Disrupting Finance: Better Banking

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The financial crisis and a series of scandals have left public trust in banks at an all-time low. Discontent with the established financial system is helping to create a dynamic new order.

Disruptors and innovators are developing alternative platforms as individuals look for different ways to manage their money. Ahead of a special Salt event in September, we outline the new financial landscape with a three-part series: Disrupting Finance.

According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, only 36 per cent of the British public trusts the banks. Despite seven years passing since the financial crisis and taxpayer bailout, the financial services industry’s reputation remains in tatters.

Permanent cultural change is needed; scandals like the mis-selling of PPI, Libor rate-fixing, bankers’ bonuses, and helping rich clients dodge tax mean we no longer believe in our banks.

However, disruption means some banks are working hard to reinvent themselves, and new challengers with different models are introducing themselves to the financial services arena. There are reasons to be optimistic as a number of success stories could provide blueprints for others to follow.

The Swedish bank Handelsbanken has used a long-term model with a prioritisation on customer service and the importance of relationships with customers. The bank decentralises decision-making to branch managers and rejects the need for marketing; its successful business plan has seen it introduce almost 200 branches into the UK, with a net income growth of 33 per cent last year.

New operations like the all-digital Atom Bank are also shaking up the sector. The company claims to be a real alternative to the high-street operations, with a customer-first approach that could raise the bar in the industry.

Metro Bank, created by the Anthony Thomson, (who also co-founded Atom), has a reputation for ethics and, again, a focus on customer service that could encourage the traditional institutions to follow suit.

There are also a number of ‘ethical banks’ aiming to have a positive social and environmental impact. Triodos Bank looks to provide finance to organisations who are involved in positive change; it has financed hundreds of environmental projects. It is also helping to improve banking culture, with projects that include gender equality, and having a maximum 10:1 salary ratio with no executive bonuses.

So there is every reason to be positive as innovators look to create a better banking future. Join Salt’s expert panel for the Disrupting Finance event on 16 September to find out what that future will look like. Click here for more details.

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Photo credit: Ania Mendrek from Flickr

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  • geepeefree

    I completely agree – trust in financial services really is at an all time low. Here in Australia, the financial planning sector has been caught out innumerable times in recent years – and not just individuals but at the systemic level among our big four banks. It’s getting cleaned up here, with laws being amended to remove incentives to give dodgy advice – but then, you simply can’t legislate human greed away. wherever there’s people with money, there’ll be scamsters and crooks.