The Nat West in Cockermouth is to close. It’s a sad day when we lose another valued high street amenity, however this led me to reflect on banking so here are my thoughts:
RBS (Nat West being its main subsidiary) has made the decision after a 9th successive year of losses to close many high street branches. It makes me think that those at the top have completely lost touch with the man/woman on the street. According to RBS filings reviewed by the Financial Times, RBS is diverting over seventy billion pounds a year from its high street business to support riskier financial activities, including its troubled investment bank. Ironic or what?
I remember as a young man being taken to meet my father’s bank manager at the Wetherby Branch of Lloyds Bank. I sat across a table from a man in a tweed suit and he asked me what my intentions for the future were. I hadn’t a clue, but what became apparent was that this man cared about me, and my future. I could always get an appointment to discuss my financial affairs and I saw him for several years. He helped me with business loans and a mortgage and I stayed with Lloyds bank until they moved their call centres offshore. Then I took my business banking to the Cumberland and my personal banking to an ethical online bank.
Jinglis and I have a Nat West bank account by virtue of marriage. I visit begrudgingly to pay in cheques but not from October. I will take my business elsewhere in a heartbeat and I suggest you do the same. These high street banks have forgotten their purpose – to lend money and to keep safe MY money, but they seem to care less and less. It seems strange that since the financial collapse of 2008 we have had to bail out large financial institutes but not one UK banker has gone to prison. While Iceland let its banks fail, we still support ours but Iceland jailed its bankers and now has one of the fastest recovering economies in the northern hemisphere.
It’s also galling that our financial institutes seem to be shaking their collective arse in our faces and thank us for our support by denying us interest on bank accounts, take away desk services, rip us off with expensive annuity exits (coming to a pension near you soon) and PPI scandals.
I strongly suggest you leave these archaic banking Monoliths, you’re being forced online by the high street banks anyway to use services “we the customers apparently want” which of course are not driven by the banks obsession with de-staffing at all… find a newer more agile online bank like ‘Monzo’ or ‘Atom’ online and send the RBS and it’s like a departure message that reads: “Human says NO!”