The first in-depth survey of business banking by the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) and Smart Money People has revealed that businesses are moderately satisfied with their banks, but high account charges and slow account opening processes are a concern.
Having taken the pulse of 209 North East businesses, the survey found although business banking received a 71% overall satisfaction rating, just 19% of all businesses reported receiving a good or excellent level of customer service, demonstrating there is still room for improvement.
Mike Fotis, founder of Smart Money People said, “Although expectations around business banking remain low, the results of our business banking pulse show that there are four clear areas where banks can support the region’s businesses better. These four areas include more/better relationship management, better access of capital, better access to business planning/financial advice and better interest rates for positive balances.”
Ross Smith, Director of Policy, NECC said, “North East businesses need a well performing business banking environment to help them thrive. It’s encouraging to see that on the whole, there are good levels of satisfaction amongst businesses. We’ll report the findings of the North East Business Banking Pulse to the banks and encourage them to look at the four areas of further support identified.”
The results showed 12% of businesses now use two or more financial providers, a sign that North East businesses are taking advantage of a range of niche, financial firms for items such as foreign exchange or working capital. Surprisingly, only 7% of all respondents cited better access to capital as an improvement they would like to see.
Gemma Lonsdale, Director, Sunderland-based recruiter Willow Hudson was one of the businesses who responded to the survey. She said: “It took me over two months to open an online bank account due to a backlog at the bank I chose which caused great problems in my business. However once it was open the service has been excellent and I have given it a five star rating.”
A total of 4% of North East businesses stated that they were thinking of switching providers, although 21% mentioned they used a local branch frequently.
Many businesses queried the cost of business banking charges with a number of respondents agreeing with the view “I pay a monthly fee, but not sure what I am paying for?”
You can find out how your bank compares by looking at the Smart Money People best business banking league table.