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Small Firms Say Banks Haven’t Changed Since Financial Crisis

Nearly a quarter of U.K. small businesses (SMBs) believe banks have changed their ways since the global financial crisis, according to a new survey by CivilisedBank.

The data, according to a report by Asset Finance International, also found that most SMBs believe banks do not prioritize acting in a “civilized” manner with their customers. Small businesses said they feel employees at banks are more concerned with short-term sales instead of building long-lasting client relationships.

The research from the challenger bank also raised concerns over branch closures and a lack of local managers to facilitate these relationships with SMB banking customers. Some survey respondents cited an overreliance on algorithms and automated technology to make decisions on loan applications and investments as having a negative impact on the personal relationship between banks and SMBs.

“It’s clear that SMEs want to see change,” said CivilisedBank CEO Philip Acton in a statement. “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 revisit customer service and personal relationships, something that has been lost over the years. As a sector, banks need to reconnect with SME customers.”

Overall, researchers said, SMBs believe banks are putting profits before customer service.

“What is clear from the evidence we have seen is that the current status quo isn’t reliable or effective enough if we are to foster a truly vibrant and innovative SME-driven economy,” added Nick Gould, director of small business group the SME Alliance.

CivilisedBank is one of several challenger banks that have emerged in the U.K. since the financial crisis and resulting pullback of small business lending among larger, traditional financial institutions (FIs). The company secured a banking license earlier this year and joins other players that aim to disrupt the small business financial services space.


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