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Q&A with James Daley, money editor of Which? magazine and website

(24 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 02-Feb-10 17:32:30

Are you fed up with your bank? Have you suffered from poor customer service, or been mis-sold financial products? Or, conversely, or you satisfied with your bank?

For the past year, there have been endless banking commissions and reports, but all of them have been written by and for bankers.

Consumer champion Which? thinks it's about time consumers were given the chance to have a say in how banks are run.

So it is holding the Which? Big Banking Debate - a large event in central London on Thursday 4 February between 5pm and 8pm to get people's views on banking.

To coincide with this, Which? Money editor James Daley would like to hear how you'd like to change your bank for the better.

Post your comments and questions to James here by Wednesday 10 Feb and he'll do
his best to respond to as many possible.

Ewe Tue 02-Feb-10 18:28:10

Hi James

Welcome to Mumsnet! One thing that has always confused me, and still does, is credit ratings.

I am in my early 20's, have no student debt, no overdraft, never had a loan and only recently got a credit card.

Why do I struggle to get credit when I have friends who have £2k + overdrafts and credit card debt and student loans who manage to get credit card after credit card?

More importantly, what can I do about it without getting loads of unnecessary debt just to improve my CR?


edam Tue 02-Feb-10 23:11:28

They could rescind that shameful deal with their errant former chief exec Fred Goodwin. That'd be a start. Let's have some of that taxpayers' money back, please.

senua Wed 03-Feb-10 09:30:34

I want a division between retail banking and casino banking.

Retail banking is a public service: it should only be permitted under licence and be properly regulated (regulators paid for by licence fee).

Casino banking does not serve a public need. It need not be licenced nor regulated but the upside is that there should be no public bail-out either.

The Competition Commission should ensure that no company is 'too big to fail'. Hopefully, this would mean more banks and thus more competition, which must be good for the consumer.

edam Wed 03-Feb-10 11:13:43

Looking only at retail banking and not the bail-outs, I think banks and financial institutions should be forced to be honest with customers. None of this hiding fees in the small print or mis-selling PPI etc. etc. etc. No bonuses or targets for staff who sell products - because that inevitably leads to mis-selling.

Charges for customers who go over agreed OD limits should be fair and reasonable and they should not penalise people with charges on top of charges, forcing people into spiralling debt.

In fact someone needs to take a long hard look at direct debits - there seems to be very little control on companies who suddenly change the terms and grab more money from your account than you are expecting. Bring back standing orders! Or at least sort out the DD 'guarantee' so it actually does what it says it will and works in practice.

Swedey Wed 03-Feb-10 12:38:02

I bank with First Direct and would like to say how thoroughly pleased I am with them.

If they separate out retail banking and investment banking, retail banking will become more expensive.

Edam - the FG pension was agreeed by the Labour government. It was nothing to do with the bank.

And can I please make it clear, again, that the government money (or taxpayers' money for maxi-emoting) is a LOAN. It isn't gone forever, they own a sizeable chunk of some pretty fine assets.

What about the taxpayers' money used to support the car industry? Enticing the rich to buy a brand new car with a £2K scrappage allowance? NOT a loan. Money gone forever.

MaHumbug Wed 03-Feb-10 13:04:40

I would really like the right to walk into my branch and not be given the same sales waffle time and time again.

I have recently left the Financial Services Industry (I was a cashier). We would see the same people day after day and were still expected to sell life cover/home insurance/savings reviews to them. There is an overwhelming pressure to "have conversations" and try to get people to sign on the dotted line. I wanted to make people better off not bend their ear at each and every visit. All of my ex-colleagues know they will lose their jobs if they do not generate the sales revenue required. No ifs or buts.

I know the banks have a business to run but surely this practice is off putting?

LoveBeingAMummy Wed 03-Feb-10 16:13:21

As someone who lost their job (and some savings) to knob sir fred, this is something that i am still passionate about.

Firstly can everyone please remember, as swedey said, the money is a loan and as such does have interest applied (which i happen to know is certainly a lot higher than we'd get charged for a loan right now), they will make a lot of money from it. Also can we remember that the banks don't work in some hush hush place that no-one else knows about, all of the top dogs know each other/hang out with mps and royalty even. People knew this was happening. (My bank was hours away from colapsing)

I still think there is a way to do sales correctly, honestly and to everyone's benefit. I believe i did that. I know that me and my team were audited and that we would ahve been in big trouble if we were found to be mis-selling. I have disiplined/dismissed staff for not reading out legal information correctly etc. When returned from mat leave I was very shocked to find out that they had stopped selling PPI.

