BLOG: Playing the loyalty card: why do we stick with our banks?

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Change is good, especially when it comes to our personal finances, writes Joanna Faith.
BLOG: Playing the loyalty card: why do we stick with our banks?

I found myself spouting the cliché ‘change is good for the soul’ to a friend this week. She’d just been made redundant and it rolled out of my mouth without much thought.

I’d hoped it would give her a boost or, at the very least, offer some comfort. But when I started to think about it, I realised that I really meant it. Change can be good for us, yet we spend so much time avoiding it.

We stay in jobs when we’re unhappy, we settle in toxic relationships, we live in houses that we’ve long out grown. We get comfortable. We like familiarity.

And apparently this applies to our finances too.

Research out this week revealed that one out of six people has stayed with their bank for more than 30 years, with nearly a third saying they have stayed put simply out of habit. In fact, it found we are more likely to stay faithful to our bank than our partner.

We also stick with our energy suppliers, ISA providers, credit card firms and insurance companies even if we can get better deals elsewhere. In today’s environment, with living costs rising, wages stagnating and interest rates at rock bottom, we are constantly being told to ‘make our money work harder’. But we do nothing. We stick with what we know, whether it’s because of apathy, loyalty or fear of the unknown.

So why is change so hard? While doing a bit of research into change, I came across an interesting article by Andrea Simon, a cultural anthropologist. She says resistance to change comes from three forces: habits are powerful and efficient; your brain hates change; and you have to “see and feel” new ways of doing things, not just read about them.

If this is true then it’s easy to see why people stick with their banks for three decades or longer!

But while changing jobs, leaving a partner or moving house may take time and be emotionally draining doing something about your finances is relatively easy.

Log-on to any of the numerous comparison sites and you can find out in 10 minutes or less the best deals for you. Companies are desperate for your business so taking a little time and doing some research – and perhaps some negotiating – could end up with serious savings. And they’ll be more than happy to help you through the process, often taking on the hassle for you.

Think about it, why stick with a bank out of loyalty? You don’t owe them anything, you don’t – or at least shouldn’t – have an emotional connection to them. There are hundreds of providers vying for your attention and once you make the change you’ll forget your old bank/insurance company/utility provider ever existed. Especially when you’re adding up your savings!

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