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What makes you love – or hate – your bank or insurer?


A straightforward, stress-free claims process? A frustrating online service? A market-beating interest rate? As we publish our list of 2017’s best and worst financial brands, we want your views.

Our research, published today, crowns Nationwide as the nation’s favourite financial brand.

It’s been a great year for the building society, whose 5%-paying FlexDirect current account attracted more than 30,000 net customers in the last three months of 2016.

It’s been less of a great year for many high street banks, however: Barclays, RBS, NatWest, Halifax, HSBC and Bank of Scotland all finished in the bottom half of our table, while Lloyds came joint-last.

As part of our research, we also looked at what made customers like and dislike their financial brands.

The results showed a change in the times: current account and savings customers who liked their bank were more likely to rave about its online and mobile banking.

Across nearly all categories, however, one problem stood out as having a negative effect on whether a customer liked a bank: bad complaints handling.

That’s why we decided to factor in complaints data from the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) when working out our rankings.

Indeed, the most recent data from the FOS shows a 13% increase in complaints figures for the first half of 2017 compared with the six months before that; consumers are complaining more and more about their banks and insurers.

But whether they get a positive outcome or not varies massively from company to company.

Upheld rates – the percentage of complaints that went in the consumer’s favour – range from 3% to 79%, depending on which company you complained about.

Are you generally satisfied with how your bank manages complaints?

Yes (68%, 76 Votes)

No (32%, 35 Votes)

Total Voters: 111

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We want to hear from you. What do you love about your insurer or bank? What would make you complain about it? And, have you made a complaint?


Don’t love any I change when I need or want to always try for the best price or deal

I have been with First Direct since they started in 1989 and am very happy to stay there.

A friendly English or Scottish voice is always available by phone and they usually answer within a couple of rings. Call centre staff seem very well-trained and always seek other advice if they cannot answer a question.

I joined First Direct because I was unhappy with my then current bank and they were offering interest on a current account. Something they dropped because they thought customers preferred free overdrafts. I wish they had given us the choice of one or the other.

I am surprised they score low on complaints handling. I rarely have problems, but they have always been sorted out to my satisfaction.

My only complaint is giving you the third degree on a temporary credit card limit increase or opening another account when you have been a good customer for so many years.

I have written here, several times, that my bank manages my daily finances, has done so for many years, and in that time has never made a mistake with the statement or any transactions. What’s not to like? Insurance companies on the other hand have raised premiums excessively and have insisted that replacement goods are supplied from their own suppliers without the option of a cash payment. This is irksome when the replacement can not match the lost/stolen item. Their small print, exclusions and excess payments are usually biased in the insurer’s favour. Sometimes one wonders what is actually being insured! I have been treated well by all the building societies that I have used, but have memories of long waits to talk to anyone face to face and even longer waits on the telephone. This is still the case. Since the banking crash, there has been a question about the possible closure of banks, something that was unimaginable before that. These things can happen without warning, and though the government backs most savings accounts, it is an extra thing to consider. One wonders whether the banking industry has learned many lessons since the crash. The general public have little to go on and trust is still probationary.

I commiserate with anyone who has had to have replacement goods supplied by the insurer, they are the cheapest of the cheap. When our garden shed was emptied one night, the replacements were dire. Power tools had all come from the same supplier who kept a sales record so they were covered. But other tools could not be proved and rather than accept inferior tools opted for a cash settlement that was far below their worth. So instead of accepting 6 cheap garden shears, at least we could buy one decent one that turned into 3 decent ones as they weren’t as good as I wanted. I also made a point of getting receipts that stated what I had bought as previous receipts had faded or didn’t necessarily say what they were.

Decent tools no longer live in our shed.

I know what you mean, Alfa. A contractor flooded my old house and wrecked an expensive Axminster carpet but replaced it with a cheap one. If I had not moved out by then I would have taken action.

I agree about receipts. I discovered I had legible receipts that were more than forty years old but some new ones become illegible within a couple of years. Maybe the answer is to photograph them and the goods they relate to in case of an insurance claim.

I guess it depends on the individual branch. For personal banking, I use Halifax (Folkestone) which is good. For business I use Lloyds (Kent) which is excellent.

Before, I got fed up with Cardiff Halifax, and I would not go near Folkestone Lloyds as I had a very bad experience there and know others who have complained.

Range of services and service costs are set nationally and Which? gives excellent reviews, but service quality is determined locally so best to ask around locally before choosing a bank.

That is probably also a factor in branch closures. Those giving poor quality service are more likely to lose custom and thereby close. Static banking is increasingly uneconomic. Bank staff and particularly bank managers, need to listen up. Want to keep your jobs? Excell in personal service.

My bank transactions are mostly electronic so I may not visit my branch more than once a year, or even less, but that’s always been the case since credit and debit cards. The personal touch is invaluable when seeking loans or making investments. For 20 years, I kept a local branch even though I had moved 200 miles away. That was also Lloyds. I only switched because the manager retired and service quality dropped. A good bank / account manager is worth their weight in gold.

For that reason, regional managers and CEOs need to listen up to Which? surveys. Ensure good local service and banks will retain and attract more custom. And you don’t want to loose frugal silver surfers like me!

Michael Colsell says:
23 September 2017

I have been with Nationwide since 1987. I have had several mortgages and personal loans. I use online banking extensively, since 2000. I cannot fault them. They have never made any accounting errors, and when I had card stolen and used fraudulently, reimbursed me immediately.

We had a road traffic accident on 17th October 2016. 100% fault accepted by other driver, who was insured through Hastings Direct. Hastings Direct made us a cash offer in April 2017 (to be fair that bit of the delay was partly due to medical reports) which we immediately accepted by return of post.
Guess who’s still waiting for the payment almost a year after the accident in spite of our own insurer’s (Aviva) attempts to get the money from them, and our own unanswered emails to the Hastings Direct complaints department.
I’m amazed they managed to come 44th.

I tried opening a business fixed rate bond with Secure Trust Bank in August. For 2 weeks I was repeatedly sent letters asking me to provide information as proof of my identity or the validity of the company, which is fine.
I couldn’t email the documents, so had to rely on the post. Their requests were always by mail too, so the process was very drawn out.
The minute I received my sort code and account number, I started to transfer funds over to my new account, only for them to be rejected. When I called, they told me the account had been closed (without informing me) as I took too long to open it (when I had always sent information back the day after I received their letter requests).
To this day, I have still not received a letter to say the account had been closed.
I wrote to complain to the CEO over 2 months ago, but have heard nothing since.
Absolutely appalled by their customer service!