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Bank branches irrelevant for many consumers

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Many consumers view physical bank branches irrelevant, and only get in touch with their bank to complain, according to research.

The study found only 47 per cent of current account holders have visited their local bank branch in the last 12 months, with 37 per cent not knowing its location.

On average, consumers have not spoken to their bank in over two years and four months, 18 per cent haven’t done so for over three years, and 17 per cent never have. Very few current account holders have any relationship with their bank manager, with 56 per cent never having spoken to them. Of those who have spoken to their bank, 33 per cent did so to complain, or resolve an issue with their current account.

When asked to name their single most important current account feature, 34 per cent of consumers chose good online banking facilities – ahead of local branches (19 per cent), low charges (15 per cent) and good customer service (14 per cent). A bank having an established brand was important to a mere 6 per cent.

Matt Sanders, banking expert, commented: “Many 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 problems with their account, or making a complaint.

“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 they must seamlessly transfer direct debits and standing orders.”

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