UK Internet banks take wealth management lead

UK Internet banks take wealth management lead

Internet-only banks are winning an increasing share of new business from Britain's wealthiest individuals, according to research conducted among households with more than £200,000 in liquid assets.

The survey finds that one in three wealth owners plans to open a new account within the next twelve months. The banks most likely to be considered for a new account are Abbey National's Cahoot (named by 15% of the sample), IF-Intelligent Finance from the Halifax (14%) and Prudential's Egg (13%). The least likely to be chosen for a new account are Co-op Bank, NatWest and Lloyds TSB (each named by 4%).

The survey of 500 wealthy individuals was conducted by Tulip Financial Research in March this year. The research focused on the top two per cent of households, accounting for a third of all liquid financial assets in the UK, or £250 billion worth of liquid assets. Liquid financial assets cover money invested in financial products like savings accounts, stocks and shares, unit trusts, investment trusts, ISAs. Tessas and PEPs. They do not include property, pension fund and insurance assets.

John Clemens, managing partner of Tulip Financial Research, comments: "The new services for the affluent provided by the established banks and building societies appear to be having little impact on satisfaction, and the wealth owners are looking in the future to use more widely the new banks like Cahoot, Smile or IF."

Close to half of the sample now use online banking services, with Barclays and Egg reaping the lion's share of online accounts at 21% and 19% respectively. The online service of First Direct garners the highest satisfaction rating among its customers, while NatWest scores lowest.

Financially savvy, affluent individuals tend to use the clearing banks for their current accounts, but hold their savings in the higher rate-paying building society banks. The top three banks currently used for savings are Halifax, Nationwide, and Abbey National. However, their privileged position as deposit takers for the wealthy is increasingly being squeezed by the headline-grabbing interest rates offered by the new breed of Internet banks.

The three banks rated as providing the most excellent customer care are the Royal Bank of Scotland, First Direct and Egg. The two considered by the sample to provide the poorest customer care are Barclays and NatWest.

Tulip's Clemens says that traditional banks are failing to provide their richest customers with adequate service standards. "The top rated bank overall in terms of customer satisfaction is First Direct, a major achievement after just ten years in business. And its closest rival is Egg, an even newer entrant into banking for the affluent."

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