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Oblivious UK Current Account Holders Don't Open Statements: 7.4 Million Brits Admit to Never Checking

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LONDON, June 22 /PRNewswire/ --

The Royal Bank of Scotland reveals thousands of UK current account holders are failing to check their statement regularly. To help account holders gauge how hard they make their account work for them , RBS has partnered with the University of Bristol's Personal Finance Research Centre to develop an online tool called the

'Current Account Quotient'.

- Research by the Royal Bank of Scotland reveals that 7.4 million account holders in Britain are failing to open their bank statements each month

- This equates to almost one in five account holders (18 per cent) never opening, reading or checking their bank statements for accuracy with a further 23 per cent who claim to check, failing to do so regularly

- One fifth of account holders (20 per cent) is aware of their bank balance at any time within a GBP50 error margin

- The current account emerges as the workhorse of personal finance with almost two thirds of UK account holders (63 per cent) claiming to be 'completely reliant' on their current account for day-to-day money management. Furthermore 94 per cent of account holders have at least one direct debit or standing order on their account

- Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of account holders cited speaking directly to their branch as the most important aspect of their account. When it comes to branch contact, 71 per cent also value the ability to drop-in to their local branch

- Cash is losing out to plastic. Interestingly, a third of account holders never pay cash into their accounts and 50 per cent of account holders use debit cards regularly to pay for everyday items

- To help account holders get the most from their account, RBS has partnered with the University of Bristol's Personal Finance Research Centre to develop the Current Account Quotient (CAQ); an easy to use online tool, which generates a score in the same way as an Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

- Visit www.rbs.co.uk/quiz now to find out how effective you are at managing your own current account

Many account holders are failing to keep track of their finances, according to new research published today by The Royal Bank of Scotland. A potential 7.4 million[1] account holders in the UK are leaving statements unopened or unread on a monthly basis, and a further 23 per cent who do claim to check their statements, admit to not doing so regularly. The extensive research was conducted by RBS among 2,474 UK current account holders from all the main high-street banks.

Not so bad on balance

This high figure is not so surprising since the survey also identifies that more than one in five (21 per cent) of account holders is failing to check their balance at least once each week. Only a conscientious 16 per cent manage to keep track of finances on a daily basis.

Despite failing to check statements, one in five (20 per cent) of current-account holders is still able to keep track of their account balance at any time within a GBP50 error margin. This is perhaps explained by the impressive 61 per cent of UK account holders who bank online at least once each week. Those using online banking were also more likely to be able to quote their exact balance. Over half (54 per cent) of respondents who knew their bank balance with a GBP20 margin error or less were online bankers, compared to 45 per cent who banked mainly in-branch. Older respondents were more likely to know the precise amount in their bank at any time, with more than half (54 per cent) of those aged 56 or over able to do so, compared to just 17 per cent of those under 25.

Changing Trends

The RBS Current Account Quotient research also reveals the latest trends in terms of banking preferences. The research showed that more than half of account holders (54 per cent) visit their bank in person once per month or less frequently, while just 17 per cent make a weekly visit to their high street branch. However, branch contact is still highly valued by many customers (73 per cent) who cite being able to phone their branch directly as the most important feature of their account.

When it comes to online banking however, usage is far more frequent with almost two thirds of account holders using the internet to keep up-to-date with their account and 17 per cent actually logging on to their account every day. Perhaps surprisingly, account holders aged 55 and over were the most likely to bank online, with only 12.5 per cent claiming not to bank online at all, compared to a UK average of 22 per cent. Furthermore, silver surfers aged 55 and over are also more likely to check their balance online every day with a quarter (25 per cent) doing so, compared to the national average of 17 per cent, perhaps suggesting that the older generation are beating online whiz kids at their own game. Interestingly, younger respondents aged 16-18 were slightly more likely to bank via telephone than older account holders.

Hard-working current accounts

Whatever communication method preferred, almost two thirds (63 per cent) of all account holders admitted to being 'completely reliant' on their current account, and 88 per cent agree that it would be 'extremely difficult' to manage their money without a current account. The research findings also suggest that perhaps cash is no longer king, with half of account holders (50 per cent) preferring to pay for items using their current account debit card such as Maestro compared to just 27 per cent who prefer to use cash. Cheques have become the least popular payment method with just 1.5 per cent still opting to pay in this way.

In total, 89 per cent of respondents use a debit card to pay for items at least once each month, 80 per cent of respondents receive direct payments into their bank accounts (such as salaries via BACS), but a third (33 per cent) never pay cash into their current account. Cash was least popular with the younger age groups in the survey; with 89 per cent of respondents aged under-25 opting for debit cards over cash, compared to 69 per cent of over-55s.

Long-term Loyalty

Opening a current account while young is great practice for getting to grips with money management at an early age and encouragingly, two thirds (66 per cent) of respondents opened their account by the age of 18. Despite the tendency to open accounts at a young age, the majority of respondents remain loyal to their first bank, with 61 per cent of respondents claiming never to have switched current account provider. The financial needs of account holders will change dramatically throughout life stages such as university, first job, first home, family and retirement however, so whilst loyalty has its benefits, it's important to make sure this is not misplaced and that your account keeps pace with you and your changing financial needs.

