Last year I wrote in Market Leader about what financial services providers need to do to rebuild trust. Mainly it comes down to the basics of any decent brand or business: figure out what people expect, value and will pay for; offer whatever aspects of it make commercial sense for the business; and deliver what you offer. Implicitly, that means don’t mislead, don’t offer something you can’t or won’t deliver consistently. I mentioned the banks’ habit of defaulting your savings account after a fixed rate term to their worst possible rate, with the justification that they don’t know what you might want – as if anyone wants 0.05% on their savings, an interest rate so derisory one assumes it’s the lowest number they can put in their systems. Then there’s the Nationwide Building Society, with its assertion that “you do need a bank account, but you don’t need a bank”, and its claim to be “on your side”, gently voiced in a sweet female tone in their TV advertising. An empty claim, because they too are still at it. My mother’s two year fixed rate ISA ended in April 2013 and immediately the interest rate reduced to the magic number – 0.05%. Even their worst instant access ISA offers 0.5% to a stranger. But this is how they treat their customers. On your side? I don’t think so. They call themselves a Building Society. Nationwide BS, more like.

Comment | June 2013