Bottom Line: Big banks could steal challengers’ thunder

 
Tim Wallace
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EVERYONE hates big banks, right? Wrong. Britons love to complain about their banks, but if you look at actions instead of words, very few of them have done anything about it.

It is not difficult for customers to vote with their feet, particularly with the seven-day switching scheme.

Those who are unhappy with the service at their bank can go to one with better ratings like First Direct or Metro Bank. If you want better value for money, try Halifax or Co-op which offer a £100 switching bonus, or Santander or Nationwide with higher interest rates.

But few are prepared to move.

An analysis by City A.M. found the biggest changes since the scheme came in were a net 104,800 moving to Santander, and 76,200 leaving RBS.

They sound like big numbers, but in a market when the biggest banks have 15m or more customers, it isn’t very impressive.

One glimmer of hope for the British people comes from the surge in new banks.

Swedish entrant Handelsbanken has 177 branches, and Metro is currently setting up six more, to add to its 27 existing sites.

Add to those the online lender Atom Bank, which is applying for its licence, plus two dozen others and you are starting to see a difference at the margin.

But watch out for bigger changes at the existing giants. The spurt of competition is forcing them to up their game – and that improves the lives of millions of customers without them having to lift a finger.

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