Bankers snubbed on banking advice

Financial institution building

SMEs are more likely to ask their accountants or financial advisers for advice on business banking needs than the banks themselves. according to research from the Business Banking Resolution Service.

The research, based on the views of 750 small business leaders, found that 44 per cent go to their accountants for advice on business banking, 35 per cent to financial advisers, and 33 per cent to banks. Others turn to their solicitors (22%) and online research (17%).

The BBRS also revealed that there is strong demand among small businesses for a dedicated complaints service, yet few are aware of the full range of options available. It found that nearly three quarters of small business leaders would opt to use a complaints service if their business banking issue had not been satisfactorily resolved, yet the vast majority are unaware of any alternative solution to the Financial Ombudsman for such complaints.

The BBRS’ Historical Scheme covers complaints made as far back as 2001. It is likely that accountants, financial advisers, solicitors and other professional services firms will have had dealings with SMEs that have closed down, merged or sold in this period – and yet are nonetheless eligible. Current and previous business owners, directors and others can check their eligibility using a quick online tool.

If advisors know of clients with unresolved banking disputes, they should check whether they are eligible for the BBRS and steer them in our direction

Dirk Paterson, Customer Director at BBRS, said: “As trusted advisers to small businesses, we urge professional services firms to consider whether their current and previous clients could benefit from the BBRS’ service.

“. We encourage SMEs to check if they qualify for our help and, if so, to register as soon as possible. If unsure, businesses can check online or contact us to find out more.”

The BBRS is a fully independent, free to use, non-profit organisation set up to resolve disputes between eligible larger SMEs and participating banks, based on what is fair and reasonable for each case. The process is overseen by Chief Adjudicator, Alexandra Marks CBE, a Deputy High Court Judge. Businesses going through the service will be assigned a highly skilled dispute resolution specialist, who will act as a single point of contact and offer practical support.

If the BBRS upholds a complaint, it can make a financial or non-financial award of up to £350,000 for Historical Cases and £600,000 for Contemporary Cases (and it can recommend more in suitable cases).

The BBRS’ Historical Scheme covers banking complaints first registered in the period from 1 December 2001 to 31 March 2019. Businesses may qualify for support if they had turnover between £1 million and £6.5 million per annum at the time of their complaint, and their case has not already been settled, been subject to an independent review, or gone to court.

It can also assess more recent unresolved complaints through its Contemporary Scheme, which covers cases for the period from April 1, 2019 onwards: it is for businesses with turnover up to £10m per annum; and total assets up to £7.5m; and which are not eligible to take their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.