Businesses give verdict on banks

Thousands of UK businesses have given a frank assessment of banking services on a groundbreaking new website.

The Business Banking Insight (BBI) website, which looks at how well the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are being served by banks, went live on 28 May.

Commissioned by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, BBI is designed to help businesses make better informed banking decisions. It is supported by organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Chambers of Commerce.

BBI showcases the experiences of more than 5,000 businesses and how they rate their banks, in research carried out by ICM. A total of 74 bank brands in total are ranked, using a mixture of percentage and star rating systems, and three different business sizes were interviewed – sole traders, businesses with between one and nine employees and those with between ten and 249.

Key findings for each business group within business current accounts include:

  • sole traders gave banks an average current account satisfaction score of 60 per cent. They gave more than half the reviewed banks only three stars or below for credit approachability, out of a maximum of five stars
  • businesses with one to nine employees also gave banks an average current account satisfaction score of 60 per cent. More than half the ratings gave a score of 3.5 stars or less for value for money
  • the largest businesses gave banks an average current account satisfaction score of 65 per cent. No bank received a five star rating for value but 81 per cent received 3.5 stars or more for credit approachability.

Mr Osborne said: “A key part of our long-term economic plan is increasing competition and choice in banking, and ensuring Britain’s SMEs get the best possible service from their bank. This new survey will be a powerful tool for these businesses, providing them with the means to see who’s up for the challenge and who isn’t.”

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, said the organisation expected to see the BBI “help stimulate more competition in the market as firms become more aware of the products and services on offer, as well as the new challenger banks that have recently come on to the market.”

Anthony Browne, chief executive at the British Bankers Association, said: “It is great that the newer and smaller banks are included as well as the established brands, which just shows how many different institutions there are out there competing for new customers.

“Whether large or small, every bank will want to be at the top of these ratings so this can only help spur competition between banks leading to even more innovation, new products and better service for businesses.”

The research will be repeated every six months, and all findings will be published on the BBI website.

Link: The Business Banking Insight website