Open Banking is encouraging smarter savings behaviour

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The initiative may still be in its infancy, but open banking has already proved a catalyst for change – not only within the UK financial services sector itself but the savings landscape as a whole.  Launched with the intention of increasing competition in the market and triggering innovation, it seems the momentum towards open banking is ushering in a new era of money management.

Just four years ago, research undertaken by the Social Market Foundation found that only a quarter of customers had current accounts with more than one bank. Today, our own analysis reveals that the average user now saves into three different accounts – often with a number of providers.

Thanks to the collaborative model made possible through PSD2, banking data is now actively being shared through APIs between unaffiliated financial service firms to deliver enhanced capabilities to customers.  According to our findings, it seems these connections have quietly been encouraging UK savers to be more ‘savvy’, spreading their money across several accounts with different providers to boost returns.

While the majority of people are still more likely to save with their main provider – the average amount saved into a high street bank being £5,828 – the results of our study showed an increase in the number of users opting for challenger banks as secondary providers, with the average amount saved in these accounts sitting at £2,503.  

Meanwhile, research published by the peer-to-peer lender Zopa supporting the increased breadth of bank accounts, found that one in three people hold two or more current accounts. It also found that almost half of those with a credit card do not have it with their main bank and more than one in four looks elsewhere for their regular savings and instant-access savings accounts.

These findings serve to illustrate the market shift that is taking place and the growing prevalence of the multi-bank approach; one that The Social Market Foundation cites as an indicator of a financially sophisticated customer who is more attuned to the benefits of shopping around.

Traditionally, savings were all managed with the same provider - customers held a current account, a savings account and any mortgages, loans or insurance premiums all with the same high street bank. However, the advancement of digital technology and enforcement of new regulations coupled with the ambition of FinTech entrepreneurs has sparked a savings revolution. Some users may still be tied to their banks, but when it comes to putting cash away for the future, society is moving fast towards the multi-bank model.

By splitting up savings into different cash pots, it becomes possible for users to tailor their returns to benefit from better rates. For instance, if one pot comprises of significant savings that you don’t intend to touch for five years, it might make more sense to invest it into stocks, shares, and funds in order to take advantage of more potential market growth.

Meanwhile, the money you might be saving for a luxury holiday in the near future could sit in a fixed-rate savings account while the safety-blanket cash you rely on for emergencies can remain in easy-access accounts that pay a lower rate.

Moreover, considering the cap on how much you can deposit to receive a good rate, separating your money is a smart way to mitigate risk. Under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, you are only protected for up to £85,000 per bank or building society in the event of a collapse. With your wealth split across several providers, you can minimise the risk to own savings in the event your main bank goes bust as many did during the global financial crash.

When it comes to managing money, the younger generations are set to face stronger headwinds than those experienced by their parents and grandparents. With this in mind, there has never been a better time for a transformation in the financial services sector. Today, what people need the most are tools that encourage engagement with their finances; they need visibility across all the various pockets of money they have, be it insurance premiums, holiday funds, student loans, and pension pots.

Thanks to open banking, it is now possible to view all of your savings in one place on platforms like Moneyhub. No matter how many banks you have spread your savings across, you can gain a 360-view of your finances and control them through the same tool. With greater control over their money, UK savers are finally in a good position to improve their long-term financial health.