Why a small business should consider moving to a challenger bank

Susie Taylor, founder of Susie Taylor Communications, discusses why she took up business banking with Metro Bank.

When did you move to a challenger bank and why?

I moved my business banking from a large high street bank to Metro Bank in February this year. I started out using their personal banking and I was happy with that service. I was unaware that Metro Bank offered business banking until I had a meeting with them and one of my clients. After the meeting, I started to think about moving my business banking. I got cold feet when I thought about possible payments being lost and perhaps any extra hassle I would have.

But after the next call with my existing bank, where I had to wait 17 minutes to speak to a human, I emailed Metro Bank and said that I was definitely switching. I wanted to get friendlier, more personable and caring service and I knew I would from my experiences with the personal banking side.

What is the offering compared to a larger bank, any outstanding perks?

I am not charged a monthly fee as long as I have £5,000 in the account each month, and my previous bank was charging me a fee. I keep my tax money aside so I always have a balance over this. When you open an account with Metro Bank everything is done on-site, even the printing of the card and choosing the password. I have limited spare time so this was really handy. If you lose your card you can easily get another one by visiting any branch, which is reassuring. There are additional charges for some other services but my PR clients are mainly based in the UK, and I do all my payments online which keeps my business banking free.

How might it suit a small business to go for a challenger bank?

I’m a communications consultant and I love talking to people, so for me the challenger brand cares more about my business. I have a branch telephone number where I can speak to the same person, who can get to know me and my business. At the larger bank the calls were directed to a call centre; these people were helpful but you spoke to a different person each time.

Any experience of loans/financial support advice?

I haven’t had any discussions about a loan, but I have met the regional director and other senior managers in my area and they are incredibly focussed on client satisfaction so I can only imagine they would make sure the advice they give me is right.

Is it easier to have better relationships with bank managers at smaller banks?

It has certainly been easy for me. The manager at the Reading branch has been incredibly helpful with an internet issue I had, and another staff member was incredibly personable when I set up the account; she made sure that my switching was painless and was incredibly professional but was friendly and welcoming. They really made the switching easy by filling out all of the paperwork for me and just sending it to me the following day to sign. I didn’t know anyone within the branch of my previous large bank and I had been banking with them for years.

What don’t they do well?

Metro Bank has one weaker area and that is the online business banking interface, but they are aware of this and will be upgrading it soon. Oddly, they don’t send you a card automatically when your current one expires, this has taken some getting used to!  But it really hasn’t soured how I feel about them.

Overall, would you recommend a small business going with a challenger bank?

I would suggest other small businesses consider challenger banks, if the bank has competitive charges and provides all of the services you need. In my experience I’m finding it much friendlier. It seems that Metro Bank employ people with good client skills rather than just a banking background and this rubs off on their customer service.

One thing to add is that when I needed to add my husband to my credit card account, we went to the branch with the kids to get it set up. For some odd reason he did not come up on the electoral roll, but rather than see us go home with the twins and collect more id the staff let us go online and print something. This really wouldn’t happen in any traditional bank!

Further reading on business banking

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of smallbusiness.co.uk) before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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