You may recall that a few weeks ago I asked for feedback on RBS/Natwest’s MoneySense scheme, where advisors in the branches of these banks were specially trained to give impartial advice on a range of money issues.
Well, despite receiving no feedback (probably an indication of the lack of readership of this blog!), yesterday I came across this thread at the MoneySavingExpert forums which pointed to a Money Marketing report on the impartiality of the service, and despite a limited sample size, it didn’t paint a great picture of the service.
NatWest’s MoneySense advisers promoted the bank’s own mortgages on two out of five occasions when mystery-shopped by Money Marketing despite the bank advertising the service as “impartial” non-sales advice.
As I said, such a small sample size doesn’t really make for a great report, but possibly the most interesting feedback comes from the forum post itself – there was hardly a good word in favour of the scheme. Here are a couple of the comments:
I find the NatWest ‘MoneySense’ concept a little nauseating, to be honest.
Hate the concept of this, just a trick to get more sales.
NW are trying to pull the wool but it’s not going to work on most people, I would hope!
Once again, this is not a true reflection of the service, as it would appear that none of the posters has actually visited a MoneySense advisor, but it reflects the cynicism that the banks now face amongst the general public.
Indeed, a report released today suggests that U.K. consumers perceive their banks to be ‘greedy’ and ‘impersonal’:
When asked which words best describe the perception of their financial institution, consumers identified ‘greedy’ (49 per cent), ‘impersonal’ (36 per cent) and distant (34 per cent). Positive and desired descriptions including ‘ethical’ (two per cent), ’trustworthy’ (four per cent) and ‘transparent’ (five per cent) were among the least common terms used by consumers to describe their financial institutions. Furthermore, the survey shows that financial providers are neglecting consumers in these testing times. Almost three quarters (74 per cent) of consumers have not been contacted by their financial providers with advice on financial planning.
So what’s a bank to do to regain consumer trust? Obviously, gimmicky services like MoneySense probably aren’t the answer, despite its good intentions. What do you think they should do to start to regain some trust?
Despite the cynicism, I do actually like the concept behind the MoneySense scheme, but maybe it’s something that should be done in a neutral setting. Maybe the high street banks should get their heads together to provide a similar scheme elsewhere where there isn’t the perception they’ll be trying to flog their own products? And maybe the advisors could do with a little more than 8 hours training.
It’s worth remembering that the service is aimed at helping people with the simpler personal finance problems, such as budgeting and getting the best deals on financial products, and isn’t meant to replace proper financial advice.
photo credit: wwarby
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