Thursday 11 April 2019 12:46 pm

Public sentiment towards Metro Bank plunges amid regulatory probes into accounting error

Public sentiment towards Metro Bank has plummeted in recent months as the challenger bank has battled the impacts of a major accounting error and regulatory probes.

The bank admitted at the end of January that a swathe of commercial loans had been incorrectly classified and should have been among its “risk-weighted assets.”

Read more: Metro Bank urged to shake up board amid regulatory probes

Shares have plunged 64 per cent since the blunder, which was compounded by the revelation that it was unearthed by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and an emergency £350m cash call to shareholders.

A new report into the sentiment of UK challenger banks by data firm Brands Eye found that negative sentiment towards Metro Bank surged in January and remained high in February.

Brands Eye, which analysed close to 9,000 tweets over three months, said that accounting irregularities and share performance were the two big topics of conversation.

It said the bank’s share price was discussed more than twice as much as the accounting problems.

In December 21 per cent of all conversations about Metro Bank were negative, rising to 44 per cent in January before falling to 33 per cent the following month.

February also saw a spike in customers threatening to leave the bank but despite all the issues faced by Metro Bank in recent months, complaint resolution was the biggest frustration.

Accusations of fraud increased from 77 in December to 438 in February, which the report said implied a “growing lack of trust from consumers in response to governance concerns.”

The bank has taken steps to bolster its board in recent weeks amid investigations by the PRA and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Read more: Metro Bank boss remains defiant as shares continue to plunge

Chief executive Craig Donaldson said he offered to resign in the wake of the discovery but the board insisted he should stay.

Independent director Ben Gunn will move to a new position of deputy chairman and Howard Flight and Keith Carby will step down later this month.