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Economic Justice

Fairbanking Foundation scheme praises 11 financial firms for helping customers manage their money

A ‘fair banking’ scheme backed by  Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has praised products offered by 11 financial firms, including Barclays bank’s main current account, held by several million people.

Fairbanking Foundation, is a not-for-profit charity of which Justin Welby is a patron, operates a scheme to encourage financial institutions to develop products that help customers improve their financial wellbeing and better manage their money.  It awards star ratings to certain products – current accounts, credit cards, savings accounts and personal loans – that pass a number of tests on issues such as fairness, interest rates and fees, the number of complaints received, and what customers say.

At an event in London, the charity awarded its Fairbanking Mark to products offered by 11 institutions: Barclays, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Capital One, plus four credit unions – London Capital, Central Liverpool, Enterprise and 1st Alliance (Ayrshire).  They join three other firms that have previously been recognised.

Many of the products that received praise are personal loans, credit cards and Isas, although they include a mainstream current account in the form of the Barclays Bank Account, which won a three-star rating for its features designed to help people monitor their spending and avoid bank charges.

Firms seeking to gain a Fairbanking Mark must submit their product for detailed testing by the Fairbanking Foundation, which includes a poll of customers by an independent research firm. The firm must confirm that a significant percentage of people find it useful in helping them manage their money better and achieve their savings goals.

However, research carried out for the charity found there was “still work to be done”, with nearly two out of five customers (38%) believing the banking industry’s image had deteriorated over the past year. Its study found that 13% believed the image of banks had deteriorated significantly. The main issue identified by the research was a lack of focus on customer needs, said the charity.