What do i think needs to happen now? Well firstly I think we should stop epecting a free service, you get what you pay for. Its not that long ago that current accounts had fees. I believe that if all the banks fees were reduced they would ahve to charge a maintaince fee again so lets just do it now. This way customers will see what they are paying for, if they don't like it they can leave. There would be more change of customers voting with their feet if they were paying for the service.

Branches need to get back to having some control. A branch manager can't due jack to help his customers.

People need to be taught how to manage their money properly not just the stuff you see on tv. I have spoken to people who complain they have no money because a fee has been taken but when you look at their account its down to not budgeting correctly or just plain being stupid with money.

You can have a dozen people who all use the same bank and they will you different reports because they ahve spoken to differnet staff. We need to make people proud to work for their bank. They need to take pride in their job. And not have people swearing and shouting down the phone at them because they've spent all their money.

Oh and finally for the crappy shares that were mis-sold to be bought back!

edam Wed 03-Feb-10 16:18:17

Swedes - hello, how are you?

It wasn't the govt. that drew up FG's contract although I agree whathisface (Myners?) was spectacularly rubbish at getting shot of Goodwin.

Govt money may well be a loan but plenty of it seems to be disappearing into bankers' back pockets in the meantime.

I don't remember banks or building societies being particularly expensive in ye olden days before all this shenanigans.

cakeywakey Wed 03-Feb-10 16:38:27

I would like my bank to stop reducing the number of counters it has each time they refurbish the branch - on the bright side at least they now have lots of space for people to queue hmm

I also got very fed up of being given the hardsell on other products until, one day, I asked them - is there a button you can press that means you stop trying to sell things to me? - the teller looked really relieved and happily ticked all the boxes that meant I would no longer be asked if I wanted insurance/credit cards/a loan. It's fab. Banks should stop pressuring their counter staff like this and let them concetrate on meeting the needs of the customer - it might also cut down on the blardy queues too!

LoveBeingAMummy Wed 03-Feb-10 16:40:39

Edam i don't think there is any of that money left tbh anyway they agreed a certain number of years to pay it back. We wouldn't like it if they asked us to pay ours back early cause they noticed we were spending on things they thought we shouldn't.

edam Wed 03-Feb-10 16:50:22

It's not exactly the same, is it, LBAM? The money was meant to stop the banks folding, not go into the back pocket of their big earners. They are essentially a nationalised industry - even those who weren't 'bailed out' are only around because governments across the world propped up the sector. Yet many of the workers are acting as if they are stars of private industry who deserve vast rewards for their amazing performance. hmm Courtesy of the taxpayer!

butadream Wed 03-Feb-10 20:09:42

Retail banking:

I am concerned that many people still do not have any bank accounts and that increased reliance on the internet to provide retail banking services will lead to a greater poverty gap.

I am not happy with the number of retail banks closing branches in rural areas and in poorer towns and suburbs. I am not impressed by the banking knowledge of Post Office staff if this is the only fallback such areas have.

I am very annoyed about the level of bank charges that banks impose particularly on customers who have savings with the same bank (e.g. £2 overdrawn on some current accounts = £35 charge even if the same person has savings of thousands with the same bank) or on people who try to get themselves sorted but end up just slightly overdrawn month after month due to bank charges alone.

I think that marketing for credit cards should make it clear that ultimately the bank can go into the same customer's other accounts to take payment, for this reason I would never take a credit card out with the same bank I save with.

I think that interest rates v charges could be explained in a clearer manner e.g.
- Halifax current account offers to pay £5 per month if you pay in £1000 a month - it should be clear that this is an interest payment and they should also be clear that if customers go overdrawn what the bank charges are, last time I checked Halifax had a really strict overdraft rule and very expensive charges;
- fixed mortgage deals should show how arrangement fees and interest rates add up, some of the low interest rate deals are not the cheapest over the fixed rate period but this is not immediately obvious.

I support the London Citizen's campaign against usury that 10% interest is quite enough for personal consumers to be charged.

I am also concerned about the end of cheques and the impact that will have on small businesses who will then be charged to take payment by card.

