After years of reputational issues and costly scandals, the banking sector is finally winning back the public’s trust, according to new research from uSwitch.
The research also reveals the UK’s best current account providers as voted by consumers, in categories such as Most Trusted, Best Customer Service and Best Value for Money.
The 2014 uSwitch Current Account Awards, based on votes of 10,000 customers, shows that almost three quarters of account holders now trust their bank.
First Direct success
That success story is nowhere more evident than with online and phone-based bank, First Direct, whose commitment to service and experience has once again wowed customers and secured its first place in eight out of nine categories.
The Co-op Bank holds onto third position in almost every category, despite the widespread negative publicity that the Group has endured over the last year.
While the Co-op dropped several places in the Best Switching Service category, falling from third place in 2013 to tenth this year, it has still managed to secure a top-three spot in the Most Trusted, Most Recommended, Best Overall Satisfaction, Best Customer Service and Best Value for Money categories – a positive start on its road to reform.
Big Four failing to keep up
Santander has pulled itself up from bottom place last year to fourth place overall in this year’s awards. Its innovative cashback programme and generous interest rates have played a strong part in this improvement – Santander comes top in the ‘Best Rewards’ category.
However, it fails to even make it into the top ten for customer service. Despite this, the 1-2-3 account has gained a 10% share of those switching accounts since the launch of the Current Account Switching Service in September 2013.
With consumers beginning to demand more from their banks, larger players such as RBS will also need to up their game – it was voted the worst current account provider overall, coming last in all categories but one.
Other members of the big four – notably Lloyds and HSBC – also performed badly, failing to secure a top-three position in any of the categories.
Current Account Switching Service impact
There is evidence that the Current Account Switching Service, introduced last September, is beginning to make an impact.
The uSwitch research shows only six in ten customers have had the same current account for more than ten years – down from 72% in 2012.
This, coupled with the latest figures from the Payments Council which show a 14% year-on-year increase in switching levels, suggests that consumers are at last demanding more from their bank account.
David Mann, Head of Money at uSwitch said: “It’s clear that the best bank accounts are the ones that offer tangible benefits such as incentives and rewards – but other factors such as customer service, value for money and trust are as important as ever.
“With the likes of Virgin Money and Atom Bank also expected to launch in the next 12 months, it’s clear that the Big Four are no longer holding all the cards.”