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Challenger Vs Incumbent – The great savings account battle?

New research suggests that the UK’s largest retail banking brands’ ascendency in the savings account market could be under threat.

According to the report by Deposit Solutions, a fifth (20%) of British consumers are considering switching savings account provider in the next 12 months.

The Future of Big British Banks: The Battleground for The Deposit Market argues that losing a customer’s savings account could be the first domino to fall in the loss of the entire customer relationship.

The research shows that customers are willing to shop around a lot more when it comes to savings accounts compared to their current accounts.

British consumers report changing savings account provider (which includes overnight, term-deposit and notice accounts) every seven years – significantly more often than their current account provider, which they change every 12 years.

This lower loyalty displayed towards savings account providers suggests that this market can be a key access point to large retail banks’ consumers, which challenger brands can exploit.

Challenger Vs Incumbent - The great savings account battle

When it comes to customer retention, the report shows that the six biggest British retail banking brands – Barclays, HSBC, NatWest, Lloyds Bank, RBS and Santander – still enjoy a high degree of latent loyalty, with customers holding an account with them for 11 years on average.

However, there are signs that customers in the savings account market could be easily swayed towards their competitors.

When considering switching savings accounts specifically, consumers are far more likely to make a practical decision, with two thirds (63%) identifying getting the highest interest rate as a key motivator.

This provides challenger banks and other providers the opportunity to market aggressively in order to gain customers at the expense of other institutions.

Meanwhile a bank’s reputation – an area upon which the larger brands have classically focused a lot of their marketing efforts – ranks fourth, with just 13% identifying it as a key factor when choosing a savings account provider.

Furthermore, the research also shows British consumers appear increasingly to be more likely to shop around between banks for new financial products.

Just over a third (35%) of respondents agreed they are more likely to buy from their primary bank rather than looking elsewhere. This greater natural propensity to switch could lead to increased volumes of bigger banks’ customers moving to other brands.

The report goes on to show that British consumers report feeling a stronger emotional connection to their current, savings and investment accounts than other types of financial products.

On a 0 – 10 scale of how positively people feel about their banks, two thirds (63%) of respondents feel a high degree of emotional connection with providers where they hold funds – either for current, savings or investment accounts.

This is compared to only 53% for providers they use for lending accounts (e.g. loans, mortgages and credit cards), pointing to the great importance of savings products for building and maintaining long-term customer relationships.

“Sticking with a big high street bank for savings accounts has been the go-to option for Brits historically, but change is in the air,” says Mark Davison, Managing Director for UK & Ireland.

“The protracted period of low interest rates, coupled with challengers increasingly adding attractive products to their offerings, means UK customers will be increasingly keen to shop around for the best deals.

Bigger retail banking brands have made their reputation for safety and security a cornerstone of their marketing initiatives for years.

However, the research shows that the purchasing decision is driven primarily by the interest rate on offer, and in order to ensure they remain competitive and retain their customer base, large banks need to think about how they can maintain an attractive offering against competitors’ promotional pricing.

Rate pricing is an important part of this, and where banks cannot offer attractive rates themselves, they should consider third-party products”.

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