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Savers will find it easier to compare bank accounts next year

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

It should become easier to compare performance and service of personal and business current account providers as the financial regulator’s announced new rules which come into effect from summer 2018.

Under new rules announced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), providers with more than 70,000 personal current accounts or 15,000 business current accounts (per brand) will need to publish the following information:

  • How and when services and helplines are available
  • Contact details for help, including for 24-hour helplines
  • How long it will take to open a current account
  • How long it will take to have a debit card replaced
  • How often the firm has had to report major operational and security incidents
  • The level of complaints made against the firm.

The first set of data will need to be published from 15 August, though the FCA said that account opening data and the time taken to replace a debit card will need to be published from 15 February 2019.

The information will be presented in standardised tables in a set order to make it easy for consumers to compare.

Further, the FCA also looked at introducing rules requiring providers to publish data on how long it takes to arrange to use powers of attorney.

What about premium and children’s accounts?

The FCA said it won’t require providers to publish service information for their premium accounts, though they can voluntarily publish this information. However, it must be clear, fair and not misleading, and in order to avoid confusion, it will need to be published separately from data on current accounts.

Private banks are excluded from the measures announced today as they’re not available to the majority of consumers (50% of customers are high net worths).

Further, accounts solely for savers under the age of 18 are excluded as are smaller banks. Concerns about smaller providers ‘cherry picking’ favourable information have been noted by the FCA, but it said where they choose to publish comparable data, they would need to do so in the same standardised format adopted by larger providers. Credit Unions also don’t need to publish the data.

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition, said: “We want to see current account providers competing hard for their customers’ business by offering better service, alongside competition on interest and charges. These rules will help people see how their bank compares to others so they can choose an account that suits their needs.

“We are pleased that the industry is seeking to develop information about their treatment of vulnerable customers.  It is important that these customers are given help and support when making a decision about a bank account and this is an important step forward.”