Customers call for friendlier banking

Exasperated customers feel banks and some building societies are being run for the benefit of shareholders, according to new research from West Yorkshire based Friendly Society Kingston Unity.

Only 11% of survey respondents felt their bank or building society was actually run for the benefit of customers.

The Kingston Unity survey also highlighted customers’ resentment at having to communicate with their bank or building society via overseas calls centres.

An astounding 82 per cent of customers said they preferred to speak to staff based in the UK.

Over 65s are the most disapproving of overseas calls centres with 93 per cent preferring to speak to staff based in this country.

Among 18-24 year olds, who are seemingly more tolerant, the figure drops to 63 per cent.

The research was carried out by the financial organisation Kingston Unity, a mutual society which offers savers and investors a real alternative to high street banks and building societies.

Kingston Unity was founded in 1840 and has developed a number of products including Investment NISAs, Investment Bonds and Child Tax Exempt Savings Plans.

The financial organisation, which has 100,000 members, is celebrating a record year with premium income soaring.

Its total assets have increased from £79m at the end of 2013 to £90m after the first half of 2014.

The Wakefield-based Friendly Society commissioned Populus to carry out an independent nationwide survey to learn more about behaviour and attitudes towards the financial services sector.

Andrew Townsley, chief executive of Kingston Unity Friendly Society, said: “It’s incredible that customers remain loyal to banks and some building societies even though a large majority feel they are not being run primarily for the benefit of their customers.

“Friendly Societies like Kingston Unity offer a very real alternative to the high street institutions.

“Here at Kingston Unity we’ve embraced transparency and fairness in our customer relationships whilst maintaining the principles of integrity and security that were evident when we were founded almost 175 years ago.

“Our products are simple, bonus rates are consistent and customer service is excellent. Our branches are still based in the heart of communities.

“The findings of the survey demonstrate why competition and choice is so important, particularly in the financial sector.”

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