Investment banking:

Since I understand that the Turner enquiry found that individual banker's compensation did not cause the current financial crisis after all, that some areas of investment banking did very well and were completely unrelated to the dodgy investments, I do not mind if bonuses are paid to bankers at market rates even in state-owned banks as I think it is important that London in particular retains its status as the home of a world class financial services industry.

I am, on the other hand, very supportive of any increases in additional personal taxation (say, 60% income tax on people who earn over £200k per year) even though I understand it would not really raise that much for the Treasury in the overall scheme of things.

edam Wed 03-Feb-10 23:02:31

Funny how often you hear that line that the banking crisis was nothing at all to do with actual bankers. Move along there, dear taxpayer, nothing to see... but be careful, there are terrible problems with nasty pickpockets round here. Can't imagine who on earth could be responsible. hmm

butadream Thu 04-Feb-10 08:16:19

It is to do with bankers but poor management decisions rather than pay, that's my understanding edam

LoveBeingAMummy Thu 04-Feb-10 08:47:26

But why is it always the employees that are blamed for the terms the gov agreed to lend the money? Again its the very small percentage of very high earners that are getting all the blame, not the top brass, not the people that knew should have known what was going on.

There are many, many people suffering in the banking industry (not including ones like me who are no longer there), that are having their pockets/jobs effected. Poeple that had nothing to do with what has caused the problems, people who are outstanding top performing staff who are leaving or not getting the reward they should for their work. HOw can you take pride in a job that everyone is slagging off? On top of that you are also worried that you'll be the next one that's out the door.

LoveBeingAMummy Thu 04-Feb-10 08:48:09

Can we also not forget that all staff are taxpayers too wink

choccyp1g Thu 04-Feb-10 10:00:41

I think banks should not be allowed to start new savings accounts with good rates, then reduce them to next-to-nothing. Fair enough, rates have gone down, but how can they be allowed to put old customers on .0005%, while advertising for new customers at a much higher rate? This is especially hard on old people, with small "nest-egg" savings, which are probably reducing in value in real terms.

minipie Thu 04-Feb-10 11:04:48

1) Less pushing of products (both on the phone and through junk mail) please. Especially credit products, see 4 below.

2) Cheques and electronic transfers. Why do these STILL take so long to clear...I know some banks are improving this but it's VERY slow.

3) Branch opening hours. Why can banks still get away with closing at lunchtime on a Saturday (or not opening at all) when other retail businesses are open longer and longer?

4) Credit limits. Many people have been given huge amounts of credit who clearly will not be able to pay it back, and then are slapped with huge interest and charges which just hike up the debt. Banks are deliberately selling credit to those who can't afford it because they make so much through the interest and charges. The credit crunch slowed this somewhat, but not enough. The banks/credit card companies should take responsibility for not allowing a person's total debt to get out of proportion to their income - in the same way that pubs shouldn't serve someone who is already drunk.

5) The unpaid item fee needs to go. other bank charges are (arguably) justifiable, but that one isn't.

senua Thu 04-Feb-10 13:05:48

I agree with minipie regarding point (4). Banks should take more responsibility for their lending and should not give credit lightly. Credit should be given in relation to verified assets/income: self-cetified loans are ridiculous! They shouldn't be enforceable.

And I also agree about bank opening hours. I missed the bank by five minutes yesterday because they changed the opening hours yet again. Years ago the bank used to shut at 3:30, then it was 4:30, then 5:00 but early close on a Thursday, open on Saturdays, 4:30 but late start on a Wednesday for staff training, closed on Saturdays etc etc etc. I wish that Barclays would decide what its trading hours are AND STICK TO THEM.angry

And don't get me started on cashiers going on lunchbreaks at the busiest time of the day.angryangry

And as for angry I get really fed up with those mimsy notices telling us off for abusing their staff. So the onus is all on us then, eh? Nothing to do with your lousy service ...

<And breathe>

butadream Thu 04-Feb-10 13:48:52

Also completely agree with minipie

And has anyone said yet how annoying it is when there is a long queue and not enough counter staff?

LeninGrad Thu 04-Feb-10 15:51:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeninGrad Thu 04-Feb-10 15:54:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 16-Feb-10 12:58:39

Hello. Here, a little bit later than planned (what with the server going down and all), are James Daley's answers to your questions.

Thanks to all who posted!

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