Banks told to 'up their game' over power of attorney registrations after Which? survey

Banks “need to up their game” in helping customers with power of attorney after almost three in ten clients reported difficulties in registering their status, consumer champion Which? has said.

Its survey of more than 1,500 people with power of attorney found 29 per cent described dealing with banks as somewhat or very difficult, with 23 per cent reporting the same situation with building societies.

The worst-rated bank for ease of registration was the Co-operative Bank, with just 43 per cent of its customers rating its process as easy.

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The Post Office was second worst, while there was also criticism of Lloyds and Barclays.

The Co-opperative bank had the lowest satisfaction score in the survey (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)The Co-opperative bank had the lowest satisfaction score in the survey (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The Co-opperative bank had the lowest satisfaction score in the survey (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

In contrast, Coventry Building Society, Nationwide and Yorkshire Building Society finished top of the survey for ease of registering, with each praised by more than 60 per cent of survey respondents for both their ease and speed of registering.

Which? said Anne Bell, 67 from Shipley, West Yorkshire, was awarded compensation after her request to make a complaint against the Co-operative Bank was not acted upon.

Mrs Bell, who acted with her sister as joint attorney for her mother, found the bank ill-equipped to deal with two attorneys acting jointly and severally stating: “All the correspondence including my cheque book, debit card and Pin were sent to my sister. She had to post them to me, which struck me as a security risk.”

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While Mrs Bell was allowed access to online banking, she could not do anything through the post and her sister could not do anything online. After a payment to her mother’s care home was flagged as potentially fraudulent, Anne was asked to ring and confirm, but the Co-operative Bank would not speak to her as it only held her sister’s telephone password.

If attorneys are appointed jointly with another attorney, they can only act together. If attorneys are appointed ‘jointly and severally’, they can make decisions together, or on their own.

Sam Richardson, Deputy Editor of Which? Money, said: “Taking on power of attorney for a loved one is a big and often stressful responsibility - but our research has found that it’s been made needlessly more difficult when it comes to registering and using that power with banks.

“While some firms fared well in our survey, others leave a lot to be desired - and the raft of bank branch closures in recent years may well be adding to delays people are facing.

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“Firms need to up their game to ensure those registering power of attorney can do so in a timely and efficient manner.”

A Co-operative Bank spokesperson said: “It’s extremely important to us that our customers feel supported when times are difficult, so we’re disappointed to see the results of this survey.

“We have worked hard to make positive changes to the process of registering Power of Attorney since 2020, including enabling customers to upload certain documents online. We are pleased to confirm that throughout 2024 we will be making a number of improvements to further simplify the process for our customers.

“If any of our customers are facing difficulty registering Power of Attorney, we’d invite them to get in touch with us.”

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