Watchdogs tell the banks to listen and improve

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Britain's banks have been sent warnings to shape up by leading regulators and watchdogs this week. The chief ombudsman was first off the mark on Tuesday when she accused financial firms of failing to learning from scandals such as PPI mis-selling.

Natalie Ceeney said companies must learn to "focus on the power of listening" and accept complaints as "comments and observations on the service provided by banks and other financial businesses."

If they fail to do so it will "cost the financial services sector a lot – financially and reputationally," she said. Ms Ceeney said the rising tide of complaints – the Financial Conduct Authority reported that more than 5m were made about financial firms last year – should send a warning to the financial sector.

"Financial institutions are looking to change perceptions and stop the 'cycle of scandal'," she pointed out, suggesting that they should put more focus on listening to and dealing with complaints.

"Customers are more loyal if something that's gone wrong gets fixed than if they had never had a problem in the first place," she pointed out.

Meanwhile on Wednesday Martin Wheatley, the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, told banks to stop dragging their feet and compensate without further delay small companies to which they mis-sold interest rate swaps. He said the slowness of banks to provide compensation was aggravating the "unfairness" of the original mis-selling.