Eight out of ten consumers don’t believe banks have improved since the financial crisis. This revelation was one of several revealed at the Which? Banking Debate that took place in London February 4. More than 300 people attended the debate, which gave members of the public the unique opportunity to express opinions and offer suggestions on how banks could make improvements.

Seventy-four percent of attendees felt that big banks should be broken into smaller ones for the purpose of creating more competition between banks. Ninety-six percent of them agreed that big banks act in favor of their own interests rather than those of their customers. Forty-seven percent said that separating the retail from the wholesale side of the banks would be the best way to improve the way the banks operated.

The findings were given to the Future of Banking Commission, scheduled to hold a series of evidence sessions, the first of which was on February 9 at Westminster’s Riverbank Park Plaza. Two subsequent sessions were scheduled for Thursday, February 25 and Thursday, March 18. Witnesses include Mervyn King, Robert Peston, Lord Turner and Lord Myners. The evidence sessions have allowed room for the attendance of any interested parties, including press and members of the public. Those wishing to attend should get in contact with Alice Lythgoe-Goldstein by telephone at 0207 7707567 or email alice.lythgoe-goldstein@which.co.uk.

According to Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?, the public’s strength of feeling on this topic is evident in the way that such a large number of people were willing to spend their free time on a chilly February evening offering their input on how banks can be improved to better serve consumers. Smith says that it is wrong that the customer’s voice has been left out of the debate over how to bring some much needed reform to the current banking system. The reason why the Future of Banking Commission was created was to right the wrongs and bring about a banking system that will work for everyone, instead of just bankers.

Future of Banking Commission chair, David Davis, said that it was a fantastic debate in which many well-argued, responsible, viewpoints were heard. He had arrived thinking that he knew all of the primary issues that needed to be addressed by the Commission, but left with many more things to consider.