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Majority of Brits prefer face-to-face contact for financial transactions

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Consumers prefer to speak to someone face-to-face when making a big or complex transaction, despite the rise of online and mobile banking.

Research from the Social Market Foundation (SMF), reveals that high street bank branches remain essential to Britons in the management of their money, with nearly two-thirds of consumers (63%) preferring to talk to someone face-to-face when making a big financial decision.

According to a poll of 2,003 adults, 70% are comfortable checking their balance or paying bills online while 62% are comfortable to manage their credit cards online.

However when it comes to more significant and long-term financial decisions like seeking financial advice (57%) or taking out a mortgage (50), the majority of people visit a branch.

The research also shows that only a third (32%) of UK consumers would consider using a bank which had no branches as their main financial services provider.

Men and women also have different preferences as overall, men are most likely to manage all of their financial transactions online while women are more likely to manage them face-to-face.

While many consumers have downloaded mobile banking apps, evidence suggests while they are completely changing the way a small number of people manage their money, helping them to log in and check their finances every day, most people do not make much use of them.

Katie Evans, SMF economist, said: “Consumers who prefer using a branch to manage their money on a day-to-day basis are less likely to have degree-level qualifications and are more likely to be older or unemployed.  These potentially vulnerable customers risk being left behind as banks reshape their high-street presence to focus on high-value transactions like mortgages.”

The SMF adds that alternative ways for consumers to access financial services must be provided, along with appropriate guidance. It also lists the idea that transactions could take place in community settings such as supermarkets and Post Offices, rather than bank branches.