/ Money

What would your perfect bank look like?

Piggy banks flying with wings

Most of us have gripes about our bank – queues, bad customer service, rubbish rates to name a few. But what if you could create the perfect bank with anything you wanted? What would your bank utopia look like?

When was the last time you visited your bank? How helpful did you find the staff – did they quickly fulfil your needs or try and sell you a product you didn’t want?

How useful was the information you were given? Clear, in plain English or complicated with reams of small print? And what about the environment – spacious and un-crowded or stuffy and packed with long queues?

The problem with banks…

People have told us time and again that they aren’t satisfied with their banks. Reasons range from poor customer service and low interest rates on savings and unfair charges to expensive contact telephone rates and poor quality call centres. Despite this, many people choose not to switch banks because there’s a general sense that they’re all as bad as each other.

In a few weeks’ time the Independent Commission on Banking will release its final report, setting out its recommendations to Government on the reform of the banking industry. We hope this report will mark the beginning of groundbreaking changes to the banking system, and this got me daydreaming about what a perfect bank would look like…

My perfect bank

I don’t know about you, but when I go to my bank and there are more than three people in line I think they should open another desk. And if I do have to queue I don’t want bank staff to try and sell me products that I don’t want or need.

I work full-time, and would like more staff available in branch at times that suit me and for call centre staff to be able to deal with all of my queries without having to be passed from pillar to post.

I would also like my bank to contact me if a new savings account is introduced with better rates of interest and all new products to be available to me as a loyal customer rather than just to entice new ones. Plus, my bank should text me when I’m nearing my overdraft limit so I have a chance to act before I’m charged.

If it turns out my bank has mis-sold a product then I want to know that the senior management will be held properly to account. More generally, when I have a problem, I want to deal with someone who can help there and then rather than being told to make an appointment or being asked to call an anonymous phone line. And more than anything, I want the staff to prioritise service over sales.

Clearly I could go on, but that’s enough of me – we want to hear from you. What’s wrong with your bank – and what would you expect out of a perfect bank?

On Thursday 8 September we’ll be holding an event to listen to your views on how the perfect bank would look. Find out more and register here.

Peter of Leeds says:
1 September 2011

I would like notification when interest rates change on any of my accounts, not just to be sold something, then find out that the headline rate was for period x.
Bank staff to serve customers, not make them wait while they complete routing paperwork.
Half of all bank bonus payments to be shared by account holders.

Roger Sykes says:
1 September 2011

I bank on-line but when I have a query I need my call to be answered in clear English without a foreign accent.
I next want a decent interest to be paid on my current account credit balance – we are being ripped off by the banks at present. I suggest half the overdraft rate is a starting figure.

1) I would like for all children to be educated in the future from an early age the basics on current
everyday banking and this should made be mandatory as it would, if managed properly be of
benefit to the future population and the UK.
2) Not let Mr E Balls near any bank or become chancellor as his lack of knowledge in the last
Government was very evident.

Teaching money skills to kids should be as mandatory as the three Rs. They need to learn that they need to put away small sums each month for emergencies (boiler repairs, waching machine breaking, roof leaking, etc.) and that taking a holiday shouldn’t mean simply pulling out the plastic and spending beyond your means.

Having spare cash is ‘only transitory’ and this month’s squandering may be next months over-spend.

Careful Kathie says:
2 September 2011

i would like to receive my statement the day after the final transaction and would find it very helpful if it also showed known future transactions

Enteeen says:
2 September 2011

I want my bank to care about retainig customers and encouraging loyalty. The common practise of effectively taking away the interest on the money in your one year old savings account is a deplorable act that should have been seen at the outset as a sleazy and underhand scam.

I have little respect for the banking industry and it’s business practices and only wholesale reform will change that.

I’d don’t see why when a banker makes money on the stock market he gets a big bonus and I get nothing then when he makes a huge loss he still gets a big bonus and I get to pay for it. If they want to gamble then there should be a penalty for losing! And I should get a share of the winnings.
I’d also like to see the differential between borrowing rates and lending rates governed so that the banks cut is the same, as rates dropped the rate I pay on loans has stayed at about 8 or 9% but interest on my savings has dropped to 0.1%

Liza Jane says:
3 September 2011

When I access a savings account online I want to see the current rate of interest at the head of the account along with the other relevant information. I don’t want to have to search the site for interest rates and scroll through all of the available accounts just to check that it hasn’t changed.

