Has the Coutts debanking Farage-o had an impact?
July 13th, 2023, Stephan Shakespeare

Has the Coutts debanking Farage-o had an impact?

On 29 June, Nigel Farage posted a six-minute video stating that his bank account had been closed “with no explanation” – speculating that he may have run afoul of “politically exposed person” rules, or been victimised for campaigning for Brexit. The bank in question, Coutts, responded that the erstwhile UKIP leader had fallen below the financial threshold required to hold an account, and had been offered a standard account at NatWest.

Despite the clarification, it appears the story has led to some negative publicity for Coutts. Buzz scores, which measure whether people have heard anything positive or negative about a brand in the past two weeks, fell from 0.4 to -4.6 (-5.0) between 29 June – 9 July, and correspondingly, Impression scores (which measure overall positive and negative sentiment towards a brand), declined from 4.8 to -1.8 (-6.6).

We can also see a deterioration in Coutts’ Quality scores, which fell from 9.6 to 6.0 (-3.6), and Recommend scores, which slid from 1.0 to -2.2 (-3.2) over the same period. Reputation scores, which measure whether consumers would be proud or embarrassed to work for a brand, also went from 11.4 to 7.9 (-3.5), suggesting that the story has negatively affected perceptions of Coutts as a potential employer.

It would be wise to avoid overstating the effect of this story. Consideration scores, for example, which track whether customers would select a brand out of a list of other brands, actually increased from 2.5 to 3.5 (+1.0) over this period. As a bank that caters to a well-heeled target customer with either £3m in savings or £1m to invest, a temporary downturn in general public opinion might not matter too much anyway.

But whether true, untrue, or something inbetween, stories about political figures being denied bank accounts could be an unwanted headache for institutions. Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, for example, is reportedly “deeply concerned” about “blacklisting” at major banks – and just this week revealed that he had been denied a Monzo account himself.