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Smart Insights: Financial Services

The competitive landscape has broadened significantly for the financial services industry. Trust (or lack of it) is a major issue. Consumers have fast access to online user reviews, financial product comparisons and easy switching of services, making them savvier and more demanding than ever before.

Successful finance industry players deliver differentiated products and services to suit varying customer needs and increase trust by emphasizing transparency and client data security.

Our financial service research experts analyze market trends to deliver consumer insight and help you develop winning finance product and service strategies for your customers.

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Here you can find the latest insights for financial services industry. View all insights

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    Will the CMA league table of banks’ quality of service drive people to switch?

    Banks and building societies in the UK now have to display material in their branches and websites that shows a national ‘league table’ of banks’ quality of service. This is part of a Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) drive to create competition in the banking sector by encouraging switching.

    The question is, what affect will it have?

    We know from change behaviour models, such as Fogg, that, for behavioural change to happen, a person must have sufficient motivation, sufficient ability, and an effective trigger. All three factors must be present at the same instant for the behaviour to occur. Right now, people have the ‘ability’ to switch, provided by the Current Account Switch Service (CASS), which the CMA introduced to make switching much easier and therefore help overcome apathy.  The ‘trigger’ may well be provided by this new CMA ‘quality league table’, as people can easily see whether their account provider is better or worse than others. But that still leaves ‘motivation’. Will consumers be motivated to switch simply by believing that they will get higher quality of service elsewhere? Or will they need something more concrete, to give them sufficient motivation to switch?

    What motivates people to switch current accounts?

    At present, 5%1 of current account holders state that they are considering switching current accounts in the next 12 months, rising to 20%1 amongst those who are actively dissatisfied with their existing provider. Dissatisfaction with one’s existing account provider is clearly a strong negative motivator for switching. However, in the last 12 months, only 3.5%1 of current accounts actually did switch. This imbalance is no doubt partially due to the perceived hassle of switching accounts, despite services such as CASS. However, an additional barrier may be that people did not have a clear view of which bank could give them a better service – so they lacked a positive motivator. The CMA’s new league table of service quality will certainly go some way to bridging that gap – given that all banks and building societies providing personal current accounts now have to display the “top five” brands for four categories: Overall service quality; Online and mobile banking services; Overdraft services; and Services in branch. Other motivators that we know are already driving switching include product incentives. A good example of this is Santander’s 1|2|3 account, which offers cashback on household bills and a good interest rate on the account balance. Since its launch in 2012, Santander’s market share has risen by 2.6 percentage points1. Although very gradual, our FRS data also shows signs of customers moving away from the “Big 5” banking groups to embrace a wider range of challengers – driven by brand innovation, as well as product incentives.

    What does this all mean for banks?

    For the “Big 5” banks, the focus is likely to be on retention – ensuring they innovate to inspire and hold onto their customers. Key areas for retention include winning the mobile banking battle (a major area, as ‘convenience’ continues to grow in importance in people’s daily requirements), making branches relevant, so that they become attractors and combat challenger online and offline offerings, and ensuring their CMA ‘quality league table’ scores are strong, relative to others. For Challengers, such as Metro Bank, looking to acquire customers from the Big 5, the focus is likely to be on driving communications that emphasise “it’s easy to switch to us, we offer stellar customer experience and our proposition delivers the benefits you are seeking”.

    Conclusion on switching

    While the CMA service quality league table is unlikely to prompt a flood of switching on its own, it certainly adds an extra stepping-stone for those people considering switching. Brands who are in the top five on the CMA league table will be making the most of this independent ranking, to advertise their performance to both existing and potential customers – and working hard to ensure they retain their place. This means that brands not in the ‘top five’ on the CMA league table may be more vulnerable to customers considering switching to other brands who are flagged for their service excellence. The way to combat this is to ensure they have timely and accurate information on their full customer harmonics and experiences and understand where to innovate to improve this, to ensure their customers are not motivated to switch. Contact us: We can help you understand your customers’ current experiences, and identify areas of innovation to both retain and acquire customers <h5>Footnote:</h5> 1GfK Financial Research Survey (FRS) data to March 2018. GfK’s industry-leading Financial Research Survey (FRS) is the definitive study for UK retail financial services. Established in 1977, our research builds a complete picture of the UK financial consumer. Annually we interview 60,000 respondents, understanding consumer’s financial holdings, acquisitions, usage, and behaviour. It is a key single source of data, providing insight into consumer financial behaviour.
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