New rules 'will help people see how their bank compares with others'


Current account customers should find it easier to work out whether or not they are getting a good deal under new rules aimed at ramping up competition and prompting firms to raise their game.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published final rules which will help customers compare the services different current account providers offer - making it easier for them to see whether they should ditch and switch to another deal.

Banks and building societies will publish information on their own websites and comparison websites will be able to compile it.

The rules will require personal current account and business current account providers to set out information on aspects of service such as helpline availability, complaints, security and the length of time it takes to replace a card, for example.

The new information will enable meaningful comparisons of the services different current account providers offer - and it is expected providers will improve their service and performance as a result - the FCA said.

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: "These rules will help people see how their bank compares to others so they can choose an account that suits their needs."

Under the new rules, customers will be able to find how and when services and helplines are available, contact details for help, including for 24-hour helplines, how long it will take to open a current account, how long it will take to have a debit card replaced, how often the firm has had to report major operational and security incidents and the level of complaints made against the firm.

Current account providers must publish the information on when and how services and helplines are available and numbers of operational and security incidents from August 15 2018.

They must publish the remaining information from February 2019 - including details about account opening and the time taken to replace a debit card.

The moves are part of the FCA's wider work to promote effective competition in retail banking, following a probe into the sector by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The CMA previously found that older and bigger banks were not having to compete hard enough for customers' business, while smaller banks were finding it difficult to grow.

The CMA found that a personal banking customer could be around £92 a year better off by switching to a more suitable deal for their needs and a small
business could gain around £80 a year.

Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at UK Finance, said: "Making it easier for consumers and businesses to compare the quality of service offered by different current account providers is a great way to encourage customers to shop around."

The FCA also said it welcomed plans for the development of a voluntary industry agreement on vulnerability.

James O'Sullivan, policy adviser at the Building Societies Association (BSA), said: "We look forward to working with the FCA and UK Finance to co-ordinate the development of a voluntary industry agreement to provide relevant and helpful information to customers who find themselves in vulnerable circumstances."