“I’m part of a generation that doesn’t tend to change banks,” says Father Stephen Brown. “I joined my high street bank before I went to university and I’ve had the same bank account ever since. Until this year when I switched to Starling 50 years later.”

Stephen, 67, became a Starling personal account customer in February 2021. Starling is a fully-licensed bank, meaning that balances up to £85,000 are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Stephen entered holy orders in 2015, following a 20-year career in Youth Service and a 23-year career managing social housing in London and Manchester. His parish is in Edmonton in North London.

Leaving a high street bank

Stephen decided to leave his high street bank after spending a lot of time opening an additional savings account, only to be disappointed when he was told that the interest rate he had expected would be changing.

As a premium customer paying a monthly fee for his personal account, he expected better service. He began to look for alternative banks to switch to and came across Starling on the Money Saving Expert website.

“A chunk of the article was about internet-only banking and branchless banking,” he says. “The idea of a bank that runs from an app is brilliant to me. I went on to the Starling website and made the decision to set up an account and switch within 24 hours.”

Switching to Starling

He requested a full switch to Starling through the Starling app. All automatic switches are guaranteed to be completed within seven days by the Current Account Switch Service (CASS). “The switch service sorted all my direct debits for me,” he says. As part of the switch, his payees, standing orders and balance were also automatically transferred.

Not only does he no longer pay monthly fees for his personal account, but he also benefits from smart money management features built into the Starling app. “I love the classification of spending, it’s fascinating to see and I like the presentation of it,” he says. Spending Insights is the section of the app that automatically categorises outgoings and calculates how much of your money is spent at various merchants.

“I also like Spaces, where you effectively have a savings account with complete flexibility.” Spaces is the feature that enables you to set money aside within the Starling app. Savings remain visible and accessible but can’t be spent unless moved back to your main balance.

Should he need to contact Customer Service, Stephen can use the Live Chat section of the app. “I really like talking to Customer Service on an app, rather than going into a branch,” he says. That said, he can often find the answer to his question by looking at the Help section of the Starling website.

Another thing he really likes about Starling is the way we communicate. Where possible, we avoid jargon, while remaining informative and professional. “The quality of the written word in the Help section is excellent. I get very stroppy about a misused apostrophe or a spelling mistake and I’ve not noticed any in what I’ve read - it’s all very clear and never patronising. It exudes a level of quality that gives me confidence in the bank.”

Father Stephen was talking to us in a personal capacity and does not represent the views of the Church of England.

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