First Direct

The UK bank First Direct is a division of HSBC Bank plc. and has 1.16 million customers. First Direct has two call centers in Leeds (handling risk assessment) and Hamilton of which the last is larger.

First Direct cultivates an innovative approach towards its customers by offering the following services:

• Online banking (delivering accessibility to the client’s account balance)
• Internet banking Plus (offers bonus programs, and brings personal online finances and email accounts in one place)
• Mobile Banking (gives an option for controlling all personal accounts through a mobile phone)
• Telephone Banking (grants the opportunity to talk to a banking consultant)

The products proposed by the bank are the regular ones.

In the mortgage sector: the Life tracker Mortgage gives the option of overpayment in any suitable time. The Offset Mortgage links your savings account to your mortgage and you pay interest on the difference. If you need a new mortgage for purchasing a real estate, then the two mortgages transfuse into one with no fee to pay.

The policy on loans is quite cautious in our times of financial crisis. Personal Loans between £5,000 and £25,000 are granted only to applicants who have successfully applied through Internet Banking. The interest rate is 8.9% APR.

As far as credit card products are concerned, First Direct offers a few kinds amongst which are the gold card (16.9%) and the typical card (17.9%). The bank’s customers can choose between saver accounts too: the regular saver account gives 5% gross p.a.; the Cash e-ISA 3% AER is fixed till November 2010; the money market account guarantees fixed rates over certain terms up to 5 years. You may use the e-saver account to manage your savings online (0.25% gross p.a.) The bonus savings account offers bonus each month if no withdrawals are made. If you manage your finances by phone or online, use the savings account (0.05% gross p.a.)

First Direct also offers investment products including shares, investment funds, child trust funds, and financial planning services. A great variety of options for investment and banking services – this is what First Direct can be described best with… and of course with its tagline: “black and white banking”.

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