As more branches close...

Half of bank customers ‘want face-to-face contact’

Clydesdale Bank Bridge of Weir

Banks may be misjudging their customers by rushing them into mobile and internet banking, according to a new report.

It found that that while more of them are using online services, almost half (48%) are not comfortable managing their finances this way.

Banks are closing increasing number of branches because they say customers increasingly want to undertake their banking online. Clydesdale Bank recently announced a further 50 branch closures.

But the 2016 EY Global Consumer Banking Survey reveals that they still want to deal with someone face-to-face on key matters.

In addition, a third (33%) claim to actively distrust a bank that has no high street presence, even if they predominantly use digital banking.

Sue Dawe, EY partner and head of financial services in Scotland, said: “Face-to-face interaction remains important and customers should not be rushed into online and mobile banking.

“Similar to the introduction of email and computers in place of fax machines, this is a new approach that customers will want help with from their bank.”

The survey also found that 80% of customers worry they do not receive high quality unbiased advice from their bank, and 82% claimed they do not trust that they are being told if there is a product which better suits their needs.

Ms Dawe added: “Trust is a vital component of strong relationships between customers and their banks, so it is a concern there is such a high lack of faith in the advice given.

“The number of people taking control and proactively managing their finances is on the rise, but this should not be due to a feeling that banks are not providing the service they desire.”

> Daily Business comment: this report does not accuse the banks of forcing customers into something they don’t want, but it drops big hints that this might be the case.

Because of the low interest environment the banks are suffering from low margins and maintaining branches becomes more expensive.

Are customers deserting branches and opting for online services through choice? Or is it because the banks are “encouraging” customers to use mobile and other internet services as a means to cut costs?

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