Interesting to see today that the Government is planning on selling more of its stake in Lloyds Bank. To my mind, this would be a mistake at this time. Lloyds is the biggest retail bank in the UK, with the biggest history of mis-selling behind it. By far the largest compensation bill for PPI belongs to Lloyds.
The culture really hasn’t changed at all, either. Despite what the CEO says, I still receive the same responses from Lloyds to legitimate complaints. Only last month, I raised a mis-selling complaint about Home Insurance. The Case Officer rejected it with no rationale arguments in his favour. I called him up. Have you looked at the point of sale paperwork? I asked him. No, came the reply. How can investigate a mis-selling case without going back to the source material? I asked. I don’t need to – I know we did nothing wrong, he claimed!
Later the same week, I received a rejection from Lloyds on another case. They had sold a stock market linked investment bond to a retired widow with no experience of shares and little in the way of savings. Would the bank investigate this clear case of mis-selling? No, it said, the case has been brought to late! How, I replied, the poor lady doesn’t know anything about the bond she was sold, so she cannot be out of time to complaint about it. The response? Effectively, it was we don’t care, take the case to the Ombudsman if you like.
This is so typical of Lloyds. Its culture has not changed one iota from the bad old days. The last thing the Government should be doing is putting it back into the private sector where institutional investors will demand dividends from the bank. The meet the demand, the bank will revert to type and mis-sale all over again. Its in its DNA and six years in state control has not altered the bank’s attitude to its customers yet.
The Government should hold on to Lloyds and turn it into a beacon of customer focused banking. It can show how proper banking can and should be done. That is the way to stop another financial crisis happening. Selling Lloyds now, unreformed, is to store up trouble for the future.