Banking reform manifesto unveiled by Which? Action plan puts consumers at heart of bank reform

24 June 2010

Mervyn King

Consumer champion Which? has unveiled a new Banking Manifesto, intended to help rebuild trust between banks and their customers by encouraging financial institutions to put service ahead of short-term profit.

The ten-point action plan comes after the Future of Banking Commission highlighted that a dramatic change in banking culture is needed to move the industry forward.

At the heart of the Which? manifesto for banking reform is a renewed focus on the needs and interests of consumers.

Ten banking reform demands

The ten demands of the Which? Banking Manifesto are:

1. Ban sales incentives and commissions for bank staff. Instead, reward branch and call centre staff for providing high quality service.

2. Make all bank fees fair. Charges must be transparent and proportionate to the cost of the service being provided.

3. Make switching banks easier, and ensure the process is clear and quick.

4. Support customers in financial difficulty. Bank charges and overdraft fees should not contribute to a customer’s financial problems.

5. Stop penalising existing customers for staying loyal to their bank. Currently, if you stick with one current account or savings account provider for many years, you’re likely to earn little interest on your money.

6. Inform customers of relevant risks. Bank must make it clear to their customers which products are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

7. Offer 100% guaranteed accounts. These new accounts should protect a customer’s money completely from external risks.

8. Provide services that meet customers’ needs. A range of services must be available to prevent the exclusion of customers who are unwilling or unable to bank online, or who would prefer to continue using cheques.

9. Ensure complaints are dealt with fairly and quickly. All complaints must be handled in a timely manner.

10. Give bank managers long-term incentives, not short-term targets. The remuneration of bank employees must be linked to long-term performance, to help create a more consumer-focused industry.

A better future for banking

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: ‘Banks have been allowed to ride roughshod over their customers for too long. Mis-selling, poor products and unsuitable financial advice have become the cornerstone of the banking culture and this must change.

‘Which?’s Banking Manifesto will put consumers at the heart of banks' business and ensure that good customer service is put ahead of short-term profit.’

Meanwhile, check out our online advice guides if you’d like to know more about switching bank accounts, or if you were mis-sold.

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