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Fairbanking initiative could improve bank accounts

17 June 2011 14:23:01

Fairbanking Marks could help to improve bank accounts. image
Fairbanking Marks could help to improve bank accounts.
A new initiative called the Fairbanking Foundation could help to improve the banking experience for customers across the UK. The research-based charity assesses financial products, including bank accounts, and awards 'Fairbanking Marks' to those that help customers to achieve their financial goals. Four products, including two current accounts, have just been awarded the first of the new Fairbanking Marks, and the organisation hopes that other providers will now be encouraged to improve their own products.

What is the Fairbanking Foundation?
The Fairbanking Foundation is a not-for-profit group that was set up to encourage companies offering bank accounts and other financial products to improve the financial wellbeing of their customers. Providers can submit their products for assessment by the organisation's researchers, who then decide whether they are worthy of Fairbanking Mark accreditation.

What do Fairbanking Marks mean?
Unlike comparison sites such as CompareandSave.com, which focus on the features and costs of products such as bank accounts, the Fairbanking Foundation is solely interested in the extent to which a product helps customers to control their money and achieve their financial goals. Products may be granted three, four or five stars, depending on just how much they are capable of contributing to individual customers' financial wellbeing.

How could customers benefit from the scheme?
The Fairbanking initiative will give consumers another way to compare bank accounts, in addition to visiting a regular price comparison site. It will highlight aspects of accounts that help people to keep track of their spending, or that give particular help with budgeting.

Fairbanking also believes that by enabling bank account providers to compete on an entirely new basis, it will encourage companies to introduce more products that help customers in this way. Antony Elliott, the foundation's director, explained: "Like standards for car safety, Fairbanking Marks will serve to provide clarity as to which products are the most helpful and over time will drive up standards as these measures become an increasingly significant part of competition."

Mr Elliott claimed that many companies have yet to recognise the importance of improving their product offerings, but described the allocation of the first Fairbanking Marks as a "major milestone in our efforts to encourage banking firms to improve the financial wellbeing of their customers through offering products better designed to do so". He added: "We are excited about the extent to which the Fairbanking Marks programme is already encouraging the industry to move in a much more customer-oriented direction."

Widespread approval for new scheme
The concept of Fairbanking Marks and the work being performed by the organisation have been welcomed by government ministers and consumer groups alike. Mark Hoban, financial secretary to the Treasury, said that he was "pleased to see voluntary initiatives ... developing to promote financial wellbeing", while Adam Phillips, chairman of the Financial Services Consumer Panel, said the group was "very interested" in the foundation's capacity to improve the industry." ADNFCR-2196-ID-800581740-ADNFCR ADNFCR-2196-ID-19464191-ADNFCR

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