It may not have completely escaped your attention that over the past few years banking has been getting a fairly bad press. Whilst much of this is entirely justified, it’s important to distinguish between the “Casino” style banking practiced by the investment arms, and the day-to-day High Street operations, quietly and busily looking after our minor financial affairs.
An inseparability in the minds of the general public between these disparate parts of the same institutions has lead to some unfortunate scenes outside beleaguered parochial branches – stopping just short of sharpened torches and burning pitchforks* – often in a mistaken belief that their £26.72 in an ancient and almost forgotten savings account was soon to be forfeit.
(*Yes, you read that correctly. Mobs are always less clever than the stupidest person they contain.)
In reality, almost all of those cretins who QUEUED outside branches of Northern Wreck would have been completely protected by the (at the time) FSA Compensation Scheme, backed up by the government. I very much doubt that many of them would have had more than the maximum £50,000 in their accounts?
Why does this anger me so much when it didn’t affect me? Because as always, I would have been that person who despite rarely venturing into the town center, had ended up as collateral damage in that unnecessary line of idiots. Probably just wanting a mini-statement because the ATM was broken. I could have been that person. Just like I was that person trying to find somewhere to get something to eat on “Black Friday”, having found myself in Peterborough City Center through no fault of my own; simply due to having an appointment with the optician. I’m still traumatised.
So what’s the point I’m eventually getting to? Simply that High Street retail banking has improved immeasurably over the last 10 years, and that the pace of change is increasing exponentially – perhaps to reflect the fact that the progress of everything else in the world has taken massive leaps forward in increasingly short periods. Goodness knows it took long enough to happen, to an industry that for much of my life seemed firmly stuck in the Victorian era.
In conclusion; if you are unhappy with a financial product or with the service that you receive from your bank, then in the first instance tell your bank that you’re not happy, and why. They might be willing (and enabled enough) to help. If they can’t or won’t then shop around for a better deal and SWITCH as soon as possible. It’s what I did – and it’s simpler to do than it’s ever been!