Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith gave evidence to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards on Wednesday 26 September, calling for a return for banking for customers, not bankers.
During yesterday’s evidence session, Peter Vicary-Smith spoke about key consumer concerns with the banking industry, including mis-selling scandals, poor customer service and culture in the sector.
Better banking standards
Peter Vicary-Smith discussed the importance of introducing higher professional standards to protect consumers from mis-selling scandals and bail-outs in the future, saying:
‘We absolutely need better regulation – regulation focused not on ticking boxes but on better outcomes for consumers. Better professional ethics and standards are really important. It’s got to be enshrined in legislation. This cannot be done by the industry. The industry has lost all credibility.
‘We let the industry try to sort a lot of this stuff out and there was a banking crisis. We’ve had PPI, we’ve had Libor rigging since then. This has to be independent. This has to come from outside otherwise you have the fox running the hen-house.’
Change banking culture
On fundamental changes to the banking sector itself, Peter Vicary-Smith said:
‘There are three things that I think are really important changes. An end to the sales focused culture and remuneration focused on selling rather than finding out what customers need. They should introduce professional standards that are independent and are rigorous. And let’s get back to a system where, through those, we hold individuals personally responsible, not just for the corporations they work for, because that is what we need to ensure accountability.’
Satisfaction at all time low
Asked why consumers aren’t switching their banks when levels of satisfaction are at an all time low, Peter Vicary-Smith said:
‘A lot of consumers have said it’s not worth switching because all the banks are the same. There are banks that do well in our customer survey but those with the biggest market share are consistently bumping along the bottom.’
Peter says people wonder what’s the point of switching if all banks are the same? Banks with biggest market share have least happy customers
— Which? Action (@WhichAction) September 26, 2012
Which? is concerned that loyal customers don't seem to be rewarded by their banks. Peter Vicary-Smith said:
‘The banks don’t seem to be interested in keeping their customer and deepening the relationship with each individual customer. And for that reason they look at the cost of something rather than the opportunity for contact.’
Which? has launched a major new campaign ‘Big Change’ to make the banks work for customers, not bankers. You can support the campaign by signing our ‘Big Change’ pledge.