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Which? fears Horta-Osório joining LBG will hit customers

Which? says it fears António Horta-Osório’s appointment as Lloyds Banking Group’s chief executive could result in a downturn in the bank’s customer satisfaction levels.

Speaking at the BSA annual conference, Which? Money editor James Daley said it was “perverse” that Horta-Osório, who joined LBG on March 1, is held in such high esteem in the City when his old bank, Santander, had such poor customer satisfaction levels under his stewardship.

Speaking to Money Marketing, Daley says: “He presided over catastrophic deterioration in customer satisfaction levels at Santander. When he walked through the door, there were already problems with Abbey but during his time there, he took it from bad to worse. He will say it was because of mergers but it was over a sustained period.” Daley adds that a drive for profit, especially as the bank looks to repay the taxpayer as soon as possible, could be employed at LBG.

Daley says: “The worry is that similar tactics to achieve profits may end up being used at Lloyds as Santander.”

LBG says it is committed to customer service and its strategic review, which is due out in the summer, will focus on its customers.

Alexander Hall chief operating officer Andy Pratt says: “Horta-Osório’s record stands for itself, there are far more positives than negatives.”

The Government’s free advice service will act like a “canary in the coalmine” and help guide future regulation, according to its managing director Tony Hobman.

Speaking at the Building Societies Association annual conference in Birmingham last week, Hobman said that the Money Advice Service will be able to pick up on any potential regulatory issues through its dealings with consumers.

He said: “What I would say is that the Money Advice Service, because of the way that it is going to have contact and dialogue with so many people over the years, will become part of that very good dialogue that will help to guide where regulation should be or should not be, a bit like the canary in the coalmine.”

If I Were You managing director Rob Clifford says: “There is no question that it can highlight systemic failure of either design or industry practice. However, I cannot help but think that it would be a great shame if it became the most useful barometer because it would mean that the sector had failed to spot problems.”


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