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So I just tried to change my banking details...

(149 Posts)
GotMyGoat Tue 29-Oct-13 18:07:20

With Natwest as we've moved house, but they said I'm not allowed to change the address myself as it's a joint account and that DH would need to get in touch with them to do it.

"ok, so we'll come in/call together"

"No, just your DH needs to as he is the primary account holder"

I'm really confused, I thought a joint account was, you know, joint. equal and all that but now I'm very worried that actually what I've done is signed up to an account where DH has authority over our finances - luckily he's a good man who I can trust but I am the one who normally does all the finance and paperwork stuff in the house so am really frustrated that I have to go and ask his permission before sorting anything out with banking now.

Grr! Are all banks like this? Should women refuse to be in joint accounts from now on or what? Just a bit of a moan thread, sorry.

JustAnotherFucker Tue 29-Oct-13 18:11:40

Switch the account round so you are first named on it.

Although accounts are 'joint' accounts it seems the banking systems can only take orders from the 'primary' account holder.

This meant that when ex and I split up - yet still had a joint overdraft to clear - they sent all my statements to his new address shock

Was fairly simple to switch it round though but we had to go into a branch together to do it. This was NatWest too but I think the others are all the same hmm

AlexaChelsea Tue 29-Oct-13 18:17:20

It's not because of gender - a primary named person on the account can be either. Ours happens to be me. It depends how you fill the form in when you apply, or they do, but someone has to be named first.

I agree with you, both parties should have equal account access and privileges. But it isn't an equality/feminism issue.

Same thing happens in same sex couples.

ivykaty44 Tue 29-Oct-13 18:25:06

I had a single account with lloyds for 15 years and then put my dads name on it (for a couple of reasons) they were told it was y account and his name was to be added to make it a joint account - they then made him primary account holder. He played merry hell with the cashiers for doing this and they switched it back to me being primary account holder, Then they switched it back to him again and he went back in and played merry hell but of course they deny it is sexist... They said it was due to him having a sole account at the branch - but I also have a sole account, so then they said we don't know why it has happened.

INeedSomeHelp Tue 29-Oct-13 18:31:19

I'm not aware of the primary accouny holder issue. But with a joint account, both parties do need to advise a change of address.
It is partly to avoid one party defrauding the other. But also the different parties to an account may have different addresses for legitimate reasons. So there could be a correspondence address for each individual party but also a statement address for the account (which would likely be one of the former).

GotMyGoat Tue 29-Oct-13 18:59:12

blush ok, glad to hear it's not just because I'm a lady, yes both members makes sense, but allowing one and not the other is just a little odd - it is a sort of equality issue as it is mostly couples who use joint accounts and the system needs to be updated to cope with the two.


AlexaChelsea Tue 29-Oct-13 19:06:51

It could be, that they do need both parties but they've already spoken to you, and were trying to save you coming in unnecessarily?

Maybe not, but maybe..

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 29-Oct-13 20:00:55

I do hope and trust it is because they need both of you.

But do ask them questions and be firm. I am the first named account holder on one of our accounts. I have the paperwork to show it. But, at some stage, for no reason, they decided to swap it to DH, because apparently his name comes up first (being 'Mr' not 'Ms') in the database. hmm

This is probably purely to do with joint accounts needing a first named holder, but I would suggst making it you!

FloraFox Tue 29-Oct-13 21:34:01

I think this is a feminist issue. For one thing, the banks will default to the man as the primary account holder unless you specifically ask otherwise, as well as switching the chosen designation to the man sometimes. Aside from that, this is an issue which predominantly affects women and is significant because it reduces financial autonomy for women.

The banks certainly don't make it clear when you sign up what the primary account holder can do without the consent of the other account holder. It is not to protect both account holders because the primary account holder can make changes on their own. I believe the banks do this because it is administratively easier for them and also an over-cautious reading of the Data Protection Act.

DH and I tried to resolve this with NatWest many times. They told us we could use a Power of Attorney so that both of us would have equal access but they didn't have the process in place to record that they were holding a PoA so it didn't work. There's no reason why a joint account should not be truly joint if that's what the account holders want (ie both can individually make changes or any changes need both signatures - same as with cheques).

Technotropic Tue 29-Oct-13 22:13:01

That's not quite right. I've not checked every single application form but all the ones I've filled in ask for an applicant and then a joint applicant. The first applicant is usually the primary account holder.

Also joint applicants will have to fill in a mandate which sets out specific rights and responsibilities. It is worth refreshing your knowledge of these things so you know exactly what you've signed up for OP.

More often than not, we completely forget about these things as our joint accounts are years old (mine is over 15) and we have no recollection of the things we signed up to.

If you are unhappy about anything then cancel the mandate and have another agreed.

AlexaChelsea Tue 29-Oct-13 22:16:39

Flora - it's not a feminist issue because it's not that banks default to a man.

They default to the person who fills in the primary account holder part of the form. In my case, and many others, that's been the woman.

Maybe the feminist issue is that more men fill in the primary part of the form.

Purple2012 Tue 29-Oct-13 22:20:31

Its not a feminist issue. I am the primary account holder on all our bank accounts. In fact all our savings are in my name only as it was easier when setting it all up to just do the main accounts and then I set up the savings in my name as I sort all our finances.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 29-Oct-13 22:24:45

> it is a sort of equality issue as it is mostly couples who use joint accounts and the system needs to be updated to cope with the two.

