Trust in banks remains negative but improving, survey shows

Irish banking sector scores minus 15 in public survey carried out this year, up from minus 25 a year ago

Trust levels among the public in Irish banks remain negative, but have been improving in recent years off a low base, according to the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB).

The Irish banking sector received a net score of minus 15 in a public survey carried out this year by consultancy firm Edelman, up from minus 25 a year ago, with the latest report revealing that “while banking remains in a state of flux in Ireland, the slow recovery of public trust in the sector continues”, said the IBCB.

A similar poll in 2021 delivered a score of minus 28. A figure in negative territory means that more people say they have lower trust in banks than in high trust.

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“Gradual progress is being made. The challenge is to accelerate the pace of that progress. While all member banks of the IBCB have been working hard to restore trust, this year’s éist research reflects some understandable negative public sentiment on the departure of two retail banks from the market,” said IBCB chief executive Marion Kelly.


Statistics published by the Central Bank last month show that that more than 94 per cent of the customers of the departing banks, as of early last year, had closed their current accounts by the end of May.

The IBCB survey of 1,009 adults in early April found that the average trust level across customers of Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland as they hasten a retreat from the market is minus 38, which is materially lower than that of the three remaining banks, whose collective score is minus 4.

Financial concerns

“Notwithstanding the scale of the migration, and the threat it posed to public sentiment towards banks, 48 per cent say they are generally satisfied with the bank they have joined and only 16 per cent say the process has undermined their trust in banks,” the report said.

“Of those who were obliged to switch banks, 39 per cent found the process easier than expected with 37 per cent saying they felt supported by the bank to which they were switching.”

The public’s top financial concerns in 2023 are similar to those they held last year. When asked to identify the issues of most concern to them, 83 per cent of respondents identified rising energy prices, 82 per cent the general cost of living and 79 per cent rising inflation.

While Irish banks have lagged behind euro zone peers in passing on rising European Central Bank (ECB) interest rates to customers, they have also been slower to raise rates for savers. The ECB has raised its key lending rate from zero to 4 per cent since last July.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times