I had a realisation the other day: banks are brilliant. Everyone says they hate banks, but I love them. In fact, I think most people secretly love their bank. They just don’t like to admit it. After all, when did you last change your bank? Not open another bank account, but actually switch your main account. When? I’ve had mine for over twenty years and, like most Brits, am more likely to dump my partner than my bank (the average Brit divorces after 12 years but changes bank only every 17 years).
The reason I had this realisation is my mobile phone provider. I blogged two years ago how much I hated Vodafone, who I had switched to from Virgin. I moved over to EE and now, after another appalling customer service experience with broken promises and rip-off tariffs, I am switching again. That means I will have change mobile provider four times in 15 years. But I haven’t changed my bank once.
Similarly, I’ve recently had a couple of bad in-flight and hotel experiences. I know that I will never fly with that airline or stay in that hotel ever again. Yet, I see no reason to change my bank.
At the heart of this is choice, risk and security. There is choice in telecommunications, airlines and hotels. A lot of choice. There is no risk avoiding or changing provider, and there is little concern over exposing yourself to fraud or loss. Banking is different. People worry a lot about money. For many, it is the dominant force in their lives, especially if they don’t have enough of it.
Therefore, the bank is the choice for storing my money, just above under the mattress. Once it’s stored securely, why would I move it somewhere else? Better service? Not really, most banks are the same. Better interest rates? Only if I’m a rate tart, which I’m not. Better digital options? Hmmmm … that’s not going to do it.
Banking and money is a psychological affair that is emotional. Most of us just want to store our money securely, and know it won’t be lost. We want payments to go through on time and right every time, and know that we can get it back if a mistake is made. And that’s pretty much it.
So yes, we might change mobile contracts every couple of years, switch broadband providers, change from BA to Emirates, avoid the Doubletree but be happy in the Courtyard, stop going to Morrisons and use Lidl, buy Tesla instead of BMW this time, go Android after iPhone X, watch Netflix instead of Sky and so on and so forth, but change my bank account? Not on your nelly.
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...