Report on the culture of British retail banking

Our report on the culture of British retail banking is the first comprehensive study of what British retail banks have done, and are doing, to tackle the cultural shortcomings which led to the financial crisis and subsequent other scandals. Produced in collaboration with Cass Business School, it has come to the following conclusions:

Poor Culture has cost customers and banks dearly: Scandals stemming from poor culture in retail banking have cost banks and building societies at least £38.5 billion in fines and redress. Banks have received 20.8 million complaints since the financial crisis, and Which?’s annual aggregated analysis of the results of customer satisfaction surveys – which ask consumers from the general public about their providers – sees Britain’s biggest four banks outranked by smaller, mutual banking providers.

At the current rate, it will take the entire sector a generation to completely overhaul its culture and practices: The sector is currently dominated by four big banks. Given the current rate of change, a radical overhaul will take a generation. An entire generation of staff have been raised, and some instances promoted, in an aggressive sales culture. There outlooks must be changed. The ‘tone from the top’ is more positive, but many outside observers were sceptical that the ‘tone from the top’ has trickled down to branch level. There was concern about ‘the message getting lost in the middle’, and some staff reported the pressure to sell products persisted in subtler forms.

Banks are trying to change, with some progress made: Most banks have implemented top-down culture change initiatives, with performance frameworks significantly altered. As a result, banks report that frontline staff are no longer incentivised purely on sales, and some major banks tell us they are training their staff to only sell products they’d be happy selling to their grandmothers. A lot of time has been spent on changing the outlooks and actions of senior executives.

To read the report, please clickhere

For more information, or if you are interested in interviewing Lord McFall, the Rt Hon David Davis MP, or the report’s authors, please contact

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