Local banking in decline as online leads the way

A third of bank customers only visit their local branch to make a complaint or resolve a problem with their current account. Picture: Getty Images
A third of bank customers only visit their local branch to make a complaint or resolve a problem with their current account. Picture: Getty Images
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CUSTOMERS are shunning their local bank branches for the convenience of managing their financial affairs online, a new survey suggests.

Current account holders haven’t discussed their finances with a bank manager for five years on average, according to the poll, which points to a general decline in the importance of visits to the bank.

For those who did visit their local branch, around a third said they did so to make a complaint or solve problems with their account. Another 35 per cent said who did their banking in person

said they discussed savings and investments. Another 21 per cent said they went to the branch to open a new account.

The survey, commissioned by Gocompare.com Money, also found that very few current account holders have any relationship with their bank manager. On average, people said they hadn’t spoken to their branch manager for five years, while well over half (56 per cent) said they had never spoken to them.

The 2,000 respondents, when asked which single attribute was most important to them regarding their current account, 34 per cent said they wanted good online banking. Nineteen per cent wanted a branch near to where they lived, and 15 per cent looked for low bank charges. Only 14 per cent said a good reputation for customer service was important, and six per cent said a traditional banking brand was most important to them.

Matt Sanders, Gocompare.com’s banking expert, said: “This piece of research suggests that many bank current account customers don’t have a particularly fruitful relationship with their local branch. Indeed, according to the figures, a third of conversations with bank staff concern resolving problems with their account or making a complaint. But if you’re unhappy with your bank – it’s never been easier to switch.

“Switching bank accounts became quicker and simpler following the introduction of new faster switching rules in September 2013. The new rules give banks a seven day time limit to switch a customer’s account and must seamlessly transfer direct debits and standing orders.

“This, coupled with the midata current account comparison tool, which uses customers’ real financial records to help them make more meaningful and better-informed decisions about accounts on offer, means that it’s never been easier to find a current account best suited to your needs.”