Julian Knight: MoneySense makes no sense – banks are just in for the hard sell
Sunday 10 May 2009
Researchers at consumer group Which? have found that NatWest's heavily advertised MoneySense scheme – in which bank staff dispense personal-finance pearls of wisdom to open-mouthed consumers – is being used by staff to plug the company's products.
Now, the Which? survey only incorporated 20 branches, a small number, but I think it's fair to take the findings as another indication of the culture that pervades British banks. And when I say culture, I mean the victory of marketing over substance and staff being primed purely to sell product.
A while back I went into a London branch of NatWest with one of the country's leading mystery shoppers. We asked for information on the bank's credit cards but before you could say "commission" or "sales target" the staff member was trying to get us to take out a consolidating personal loan and payment-protection insurance. The mystery shopper explained to me that the problem with the banks he visits is simply that they only take in what they want to listen to – in other words they are forever looking for – in sales speak – customer "buying signals". Imagine a partner who spends their entire time looking for ways to turn a conversation around so that they got what they wanted – I think I've been there, actually – how long would it take for you to get fed up?
Banks have for years been aware of this trait – they know they do it but like true egotists they just can't stop. Their method of counteracting it is to spend millions on marketing so they appear to be listening. NatWest has tried to brand itself differently, making a big deal of keeping branches open when others were closing them and, more lately, with the MoneySense programme. But, really, unless banks break the habit of commission sales and training staff to seize on buying signals to sell this and that, then I'm afraid it will always come to nothing.
It's a universal truth that scammers are always among the first to see an opportunity. Federal authorities in the US are warning of bogus swine flu medicines and emails offering cures, if only the consumers hand over their credit-card details. Closer to home, a contact of mine recently received a text offering access to a better savings rate if he texted or called back to what was – you guessed it – a premium-rate phone line. In this country, premium-rate lines are a cash generator for big-name companies and scam artists alike. They should be banned. The industry regulator, PhonepayPlus – yes, someone thought that was a proper name – says if it gets complaints it will act, and every so often their website lists firms it fines and disciplines. But it's on a loser, the scam artists always find a way and they're quick, be warned.
Work till 70 – but at what?
The respected National Institute of Economic and Social Research says that if the Government wants to close the chasm in public finances it should raise the state pension age to 70. Let's leave aside the irony that we all get to work longer while Sir Fred the Shred suns himself on his pension in his 50s, and ask a simple question: Who will employ us? Our society is incredibly ageist, with some careers over in their 40s. Media is particularly bad for this and more so for women. All that is good is young. It's a nonsense, but what is being done? We have some limp anti-ageism legislation in place and that's all. However, as Lord Turner pointed out in his report on pensions a few years back, unless we tackle ageism in the workplace, we won't get people working to 67 or 68, never mind 70.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Scientists create transparent mouse complete with see-through organs
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 Amazonian Indian tribe filmed making contact with Brazil village in rare video footage
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Financial Analyst, Forecasting, Halifax, Banking,...
£500 per day: Orgtel: Business Architect - Banking - Bristol - £500 per day A...
£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...
Day In a Page
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000