Culture change not getting to bank customers says Financial Services Consumer Panel

While senior bankers are making all the right noises about culture change, research commissioned by the Consumer Panel shows that this is not filtering through to the front line. Customers think their bank is only interested in winning new business and not in looking after their best interests; that standards of service have fallen; and that bank staff don’t understand their needs. This is particularly true for micro-business customers, who feel badly let down by their banks. 


In a discussion paper published today, the Panel recommends some indicators that banks could use to assess how well culture change programmes are putting customers at the heart of what they do. These indicators, based on consumer research, are qualitatively different from the metrics routinely used by firms, such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS). The Panel believes the indicators could also help the FCA focus its supervisory effort on those banks not living up to their customers’ expectations.


The Panel is also reiterating its call for a change in the law to oblige providers of financial services to act with their customers’ best interests in mind, in other words to owe a duty of care. The Panel believes this would result in less need for regulatory intervention, prevent future mis-selling, and speed up the culture change the banks say they have put in place. The Netherlands introduced a duty of care in 2008 and the Dutch regulator has since seen improvements in both conduct and culture.


Sue Lewis, Consumer Panel Chair said:


“We believe a change in the law is needed to speed up and embed culture change. Under a legal duty of care no bank would, for example, sell a packaged bank account without first checking the customer understood and could benefit from all the elements of the account. Yet that is exactly what banks do now, as evidenced by complaints to the Financial Ombudsman. Meanwhile, we believe banks and the FCA should be measuring change as seen by the customer, and that they should remember that a loyal customer is not the same as a well-served customer. Perhaps the most shocking finding from our research is the way micro-businesses feel they are treated, yet they rarely feel able to switch. Given the importance of small businesses to the economy this needs to change.”





Sharon Chapman (Consumer Panel): 020 7066 4344




1     The Consumer Panel is a statutory body under the Financial Services Act 2012.  The Financial Services Authority originally established it in December 1998. The Panel advises the FCA on the interests and concerns of consumers. 

2     The Panel’s membership is drawn from a broad range of backgrounds with expertise including market research, law, financial services industry, financial inclusion, European Regulation, financial regulation, consumer advice, campaigning, communications, compliance and later-life issues. 

3     The emphasis of the Panel's work is on activities that are regulated by the FCA, although it may also look at the impact on consumers of activities outside but related to the FCA's remit. More information about the Panel's work is available on its website: or via its LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

4     The NPS is a customer loyalty metric used by firms, based on customers’ responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?



Sue Lewis (Chair)

Dominic Lindley

Caroline Barr

Jonathan May

Teresa Fritz

Pamela Meadows

Liz Barclay

Faith Reynolds

Mark Chidley

Jeff Salway

Sharon Collard

Doug Taylor

Jennifer Genevieve

Kitty Ussher