For the first time since its launch in 1989, First Direct is not the most recommended U.K. bank — it has been displaced by digital-only entrant Atom Bank.
BDRC Continental’s latest survey of 15,000 consumers finds Atom ahead of First Direct in the Relational Net Promoter Score (RNPS) benchmark. Atom Bank, which was founded in 2014 by Mark Mullen, former CEO of First Direct, and Anthony Thomson, who created Metro Bank, grew because 68 percent of its customers were “promoters” of the brand. This means they gave it a rating of nine or 10 out of 10 in terms of their likelihood to recommend the bank to others.
Atom currently offers a range of savings accounts, SME lending via a mobile-only platform and limited mortgage distribution. According to Finextra, it plans to launch a current account and overdraft facility later this year. Survey feedback shows that its customers like the simplicity of the app and appreciate the opportunity to personalize it, as well as their account’s rate of interest.
The bank has consistently appeared at the top of savings “best buy” tables and claimed by December 2016 to have secured over £110 million in fixed saver deposits. First Direct is now second, of over 30 providers, in BDRC’s league table of RNPS ratings. While its overall position is still strong, it did soften somewhat across 2016, while competitors like M&S Bank and Metro gained ground.
This year, the Competition and Markets Authority’s requirement for the publication of service quality metrics becomes a reality, meaning most providers will need to publish independently collated benchmark ratings. This will allow prospective clients to identify how well banks are performing, as well as overall service quality, online and mobile banking service, and branch and overdraft services.