Simon Read: It's been a year to forget for banks, but we shouldn't forget – or forgive
Claims chasing companies are confident they've found a new mis-selling scandal to bash the banks with. This time it's expensive packaged accounts that include often dubious insurances.
Last week the Financial Services Authority published new guidelines designed to clean up poor sales practices of the accounts.
The new rules mean that next year, more than 10 million people with paid-for current accounts will be sent a letter informing them whether or not they can actually use the benefits included.
This week Lloyds TSB and Bank of Scotland – the banking group which has most of the expensive current accounts – said it will suspend telephone and branch sales of packaged bank accounts next year.
Are the claims chasers right? If so, it will be just another black mark against the high street banks in 2012, in what has proved to be their worst year yet, in terms of reputation and treating customers unfairly.
The ethical website Blue & Green Tomorrow has – in conjunction with the campaigning group Move Your Money – rounded up just why the big banks have been bad this year.
It's a useful reminder, and should send a stark warning down Britain's banking halls that they must do better in 2013, or risk losing all of us as customers.
For instance, the site reports that it's been a bad year to be a Barclays' customer. Not only was the bank at the centre of the Libor rate-rigging scandal, for which it was fined £276m, but it also experienced a shareholder revolt at its AGM in April over boardroom pay, where 26.9 per cent rejected Barclays' executive remuneration package.
HSBC's poor 2012 centred on accusations of money-laundering. After an investigation by the US Senate, the bank was forced to pay £1.2bn in penalties for channelling money for Mexican drug barons and Iranian criminals – at the time the largest fine ever given to a bank.
Meanwhile Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Lloyds TSB, Halifax and the Bank of Scotland, revealed a half-year loss of £439m in July after being forced to increase the amount it had set aside to compensate customers mis-sold payment protection insurance by £700m to £4.27bn overall.
Royal Bank of Scotland is set to be slapped with the biggest Libor fine of all the UK high-street banks to date at £350m. It also received continued criticism during 2012 for its funding of energy-intensive Canadian tar sands operations. That's on top of a £1.5bn half-year loss and a PPI compensation pot so far totalling £1.7bn.
And what about NatWest? The bank's annus horribilis is dominated by its shocking IT meltdown over the summer, when up to 12 million people were unable to pay bills or withdraw money. The City watchdog later ruled that the bank had to refund and compensate affected customers.
Move Your Money claims that in 2012 more than half a million people in the UK have made the switch from high street banks to dedicated ethical alternatives.
Will that race for change accelerate next year? It really wouldn't surprise me. So what are the alternatives that people are choosing? We've written about most of them this year, but here's a reminder, courtesy of Blue & Green again.
There's Triodos Bank, which last year reported a 36 per cent growth in green lending and saw a 51 per cent increase in new account applications at the height of the Barclays scandal which saw so-called casino banker Bob Diamond lose his job.
Then there's Charity Bank, which uses your cash to lend to good causes. Since being launched a decade ago, it has issued 1,006 loans, worth £165m. Its loans are estimated to have improved the lives of some 3.5 million people across the UK.
Co-operative Bank, the closest thing to a high street bank that the alternative banking sector has, was named European sustainable bank of the year. It is set to take on an extra 4.8 million customers when it completes the takeover of 600 branches from Lloyds next year.
And then there's the Ecology Building Society, Reliance Bank – which was formerly the Salvation Army's bank – and Unity Trust Bank.
In short, you don't have to take the same old bad service and excuses from the traditional banks. If you're already thinking about possible new year's resolutions, switching to a more sustainable bank may not be a bad one to adopt.
Independent Partners: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
filmNymphomaniac is more Carl Dreyer than sexploitation of Russ Meyer
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Geoffrey Macnab: The Wolf of Wall Street's account of white-collar excess is A Rake’s Progress on steroids
scienceThe new development in bio-printing technology could be used in the future to restore lost vision - though years of research still await
architectureThe design collective which has stuck two fingers up at the modernists will call it quits at Venice
... But if you’re one of those poor souls offended by Jennifer Lopez’s choice of leotard, Grace Dent want you to get a bloody grip
- 1 Facebook 'self-censorship': study records when you don't post to find more ways to share
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 British prisoner Dr Abbas Khan found dead in Syrian jail days before he was due to be handed over to MP George Galloway
- 4 Vitamin pills are a waste of money, offer no health benefits and could be harmful - study
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Implementation...
£50000 - £65000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: My client deliver into the Investment Managemen...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: Harrington S...
Day In a Page
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.
John Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool to be sold at auction. Guide price: £150,000-£250,000.
A six-bedroom detached period property with secluded gardens, ample parking and a double garage in Rye, £675,000.