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UK Banking Reputation Report

  • Report
  • 68 Pages
  • May 2019
  • Region: United Kingdom
  • IRN Research
  • ID: 4769253


  • Adam & Company
  • Barclays
  • Danske Bank
  • HSBC
  • NatWest
  • Skipton Building Society

The banking industry still suffers from reputational damage as a legacy of past (and some on-going) scandals. Consumers generally have a less positive view of the industry than they have of individual bank brands and the individual banks they use.

In terms of their view of the banking industry, consumers split into three groups:

  • Promoters: they have a positive attitude towards banks.
  • Detractors: they are the opposite of the Promoters. They have a negative attitude towards the banking industry (although around one-third trust the banks they personally use).
  • Ambivalent: they hold mixed views towards the banking industry. They respect banks, more than they like them or see them as working in their own or societies best interests.

Similarly, in terms of their attitudes to the banks they use, consumers divide into three camps:

  • Strongly Pro-Brand – consumers who associate positive words and phrases with their main bank and who would strongly recommend their bank to friends and relatives.
  • Pro-Brand – like the above but less positive towards the brands they use but still overall having good feelings towards their main bank.
  • Anti-Brand – consumers who associate more negative words and phrases with their main bank and who would not make a recommendation to friends and family.

The brands from the big four banks (except for HSBC) tend to have more Anti-Brand customers relative to Pro-Brand customers than is the case for their smaller bank counterparts.

The brands which have out-performed the banking market in the sense of having relatively more Pro-brand customers than banks as a whole, tend to be brands which have established a unique position for themselves in the market. Each of these brands has a market positioning which sets it apart from the run-of-the-mill bank brand. These brands are either building societies (Nationwide), former mutual/building societies (Santander), ethical banks (Co-operative) or online specialists (First Direct).

The brands which have under-performed the banking market include the core brands of Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Barclays.

42 banking brands are covered in the survey.

Consumer positive views of either the industry or individual banks are based on an unemotional assessment of the banking services provided, principally an assessment of the current account and/or online banking system. Consumers do not have warm and cosy feeling towards individual banks or the industry, they remain somewhat detached from both, even those consumers who tend to look favourably on the industry or individual bank. Consumers respect banks and industry more than they like either.

Examples of other key findings to come from this research, based on interviews with 1,031 nationally representative consumers are:

  • 77% of consumers think banks are economically essential and 55% think the industry offers high quality products and services
  • Only 28% of consumers think the industry has high ethical standards and only 35% think it cares what people like them think of it
  • 46% of consumers feel that high pay and bonuses to bank staff have worsened their view of the banking industry
  • 46% of consumers feel mis-selling of financial products has worsened their view of the banking industry
  • 70% of consumers trust staff working in bank branches, while only 31% trust senior management and 19% investment bankers
  • 56% of consumers feel that senior management should face criminal charges in serious wrong doing cases and 52% feel they should lose their jobs/positions without financial compensation.


  • Adam & Company
  • Barclays
  • Danske Bank
  • HSBC
  • NatWest
  • Skipton Building Society

