James Daley

By James Daley

Fairer Finance has now published its latest set of rankings - updating our customer survey results, integrating the latest Financial Ombudsman Service data, and beefing up our transparency analysis.

Here are our gold rated providers for Autumn 2014:

Bank Accounts

  1. Metrobank 93%

  2. Norwich & Peterborough BS 92%

  3. Nationwide BS 90%

  4. Coventry BS 88%

  5. First Direct 83%

Credit Cards

  1. John Lewis 99%

  2. First Direct 99%

  3. Saga 89%

  4. Nationwide 89%

  5. Sainsbury's 88%

  6. British Airways 80%

Personal Loans

  1. First Direct 90%

  2. Nationwide 88%

  3. Zopa 87%

Car Insurance

  1. Nationwide BS 99%

  2. CSIS 99%

  3. NFU Mutual 98%

  4. LV 98%

  5. John Lewis 94%

  6. Saga 88%

  7. Sainsbury's Bank 83%

Home Insurance

  1. Hiscox 99%

  2. Ecclesiastical 98%

  3. John Lewis 97%

  4. LV 93%

  5. NFU Mutual 92%

  6. More Than 90%

  7. M&S Bank 88%

  8. Nationwide BS 82%

  9. Saga 82%

Travel Insurance

  1. LV 99%

  2. American Express 85%

  3. Direct Line 85%

  4. Post Office 85%

  5. First Direct 84%

  6. M&S Bank 82%

  7. Tesco Bank 80%

It's now six months since we launched Fairer Finance, and we've been overwhelmed by the positive response that we've had to our ratings from both the industry, banks and most importantly consumers. We always intended that our methodology would evolve, and so as we updated our tables this month, we took on board some feedback that we'd received from companies over the last year.

Rewards for improvement

Perhaps one of the most important changes we made was a tweak to the way we calculate our complaints scores. Last time round, we took an average of the percentage of Financial Ombudsman Service complaints that were ruled in favour of the company over the past three years. Some companies felt that a straight average meant that they could end up being penalised for poor performance three years ago. So this time round, we've weighted the complaints score to give more importance to more recent data.

That's had a significant effect for one or two companies. Nationwide, for example, has had a slightly poorer performance on banking complaints over the past year - which means that using our new methodology, its complaints score is lower. In contrast, Sainsbury's Bank has been improving over the last year, and so has seen a sharp jump in its complaints score.

Redefining transparency

We've also broadened our transparency criteria - in every sector that we look at. So in insurance, for example, we now look at whether excesses are described clearly, and whether there are easy to find, easy to read summary documents available for customers in the buying process.

In credit cards, we've looked to see whether companies make it clear that you might not get the advertised rate - and we also look at whether they make the terms of any 0% or reward scheme offers clear.

As we've raised the bar, it's had a significant effect on some companies' transparency scores.

Bigger sample sizes

We've also rolled together the results of our first and second survey waves, and raised the bar to 40 responses for any brand to be included. That means our survey results are more statistically robust than last time round - and we've managed to capture a few additional brands such as Coventry Building Society and CSIS in our data.

Give us your feedback

We know that there's no magic formula for assessing how fair companies are - and so we're committed to constantly reviewing our methodology and taking on board feedback from our partners. One thing we'll be looking hard at over the coming months is our statistical algorithm, which generates high scores for those with above average performance, but very low scores for those who are below average. We think this helps make it clear which companies are doing well, and which could be trying harder, but it's also particularly harsh on those companies at the bottom end of our tables. When we launch our life insurance ratings over the next couple of weeks, we'll be experimenting with a different way of displaying our results - and we'd love to hear what you think, and any suggestions you have as to how we can improve what we do.