Is the new Fairbanking Mark a fair measure of bank products?
It may seem like an oxymoron, but the Fairbanking Foundation is now the official accreditor of bank accounts, giving top rankings to accounts that “improve customer wellbeing”. Fairbanking will look at savings accounts, credit cards and current accounts, and give those considered worthy either a three, four or five star Fairbanking Mark. Those that do not meet the grade will be given no star at all.
But before you all rush out to check how many stars your account has, beware. In a shock revelation, the system is somewhat skewed in the banks’ favour. In order to get ‘tested’ for a Fairbanking Mark, the bank must first nominate its account as test-worthy. Clearly banks are unwilling to nominate accounts if they are going to get a bit fat uh-uh* so to make the whole process easier, Fairbanking releases a report every six months ranking current bank products. This means the products that come out top get put forward for testing for a Fairbank Mark, and the others don't, but are classed as not tested, not fails. Everyone’s a winner.
“Providers will know which [products] are eligible but provisional eligibility does not guarantee they will get [a kitemark],’said Martin Campbell of Fairbanking, with a straight face.
To date, there are currently five accounts that have been awarded the Fairbanking accreditation:
4 Star – thinkmoney’s Personal Account (current account without overdraft)
4 Star – Secure Trust Bank’s Current Account (account without overdraft)
4 Star – RBS/Natwest Your Savings Goal account (savings account)
3 Star – Lloyds TSB’s Classic Account with Control (current account with overdraft)
3 Star – Saffron Society Goal Saver (savings account)
No credit card has yet been awarded a Fairbanking Mark. Presumably credit-card-funded life enrichment is not sufficiently long-lasting.
Fairbanking Marks are awarded after a “thorough” investigation of the product and its terms, measuring against a set of undefined “internal criteria”. Then, they research a group of the product’s customers to see how it builds up their understanding of their money and “drives their financial well-being”.
‘What we have discovered is that financial well-being is not a function of how much money you have in the account but of how in control of your money you are. Accreditation is to do with how the product helps you to manage your finances” added Mr Campbell.
Fairbanking plans to extend the use of its mark to other retail financial products and said that the banking industry now had a “credible mark to work towards”. With a straight face.
* Family Fortunes noise