Do you know your Isa from your elbow? No? Well you’re not really expected to, but your bank is…
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about this. Indeed, last year we called on banks to improve their standards of service after we found them failing to answer basic questions about Isas. Disappointingly, we’ve found the same again.
Your bank’s Isa advice
Posing as customers, we visited six branches and made six phone calls to 12 Isa providers, and asked them six straightforward questions about Isas and the savings reforms. Over half of the providers we tested got fewer than half of the questions right.
This includes questions like what the 2016/17 Isa limit is – eight in ten staff couldn’t tell us this. It’s £15,240 in case you wondered. One of the banks even suggested we use the internet to find the answers to our questions! I suppose it was good that they were honest about their lack of knowledge…
In short, it seems staff are letting us down with poor knowledge of how Isas work and there’s really no excuse for this. At the end of the day, bad advice could leave people out of pocket.
There was also little or no knowledge at all about the new personal savings allowance, which is worrying as these changes come into effect just next month. From 6 April, basic rate tax payers will be able to earn £1,000 in interest a year on their savings.
How are customers meant to understand Isas when bank staff don’t themselves? All of this just shows that banks need to up their game and ensure they have the right systems in place so that you can rely on their advice.
We want better banks
I’m sure you’re one of the 47,000 or so people who has signed our We Deserve Better Banks campaign. But if you’re not, I’ll briefly fill you in. We’re calling on the Government, the regulator and the banks themselves to deliver better everyday banking. And our latest undercover investigation illustrates the need for change.
Last week the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) delayed announcing findings from its major banking inquiry. There’s much the CMA could use this extension for, such as bringing forward stronger solutions to tackle unfair charges. However, it should also ensure that the knowledge and expertise of staff is recognised as a key measurement of banks’ customer service. This information is crucial in helping you choose the right bank for you. If you agree with us, please sign our Better Banks petition:
Have you tried to get advice about Isas or savings from your bank? How did that go?