Understanding customers’ views on current account service indicators

Financial Conduct Authority

Our study of SME and personal current account customers revealed a clear desire for more meaningful information about the different services provided by firms. By demonstrating the likely impact of greater transparency – and identifying what matters most to customers – our findings are now supporting the Financial Conduct Authority and Competition and Markets Authority as they seek to drive engagement across the current accounts market.

Following a high-profile investigation into retail banking by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) was tasked with defining a new set of ‘service indicators’: points of comparison between different current accounts, intended to help customers understand variations across the market, and make more informed choices.

We were commissioned to test a range of potential indicators with both personal and business current account holders. Our job was to assess what matters most to different groups, and relate this to current satisfaction levels and enthusiasm for engaging with the current account market – understanding the likely impact of greater transparency.

We revealed that both personal and business current account customers often incorrectly assume that service quality doesn’t vary across banks. We also highlighted a lack of awareness of more innovative providers and practices (e.g. Monzo, or Metro Bank’s opening hours).

Above all, our research showed that apathy towards the current accounts market does not reflect an inherent inertia among customers. Instead, we demonstrated that an appetite for engagement does exist, as long as the right pieces of information are readily available, and presented in the right way. Many customers left our workshops keen to start accessing information that would help them better navigate the market, benefit from innovations, and ultimately secure the best option for them.

Our work underlined the FCA and CMA’s conclusions about the likely impact of developing new and more effective service indicators. Specific findings about customers’ preferences and priorities are now informing the launch of Open Banking – helping to make the new information more widely accessible to consumers.