A life in financial services
Today I received a letter from one of my pension providers, telling me of a change to the way it manages my money and giving me options for how I might leave if I don’t like the alternation (I do, and I’m staying).
However. It made me think about how many different relationships I’ve had with financial services companies in my life.
I’ve detailed them below – split into current and past – in no particular order and with no details. I may have forgotten some – lost in faded memories. It makes interesting reading.
I have 11 current relationships (though Revolut and TransferWise are not needed at the moment thanks to Covid-19). I’ve had a few more former relationships – though some of them left me! In all I’ve been a customer of more that 25 different companies during my life.
The question is, am I typical? Or am I a fickle customer? Would I have been better served sticking with a few? As an advisor to financial services companies, are there any communications lessons?
Halifax (part of Lloyds Banking Group)
Legal & General
John Lewis Financial Services
Coventry Building Society
Standard Life (now Aberdeen Standard Life)
Equitable Life (went bust!)
Bradford & Bingley (also went under – now part of Santander)
Alliance & Leicester (bought by Santander)
Williams & Glynn (now part of RBS)
Barclays (only because I had to!)
Egg (RIP – was owned by the Prudential)
Scottish Widows (now part of Lloyds Banking Group).
So what have I learned from this life in financial services?
1: Branding helps - if only to reassure you that the company might be round for a while, though that’s not always a good indicator, as evidenced by the number of financial services companies I’ve used that have gone under;
2: Customer Service is very important – and I happily recommend two of my current providers because of their great user interface (both digital and human). However it is not a deciding factor, as I transferred from one insurer despite its great claims handling, because it massively upped its pricing;
3: Don’t push up your prices and then drag them down when I threaten to leave. This might work with mobile phone companies – because it’s such a pain to change and there’s limited choice – but not with financial services, where it is usually very easy to swap, and a world to chose from. You’ve already broken the trust relationship.
4: You can find yourself as the customer of someone you didn’t expect – either by takeover or because, particularly in insurance, the big companies often hide behind friendly smaller brands.
5: Mutuals – such as building societies – have big advantage, but aren’t always that efficient;
6: Take time to – the words of Smokey Robinson - shop around. Loyalty isn’t always, or even often, rewarded.