Compensation scheme training agreed

Nationwide Building Society, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland will be the first financial institutions to adopt a new staff training programme to help them inform customers about a safety net on their savings and current accounts.

The programme is part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme's (FSCS) drive to raise awareness about the protection for people if their bank or building society goes under.

The online training programme has been created by the Financial Skills Partnership and is available for use by all banks, building societies and credit unions for their employees.

Front-line staff will take a 20-minute course about FSCS protection and then complete a multiple-choice test. Participants need to score 80% to pass and will be given a certificate.

The training begins just before the introduction of rules compelling banks, building societies and credit unions to inform their customers about which deposit guarantee scheme applies to their money.

The FSCS covers savings up to £85,000 for single accounts and £170,000 for joint accounts if an institution goes bust.

From the end of this month UK-registered firms will have to put up posters and stickers in branches to promote FSCS, and provide information on their websites about the protection available to customers.

Foreign institutions with UK branches, which are not covered by FSCS, will have to state this and say which other national scheme is providing protection.

FSCS protects people if banks, building societies or credit unions go bust and has helped more than 4.5 million people and paid out around £26 billion since 2001.

Mark Neale, chief executive of FSCS, said: "The banking crisis showed how important it is for consumers to have clear information about FSCS protection. From the end of August consumers will be able to see in branches and online how their savings are protected. As well as this visible reassurance, it is vital they receive the correct information from front-line employees who serve customers."