Improving service quality through transparency

The FCA's announcement this week that banks will be required to provide greater information on their current account service provision will help foster even greater competition in the market.  Greater clarity on the service banks offer can only increase their ability to compete on this, as well as other customer considerations such as interest rates, pricing and product terms.  UK Finance is committed to ensuring effective competition and this news is a welcome development.

The information required by the FCA will be a combination of standing data (including service availability information such as how and when things like cancelling a cheque or transferring money can be done) and a number of service metrics (such as how quickly customers can get a debit card or access internet banking) - with most of the information available from August 2018. The information will be standardised to ensure it is comparable across providers.

These measures have been selected following a heavily customer focussed research project to understand what individuals and businesses thought of as helpful indicators of good service.  The FCA undertook proactive research on current account service, holding focus groups, workshops and interviews across the UK.  These groups believe 'that greater transparency could help to improve service and aid [their] decision making? and we can take comfort from the fact that the final proposals arose from these origins.  This is information these groups identified as helpful.

UK Finance has been delighted to host a number of member roundtables and working groups with the FCA to help the regulator understand the industry's perspective, with the process proving a dynamic example of collaboration throughout.

We are particularly delighted that our members have agreed to work with us and the Building Societies Association to go even further than the FCA requirements - coordinating the development of an industry agreement on a consistent format to voluntarily publish standing data on how members serve customers displaying characteristics of vulnerability.  The industry has once again demonstrated its willingness to deliver for vulnerable customers.

The benefits for customers will be even greater when considered alongside two new surveys which will be published from August 2018.  These will rank providers based on the likelihood of personal customers recommending their current account to friends and family, and businesses to recommending theirs to other SMEs.  These will be provided in posters across the bank branch networks and online, allowing much easier service comparison.  UK Finance has worked closely with our members, the Competition and Markets Authority and the two independent research agencies to ensure the robustness and integrity of the surveys.

Taken together with the start of Open Banking , the FCA's new requirements mean customers will have more information than ever on the industry's service, driving standards even further and allowing customers to make informed decisions about their current account provider. We look forward to helping our members deliver these important projects on behalf of consumers.

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