Focusing on customer service and shaking up the retail banking sector, First Direct offers its customers a range of low rate loans, credit cards and savings accounts – all over the phone and through their website.
First Direct is a bank that supplies current accounts and saving and borrowing facilities to customers across the UK. It operates solely through telephone and internet banking rather than having any branches, although branch facilities are available for its customers through its parent bank HSBC.
The bank takes pride in its quirky reputation, enhanced by its unusual yet eye catching series of black and white television advertisements.
First Direct was founded on 1st October 1989 by Midland Bank, at the time one of the four largest banks in the UK. At the time it operated from a call centre in Leeds, although it now has another operations centre in Hamilton, near Glasgow.
When it was formed, it was purely a telephone banking provider, which was then a revolutionary offering, but it has now embraced online technology as well, and offers fully mobile banking. By 1995 the bank had achieved its 500,000th customer, and as of 2014 it had a customer base of 1.6 million.
In 2007, First Direct became the first UK bank to introduce an annual fee for using their current account, although this fee is not applicable under certain circumstances, for example, if the customer holds another of their products, or credits their account with a specified amount each month.
Customers of First Direct have access to a full range of lending services. Customers of the bank can apply for personal loans online, and get a quick decision. If accepted, the money is available instantly, and customers will have fixed term repayments throughout the loan. The loans are, however, only available to those who hold a current account with the bank.
First Direct also provides mortgages via the telephone or online, and even won the best mortgage provider award at the 2013 Love Money awards. Their mortgages can be taken out by both new and existing customers of the bank.