Move your money: it’s easier than you think
14 Mar 2012
- Consumer surveys in EU and Australia suggest 3 out of 5
consumers who have switched banks found the process
- But at least 1in 5 wishing to move their money do not
due to perceived difficulties with changing bank accounts
- Consumers International marks World Consumer Rights Day
with a call on banks to address customer concerns around
Consumer surveys[i] in Australia, Belgium,
Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK suggest that well over half of
all consumers who make the decision to switch bank accounts find
the process easy and straight forward. In Belgium, Spain and the UK
this figure rises above 70 per cent.
The figures dispel the myth in many countries that switching
bank accounts is a complicated procedure. The same surveys, carried
out by member organisations of Consumers International (CI)[ii], show that at least one in five consumers
who wish to switch banks do not do so because of the perceived
complications. In Belgium, Portugal, the UK, and France where the
survey also took place, this figure rises to one in three.
Consumers cited concerns including a perception that the process
would be too complex or time consuming as reasons for not
switching. Many also felt they were unlikely to get a better
service or better rates at a new bank.
CI is calling on banks to make the switching process easier to
understand and undertake.
The survey results, released to mark World Consumer Rights Day[iii] on 15 March, suggest that there is still
more to be done to encourage consumers to switch if they are
dissatisfied with the service. The theme for World Consumer Rights
Day 2012 is 'real choice' in financial services and marks 50 years
since John F. Kennedy articulated the first four consumer rights,
including 'the right to choose'[iv].
The reasons that consumers gave for wanting to switch say a lot
about the nature of consumer dissatisfaction with banks. Consumers
in Spain, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, France and the UK all said they
that one of the main motivations for switching was to get a better
service or because they had a disagreement with their previous
Another key motivator in all these countries was to get a better
rate of interest. The costs of an existing account were also an
important reason to switch for consumers in Spain, Belgium, Italy,
Portugal and France.
Similarly, in Australia the main reasons given for switching
were the feeling that loyalty was not being acknowledged, and that
fees and charges were unreasonable.
The results also suggest that innovative ideas such as
transferable bank account numbers could play a significant role in
encouraging consumers to switch, with between 43 per cent (UK) and
67 per cent (Spain) saying that they would be more likely to move
their money if they could take their bank account number with
Helen McCallum, Director General of Consumers International
"If a consumer is dissatisfied with the financial service they
are receiving, banks need to work much harder to ensure the
switching process is as pain free as possible.
"Providing clear comparative information, and ensuring the
process is straightforward and risk free will encourage more
consumers to switch, increase competition and promote better
service and better deals."
Selected survey results (further details on
Percentage of consumers surveyed who said they have
considered switching but did not go through with it:
Percentage of consumers surveyed who did switch and said
they found it easy:
Percentage of those consumers surveyed who said they
would be more likely to switch if they could take their bank
account number with them:
Note to Editors
[i] Online consumer surveys on switching
were carried out by consumer organisations in Belgium, France,
Italy, Portugal, Spain, UK and Australia.
Results from the UK were derived from a combination of two
current and savings account customer satisfaction surveys carried
out by Which? (www.which.co.uk) in January and
May 2011. A combined total of 13,645 responses were received.
In Australia the survey was conducted by CHOICE (www.choice.com.au) between in
September 2011 with a sample of 2,546 consumers.
Results from Australia were derived from a banking satisfaction
survey conducted by CHOICE (www.choice.com.au) among
its members in September 2011, which had a total of
In the other countries, visitors to the websites of the
following consumer organisations were asked to complete the survey
during February 2012:
- OCU (Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios), Spain (www.ocu.org) - 3,377 responses
[ii] Consumers International (CI) is the
only independent global campaigning voice for consumers. With over
220 member organisations in 115 countries, we are building a
powerful international consumer movement to help protect and
empower consumers everywhere. For more information, visit www.consumersinternational.org
[iii] World Consumer Rights Day is an
international day of action and awareness, observed by consumer
organisations around the world. This year year's theme is 'Our
money, our rights: campaigning for real choice in financial
services'. See /our-work/wcrd/wcrd-2012 for
[iv] 15 March marks the day President
John F. Kennedy told the US congress: 'Consumers by definition,
include us all. They are the largest economic group, affecting and
affected by almost every public and private economic decision. Yet
they are the only important group... whose views are often not
Kennedy went on to outline a set of consumer rights which have,
over time, developed into eight principles that inspire much of the
work consumer rights groups do today: the right to safety… to be
informed… to be heard… to redress… to consumer education… to a
healthy environment… to the satisfaction of basic needs... and, the
right to choose.
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