at the right times however.
Only to be parted from it when Kaupthing Singer an Friedlander went down and into Liquidation. They were advertised as being Solvant at the time as AAA but lied and knew they were in Meltdown, many people suffered in this cobweb of deciet… which I truely believe the British Treasury had some part in this debacle under Labour. also as regards KSFUK which went down as well..
So where is sthe TRUST?
Excessive charges is an issue as well the Banksjust jumped on the Band wagon a disgrace!.
As well as archaic Celtic Laws in the Isle of Man. ;(
Where was the FSA for its UK residents then? NO HELP whatsoever.


I retired from Natwest 11 years ago.The branch staff ,then,were under terrible pressure sell,sell,sell and the customer became secondary.NOTHING HAS CHANGED!!!!!!
Until we return to the days when customers used to enjoy going in to the Bank ie treated as a customer and not a potential sale will the banks remain in the big black hole they dug for themselves.

Dawn Richardson says:
7 December 2012

All about MONEY as it is in the Government Budget, Banks, NHS, I was a Nurse retired out @51 due to Stress overwork and a Chronic Industrial Injury caused in my Job

… MONEY Money Money..shame the client is not the center of this anylonger always a hidden agenda..

Richard says:
9 December 2012

There would have been little need for austerity if it had not been for the banks panicking, and being allowed to place companies into administration at the drop of a hat. After doing so, flooding the markets with the assets that they want turned back into cash, at whatever price they can achieve. Yet by them alone flooding the market in the first place, they have themselves lowered the demand and thereafter the sale price achievable.

We hear the same time and again, that the bank never carried out any due diligence, had little or no understanding of a business, allowed an inexperienced manager to make a decision, yet they were allowed by the courts to appoint administrators, and what then?

The majority of the time, if not all, the administrators have little or no interest, other than securing there fees first.

I have been in litigation with a well known high street bank for over four years, and never in my entire life have I known such deceit, it has been an almost impossible task to obtain disclosure of any sort, let alone disclosure of the true facts, even through the courts. If I had never experienced it I would not believe it.

For almost four years this well known high street bank has been in denial of the evidence in proof, that I had discovered and put to them, that being that they had created and circulated inaccurate information.

It was not until three years after I had provided the proof to them that they admitted to it, and it was only after being questioned by the local authorities that they did admit to it. Even then, they were still in denial of any damage caused, yet the company was long gone, liquidated by the administrators after they had absorbed most of what had been recovered during the administration, and still today and the saga continues.

I will continue in my endeavours, as I have almost night and day for the last four years, to bring this bank to write their wrong. The same wrong, their wrong, lead them to make allegation, wrongful, of fraud, forgery and deception, and to add to the misery and suffering the FSA, Ombudsman, HM Treasury, Prime Minister do not want to know, both the FSA and the Ombudsman say they cannot get involved because the company was a Limited company, and there will be tens, if not hundreds of thousands of business people tied up in litigation of one sort or another with either the banks, or administrators, or both, being bled dry of any worth they have left, be it mental, physical or monetary, and everybody wonders why the economy is in the mess it is.

There needs to be legislation put in place to stop the banks being able to place companies into administration as easy as they are / have been doing, and there needs to be some sort of legislation that ensures nothing less than absolute transparency from the banks, the government, and the governing bodies they put in place.

Until such time as this happens we will continue on a downwards spiral, it may improve in the short term, but it is inevitable, unless the changes are made, it will all fall down again.

Richard says:
9 December 2012

A hard lesson to learn and never any end in sight!.. It just appears that all the wrongs will never be put right and the ordinary man on the Street like you and I get ripped off!..The FSA are negligent well they were in my case got away with it!….sounds very similar to mine Richard..

These things are pre planned in all aspects of Banks going into liquidation, governments and politicians, doctors re healthcare watered down services, unfair treatment by DWP re ATOS government employees and the disabled…All rigged to avoid heavy rightful payments to real people who need it. Legislation means bugger all.. just a bit of paper that sounds Good!
I myself have been at the hands of two massive injustice’s under United Kingdom LAW .
Which turned my life on its head! Left me injured without fair payment and broke!
Government bureaucrats have ways with their departments that STOP any rightful claims and have a manipulative hold on us all..
So the only way to get an sort of help is to play them at their own Game..
Go underground..
Get Evidence get proof..
Sometimes difficult I know and goes against the grain in the way I was raised as an being honest.woman, but that is why I am suffering now because I was honest and they were NOT…a culture of Phone hacking bugging, and god know what else, in order for these people whom ever they are to get the Information they need ..
Corrupt Society in the UK these days its not going to get any better.

Sign Nothing keep your head down is what I advise to anyone. Keep all personal information to yourself..There is No freedom of Choice today..1984 Springs to mind..This exactly the way we are going… and I hate it!

Katie says:
9 December 2012

struggling to believe the ignorance of members of the British public – who is it you supposedly don’t trust – the cashier in the branch or the CEO setting the strategy?

No doubt you were happy to borrow too much, make a profit on your house using money they lent you, take profits in dividend or through your pensions, or to lend to your business when you needed it….

They trusted you….. Back off people!

Richard says:
9 December 2012


You are a long way of knowing even the half of it. Yes I allowed the company to borrow the money many millions, and provided personal guarantees for some of it, and then when the rains came, we were left without choice other than to initiate a disposal program of the top end assets at as good a value as we could achieve at that time, in the marketplace we were in, settling the short fall (if any) from cash reserves.

We had achieved 95% of what we set out to do and were on the final stretch, and within a couple of weeks, not longer than a month, we would have been back in a strong and stable position. BUT, the bank and its manager who we had only recently moved to, panicked after hearing inaccurate information which came from within the realms of another bank we were dealing with. But the manager never thought to ask us if what they had heard was accurate.

The other bank (mentioning no name at press) had created inaccurate information within a spreadsheet, circulated rumours on the back of it and later circulated the spreadsheet itself. Which I later (many months later) discovered.

After which, I made the same known to the bank, including to its CEO, and Executive Director who is now Head of Corporate, Commercial and Business Banking, and the response I received was one of denial, the same as it has been for almost three and half years. It is only recently that they have admitted it, but still they have the audacity to deny that any damage has been done as a result of it, as I stated in my earlier posting above, posted on the 9 December 2012 at 6:15am.