If I paid over the phone using my debit card for foreign exchange purchased from a third party, I would be subject to a huge (around £45!) fee for use of the card. I can buy any other item without charge using my debit card, so what is the justification for this whammy?

Oldie says:
5 September 2011

My ideal bank would:
Offer free personal banking (as now) when you stay within their “rules”.
Continue to offer cheques.
Re-instate a cheque guarantee card – did they hope that stopping these would help them to get rid of cheques altogether?
Extend the “faster payment” system to cover transfers to/from virtually all accounts.
Raise the limit (£10,000 with my present bank) for the “faster payment” system. A customer who needs to move his savings when the bonus interest offer runs out (often after 12 months) can readily do so via a “linked current a/c” but if the sum concerned is over £10,000 the BACS transfer takes 3 working days. My suggestion would be to raise the limit for “faster payments” to £85,000 – the same as the compensation ceiling if a bank/building society goes bust. Apart from a £30 CHAPS transfer, the only way to avoid the loss of interest incurred by the BACS transfer is to move savings in £10,000 bites – withdraw from your old bank/building society on (say) a Monday, receive into your linked bank a/c on Wednesday (it usually takes 3 days) and make a faster (about an hour) transfer to your new savings a/c the same day (Wednesday). If it is a non-bank holiday week, you can repeat the process Wednesday – Friday.
Sums over £85,000 would still need be transferred by CHAPS transfer.
Alternatively, banks could offer good interest – say 3.00% gross with no bonus year – on their own Instant Access savings a/c’s. Did I catch sight of a flying pig?
PS Not many new cars for £10,000 these days!

dave p says:
6 September 2011

I have the perfect bank no charges i stay in credit the bank is natwest

Dr. B. N. Parsons says:
6 September 2011

I am long-retired and probably untypical of Which members, because I do not have any special ‘gripes’
about my bank (Santander ) so I do not feel that it would be useful for me to attend the consultation tomorrow. Obviously, I would like a better rate of interest on deposits and am annoyed that banks tend to let their interest rates decline for existing depositors. There seems to be a general consensus that banks should ‘ring fence’ domestic (UK) banking from ‘casino’ banking (but they seem to be resisting this).

My ideal bank would look pretty much like the Co-op! I’ve only been inside their branch once, and do all my banking on-line, or by phone – staff are helpful, and sound like real pupil, not zombies reading from a script. I like its ethical focus, the fact I can withdraw money from the Post Office (there’s no free ATM in my village), the enhanced security, and the dividend!

Graham Cox says:
8 September 2011

Banks permitting us to transfer /port mortgages by simply substituting the new house for the old one: ie transfer collateral) if the risk of the mortgage’s is not increased ( ie loan no bigger, equity % no worse and quality of house no worse) . This change could even include those whose mortgage is under water.

Right now banks mistakenly thing the FSA require all mortgage ports to be treated as new loans or are just uncertain ( according to the Mortgage Lenders Association). They don’t .

This would allow millions to, for example, move for jobs, move nearer to relatives for child care support or down size even though they don’t meet the new much higher hurdles for new loans.

Please have this posed tonight. It is crucial for people and the economy. I can pass a detailed submission on this to the FSA if you like.

Graham Cox
Financial Economist

Niall Donnan says:
28 March 2012

A Bank that pay’s attention to customers needs without the high pitched sales jargon.
Keep it simple and logical so that one can understand what is at stake at the end of the day.
Loyalty is a big issue, do something about it.
BACS transfers should not take 3 to 7 working days.
Make it child friendly, teach them the skills for the future such as mortgages, credit, debt and what it means and saving also.
Education, education is key and that if done well will bring loyalty.

Stach Odrowaz says:
4 April 2012

It is essential that each branch has a manager in total control, with full authority and responsibility for the profitable operation of his branch.
Loans must be given against either some security or a credible business plan.