CMA and FCA banking service quality results: Do they matter?

Today sees the release of the latest banking service quality survey results, providing invaluable and up to date information to consumers and small businesses on the quality of service on offer from banks and building societies to their personal and business current account customers. 

This is the third set of these half-yearly service quality results to be published. It follows the review of the retail banking market by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in 2016, and subsequent work undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which led to a series of actions designed to promote competition and transparency, including the regular surveys.

As part of its commitment to working to encourage effective competition and better outcomes for customers, UK Finance has played a key role in coordinating the industry's successful participation in these important initiatives, and so welcomes these results.

The service quality results are obtained from a substantial and independent survey conducted with thousands of consumers and small businesses across Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The survey provides an independent view of the overall quality of service provided to those customers, as well as their branch, online, mobile, overdraft and, for small businesses, their relationship management services.

But do these survey results really matter to consumers and small business owners?  

The short answer is that they should and they do. It is easy to assume that all financial services firms offer the same level of service, but the survey results demonstrate otherwise. There is a considerable gap between firms, and also differences by channels, such as internet and branch banking.

The impact is twofold; firstly, customers can clearly see how their current provider compares with others in the market and they may choose to switch provider. The Current Account Switching Service (CASS) makes moving accounts straightforward for personal banking customers, and UK Finance has worked with providers of UK business banking accounts to agree a basic set of information they will need from business customers. This guide brings you the essential details and documents you?ll need to open your account. 

Secondly, it encourages banks to strive to provide a service that deserves customer recommendation because the results are public. Banks and building societies are displaying the latest results prominently in all branches, in leaflets, on their websites and on mobile apps so that customers have the broadest possible access to this information. The results should be impossible to miss!  

In 2019-20, the number of providers involved in the survey will increase with the emergence of three new participants, meaning customers will have even more choice.

In addition, banks and building societies are working closely with the FCA to publish details on how they perform on a range of key account services. For example, how long it takes to open a current account, how long it takes to replace a debit card, as well as information about the number of major operational or security incidents they have experienced. This information is made available on each provider's website and, for the first time, a summary of all the providers? performance is now included in one place on the FCA's website.

These initiatives, together with the development of Open Banking, give customers the appropriate tools to make informed decisions about their choice of provider. Banking and finance is a highly competitive market with a regular stream of new entrants and an increasing choice of innovative products and services. The propositions offered are as diverse as the market and so it really helps that, alongside improved price transparency, this information enables customers and their advisers to judge service quality. Make use of them!

The latest service results are available here: