We’re meant to be a nation of pioneers. Back in the seventeenth century we set sail in search of exotic bounty. This was a time when most people still believed that the earth was flat, and if you sailed too far, you’d simply fall off the edge. But as we set sail into even choppier Brexit waters, a riddle remains at the heart of the banking industry: Why aren’t more of us prepared to switch current accounts?
Over the last few years it’s been hammered home that switching is easy. The Current Account Switch Guarantee, run by Bacs, claims to make it simple, reliable and stress-free. It’s even available for most businesses banking accounts, and yet us Brits are proving rather hard to dislodge from our high street banks.
While the emergence of new banks like Metro Bank, Starling and Monzo has certainly helped to bring to market more differentiated propositions that have helped to intrigue customers and to amplify the message that switching is easy, it has hardly opened up the floodgates. Even switching offers of up to £200 haven’t been enough to tempt most of us.
But perhaps there’s hope ahead. Within finance, there’s a much-vaunted ambition that customers will become co-regulators, voting with their feet if their bank is found to have significant conduct failings. After all, we’re all supposed to be increasingly driven by social purpose. The rise in veganism is cited as an example of consumers aiming to make a difference by making changes to their personal lives in order to soften the environmental impact of eating meat.
So will consumers bring the same conscience to banking? A recent survey asked consumers how non-financial misconduct – that includes things like sexual harassment and discriminatory employment practices – would affect where they choose to put their money.