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Are SMEs missing out on long-term relationships with their banks?

Martin Greenland | 16:58 Wednesday 15th November 2017

Almost half of UK SMEs (46%) don't know the availability of their relationship manager or don't have one at all, according to a new survey from CivilisedBank.

The report – conducted by the business bank and Opinium – found that the remaining 54% of SMEs did have a relationship manager, but only 18% of those with a turnover of £1m or more stated that they were extremely satisfied with their support.

For SMEs with a turnover of more that £500,000, this dropped to 15%.

CivilisedBank's survey also found that the average tenure of a relationship manager was only two years, while only 43% of those with a relationship manager said that their manager was always on call when they needed help.

“Our research illustrates that the banking industry should not underestimate the importance of the relationship between a bank and its business customers,” said Philip Acton, CEO of CivilisedBank.

“However, given how important the personal relationship is, it is striking that only half of SMEs have a relationship manager.”

CivilisedBank pointed out that as banks continued to cut costs, questions would be raised as to whether the existing level of service could be maintained or even improved upon by the big banks.

There were also questions raised in the survey regarding effectiveness with 28% of SMEs stating their relationship manager did not have the authority or ability to make credit decisions locally without having to refer them to head office.

“Length of tenure and familiarity with the client's business matter to businesses,” added Philip.

“Our business model includes succession planning for each of the local bankers to ensure a high level of continuity.

“The fact that our bankers are rewarded for customer service rather than the number of deals – we believe – will also help alleviate issues of high churn.”

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