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The demise of local banking: survey reveals that local bank branches are irrelevant for many people

01 October 2015
  • Good online banking now ranked more important than a local bank branch
  • 2.3 years - the average length of time since Brits last talked to their local bank branch office about their finances;
  • Current account holders haven’t spoken to their bank manager, on average, for 5 years;
  • A third of conversations with local bank staff concern problems with accounts or complaints

With two years since the introduction of new, faster bank account switching, new research suggests that many Brits find local bank branches and bank managers irrelevant.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults found that only 37% of current account holders know where their bank branch is, and less than half (47%) have visited it in the last 12 months.

When asked when they last spoke to anyone in their local branch about their finances the survey found that:

  • 2.3 years is the average length of time since respondents last talked to their local bank branch;
  • 18% hadn’t done so for 3 years or more;
  • 17% had never talked to anyone at their bank about their finances.

The main reasons given for speaking to someone at their local bank branch include: discussing savings and investments (35%), sorting out a problem with their account (29%), and opening a new account (21%).  Other reasons were to discuss a new mortgage (7%), to talk over a financial difficulty (4%), and to make a complaint about the bank or bank account (4%).

The survey, commissioned by Gocompare.com Money, also found that very few current account holders have any relationship with their bank manager.  On average, people said they hadn’t spoken to their branch manager for 5 years, while well over half (56%) said they had never spoken to them.

When respondents were asked to name the single most important aspect about a bank current account, the top answers were:

  1. Good online banking (34%)
  2. A branch near to where I live (19%)
  3. Low bank charges (15%)
  4. A good customer service reputation (14%)
  5. A traditional banking brand (6%)

Matt Sanders, Gocompare.com’s banking expert, commented: “This piece of research suggests that many bank current account customers don’t have a particularly fruitful relationship with their local branch.  Indeed, according to the figures, a third of conversations with bank staff concern resolving problems with their account or making a complaint.  But if you’re unhappy with your bank – it’s never been easier to switch.

“Switching bank accounts became quicker and simpler following the introduction of new faster switching rules in September 2013.  The new rules give banks a seven day time limit to switch a customer’s account and must seamlessly transfer direct debits and standing orders.

“This, coupled with the midata current account comparison tool, which uses customers’ real financial records to help them make more meaningful and better-informed decisions about accounts on offer, means that it’s never been easier to find a current account best suited to your needs.”

Gocompare.com’s midata current account comparison service helps people find out which current account is best for them by allowing them to compare all basic, packaged and standard bank accounts currently on the market. The comparison tool has been developed as part of the government’s midata initiative, which aims to give consumers better access to and control over the electronic data that companies hold about them. The purpose of the initiative is to help customers make better buying decisions based on how they actually use their current account.

For more information on midata visit Gocompare.com's midata current account guide


Notes to editors:

*On 29 July 2015, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,000 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.