Is Metro Bank the Answer for Frustrated Customers?
Two years after the collapse of Northern Rock and customers are still frustrated by the state of UK banks. In recent weeks several banks, including those such as Lloyds TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland who needed bailout money from the Government, have announced oversized bonuses for employees while still owing the state billions.
Yet it seems that a new bank is about to emerge from the financial crisis. Metro Bank could become the first new bank to enter the UK market in almost a century.
Already, signs across London have been causing a stir; advertising the new enterprise with the slogan ‘love your bank at last’. So could Metro Bank provide frustrated customers with an alternative to their current banking?
What is Metro Bank?Metro Bank is being launched by Vernon Hill, a US-based entrepreneur. Hill has been outspoken in his criticism of UK banks, and he says the process of trying to open an account in London “is like having your teeth drilled.” Hill believes that the UK needs a banking operation that focuses on branch banking instead of call centres.
For anyone with a UK bank account who has had to spend time on hold before being put through to an overseas call centre, this old-fashioned approach of putting the customer first may be music to their ears, but is it too good to be true?
How Will Metro Bank Work?It is widely expected that Hill’s Metro Bank will be based on a successful banking model he developed in the US: Commerce Bank. Commerce Bank’s central philosophy is all about highly valuing the customer and ensuring that their experience of the bank is just as good as they could expect from visiting any store, retailer, or fast food outlet.
And Hill should know his onions. One of his first fortunes was made through the Burger King franchise! The concept is similar, and Metro Bank customers should be able to walk into the ‘outlet’ and come out with a current account or credit card. Customer toilets will be available in every branch
And just like a fast food restaurant, Metro Banks will have extended opening hours. Metro Bank plans to open from 8am to 8pm six days a week and from 11am to 4pm on Sundays. They will also open on bank holidays, and plan to only close its branches on Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday.The bank will have a call centre, based in London, and they promise to answer calls on the third ring, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. How’s that for good service?
Coming to a High Street New Year?Already Hill has applied to the Financial Services Authority, the main regulatory body in the UK and, once a banking licence has been granted, Metro Bank plans to open two branches in central London sometime this year, located at Holborn and Earl’s Court. The doors to the first branches could be opening to customers as soon as early April.
For now, Metro Bank is expected to operate only in the south of England, aiming to open 200 branches around the capital by 2020. If, however, the business model proves to be successful Metro Bank could become a regular fixture on every high street in the UK.
Hill says that his aim is to “eliminate every stupid rule we can find” and no doubt there are a lot of frustrated UK bank customers who will be watching his new venture with interest.