Recently, high street financial institutions seem to have noticed that quite a few of their neighbours in the retail trade have sales at this time of year.Â Several banks and building societies – with NatWest and HSBC probably the biggest players – are now having their own.
It’s interesting, though, how rubbish they are at it.Â For one thing, the whole look and feel of financial institutions’ sales isÂ tattier and grottier than any major retailer’s – right down there at the Mr Byrite/99p Store/Amy’s Hardware level.Â And for another thing, the deals are so not exciting.Â Slivers of cost shaved off bank account and insurance charges, fractions of APRs deducted from loan rates:Â if that’s a SPECTACULAR UNREPEATABLE WINTER SALE SPECIAL then I’m Father Christmas.
Pretty much everyÂ financial institution on the high street has experienced a moment of revelation at some point in the last few years, realising in wide-eyed wonderment that when all’s said and done what they actually are is a kind of retailer.Â Many have decided to start behaving more like retailers. A number have hired people with retailing backgrounds.Â Most have started studying exactlyÂ what retailers get up to.
But in exactly the same way that an awful lot of retailers have found that it’s harder than it looks to make a good job of financial services, you have to say that just at the moment an awful lot of financial services providers are making it clear that it’sÂ a lot harder than it looks to do retailing.