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Ignorance is bliss?

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UK consumers are burying their heads in the sand when it comes to their current accounts, and perhaps missing costly errors in their statements. Pauline McCallion reports  
Almost 1 in 5 UK current account holders do not open, read or check their bank statements, according to new research, with only 16% keeping track of their finances on a day-to-day basis. The survey from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) showed that, of those who do claim to check, 23% fail to do so regularly.

Despite this, 20% of the respondents said they were aware of their bank balance at any time within a £50 error margin. And no wonder, considering that 63% of account holders are completely reliant on their current account for day-to-day money management. Older survey respondents were more likely to know the precise balance of their account at any time, with 54% of those aged 56 or over knowing this, while only 17% of those aged under 25 did.

Face to face contact with branch staff was an important factor in their finances for 71% who said that they value the ability to drop in to their local branch to talk about their finances. However, 54% of account holders admitted to actually only visiting their branch in person once a month at the most.

Alternatively, almost two thirds of consumers use the Internet to keep up with their finances – 17% log on every day, according to RBS. The research also showed 25% of account holders aged over 55 check their balance online every day. Surprisingly, though, younger respondents aged between 16 and 18 are more likely to bank via the telephone than older account holders.

Allan Hardie, head of current accounts at RBS, says: “The fast pace of modern life means that everyone needs a current account that will work hard for them.

“Our research reveals that 63% of account holders are completely reliant on their accounts, but our findings suggest that despite this, people may not be making the most of the products and services available to them.”

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