Branch closures, poor customer service and a focus on quick profits all cited by SMEs as driving down standards at banks
A quarter (24 per cent) of UK SMEs believe that banks have failed to change the way they behave since the global financial crisis in 2008. The survey of UK SMEs from CivilisedBank, the new UK business bank with a Local Banker network, also reveals that over half (55 per cent) of those surveyed believe that it is not a priority for banks to act in a ‘civilised’ manner.
Some of the reasons given for this negative sentiment includes the continued closure of branches, poor customer service and an emphasis on profits before service. Indeed, one respondent stated that bank staff are pressured to make short-term sales to boost low basic salaries, rather than focusing on long-term business development and client relationships.
Some executives at SMEs noted that with the removal of local relationship managers there is no consistent point of contact at their bank, resulting in a limited understanding of their business to help inform decisions. Others highlight that rather than treating SMEs as individual entities, decisions are made via computer algorithms with little understanding of the case-by-case requirements of each business from an informed, personal perspective.
Over four fifths (82 per cent) of SMEs think that banks behave in a civilised way at least some of the time, while 3 per cent believe that banks never behave in a civilised way. In fact, only 8 per cent believe banks operate in a civilised way all the time.
Despite this, almost three quarters (73 per cent) agree that they would consider a bank that behaves in a civilised way, over those that do not. Over two fifths (46 per cent) of SMEs also think it is extremely important for their suppliers and partners to act in a civilised way.
Philip Acton, Chief Executive Officer, CivilisedBank said: “It’s clear that SMEs want to see change. Despite many initiatives since 2008, a quarter of executives at SMEs still think nothing has changed in banking.
“As an industry, banking needs to get back to the future and to revisit customer service and personal relationships, something that has been lost over the years. Whilst much has changed since the 2008 global financial crisis, the good work that’s been done has not resonated with the wider public. As a sector, banks need to reconnect with SMEcustomers.”