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Your voices were heard at our banking event

Speech bubble drawn in pencil

Last night we sat down with consumers as they shared their views on banking. One comment got a huge round of applause. Was it ‘scrap bankers’ bonuses’, ‘give us £100 to switch accounts’ or something else?

Last month I mentioned that we’d be hosting a banking event for consumers. Well, ‘Your Voice for Better Banking’ happened last night and as you kindly shared your views on my last Conversation, I thought I’d come back and share the event’s views too.

Our gathering of over 170 consumers in East London would have made the City’s trading floors seem silent. During the event, people took to the floor and had their say on the banking issues that affect their day-to-day lives.

BBC Money Box’s Paul Lewis kicked off the night, followed by our team of panelists who gave their views on ways to improve the banks, before handing over to the stars of the night – you.

The tables have turned

So did last night’s views differ from the ones expressed here on Conversation? When asked what they thought of the banks, one cheeky consumer shouted out ‘robbers, robbers and global robbers’.

I was typing furiously away to capture notes, but was struck by the difficulty people had in explaining why they didn’t switch banks more often, or at all.

Most said they wanted good customer service and motivation to switch banks. And many agreed that portable bank account numbers and automatic direct debit transfers would be a big help. But what else would motivate us to switch?

£100 would top up my pension!

The younger folk on my table tended to be motivated by cash incentives, but I was also delighted to hear a pensioner say ‘what a great way to top up my pension – I just need to keep switching accounts!’ If only you could switch weekly…

So what was the statement that got the round of applause? It wasn’t either of the ones mentioned in the intro, it was ‘don’t charge us for using our debit cards overseas’. See banks, some of our demands are quite simple and you’ll make us a happy bunch if you see them through.

Don’t forget that we’re collecting your feedback to share with the Independent Commission on Banking in order to influence their final report for the government. Jot them down below to make sure your voice is heard too.

Sophie Gilbert says:
26 May 2011

Don’t charge us when we withdraw cash abroad either.

ElspethR says:
2 June 2011

But you’re not talking about the real issues of banking, whicch is the fees they extract. I’ve not found a bank that’s really different in its ethos and service. banks are built on wrong values and are getting away with it.

please sign my petition at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/banking-fees-and-bankruptcy.html

I’ve got a blog too – Justice In Banking on WordPress.


Hi ElspethR – good point, and unfair bank charges has been something that a lot of people have spoken to us about. Many feel that they are unnecessarily high, and can end up spiralling so just being a few pounds overdrawn can put someone into a huge amount of debt. In 2009 the banks received £2.52 billion in unauthorised overdraft fees.

We are campaigning on this at the moment too, so if you want to see what we’re calling for, and email your MP about the issue, you can! http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/personal-finance/unfair-overdraft-charges/

Daniel.Y says:
6 June 2011

That was a good event to attend.
I feel a very good idea to come from the event was to make bank account numbers portable. Where as when someone wants to switch banks all they need to do is switch over thier ‘portable’ bank account number instead of the hassle of signing up for a new bank account with a new number.
If it was that easy, banks would do their best for all customers in fear of losing them.

Caroline Sullivan says:
7 June 2011

I think the reason a lot of people don’t bother changing banks is that they don’t believe that any of them are any better than the others. I noticed Neville Richardson while extolling the virtues of the ethical co-op bank mentioned that they stopped selling PPI in 2008 because they realised it was wrong. He went on to say that they started refunding everyone 2 weeks ago.

If they knew it was wrong, why wait 3 years before becoming pro-active about paying back? What is so ethical about daily charges on top of monthly charges if you accidentally go over your overdraft limit due to a charge for an unpaid direct debit? No wonder people in these difficult times find their debts spiralling out of control.

Let’s hope that the newly formed Financial Conduct Authority has some real clout and we get to see real regulation of the banks.

I am delighted that at last there seems to be a desire to see changes in banking, which I believe that needs to come from the top. I just hope that this fantastic opportunity to make a difference to banking isn’t wasted and that banks start to respect their customers and consider their needs as much as they consider their own bonuses now.

Well done to Which? for another excellent event, and thank you for the opportunity to discuss these issues with the people who I hope can make a difference to the future of banking.

Hi Caroline and Daniel! Really glad you enjoyed the event! I was sat at the back tweeting interesting comments that came up over the evening, and I have to say one of the things that interested me most was that people were saying, as you say Caroline, that the reason they don’t switch is because they suspect all banks to be as bad as each other – I think one attendee even said she wouldn’t switch in case the new bank was worse – “better the devil you know.”

There did seem to be a really positive atmosphere, and I hope that the ICB can take as many of the recommendations on board so that soon (ish) we might have banks that cater better to their customers.