According to Edelman's annual global brand survey, financial services is the most distrusted industry in the world – again. We've already seen so many retail banks rebranding with cuddly slogans and incremental customer service improvements. It's not enough.
Here are five reasons why you're better off if your bank doesn't act like a bank.
Just like in the music, media, publishing and retail industries, the power balance is shifting and people everywhere are making small decisions that will shake the foundations of these once all-powerful bastions of the establishment.
While it used to be unthinkable that we'd trust brands we've never heard of with our money, now it's business as usual for millions of people. In a world where banks are hated, outdated and out of touch, here’s why they must change.
Banks don't put you first
They close at the weekend when most people have free time. They force you to go through a complex keypad-led multiple choice exercise every time you call. They run online banking services that by now, should be so much smarter. New applications for loans, funding and other credit lines are assessed in a tick box manner, despite the availability of huge volumes of transactional data for every customer. Simply put, banks aren't there for you, when and how you need them. They don't engineer the customer experience around your changing needs the way other brands and businesses do. And even though they hold huge amounts of data for every customer, they don't use it to our benefit.
Simply put, banks aren't there for you, when and how you need them.
Banks have bureaucratic processes
This used to be comforting. After all, they're keeping our money, our investments, our futures safe. But in the wake of the 2008 crisis and the various wobbles since, as a consumer, you can't help wondering, is this for our benefit or theirs?
Banks have a legacy of hundreds of branches and thousands of employees
Businesses that have this kind of scale are not nimble and entrepreneurial. They are geared towards maintaining the status quo, rather than innovating to find a better model.
The technology that keeps banks running is old, slow and costly to change
A large proportion of cash machines, an estimated 95% at April this year, still run on old and unsupported software: Microsoft XP. Although this is being phased out over time, it's a useful metaphor for thinking about everything from the algorithms for risk to the IT systems powering every transaction. These institutions are hundreds of years old and are working with legacy systems that simply may not be as effective or relevant for now as they could be.
Their appetite for change is small
Banks are not driving changes or responding to changing customer needs. Even when the Bank of England ran its Funding for Lending scheme to encourage British banks to lend to small businesses, it didn't work. Not even for state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland. It's a stagnant market and banks are not forced to do things differently by upstart competitors because of the high barriers to entry in the sector.
Whilst there may not be a queue of companies lining up to replace the High Street banks as we know them, there are a number of young companies snapping at their heels to take small bitesize chunks of their business. Funding Circle, Zopa, TransferWise and Nutmeg are just a few of the brands stepping up to provide an alternative source for everything from loans to money transfers to investments. As the heat in the FinTech sector continues to rise and customers continue to vote with their feet, this could just be the beginning of a revolution in the way we manage our money.