BLOG: Community banking – more vital than ever during these tough times

2020 has been a strange and at times painful year for millions of people across the UK. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted many people’s personal finances whilst also endangering people’s businesses and livelihoods.

At the same time, recent research (1) from YouGov shows that six in ten Brits (61%) agree that banks have given up on the high street. This is a depressing statistic, especially when almost half (44%) of people have also been impacted by bank closures or reduced opening times during the pandemic.

This is a time when banks and lenders should be stepping up to help. Whilst it’s clear that plenty of financial institutions are going above and beyond, the YouGov research demonstrates that much of the UK public feels that their banks aren’t doing enough. Especially when it comes to staying open and serving the communities they operate in.

At Metro Bank, we pride ourselves on being a community bank. This means that we’re committed to truly understanding and serving the communities in which we have stores (what other banks might call their branches). Colleagues in our stores often live nearby and have first-hand knowledge of their high streets and the businesses that operate there. We host networking events in our stores for local business owners and entrepreneurs, connecting people and helping to foster a lively local business environment. Our store colleagues also spend time working with local charities (perhaps even more important than ever this year), including volunteering at food banks and raising money for a variety of good causes.

Educating people on their finances is important to us, and we start early. Metro Bank’s Money Zone initiative – a financial education programme for children that teaches primary school pupils about money, banking and personal finance – hosted over 1,500 events in 2019, teaching over 45,000 Stage 2 pupils financial skills and helping them to understand how money, savings and banking work.

It’s in tough times like these that being a community bank really matters. Some of our competitors are abandoning the high street but we’re proud to be bucking the trend as a full-service challenger bank committed to providing great service for customers – whether they choose to bank with us in store, on the phone or digitally.

Six in 10 (58%) of people agree that banks set their opening hours based on what suits the bank, rather than what suits their customers. Almost half (48%) of people agree they would like bank branches to open earlier in the morning, later at night or on weekends; this increases to almost six in 10 (56%) amongst 25-34 year olds.

We’ve been listening to what people want from their bank. Before the pandemic, Metro Bank stores opened on average 32 hours a week longer than our peers. During the pandemic, we kept every single one of our stores open and we even opened two brand new stores, in Sheffield and Cardiff.

We’re open when it suits our customers and offer them the full range of services they need (2). That’s the way it should be, and it’s a shame that some banks have lost sight of this. We offer on-the-spot account opening for personal customers with no appointment needed, we’ll print your card in-store for you in minutes and you can take part in our free community events. We give a warm welcome to the whole family, including your pets.

We’ve also been helping customers in plenty of other ways since the coronavirus pandemic hit, making special visits and phone calls to customers shielding at home. We’ve spent time on educating customers on the latest fraud techniques, to protect them from scammers who are using coronavirus to try and cheat people out of their money. Our phone lines are open 24/7 for customers who are worried about fraud or have had their cards lost or stolen.

Repayment holidays have been offered on mortgages, credit cards and loans. And for businesses, we’ve also provided interest roll-ups and covenant waivers to give customers vital peace of mind and more financial flexibility.

Metro Bank is proud to be an accredited lender with the British Business Bank (BBB)’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS). As a result, we’ve provided over £1.3bn in government-backed loans to over 33,000 businesses.

When Metro Bank launched in 2010, it was the first new high street bank in the UK for over a century. It has since grown into a community bank with 77 stores nationwide that provides banking services to over two million customer accounts. We’re thrilled to be crowned as MoneyAge’s 2020 Bank of the Year, and proud to continue serving the local communities in which we operate.

If you think Metro Bank would be a good fit for you, now is a better time than ever to join us. Our ‘Refer a Friend’ switching offer means you’ll get £50 just for switching your personal current account to us. And if you already have a Metro Bank current account, you’ll receive £50 for every friend that switches, up to a maximum of £250 if five friends switch. Please visit our website (3) to find out more.

(1) All research figures are from YouGov Plc.Total sample size was 2000 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken from 13-14 August 2020. The survey was carried out online.The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

(2) Metro Bank has temporarily reduced some store opening hours as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Further details can be found here:

(3) Please visit our website here to find out more:

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