First direct


First direct

Infobox Company
company_name = first direct
company_
company_type = Division of HSBC Bank plc
foundation = 1989
location = Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
industry = Banking
Insurance

products = Credit card, Loans,
Savings, Mortgages

homepage = [http://www.firstdirect.com/ www.firstdirect.com]
revenue =

first direct is a telephone- and internet-based commercial bank in the United Kingdom, a division of HSBC Bank plc. first direct has headquarters in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, and has over 1.2 million customers [ [http://www.firstdirect.com/press/key_facts.shtml first direct media centre - key facts and figures ] ] .

According to MORI and NOP research, first direct has been the most recommended bank in the UK for the past 13 years.

First direct is based at two call centres in Stourton (Leeds) and Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. Hamilton is the larger of the two call centres however the Leeds call centre handles risk assessment and some processing roles.

History

First direct was formed on 1 October 1989 by Midland Bank, one of the "Big 4" banks in the UK. The call centre has famously never closed since this date. In 1992, it became a part of HSBC following the acquisition of Midland Bank. (The claim that HSBC was initially attracted to first direct rather than Midland Bank itself is implausible, since HSBC started acquiring shares in Midland Bank two years before first direct was established.)

First direct took its first call on 12.01am on 1 October 1989 - more than 1,000 calls were taken within the first 24 hours. By May 1991 the bank had 100,000 customers on its books and by March 1993 it had 250,000. It first achieved breakeven in December 1994. In April 1995 the bank gained its 500,000th customer.

The bank began limited trials of Internet Banking in July 1997, launching the service fully in 1998. In May 1999 it launched text message (SMS) banking, a service through which the bank will alert customers by SMS if the balance on their current account goes below a certain amount, and if set, will send weekly mini-statements also by SMS.

In July 2001 the bank's Offset Mortgage was launched.

In January 2004 the bank launched first directory, a service whereby additional services were added to current accounts such as free text message banking, annual travel insurance and mobile phone insurance for a fixed monthly charge. In April 2004 the bank launched Internet Banking Plus, a service whereby account information was taken by third party Internet Banking from the bank's other accounts with different banks and the information was unified under first direct's Internet Banking Plus service.

The bank has also recently launched a service whereby customers can access accounts via their mobile phone in partnership with Monilink. A similar trial some years previously using WAP technology did not prove sufficiently popular.

Customer charging

Shelving earlier plans to introduce across-the-board charging for current accounts and offering rewards for customer loyalty, the bank announced plans in November 2006 to introduce a £10 per month charge to customers who credit less than £1,500 per month to their current accounts or maintain an average balance of less than £1,500 per month. These plans have sparked outrage among UK customers who have up until now have received free banking for current accounts in credit. The charge does not apply if a customer holds any other first direct product (including savings accounts, credit cards, mortgage, home or car insurance) in addition to a current account. [ [http://www.firstdirect.com/assets/pdf/account_changes_1106.pdf November changes to T+Cs ] ]

External links

* [http://www.firstdirect.com/ first direct]

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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