The consumer body says that although the savings market offers plenty of choice, there is little evidence that this choice is helping consumers to get the best value savings accounts.
To make saving easier and more profitable for consumers, Which? wants banks and building societies to free savers languishing in low paying accounts, and to offer better value products and genuinely impartial advice.
It is calling on banks and building societies to kill off so-called ‘zombie accounts’ that have been superseded by newer versions, and to stop dumping customers into poor value accounts and ISAs at the end of fixed terms. “Instead move these savings into a single default easy-access savings or ISA account,” it says.
Which? also wants switching ISAs to be less complicated, slow and laborious, and says that banks and building societies should allow consumers to transfer their existing ISA savings into new ISA accounts. Many of those offering the highest rates will not accept transfers.
Return on savings
Finally it wants customers to be given more information about how to get the best return on the savings.
David Crawford, Head of Savings for RBS, welcomes the Which? campaign. He says: “We support the Which? call for better value savings and impartial advice. We believe that saving properly for the future is really important and we continue to work hard to ensure saving is as easy as possible for our customers. We want to ensure our customers are aware of the importance of saving and we want to help as many of them as possible have safe and secure financial futures.”
RBS and NatWest have already made changes to improve and simplify its savings range for customers.
The bank has:
- abolished teaser rates on savings accounts – introductory offer rates that fall to a much lower level after a set period of time
- scrapped different rates for customers operating their accounts through different channel - online, by phone or in the branch. Customers now earn the same interest rate regardless of how they choose to open and operate their account
- moved customers with money in old ISA accounts that are no longer available to new customers to the two ISA products currently offered by RBS and NatWest – one instant access and one fixed rate - so all ISA customers are now getting the same rates of interest
- has guaranteed to carry out the same migration from old accounts to new ones for all other Instant Access products by the end of 2014
- committed to helping create a new generation of young savers, starting with the launch of First Saver for 0 – 16 year olds and Pigby’s Fair, an app designed by the creators of Wallace and Gromit to encourage children to save
Crawford adds: “At the end of 2013 our Instant Saver with Savings Goal Tool was awarded a 5* accreditation by the independent charity, the Fairbanking Foundation. On top of this, in February we committed to simplifying the rates and products that we offer customers.
“We’ve made great progress with this and we will continue to strive to make saving simple. I’d encourage anyone who wants to discuss their saving and investment options to come and speak to us in branch, over the phone or online.”