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Trust in UK banks stabilises – but still lags behind rest of world

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Consumer trust in the UK banking sector has stabilised after years of decline, but still lags behind the rests of the world, a new survey has said.

The Global Consumer Banking Survey from accountancy firm EY analysed the responses of more than 32,000 retail banking customers from across 43 countries. The data found that customer experience is key to winning, growing and retaining customers in an “increasingly competitive banking environment”.

Globally customers selected “the way I am treated” as the second most important reason for trusting their banking provider. The answer was second only to the “financial stability” of a bank.

Customer experience was also the most common reason for opening and closing accounts, beating fees, rates, locations and convenience.

The survey echoes separate research which found that most customers in the UK are choosing to switch current accounts based on the bank’s reputation and customer service. The seven-day current account switching service, which launched in September, has led the number of consumers moving their money to rise.

Globally more than half of retail banking customers opened or closed an account in 2013 and 40% plan to do so this year, according to EY. The figures highlight the need for banks to remain competitive and be viewed as trustful by the public.

In the UK, 37% of respondents said that their trust had in banks had declined over the last year, compared to the 11% that said their confidence had increased. Some 15% also said they had minimal or no trust in their main finance provider, double the levels seen in Germany, France and the US. One of the main drivers behind the lack of trust was recent news articles.

The chief executive of the Financial Ombudsman has previously said that a lack of trust is leading to an increase in the number of complaints about financial service providers.

Natalie Ceeney urged financial providers to focus on the “power of listening” and warned that failure to do so could cost the sector financially and harm its reputation. In the third quarter of 2013 the number of complaints bought to the ombudsman increased by 39% on the same period in 2014.

Further reading:

Financial Ombudsman: rising complaints down to a lack of trust

RBS reports losses of £2.8bn – and employee bonuses of £576m

What is your bank doing with your money? 35% of Britons have ‘no idea’

TSB is back – but is it an ethical banking option?

Banking standards body must be run by non-bankers, says review chief

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