And pigs might fly
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And pigs might fly

Whoever decided that flying pigs belong in an advert for Zurich's new UK bank clearly has a warped sense of irony. A check over the history of the UK banking market shows that new entrants have faced difficult take-offs and often suffered crash landings.

Zurich Financial Services, the embattled Swiss group, is the latest to be lured. Big profits at the dominant four UK banks have proved a honey trap for US banks, insurance companies and supermarkets.

But life has not been sweet for them. Citibank UK has quickly faded into obscurity with five branches and not many more customers. And almost four years since it was launched, Egg, owned by UK insurer Prudential, is barely profitable, with a market share of around 1.5%.

"Anyone who wants to break into the UK market is in for a very difficult time," says a UK banks analyst. "It's extremely hard to get customers and even Egg, which has the advantage of being the first mover, is struggling."

Zurich hopes that its flying pigs - in television commercials, adverts on public transport and in newspapers - will attract potential customers to its "unique proposition".

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