UK

Big Banks Losing Customers Because Of 'Seismic Shift Towards Alternatives'

07/02/2014 12:37 GMT | Updated 07/02/2014 12:59 GMT
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Signs sit outside branches of a Lloyds TSB bank, part of the Lloyds Banking Group Plc, a Barclays Plc bank, a NatWest bank, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), and a HSBC Holdings Plc bank in Staines, U.K., on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. The European Union is leading a probe into Libor rigging that could see global banks fined as much as 10 percent of their annual revenue. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Britain's big banks should not expect to get back the customers they lost after the banking crash due to the scale of the breakdown in trust and the "seismic shift" caused by the growth of alternative "challenger' banks, a bank chief has said.

Ian Henderson, CEO of the challenger Shawbrook Bank, told HuffPostUK that the banking sector has "crossed a bit of a Rubicon now".

"People say to me 'When the big banks get their act together, they'll leave you little guys behind', but I'm not sure that's necessarily the case."

The bank, which has nearly £2 billion in assets and focuses on small business lending, said customers would be attracted by the increasingly competitive banking environment.

This comes as Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to create two new "challenger" banks out of the existing big banks, after a review by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Henderson pointed out that 20 new banks are already in the process of being approved by the Prudential Regulation Authority and two challengers - TSB and Williams & Glynn - are already being created out of Lloyds and RBS.

He said: "Twenty challenger banks going through the licensing regime at the moment, and I'm not sure what difference it is going to make to do two more TSBs and Williams & Glynns.

"The big banks are already in the process of being broken up. You've got TSB being created, Williams and Glynn - so that makes the Big Five into the Big Seven."

"Seven is better than five but it's still an oligopoly, as they'll still have 85% of the market so all the rest of us will have 15%. It's still a very skewed market."

Henderson also predicted that bank branches would become increasingly irrelevant over time as customers resort to using new technology like phone banking and online banking.

"There's no question of branch redundancy. You'll see a lot more All Bar Ones as the monolithic banks decline. You'll start to see more banks like Handelsbank - which have four or five desks on the first floor of a retail shop on the high street. It'll be cheap and convivial."

"Increasingly mobile companies are going to disintermediate the big banks. There'll always be financial services provided on the high street but whether they need a big bank with all these safes down in the bowels, rather than somewhere where we can sit and have a chat is the key difference."