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With the recent announcement that Lloyds Bank is cutting a further 9,000 jobs and the net closure of 150 branches over the next three years, this prompted me to wonder what the future of banking on the high street might entail and whether this will be fair to customers of all ages and technological abilities.

With increasing numbers of banking customers, myself included, predominantly using online and mobile channels to manage both current and savings accounts, how necessary will a high street branch be in the future?

Posted 08 December 2014 by James Carnegie, Research Manager

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 The Bitcoin itself is a revolutionary new form of payment system founded in 2008 and a completely digital form of money. Security experts and digital freedom enthusiasts commend Bitcoin for being a unique system, because of its guaranteed anonymity feature. There are currently 10.71 million Bitcoins in existence, $207.929 million worth!

According to Bitcoin.org, "Bitcoin is an innovative payment network and a new kind of money... Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks". Bitcoin is a lot like cash for the internet. From general consensus among financial professionals and looking at the Bitcoin price index one would come away with the conclusion that...

Posted 29 September 2014 by Aman Malhotra, Research Assistant

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Expectations are changing. People are bombarded with a constant stream of updates, upgrades and improvements to technology every day, and financial services needs to evolve with this. The explosion of digital platforms such as tablets, blogs, social media sites, smart TV’s etc means that financial products and services need to be aligned with these if banks want to engage with customers in a meaningful way.

Plenty of non-financial brands are embracing technology to engage with the public... couples counselling apps where you can speak to a therapist in real time when you’re arguing over who’s turn it is to take the bins out, hotels which provide guests with suggestions for the best instagram shots and suggestions for the perfect selfie (yes, seriously).

Posted 21 July 2014 by Emma Dalton, Research Manager

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Increasingly we hear of financial institutions putting customers more at the heart of their businesses. We can be sure that companies will be monitoring their customer satisfaction and brand perceptions. But what about B2B partnerships?

Often at the coalface of customer interactions on behalf of financial services companies, partners and suppliers are key to maintaining customer trust. But when things don’t go to plan, this can put a strain on partnerships. One only has to think of customer feedback on offshore call centres and how these have been gradually axed in favour of a return to the UK. Then there’s the suppliers who have been blamed for customers not being able to access their accounts. More topically, it will be interesting to understand whether relationships between insurers and suppliers suffer under the sheer weight of affected properties in flood-hit areas. Just as an annoyed consumer can vent their anger on social media, so a frustrated intermediary, affinity partner or supplier can result in the brand being poorly represented or the loss of contracts worth millions of pounds.

Posted 24 April 2014 by Michael Worledge, Senior Associate Director

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The Financial Ombudsman Service (the Ombudsman) revealed this week that it received around 576,000 complaints in 2013 - up a massive 38% on the previous year, and “depressingly high”, according to Chief Ombudsman, Tony Boorman.  Of all complaints received, over half (56%) were upheld, which equates to 323,000 complaints.  Bearing in mind that the Ombudsman is the last port of call for customers dissatisfied with their provider, these are worrying figures indeed.

Posted 7 March 2014 by Georgiana Brown, Research Manager

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“We’re in the least trusted industry and we’re one of those banks that aren’t trusted”: so said Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) boss Ross McEwan this morning in a surprisingly frank confession on the BBC Today programme.

McEwan was attempting to explain RBS’s pre-tax loss of £8.2bn for 2013, its biggest loss since it was rescued by the government at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. Certainly its figures make for grim reading, with a loss that is £3bn more than in 2012, as it battles to get back on an even keel.

On BBC Radio 5 Live this morning, financial analyst Louise Cooper commented that the figures reveal a picture of “horror, past greed, incompetence and corruption under Sir Fred Goodwin” and that things are getting worse instead of better as RBS pays for the clean-up caused by “mis-selling PPI, manipulating libel, mis-selling interest rates savings, blah blah blah”.

But is this old news? Sure, things hardly look rosy for RBS or for the industry as a whole, but RBS is now making an operating profit, with the losses incurred due to previous errors, not current ones. And “the least trusted industry” – are they sure? Does this take account of the wider picture? Or is this just rhetoric designed to cause a stir and lead the general public to believe that a massive sea change is on its way?

Posted 27 February 2014 by Georgiana Brown, Research Manager

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It is interesting to read about the latest developments in the new Williams & Glyn’s bank that is to be head quartered in Manchester and formed from RBS branches. For all the talk about new challenger banks, even these large spin-offs (TSB part of the Lloyds Bank Group being the other one) are small when considered against the might of the big four whose market share totals around 75% of the UK retail current account market and even more of the business/corporate account market.

Are more going to join the party?

Now that 7 day switching has launched it is expected that Tesco and Virgin will burst into the party after standing outside in the rain for the last 2 years, but how quickly will they join and will they join with new exciting funky products accompanied with party poppers firing in all directions? Or will it be a soft launch of standard current accounts albeit in new sparkling crinkly wrapping paper? 

Posted 31 October 2013 by Adrian Wooldridge, Research Account Manager

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Research was published this week by Nottingham University stating that the UK has lost 40% of its banks and building societies since 1989. Whilst the bulk of these were in the last millennium, and the rate in the last 6 years has slowed to a 7.4% decline, it’s certainly re-energised the branch as the centre of the community debate.

With the report hitting national as well as trade press (and at least 4 people emailing me about the article) I can’t help but wonder – so what?

Posted 23 August 2013 by Lynn Tweedale, Senior Research Manager

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You’re sitting on a train with a friend and as you go through a cutting you lose your 3G connection, just as you’re trying to open up a web page. Your friend though is surfing away happily and so, after a quick chat about what network they’re on you think that when your contract is up you’ll switch over to them. Or maybe you like getting away from it all, but it’s important for your sense of security to have a decent mobile signal when trying to scale a Munro. So you switch to a provider that better suits your needs.

But what about if you’re not sure you’re getting a very good deal on your current account and you’ve heard about better rates and slicker service elsewhere? Will you switch? Well, the chances are no, not if you’re in the 97% of people with a bank account who didn’t switch last year (just 1.2m of 46m account holders did so).

Posted 21 August 2013 by Georgiana Brown, Research Manager

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As we head towards the end of summer and reach the mid-point of the school holidays, many Brits are heading overseas or have recently returned from a break. For the vast majority of those who have come back, no problems will have been encountered, but for some an incident may have taken place and costs been incurred as a result of this. Hopefully the individuals involved were not one of the quarter of Brits who travel abroad without insurance.

Posted 15 August 2013 by James Carnegie, Research Manager

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