Yes, I agree with that. I think that if the idea of joint bank accounts had been invented in an era of equality, the system would be that they would have two equal owners. The fact that joint accounts have to have a 'primary' holder who has more authority than the other holder seems to me to stem from the age of inequality.

AlexaChelsea Tue 29-Oct-13 22:27:04

My friend and her wife have a joint account. I just called her and asked her. Her wife is the primary account holder.

It's not a feminist issue. It's just that banks need one named person as the primary holder.

If it happens to more frequently be the male, maybe those couples have a gender based imbalance, or maybe it just happens he took the pen first that day.

Technotropic Tue 29-Oct-13 22:29:53

Maybe the feminist issue is that more men fill in the primary part of the form

I would imagine that this the most common scenario. Whether this is a feminist issue though is anyone's guess.

I can imagine that most couples enter a relationship with 'x' number of accounts (we certainly did) and then end up adding a joint account holder when finances were pooled. I think we have some where the primary is one of us and somewhere the other is the primary.

As previously mentioned though it doesn't matter if you trust each other. If the mandate has been set up with equal rights/responsibilities then it's almost immaterial who the primary is.

NiceTabard Tue 29-Oct-13 22:37:47

The banks don;t need one person as "primary" do they - that's just how they work.

It wouldn't actually be impossible for them to make joint accounts do what people naturally assume they will do.

NiceTabard Tue 29-Oct-13 22:39:38

And it is a feminist issue when banks routinely switch the primary from the woman to the man, or put him first even if he wasn't first on the form.

Stacks of threads about this on here (including some posts on this thread) - it happens all the time it seems. And then the bank won't fix it when the woman asks as she's not the one with the rights any more!!!

AlexaChelsea Tue 29-Oct-13 22:43:33

I have no idea if/why they need a primary person on the account. Don't know much about banks.

And 'banks' probably don't switch the primary account holder to the man. I assume, that would be a clerical issue, which I would agree probably means it is a feminist issue, because for one reason or another someone has done that.

OR it could literally just be alphabetical. And Mr does come before Mrs or Ms.

I wonder if joint couples with Miss and Mr registered have ever had this? Could it be a computer alphabetising?

FloraFox Tue 29-Oct-13 23:08:02

It's a feminist issue because there is an assumption that there will be a "primary" account holder when the couple clearly want a "joint" account and because the imbalance / harm falls disproportionately on women.

Technotropic Tue 29-Oct-13 23:12:41


I very much doubt banks routinely alter customers finances without written consent.

However, if they do then the advice that should be given to the aggrieved party would be cancel the mandate. Very simple.

Given what you are saying then I genuinely think people need to do some homework and familiarise themselves with what a mandate actually is and what can be done to rectify joint account issues.

If a joint account isn't working satisfactorily then one solution would be to open up another sole account and have the salary paid into it. You then have full rights over your finances.

AlexaChelsea Tue 29-Oct-13 23:13:32

But flora - it might be that banks need a primary account holder. For whatever reason. It is a joint account, with joint access and joint cards, but someone has to be the decision maker. I am guessing, I don't know. But it kinda makes sense?

And we are discussing whether the imbalance really does fall on the side of men, and if so, is it because the men are more often filing in the forms? Or because the banks are choosing men? Or because Mr is actually alphabetically above Mrs or Ms?

But it's quite basic and naive to jump immediately on the feminism bandwagon just because the op found her DH was the primary account holder. Particularly, when other have told that their situation is the reverse, and it also happens in same sex couples.

Technotropic Tue 29-Oct-13 23:18:03

Some useful info

FloraFox Tue 29-Oct-13 23:23:19

Banks don't need a primary account holder and if this can be fixed with mandates (which it can't), the bank should be telling people how to solve this problem (which they don't).

Alexa there is more to feminism than simply addressing intentional efforts to keep women down. If an issue is disproportionately having a negative impact on women, this could be completely unintentional or results from some deeper assumptions and structures in our society that developed through patriarchal viewpoints (e.g. that one person has to be the decision maker - this is not a neutral statement).

I think it's quite basic and naive and dismissive to jump on a thread saying you don't know much about banks (in two posts now) but you can say with this level of certainty that this is not a feminist issue.

FloraFox Tue 29-Oct-13 23:29:30

Tech the fact that neither of these info sheets even mentions a primary account holder and yet the OP and many other women have this issue with banks (three banks for me) is part of the problem. The mandates generally do permit one or both to withdraw money or write cheques but they do not permit one or both to manage the entire account. Credit cards are even worse. Only the primary account holder can access the balance.

Business accounts, on the other hand, permit more than one account manager.

Technotropic Tue 29-Oct-13 23:32:40

We'll of course it's not a feminist issue if a woman can freely walk into a bank with her husband and walk out as a primary account holder. Not to mention the number of women who add men to their sole accounts.

No one is holding a gun to people's heads. If some people don't want to be the second account holder then they have absolute freedom to chose a sole account or another setup that suits them.

As far as I can see, including my own situation with my OH, there is nothing disproportionately having a negative effect on women at all. It is wrong to suggest otherwise as Alexa has already pointed out, what happens when two women open up a joint account (or two men for that matter).

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