Banking Satisfaction

When asked why they remain with the same bank, the most popular responses were that account holders considered themselves to be loyal customers (48 per cent), were satisfied with their account offering (54 per cent) or happy with the service they receive (52 per cent). As previously indicated, when it comes to making sure they receive good service, the most important aspect for respondents was being able to speak to their own branch directly, with almost three quarters (73 per cent) of account holders citing this feature of their current account as most important to them.

Account Quotient

The RBS Current Account Quotient (CAQ) is an easy to use online tool, which generates a score in the same way as an Intelligence Quotient (IQ). To aid the many Britons who are not making the most of their current account, The Royal Bank of Scotland has partnered with the Personal Finance Research Unit at the University of Bristol to create the AQ, which provides a benchmark for assessing your account savviness and will allow you to identify areas which require improvement.

Once you have calculated your AQ, you will receive practical tips on how to use your account more effectively. The average AQ of a UK account-holder is 29 out of a possible 42, suggesting substantial room for improvement.

Allan Hardie, Head of Current Accounts at The Royal Bank of Scotland, comments: "The fast pace of modern life means that everyone needs a current account that will work hard for them. At The Royal Bank of Scotland we work with our customers to offer them an account that fits with their lifestyle, and delivers the services they tell us they value and need. Consequently, we provide features such as online banking, a 24-hour telephone banking service with UK-based operators and direct access to your branch via the phone when you need it. "

"Our research reveals that almost two thirds (63 per cent) of account holders are completely reliant on their account, but our findings suggest that despite this, people may not be making the most of the products and services available to them. Our aim with the launch of the Account Quotient is to help people realise where they may be going wrong and provide practical steps to get the most out of their account."

Adele Atkinson, Research Fellow at the University of Bristol's Personal Finance Research Centre, adds, "I have been impressed with the continued commitment RBS has shown to financial education through their face2face with finance initiative (with young people) and so I was happy to help them work on a new tool to ensure consumers get the most from their bank accounts. My work for the FSA on their 'Financial Capability Baseline Research' shows clearly that many people are not good at choosing appropriate financial products. This has highlighted the need for accessible consumer support and education, and tools such as the AQ are certainly a step in the right direction."

- To take the AQ, visit www.rbs.co.uk/quiz

- For more information on the RBS Royalties Current Accounts visit www.rbs.co.uk/current account

Notes To Editors:

Available for interview:

- Allan Hardie, Head of Current Accounts, The Royal Bank of Scotland

- Case studies of RBS current account customers

Primary research conducted by Experian among 2,474 UK current account holders during May 2006

RBS Current Account Benefits

- Discounts on our rates for credit cards, mortgages, Personal Loans and overdrafts (except online loans)

- 0.25% extra interest on our Instant Access Savings Account

- Inclusive protection against loss or theft of any registered debit or credit card with one phone call

- Inclusive GBP10,000 Accidental Death Insurance

Travel

- 10% discount on selected holidays and travel and UK & European Holiday Cottages

- Discounted hotel booking - up to 60% savings - cheapest internet price guaranteed

at over 21,000 hotels worldwide

- Commission-free travel money

- American Express Travellers Cheque card

Home & Car

- Savings on gas and electricity

- 25% discount off our home insurance in the first year

- Complimentary comprehensive Green Flag breakdown cover when you take out Royalties motor insurance

Entertainment

- 25% discount at more than 450 UK restaurants

- Discounted days out at top UK attractions & activities

- Savings on selected DVDs, videos, computer games and CDs

- 20% off more than a million books

In addition, Royalties Gold customers benefit from the following enhanced or additional features:

- Inclusive worldwide multi-trip family travel insurance

- Inclusive access to executive lounges at UK airports

- 25% off tickets for selected shows, plays, concerts and comedy shows

- 25% off at more than 700 UK restaurants

- 24-hour home emergency helpline with GBP250 towards repair costs

- 2 year extended warranty on electrical goods when purchased in full using a Royal Bank credit, debit or cheque guarantee card

- Inclusive GBP15,000 Accidental Death Insurance

Royalties Premier customers further benefit from the following enhanced or additional features:

- Lifestyle Manager Service

- Personal Travel Adviser

- 25% discount at more than 730 UK restaurants

- 25% discount on new Norwich Union Healthcare policies

- Inclusive GBP25,000 Accidental Death Insurance

- 20% discount on tax and wills services

For customers aged 16 - 21 years, the R21 account offers:

- Discounts on selected CDs, DVDs, videos and computer games

- 25% discount off concerts throughout the UK

- Ability to top up your pre-pay mobile at any of our 3,250 cash machines

[1] This figure was calculated according to the Family Resources Survey 04-05, which indicates that 88% of UK adults over 16 have a current account and ONS data from 2001 census indicating that there are 46,930,337 adults aged 16 and over in the UK.

SOURCE The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc



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