For us at Starling, this year’s Halloween brings with it many of the usual terrors. We’re still horrified by ghouls, zombies and replacement rail buses, naturally. Something we’re not scared of, however, is bank switching.
Apparently plenty of you agree. According to statistics from BACS, over 680,000 customers have used the Current Account Switch Service to switch banks since January this year. That’s 4.2 million since 2013 – almost 7% of the UK’s entire population. It’s clear that people are regularly defecting from their original banks in search of pastures new – but why?
The relationship between customer and bank often mirrors the trajectory of most high-school sweethearts. It starts when you’re young – when you’re not really sure what else is out there – but as the years roll by, alluring new options (with rather attractive features) may start to turn your head.
In any case, it’s becoming clear that the traditional loyalties are no longer binding us as banking consumers – and that’s in part due to the introduction of the Current Account Switch Service (CASS). Its main appeal is that it removes the major obstacle that has prevented people from switching in the past – the paperwork. In short? CASS does all the boring admin for you, within seven working days, no fuss, no fees, no hassle.
Which is great news for everyone. But there’s more to this mass movement than sheer simplicity – so read on to explore the major reasons people are joining the switching revolution…
A rising tide lifts all boats
Stay with us here. It is a universal truth that general improvements in any area raise the game for everyone – and that’s been overwhelmingly true within the banking sector. Historically there have always been the same nine or so traditional legacy banks battling it out, purses at dawn, for their rightful chunk of your wages – but with the advent of challenger banks (and an increasing awareness that there might be a different way to bank) customers have started to realise that the traditional banking model is neither obligatory nor the best option. Things are changing – and fast.
The old-school bank model now feels somewhat outmoded and unfashionable, whilst customers are more educated than ever about new ways of controlling and managing their money. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that when an innovative and flexible game-changer appears on the scene, customers are finding fewer and fewer reasons not to jump ship.
On top of that, the big legacy banks are having to work harder than ever to keep up with the demand and remain relevant to an increasingly discerning and educated customer base. Remember what we said about the tide?
Switching is easy
Honest! Chances are, you’re probably using the arduous onboarding process of ten years ago as a reference point. Thankfully, switching your bank account no longer means mountains of paperwork and endless branch visits, because thanks to CASS, the process has been streamlined beyond all recognition (especially if you’re set up with a challenger bank like Starling, where the onboarding itself is simple, fast and slick in the first place).
By using CASS, you’ll be fully switched within seven working days, with minimum input from your end. All your direct debits and standing orders are transferred across for you, and there are guarantees in place that mean any payments into your old account will follow the customer to their new account for the next three years. Like anything, switching becomes a considerably more attractive prospect when it makes your life easier, not harder.
Let’s be real for a second – most of the time, our choices as consumers (and humans) come down to its relationship with money. Where we’ll save it; how much of it we’ll have to spend. That’s not a bad thing – it’s tough and expensive out there, so why would you pay more for something when you don’t have to?
A not-insignificant reason for people switching banks is the fees, charges and potential rewards. From wildly varying overdraft fees (arranged and unarranged) to general monthly charges and ATM and transaction fees abroad, the traditional banking model has fallen out of favour in part because of a lack of transparency and unfair fees.
Part of the reason we’re building Starling is because we want to address the issues within this problematic area. To that end, we’ve made sure that as our customer, you’ll pay zero fees abroad, no monthly fees and minimum fees for your overdraft (give our overdraft calculator a go, for comparison across the board!).
The only thing you’ll be charged for is interest on your overdraft – and we’ll always be totally clear about how much you’ll be paying by displaying it in the app. Transparency is central to what we’re trying to build.
Old bank, old news
Antiquated and bureaucratic systems don’t always leave much room for innovation and growth – which is where the old legacy banks can run into difficulty. Conversely, challenger banks, with their agile startup structure and attitude, have the freedom and laser-focus to craft whole new inroads into the world of money management.
Sure – Starling is a full-service bank account. It offers everything you’d expect from your current account – a great overdraft, FSCS protection, an area to save, brilliant customer support – but it also offers that extra dash of magic that only a truly agile and innovative working structure can foster – all from your mobile phone, with zero branch visits or paperwork. That means smart and sleek features like Spending Insights and Goals, or lightening speed processes like real-time payment notifications. The new banking model never rests on its laurels – and that’s an appealing quality to many recent switchers.
One for all
When you have an account that delivers the goods comprehensively, you don’t really need more than one. For a start, it’s easier to manage your money when it’s in one place (rather than keeping track of multiple pots of cash) and a good portion of people are switching because it feels easier and more efficient to manage all your money from one app rather than spreading it thinly across a range.
Plus with the recent addition of Goals, Starling’s current account offering is now a serious banking power player. Alongside all its existing money management features (Pulse, Spending Insights etc), there’s now a digital change jar within your main account where you’ll be able to ringfence money to save for the stuff you really want. We’re even launching business accounts early next year too, so you’ll soon be covered from all angles.
A major reason that people switch banks is because of the level of customer service that they’d like to receive – but aren’t. It’s an unfortunate truth that the customer service offered by certain big banks is sometimes less than perfect – and customers often switch because they’re in search of a more caring and immediate approach that feels customer-centric and instantly effective.
At Starling, we’re proud of the customer service we offer, from our in-app, UK-based chat to our 24-hour, seven days a week availability. Modern banking deserves a modern approach to customer service, and we know that your relationship with your money is a round-the-clock relationship – so ours is too. No wait time, no fuss – just the help you need, when you need it.