Trust in banking sector stable but low; higher in own bank; improved client centricity

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People and devices on a round table

Trust in banks has remained stable compared with last year, but is still low. Clients tend to place more trust in their own bank than in the banking industry as a whole. The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, AFM, states that banks are increasingly putting their clients’ interests first. Scores for client centricity improved, on average, for mortgages, savings, investing and payments but dropped for consumer loans. The scores vary per bank.

The results of the 2016 Trust Monitor for Banks were presented during a symposium attended by representatives of banks, consumers and the AFM. The figures of this year’s survey show a stable pattern, which is surprising given that the banks scored better in most service categories than they did last year. Like last year, consumers tend to place far more trust in their own bank than in the banking industry as a whole. The monitor also shows that trust in banks is average compared with academia, government and health care.

The survey shows that consumers trust banks because they feel they are reliable and because their experiences with their own banks have been good. Consumers who have little faith in banks say they feel banks put their own interests first. Other factors mentioned are banks’ remuneration policies and the low interest rates. The respondents say being ‘open and fair’ has the biggest impact on trust in banks.

‘Banks set great store by consumer confidence and they remain committed to delivering excellent service. As far as we’re concerned, average performance is not good enough because our clients attach above-average importance to our services,’ says Chris Buijink, Chairman of the Dutch Banking Association, NVB. ‘We’ve come a long way and we knew that restoring trust takes time. Consumers are seeing improvements in a number of services, but they are sceptical as to whether these changes are here to stay. It’s up to the banks to continually prove that they are worth people’s trust.’

As part of the Trust Monitor, the AFM assesses whether banks put their clients’ interests first in delivering their service and products. Apart from showing satisfaction for banks’ savings, mortgage and investment products, consumers were also critical, underlining that banks across the industry should do more for clients with interest-only loans. The AFM also gave banks a high score for informing clients, through such channels as their websites, letters and brochures.

Dutch Banking Association

The Dutch Banking Association promotes the shared interests of the banking industry. Banks are important to everyone; they are the linking pin between the financial sector, politics and stakeholders. Together, they work towards a common goal of establishing a service-minded, stable and competitive banking industry.

Banks performed better than last year in terms of complaints handling. Consumers who submitted a complaint were more satisfied with the way the complaint was solved and more often said that it was easier to submit the complaint. Complaints handling was one of the improvement actions recommended by the Advisory Board last year and will continue to receive the bank’s undivided attention.

Another improvement action proposed in 2015 related to banks proactively approaching clients when their personal circumstances change, advising them which product would be most suitable. The score for this remained stable. Given their efforts on this front, banks expect to see improvements in this area going forward.

The Trust Monitor was conducted by Gfk under the supervision of an independent Advisory Board chaired by professor Peter Verhoef of Groningen University. In response to the Board’s recommendations and the results of the survey, banks will continue to help clients who face financial difficulties. They will also seek to further enhance client centricity when extending consumer loans.

The following banks took part in the Trust Monitor:

  • ABN AMRO
  • ASN Bank
  • Centraal Beheer
  • ING
  • KNAB
  • Leaseplan Bank
  • NIBC
  • NN Bank
  • Rabobank
  • Regio Bank
  • SNS
  • Triodos Bank
  • Woonfonds

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