It’s no secret that bankers score pretty low in the trust stakes. Indeed, given the choice of who we’d like to babysit our kids, Charles Bronson or a hedge fund manager, most of us would likely start assessing the benefits of little Susie learning how to throw a good punch.
Nonetheless, after a decade of financial market reforms it is surprising to see satisfaction and trust in our financial institutions still so low. However research from customer feedback specialists Maru/edr suggests just that, with a recent survey showing that just 52 per cent of UK customers feel their financial services firms treat them fairly.
The research, which saw the firm survey 1,000 customers across the UK with at least one financial product, also found that a staggering 84 per cent of us would give feedback were we given the chance. However, just 45 per cent of respondents said they had been invited to take part in research in the past 12 months.
According to Maru/edu, this means our banks, insurers and investment managers are missing out on the potential feedback of 17 million customers, a good slug of which may well have the insight that our financial institutions need to fix their PR problem.
Steve Brockway, chief research officer at Maru/edr, explains: “Customer feedback is vital for brands looking to protect and grow their market share. Yet for financial brands, customer feedback holds even more value in both improving services and demonstrating FCA compliance.
“There’s clearly an appetite from customers to have their voices heard – the growth of review sites is testament to the expanding feedback culture we now live in. But financial services brands are clearly currently missing a huge opportunity leaving customers feeling unfairly treated”.
Challengers quiz customers
This lack of engagement is, arguably, one of the many advantages that challenger banks and investment managers have over stuffy old incumbents. Having grown fat and rich from a natural monopoly reinforced by customer apathy, many banks and pension managers see little need to find our what their customers really need, or want.
Fintech start-ups trying to get off the ground, on the other hand, need to hang on their customers’ every word in order to create a competitive product that meets – and hopefully surpasses – expectation. And this is particularly true in the ethical and impact investing space, where a new breed of saver is slowly emerging: one that wants full transparency – as well as whizzy features.
Tom McGiilycuddy, co-founder of brand new impact investing app tickr has worked extensively with customers through the development and launch phases of the app, which he says are still very much ongoing.
He says: “tickr today is very much built by our user base. Over the past three months we’ve held in person user workshops at our office, and spoken to as many users as we can over the phone, purely to get their feedback and bring in features that they want.
This has changed our sign up flow, our in app design, and we are going to launch new themes that users have requested. Not only is it the sensible thing to do (build something people want) but it builds trust and a relationship – which is what we want for our customers.”
It’s not all bad news from the big banks, though. The Maru/edr research – which tested a number of key components of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) policy, found that an impressive 70 per cent of customers felt that communications from their financial services provider were at least clear.
The firm says this marks a signifiant shift in the industry, as just three years ago the FCA urged finance firms to stop using excessively complicated language in a bid to reduce customer complaints.
Nonetheless customers remained dissatisfied with the communication they receive from their providers, with just 30 per cent rating communications highly and less than half (47 per cent) stating that they felt they received the right amount. Moreover, less than half (48 per cent) said that they felt communication from their providers held a relevant, personal appeal to them.
So bumpf from our banks is clearer, but still not interesting. Well – we’re getting somewhere then. Slowly.
If you’re interested in switching your current account, insurer or pension to an ethical provider check our our #greenleaves series – from everyday banking to long-term savings to your energy provider and car insurer: we show you how to green every part of your financial life.