Citizens' Jury

Since the financial crash in 2008, the financial services sector has struggled to rebuild trust with UK citizens. Despite advancements and progress, within the sector, firms continue to be seen by UK citizens as too big and too distant from people in the street to really be trusted to do the right things, and have the public’s best interests at heart.

Watch our Citizens' Jury summary video

From the UK public’s perspective the ball is in the industry’s court to really work hard to rebuild its image, improve on the past and drive innovation to better serve customers in the way they want. Being seen by the public as doing nothing is no longer an option.


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What does this mean for...

We have taken the recommendations developed by the Citizens’ Jury and mapped out the implications for three key sets of industry participants: first, those providing financial products and services to consumers; second, those providing financial products and services to businesses; and third, those representing the financial services industry in the UK.  Click on each of the icons to take you to the findings.

The main findings:

Carry out a proper post-mortem of the financial crisis

The public felt that the biggest barrier to trusting the sector is knowing that something terrible happened in 2008 – but not understanding why it took place or what’s changed as a result. One participant commented: 

“We feel that the financial sector has to give a report of what actually happened in the 2008 crisis, and explain how they have improved themselves to prevent it happening again.”

Other's called for this investigation to be prepared by an impartial party independent of the industry.

The public’s idea:

A straightforward, plain-speaking account of what went wrong, how it happened, what’s been learned from it, and how we can be certain it will not recur.

Have a middle person between the public and the industry

The citizens said they felt that there is a wide gap between the industry, its customers and the public as a whole. They also expressed scepticism that the industry would act in the best interests of its customers. There was little awareness of any existing organisations – such as industry bodies – that might fulfil this role. 

“If we have got a problem, we need a middleman, someone we can go one-on-one with to get answers to our problem, explained in a way we understand.”

The public’s idea:

An independent, straight-talking organisation headed up by someone with expertise in the sector but with no vested interests. Their job would be to represent the public’s interests, translate and mediate between the public and the sector, and provide trusted, independent advice that people do not need to pay for.

Give the sector a human face

Over the two days, the perception of a gap between the public and the industry was a recurrent theme. The public felt it was important to close it by creating a better link between the ‘bubble’ that is the financial services industry, and the everyday lives of people around the country. There was a sense that the industry is too large, complex and removed from people’s lives for the public to properly engage with and understand it. They also felt that the complex language used by the industry makes it seem even more distant and out of touch.

The public’s idea:

Customer panels or boards for top executives, to give firms advice and sense-check their thinking.

Executives to spend more time with customers get first-hand knowledge of the issues their customers and staff face.

Have spokespeople for the industry who are “more like me” 

Invest in better customer service

When asked to think about what it contributes to their own lives rather than its effects on society as a whole, the jurors actually voiced much more positive views about the financial services sector. One commented:

“It helps me pay my way in life, basically.”

So the negative impressions tended to focus on the industry at a national rather than a personal level. But as users, their concerns related to customer services: they wanted really helpful, flexible, clear information from a ‘real’ person, not a rigid script.

The public’s idea:

More investment in staff so that they are better trained to deal with customers’ issues, have the authority to make decisions, and are motivated by delivering great customer service.

A dedicated account manager who deals with all of a customer’s products and issues so they don’t get passed from pillar to post – a “modern-day bank manager”.

Reward customer loyalty

Loyalty was a further dominant theme, with the public voicing a widespread feeling that all the industry’s energy and offers go into attracting new customers at their expense. They want their financial services providers to prioritise keeping the customers they have, and protecting those customers’ financial wellbeing with a view to retaining not just their custom today, but that of their children’s children tomorrow. There was a real appetite for a long-term relationship with their provider that could be shared across the generations of families. 

The public’s idea:

Make offers open to all customers – not just new ones – and develop some products exclusively for long term customers. Tell customers when they could be getting a better deal, rather than waiting for them to find out for themselves by doing research. And if their circumstances have changed (such as a drop in income), suggest solutions and offer advice.

Be much, much, much more transparent

The public felt that they couldn’t trust most of the communications they get from financial services firms. This lack of trust applied both at an industry level – on issues like executive pay and bonuses – and at a personal level with opaque, hard-to-understand financial products. As customers, they felt that because of complex language used by financial services firms they can easily sign themselves up to hidden charges, or loopholes, such as insurance policies not paying out in certain circumstances.

“The financial sector needs to be more open and accessible to the everyday person”

The public’s idea:

Create a new language for financial services – free of jargon and acronyms.

Be prepared for a tough and honest conversation about senior pay and bonuses.

The industry needs to hold up its hands when something goes wrong – if regulation is making things harder, then companies should call this out and help to find a solution. 

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