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How can banks do more to help customers?

Published 3 November 2011 by

New research by Which? has indicated that people want a 'strong financial watchdog' to keep banks in check and treat banking customers more fairly.

According to a survey of 1,266 UK adults, carried out by the 'consumer champion' in August 2011, 73% of those who were aware of what a regulator was thought that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) - the body currently responsible for regulating financial services in Britain - wasn't successful at standing up to the banks before the banking crisis.

82% of people felt that the financial regulator needs to have 'more power' to enforce any necessary changes within the banks. Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?, said: "People are crying out for a strong financial regulator that fights on their behalf."

The research comes as the UK is moving to a new model of financial regulation: with the FSA being broken up and replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who'll regulate conduct in retail and wholesale markets.

However, the research also suggested that it's not just the regulators themselves that need to make some changes - but the banks too. 76% of people surveyed thought that banks couldn't be trusted to keep themselves in line, suggesting that banks need to do more to win back customers' confidence.

A spokesperson for thinkmoney commented: "If you're not happy with your current bank, it's important to do some research to find an alternative option that could be more suitable for you. There are various kinds of bank account available, and different providers can offer different deals, so take some time to do some research.

"Online comparison websites could be a great place to start, or even speak to friends and family about what bank accounts they have. Also think about what features you could really benefit from: for example, an overdraft, or SMS banking. If you want to see what other people think about different accounts, why not have a look at some user reviews on the internet and see if they could point you in the right direction?"

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