Reputation Survey: Banks still fail consumer trust test

Almost three-quarters of the public believes the recession was caused by bankers and no bank scores highly on public trust.

Reputation survey: OnePoll's word cloud reveals the public's opinion of banks

Consumer trust in banks has not improved in the past year, according to new research from PRWeek/OnePoll.

The results came after 2,500 customers of Tesco Bank were locked out of their accounts for days following an IT error.

Eighty-six per cent of respondents said they did not trust banks more now than they did a year ago, and 59 per cent said they did not trust banks to give them good financial advice.

And 72 per cent of those asked said they believed the recession was the fault of the bankers.

HSBC emerged as the most trusted high street bank with 14 per cent of the vote and First Direct was named the most trusted online-only bank with 17 per cent.

HSBC was also the bank respondents thought had the best overall reputation, with 19 per cent, and the best customer service with 12 per cent. But the percentages were all low, with 35 per cent unable to choose which high street bank had the best reputation and 53 per cent unable to choose an online-only bank.

On the whole, 88 per cent of people said they preferred online banking to high street banking. Yet the main factors for people choosing which bank accounts to open were good interest rates and branch location.

Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they had never switched bank accounts and a further 40 per cent said they switched less than every two years.

Survey of 2,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll

HOW I SEE IT - Tony Langham, Chief executive, Lansons Communications

All banks are painfully aware that they've lost trust - the question is what to do about it. At a Government level, the Project Merlin agreement between banks and Government is well conceived but in comms terms poorly executed.

The language, from Project Merlin to the Business Finance Taskforce, is the language of the City, not the high street. On the high street itself the issue is demonstrating that banks care about customers and that we are, indeed, all in this together. Customers want to feel the bank suffers when they suffer and only prospers when they prosper.

Customer service is paramount, and there is increasing evidence that despite media scepticism, NatWest's customer charter is working. The blame game penalises the bailed-out banks and accounts for the lead that HSBC and Barclays have over RBS and Lloyds in this survey. The comms imperative is to focus on specifics, emphasise the local and talk to customers in their language about the things they care about.

Online vs High Street

88% of respondents preferred online banking to high street banking

Financial advice

59% said they did not believe banks gave good financial advice

Data protection

52% did not think banks looked after customer data better than other sectors such as supermarkets


...has the best reputation?

HSBC 18.5
Santander 8.5
Halifax 7
Barclays 12
NatWest 9
Lloyds TSB 7
Don't know 35 you most trust?

Santander 8.5
Halifax 9
RBS 3.5
Barclays 11
NatWest 10
Lloyds TSB 9
Don't know 35

...has the best reputation?

Tesco Bank 12
First Direct 19
Egg 5 3
ING direct 8
Don't know 53 you most trust?

Tesco Bank 12
First Direct 17
Egg 5 3
ING direct 7
Don't know 56

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