HSBC’s profits doubled in the first half of the year, chiefly because of interest rate rises across Europe which it’s failing to pass on to savers. But credit where it’s due (or honour among thieves – pick your cliché), HSBC has actually abused depositors marginally less than its rivals. Data from the Bank of England and Hargreaves Lansdown show it raised rates on easy access accounts sooner and higher than Barclays, Lloyds and NatWest as UK base rates climbed steadily this year. But savers still get less than 2 per cent on a basic HSBC savings account, leaving a spread of more than 3 per cent between that and what it can charge borrowers. Hence the bank’s H1 pre-tax profits of £16.9 billion compared with £9.2 billion for the same period last year. Overall, less than 30 per cent of UK rate rises have been passed on. The Financial Conduct Authority plans to name and shame and act against the greediest banks, but what action the generally toothless FCA has in mind is unclear. Maybe what British savers need is an American financial ecosystem and mindset. US savers can currently earn up to 5.3 per cent on one-year certificates of deposit.
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