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ECONOMIC RECOVERY PUSHES CONFIDENCE IN BANKS TO MULTIYEAR HIGHS

UK consumers are more confident in the banking industry than at any other time in the last three years, according to a new report from member-based advisory company CEB.

A robust 36% (net) of UK consumers are satisfied with the products and services offered by providers, over double the global average of 17%.

For the first time since the report began in 2011, UK consumers are also feeling positive about their own personal finances, putting more money into savings and paying off debt as a result of improving economic conditions.

Beyond personal financial wellbeing, Britons’ improving picture of banks appears to be driven by banks’ investments in digital and mobile channels. Smartphones and tablets are becoming the fastest-growing channels for personal banking, reducing the need for physical branches and causing banks to pour the lion’s share of new investments into new technologies.

Peter Aykens, managing director at CEB said:

“Consumer financial sentiment in the UK showed a number of positive findings, indicating the average person may finally be feeling the recovery in their lives and wallets. In addition to feelings about personal finances, the harder-hit lower income and middle-aged consumers have also made clear gains.”

Yet despite banks’ positive “digital turn” and consumers’ product satisfaction, most people remain wary about the motivations and values of the banking industry as a whole. A net -44% of people have “little or no confidence” in the ability of the banks to keep their promises, while a net -51% said they did not believe that banks care about their customers.

Aykens continued:

“Despite the positive direction of consumer sentiment, banks are still very vulnerable.  It appears UK customers are willing to forgo brand affinity for the sake of convenient offerings in their dealings with bank and non-bank providers. While technology has benefited traditional financial institutions in their product development, it could also prove to be a double-edged sword as emerging financial technology firms with cleaner reputations and easy-to-use products increasingly enter the market.”

The bi-annual report from CEB draws from the results of 18,000 consumers in 25 countries, including over 1,000 in the UK, looking at financial sentiment and activity across the globe.