Coventry Building Society tables bid for Co-operative Bank


Sounds like they’ve had second thoughts about exiting the current account market several years ago. They’re still in CASS for their money manager accounts (only for existing customers as you’ve not been able to open these for several years).


Yes,I thought the very same thing…!! They kept on banging on about how they wanted to simplify & get back to the basics of being a simple building society & not being involved in the current account market as it was essentially becoming too complex.I stated in their online forum at the time that I felt it was a major mistake and that they would come to regret the decision & it would appear that that is now the case!! Taking over the Cooperative bank would certainly give the Nationwide a bit of a shock…I’m guessing Steve Hughes sees the potential of Coventry becoming an all rounder & perhaps beating the Nationwide in some areas (business current accounts?)…it will be interesting to see how this story unfolds.

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Let’s hope that they look over the books properly and don’t find themselves with the same woes as the co-op found with the Britannia.

Strikes me that we could possibly see Yorkshire making a bid for TSB for similar reasons. They took over both Norwich & Peterborough and the Chelsea and not only closed down both rather good current accounts but went on to drop even their cash card. Net effect being that they’re basically just an internet bank but without the low cost base so don’t compete very well.


It’s not a done deal yet - someone like VM or TSB might crash the party as co-op would be a logical addon to either.

I’m not sure I agree with your categorisation of YBS as an internet bank as I have a YBS branch literally five minutes walk away. They simply needed to invest if they wished to maintain current accounts and opted to withdraw from that area instead.

Yes, very interesting points Arnie,I I had forgotten that Yorkshire BS had taken over Norwich & Peterborough BS & then soon after ditched their very well regarded current account.For the life of me I could never understand the rationale between either Yorkshire BS or Coventry BS not wanting to provide current accounts for their members, particularly as Building Societies in general were harping on about moving with the times,it was fairly obvious to me that in the decades ahead (once older more traditional savers die off) that most younger people have no real interest in saving with a traditional style passbook in branch & it’s a ‘no brainer’ that building societies in general will gradually just wither away & therefore my argument to Coventry BS at the time (via their online members focus group) was that if you can provide a wide ranging choice of financial services : current accounts,credit cards, insurances,loans etc then you are FAR more likely to survive,compete & remain relevant within the market place (as the Nationwide has done),at the time Coventry’s response was simply “we want to keep things simple”…“the current account regulations are now just too complicated for us to invest member’s money with”,they kept on harping on about the costs involved with providing ‘contactless’ debit cards etc etc,it all seemed very shortsighted to me and I cited the example of the Cumberland BS which is vastly smaller than the Coventry & they manage to run a very good current account & do EVERYTHING in house unlike the Coventry who relied on HSBC for the current account platform although Coventry stated that they ‘ran it’!! The relatively new CEO of Coventry (Steve Hughes) clearly has vision and I imagine that he probably thinks being 2nd or 3rd largest building society deserves to at least remain relevant going forward & the Cooperative bank could be a fantastic ‘fit’ given the whole mutual/environmental ethos of both organisations,but as you say… Coventry should go through the accounts with a fine toothcombe,it’s heartening to see that Cooperative Bank has moved into profitability in recent times while still keeping all their products.This will be interesting to watch over the coming weeks & months,also as you state Yorkshire BS may try & beat Coventry to it by hatching their own plans to become a more ‘well rounded’ financial provider (somehow I doubt it though,given how keen they were to ditch N&P current accounts & the bad publicity surrounding this decision at the time)

I had at one time three or four within 20 minutes of me, all now closed. That’s not counting what would have been a similar number if Britannia branches which Yorkshire customers could also use, all also closed (as have the co-operative which took them over). I suspect it’s a similar story elsewhere in the country. You are lucky to have one close by.

Interesting that they’re in CASS for those money manager accounts - the far more fully featured offering from Norwich & Peterborough never was (which made it extra painful when YBS changed their minds about rolling it out more widely and instead binned it).

If memory serves, Coventry joined CASS to make it easy for people to move when they closed down Coventry First and later the debit cards for those former CF and some money manager accounts. Yorkshire just didn’t bother.

If Coventry do takeover the co-op they could just CASS their existing accounts into the co-op equivalent and potentially absorb the co-op savings accounts thus potentially relatively easy to absorb.

Anyone considering a coop or smile account just to see what occurs?

I had one for a few years, but took the switch money earlier this year

I would definitely open an account with The Co-operative Bank if it was bought by The Coventry. Without a doubt. Smile is a different matter - it hasn’t been given much attention for years. A bit like the Santander brand cahoot - although that has been given a shot in the arm recently as far as savings are concerned.

Being pretty unfamiliar with them, what do Smile appear to offer that the Coop don’t? Same app without the branch access?

If you are eligible you get an automatic £500 overdraft from smile. If you’re not eligible for the overdraft you don’t get the account. Smile is not actively marketed, although new current accounts can be opened. Their credit cards are closed to new applications. Given most banking is done online these days there is no reason to open a smile current account rather than a Co-operative Bank account. The online banking is exactly the same but pink rather than blue.

Smile, like Cahoot, was a pioneer of online banking and it was launched in 1999 when other banks had big branch networks. It was the first bank to be online-only with no branches. Phone banking was a thing and customer support was refreshing - the relationship to The Co-operative Bank was similar to the relationship between First Direct and HSBC. These days it offers nothing apart a decaying infrastructure.

The Co-operative Bank itself is a shadow of its former self too. Faster payments are dog slow, pending transactions are not visible in online banking, phone support is appalling - a few months ago I was in a queue for an hour before I spoke to anyone - and it feels like a bank from 20 years ago, without the good stuff. I’d only open an account with them if the Coventry take-over happens and the bank gets an update.

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Thanks for giving an explanation about Smile. It’s interesting to make the £500 overdraft a stipulation for an account.

The Coop are the only bank that have blocked my account or payments on a consistent basis. They once rang off a withheld number and it took 45 minutes in the working day to get back to them. They wanted to know what my salary and a first payment to a payee were.

That said, I did milk them for £1300 in referrals and use them to purchase a house (as oddly my other bank at the time only offered the branch as an option for this). Not sure there is any point in me returning to them, or Smile at present.

you can use co op branches with a smile account ( at least for deposits), so basically no difference.

last thing I knew neither showed pending transactions online…does anyone know if this has changed?

I might open up a smile account anyway just to swim against the tide, I am a ridiculous person in some ways

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:joy: quote of the day. I’m all for it.

Don’t really need an overdraft on a back up account, but let me know how you’re experience is…

If (and it’s a bit if) Coventry buys Co-op, not much will change in the short/medium term other than branding. They don’t have their own infrastructure to move a full service bank onto so they’d use the legacy stuff.

The reason that Santander uses Cahoot is that it can enter the best buy tables without cannibalising existing funds languishing at low rates. It’s entirely the same reason NatWest is using it’s Ulster brand for savings.

The takeover isn’t certain by any means. However, the Coventry may still have the current account infrastructure in place. Yes, the money manager accounts currently only issue cash cards but they still retain DD, SO and bill payment functionality. It might be that Coventry First coding is still sitting there in the background unused.

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to report back on smile, I applied for a current account on the Thursday, it’s now following Wednesday and have had nothing except 3 automated emails from the Thurs. winning!

(admittedly I presume this is down to the coop refer a friend offer ending on the 15th but zero communication in a week?!)


No, they’re just slow.

Smile isn’t eligible for the refer a friend offers.