"Although Santander has been in the UK market for some time now, only now are we starting to see their brand appearing on the high street. Abbey customers will now find themselves fully integrated into one of the strongest banking groups in the world, as will those with a Bradford & Bingley savings account.
"In terms of what this means going forward, it'll be interesting to see how Santander brings the two brands and products into alignment over the coming months, as well as A&L which will follow later on in the year. Both Abbey and A&L are strong contenders in the current account market and have noticeably strengthened and maintained their offerings. We also saw this week that A&L has overtaken HSBC as the most competitive mortgage lender and this is likely to have been driven by Santander ahead of the rebrand by the end of this year. Santander will be keen to maintain and grow their position as a major player in UK retail banking and they are challenging their rivals by offering competitive rates and unique deals to their customers.
"The disadvantage of bringing these brands under one roof is it reduces competition so customers should make sure they are on the best deals and be prepare to switch to better products if they are not.
"There may be some customers who are wary of foreign banks given the crises of last year which saw some overseas brands struggle and, in some cases, collapse. However, Santander is a huge global bank that is well managed and is also covered under the UK's FSCS scheme which means that UK customers would be able to recoup up to £50,000 if the bank did run into problems."
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