Creating care leaver-friendly banking with Metro Bank
Metro Bank first opened its doors in the summer of 2010, the first high street bank to open in the UK in over 100 years. Offering retail, business, commercial and private banking services, Metro Bank prides itself on giving customers the choice to bank however, whenever and wherever they choose. Whether that’s through its network of stores open seven days a week, 362 days a year; on the phone through its UK-based 24/7 contact centres; or online through its internet banking or award-winning mobile app: the bank offers customers real choice. Metro Bank is recognised for its exceptional customer experience. Customers rated the bank number one for store and digital service in the Competition and Market Authority’s Service Quality Survey 2020.
Many care leavers struggle to open and maintain bank accounts. Often, they lack the identification (ID) needed for account opening and the continuous, consistent educative support that family members provide for money management. This leads to low financial capabilities and literacy, and other challenges like debt from an early age.
Research by Action for Children identified that, for vulnerable young people, not having a bank account is often a barrier to employment, training and other activities that are crucial to independent living.
After launching the Care Leaver Covenant in 2018, we began working with Metro Bank with the objective of creating a ‘care leaver friendly’ banking experience. Metro Bank is an inclusive, community-oriented bank and we wanted to take that spirit and build practical, empathetic support for the care leaver population.
We looked at a care leaver’s prospective customer journey with Metro Bank: how they would learn about Metro Bank as a banking option through to potentially managing multiple accounts in the future.
For an initial scheme of work, we decided to tackle two fundamental challenges: identification in account opening and interaction with bank staff.
After intricate internal working, Metro Bank has determined a bespoke account opening process for care leavers, which is empathetic to vulnerabilities such as lack of fixed address and requires a standard verification process through one phone call.
To encourage care leavers to head into stores and seek advice on managing their accounts from Metro Bank colleagues, we are working with Local Authorities to run accessible and interactive sessions – aimed at care leavers – in Metro Bank stores in different parts of the country.
Metro Bank is committed to supporting care leavers to enhance their financial independence and capability. It has introduced internal guidance for colleagues to ensure that the bank provides a consistently good level of service to care leavers, wishing to open bank accounts, across their 76 stores.
With input from care leavers and support workers, Metro Bank has also created tailored educational materials to inform interactive financial education sessions in stores.