The relationship was getting a bit stale. Frustration was growing. Little things were beginning to annoy me. Then we had a major falling out and I decided things had to change. Staying single wasn’t really an option and around this time I was started getting lots of attention and offers. I admit that I started speed dating, which led to an affair. And then I left my bank….
Choosing a new bank wasn’t easy. They each had their own feel and culture. I had also built up an awful lot of bias and prejudice over the years that I found hard to disregard. I never forgave one bank for declining my mortgage application for example. In the end, the factors that were really important to me were:
Having a named dedicated account manager to speak to, email and text rather than interminable call centres
Market leading mobile banking apps and websites
Surprisingly, I wasn’t actually that bothered about some of the bundled features that came with the account. I lost a few things and gained a few things, but on balance this wasn’t a major decision factor.
The account transfer process itself was relatively straightforward to initiate. Information was captured straight into a system. The format was rather formal (across a desk) and I could have provided a lot of information upfront online. The process of moving across direct debits and standing orders was done automatically. The main challenges were timing.
My monthly salary had to be moved to my new account and there were no guarantees at the time about how long some of the DDs and SOs would take to move. Without a savings buffer or a generous overdraft, I could easily have gone overdrawn on my old account and incurred charges or at the very least having been transferring money back from new account to old. Some form of assurance here would be good to ensure that consumers aren’t left out of pocket by any charges incurred.
The other thing that surprised me was how much paperwork the process generated. Every day for about two weeks, new forms to sign, information packs etc. were dropping through the door. I’m sure there are good reasons for this but I’d like to think that in the future this could be done electronically and with digital signatures.
In reality the process went largely smoothly. A couple of direct debits for home and motor insurance could not be transferred automatically, apparently for regulatory reasons and I had to call each company separately to ask them amend my payment information.
I’m very glad I went through the process. I felt better about having “voted with my feet” in relation to the poor service I felt I was receiving from my old bank. I’m now in a new relationship with a bank with a fresher approach whose innovation is tangible. I love their mobile banking apps. My account manager has already been able to help me with a few things that I would not have bothered with before via the call centre route. I’ve now also moved a saving accounts, an ISA and got one of their credit cards for the sake of completeness. All can be viewed online in one place which is great.
My old bank really should have spotted the warning signs. Complaint letters. Irate phone calls about them having fraud blocked my card again whilst abroad (that was the falling out I mentioned above). Monthly salary payment not arriving at the end of the month. I’m secretly hoping my new bank is keeping a closer eye on me and will be more proactive if they spot any warning signs!