1. Executive Summary
  • The whole is worth less than the sum of its parts
  • Three views of the banking industry
  • And three attitudes of the banks used
  • Banks must work harder appealing to older, less affluent consumers, especially men.
  • Individual banks and the industry are respected more than they are liked
  • Damaging society results in the biggest reputational hit to the industry
  • So, taking actions and measure to prevent social damage will improve the industry’s reputation
  • As will improving customer service and accessibility
  • As will stopping closures of bank branches, which reduces consumer trust
  • Act now or face the consequences
  • The core brands from the big four banks need the most work
2. Introduction
  • Report coverage
3. Is The Banking Industry Bona Fides?
  • Key findings
  • Introduction
  • Banks still have a reputational problem
  • You can respect a bank without liking it
  • Three types of consumer
  • Even Detractors value the economic role of banks and even Promoters think banks pay excessive bonuses
  • Detractors more likely to be mature males
4. What Drives Perceptions of The Banking Industry?
  • Key findings
  • Bonuses and product mis-selling the key negatives for consumers
  • Consumers show varying sensitivity to banking problems
  • Public information vs Personal Information
  • News over the past year has entrenched positions further
  • Perceptions are driven from the top
5. What Can Improve The Public Perceptions of Banks?
  • Key findings
  • Fear the Group attribution error, or why all banks are in this together
  • Banks need to take the appropriate actions to keep their customers close and assured
  • Preventive actions will change perceptions
  • Further work to be done
  • More regulation: do-it-yourself and forced-to-do-it
  • Are fines the answer?
  • Controlling senior management
6. Perceptions of Banking Brands
  • Key findings
  • The industry suffers from negative Gestalt
  • Detractors dislike the label “bank”
7. Perceptions of Banks Used
  • Key findings
  • Introduction
  • Good news for banks – your customers give you high ratings
  • Three Types of Consumer
  • What customers really value is a well-functioning online/current account service
  • Brand associations and industry associations are not necessarily the same
  • Banks must work harder appealing to older, less affluent consumers, especially men
8. Drivers of Perceptions of The Banks You Use
  • Key findings
  • Acceptability, Competence and Products
  • Lack of emotional connection
  • Behaviour, service and ease of access the keys to positive feelings
9. How Do The Main Bank Brands Compare?
  • Key findings
  • The core brands of the Big Four Banks are not looked on as favourably as smaller brands
  • Anti-establishment brands attract those disaffected by the industry
List of Figures
Figure 1 The broad attitudes towards banks of UK consumers
Figure 2 The statements about the banking industry supported by consumers
Figure 3 The views held by the three attitude groups
Figure 4 Statements about banks that the attitude groups agree with (% agreeing with a statement)
Figure 5 The profile of the banking attitude groups by key demographics
Figure 6 The three main issues that have damaged consumer views of the banking industry
Figure 7 Correspondence Analysis of the issues having a negative impact on banking reputation
Figure 8 Consumer awareness of banking ‘scandals’
Figure 9 The sources of information important for shaping views of trustworthiness
Figure 10 How news and reports have changed perceptions of trustworthiness over the past year
Figure 11 Perceptions of trust and professionalism in bank staff
Figure 12 Attitudes towards bank staff by general attitudes towards the banking industry
Figure 13 The banking brands consumers are familiar with
Figure 14 Actions banks can take to improve consumer trust
Figure 15 What would improve trust in the banking industry by consumer attitudes towards banks
Figure 16 The areas where banks need to improve in the future
Figure 17 The areas where banks need to improve in the future by consumer attitudes to banks
Figure 18 How fines change trust in UK banks
Figure 19 Support for action to be taken against senior bank management
Figure 20 Consumer attitudes to individual banking brands
Figure 21 Consumer attitudes to individual banking brands by type of consumer (net favourability)
Figure 22 How consumer opinion of their main bank has changed over the past two years
Figure 23 Attitudes towards main bank used by brand attitude groups
Figure 24 products from the main bank consumer would recommend to friends and family
Figure 25 Satisfaction with the main bank by brand attitude
Figure 26 Bank industry attitudes by brand attitudes
Figure 27 Combined industry and brand attitude groups
Figure 28 The difference (%) between Promoters, Pro-Brand and Detractors, Anti-Brand*
Figure 29 Statements about the main bank consumer agree with
Figure 30 Statements consumers associate with their main bank
Figure 31 Statements about the main brand supported by consumers by attitude to main bank used
Figure 32 The percentage of bank customers who are Pro-Brand or Anti-Brand
Figure 33 Correspondence Analysis of bank brands and consumer groups
  • Adam & Company
  • AIB (Allied Irish Bank)
  • Al Rayan Bank
  • Aldermore Bank
  • Bank of Ireland
  • Bank of Scotland
  • Barclays
  • Citibank
  • Clydesdale Bank
  • Co-operative Bank
  • Coutts
  • Coventry Building Society
  • Cumberland Building Society
  • Danske Bank
  • Drummonds Bank
  • First Direct
  • Halifax
  • Handelsbanken
  • Holt’s
  • HSBC
  • Leeds Building Society
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • M&S Bank
  • Metro Bank
  • Nationwide
  • NatWest
  • Nottingham Building Society
  • Post Office
  • Prudential
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Sainsbury’s Bank
  • Santander
  • Skipton Building Society
  • Smile
  • Tesco bank
  • TSB
  • Ulster Bank
  • Virgin Money
  • Weatherbys Bank
  • Williams & Glyn
  • Yorkshire Bank
  • Yorkshire Building Society