Chamber cheques performance of business banking

Michael Fotis (left) and Ross Smith with Gemma Lonsdale.
Michael Fotis (left) and Ross Smith with Gemma Lonsdale.
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High account charges and slow account opening processes are the main problems North East businesses have with their bank, new research by the North East Chamber of Commerce has revealed.

The first in-depth survey of business banking by the chamber and Smart Money People has revealed businesses are moderately satisfied with the service they receive.

The survey found although business banking received a 71% overall satisfaction rating, just 19% of all businesses reported a good or excellent level of customer service, demonstrating there is still room for improvement.

Smart Money People chief executive Mike Fotis 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.

“Including more/better relationship management, better access of capital, better access to business planning/financial advice and better interest rates for positive balances.”

Chamber director of policy Ross Smith added: “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.”

Gemma Lonsdale, of Sunderland-based recruiter Willow Hudson, was one of those who responded: “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,” she said.

“However, once it was open the service has been excellent and I have given it a five-star rating.”

Just 4% of businesses were thinking of switching providers, and 21% used a local branch frequently.

Many businesses queried the cost of business banking charges with a number agreeing: “I pay a monthly fee, but I am not sure what I am paying for.”