Restoring confidence

Simon Read

Simon Read

The TSB computer chaos has been puzzling and concerning.

It was puzzling partly because the crisis-hit bank took three years to prepare for the migration of its customers. To remind you, they were switched from a Lloyds Bank system to a new one developed by TSB’s Spanish owner Sabadell Bank.

But it also had at its helm a man described as a “migration guru” in one national newspaper after he oversaw the transferring of customers of Bradford & Bingley and Alliance & Leicester onto the computer system of their new Spanish owner Abbey, now Santander.

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That was back in 2010 and led to years of frustration for customers and criticism for the bank over the many problems that resulted. You would have thought the man responsible for that calamity would do everything he could to ensure it would never happen again.

Yet with Paul Pester in charge, TSB did manage to make an even bigger cock-up of its systems migration. And that is very puzzling.

The reason why it is concerning, and should be concerning to you all, is that it is yet another slap in the face for financial services industry professionalism and commitment to customers.

When summoned to appear before MPs this month, Mr Pester said: “I take absolute responsibility for what has happened to TSB customers.” But he refused calls for him to resign and told MPs he could be “trusted to carry on the work of the bank”.

With more than 40,000 complaints in just over a week, it seems clear his customers do not trust him. And with the banks seemingly committed to a downward path of diminishing quality, it is hardly surprising that more people than ever are registering their disgust with financial services.

‘If you can’t trust the banks, who can you trust?’ is a common cry.

It is a good question. I would hope there are plenty of people who trust their financial adviser.

A different message

I have often written about the crooks in the industry that surface from time to time, but it would be great instead to write about some of the good guys who have helped make a positive difference to their customers’ lives.

So it was pleasing to read the latest blog from former Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas.

He has been writing about the struggles he has faced after his wife Gemma died aged just 40 from acute myeloid leukaemia in November. In the blog, (which you can find at agriefshared.com) he talks movingly about having to give up his career to look after his eight-year-old son.

As he points out, it was a hugely difficult decision, but one that was only made possible because the couple both had decent life insurance.

In fact, Mr Thomas admits that because of the cost he almost only bought cover for himself, until his financial adviser Roy McLoughlin told him a story.