Five companies on what banks could do better for small businesses

Here, five small business owners and managers give their views on what banks could do to better serve early-stage and smaller companies.

Banks, particularly the larger ones, are much-maligned when it comes to small business customers; often they face a range of criticism, from a perceived low appetite for debt to threats of charging customers for holding cash. Here’s what five company owners and managers would like to see from them.

Zoe Hiljemark, Sixth Sense PR

Make it quicker to set up an account and to gain online access to the account, as this is critical to a small business like mine which needs to have daily visibility of its bank balance and transactional activity. Follow up with the customer within days of the security information for online banking being sent, to help speed up the setup process and ascertain if there are any queries.

Also they could include video/animated tutorials on how to use the online banking system; I had someone talk me through it, but then had to call them twice on one day when I had a further question and didn’t have an online resource/help guide to refer back to.

Brian Watt, Sloane’s Hot Chocolate

Stop spending money on adverts saying you are helping small businesses when you are not. Try to really understand the needs of the business and, if you say you will support British manufacturing, when you meet a company like us come in with some ideas which are not all about income for the bank today.

David Raymond, Embark consulting

As a small business who supplies services internationally, we struggled with our banking having the appetite to support our international debtors. Additionally, the catch 22 of growing a small business is often that you need funding to be able to grow your net value, so banks need to take a much broader view on assisting small businesses and unlocking funding for them.

Brian Craik, Popagami

I would like banks not to rely so completely on credit scores and more on the business potential, talent, innovation and passion they are shown by their clients. Rather than gambling with stocks and shares they need to realise investments in business are far less risky, yes many will fail but a few will make millions. I would show loyalty to a bank that believed in me and were willing to take a risk.

Graham L Morgan, Business Doctors

Compared to many experiences I hear about, I deem myself to be very fortunate in stumbling upon a relationship manager who was truly brilliant. Opening a bank account and securing funding facilities is a critical element of starting a business, but it is very much a lottery as to who you find when you start to look.

Interestingly three of the five bankers I approached in late 2015 did not respond to this day. I feel it is critical banks have experienced people available to help guide folks into the world of business.

Further reading on business banking

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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