A thorough testing for business banking providers big and small

Business Banking Insight

While the big five business banking providers may have the lion’s share of the SME market, a recent large-scale research study reveals Britain’s SMEs rate the UK’s smaller ‘challenger’ banks more highly. Thousands of SMEs were interviewed and asked to score their current account provider across ten key criteria. So who scored best?

business banking providers

Who are the best for business current accounts?

Over 19,900 SMEs were interviewed by independent research company ICM to rate their business account provider against the following ten criteria. Covering service, cost and transparency, the research paints a more complete picture of banks’ overall performance.

1. Understanding of their business
2. Fair treatment
3. Level of fees and charges
4. Clear and transparent charges
5. Timeliness of response to queries and requests
6. Value for money
7. Ease of getting help
8. Going out of their way to help
9. Having the interest of your business at heart
10. Clear and transparent terms and conditions

High-scoring names you may not have heard of (yet)

In all, customers of 80 business account providers, were interviewed. While the big names scored well in some criteria, they only occasionally featured in the top ten for a given area.

Below, you’ll find the five providers who SMEs scored the highest across four criteria or more.

  1. Handelsbanken. With 200 branches in the UK, the Swedish-owned bank prides itself on strong customer relationships. It received the highest scores for an impressive seven out of ten of the criteria (understanding your business, treating you fairly, timeliness of response, ease of getting help, going out of their way to help and having the interests of SMEs’ businesses at heart).
  2. Nationwide. Britain’s biggest building society scored highest in two categories (level of fees and charges and value for money). They also came second in three others (understanding your business, treating you fairly and having clear and transparent charges) – and third in four more.
  3. Cater Allen. This private bank was ranked first by SMEs (for clear and transparent charges) and second for four other categories (level of fees and charges, timeliness of response, clear terms and conditions and value for money). To bank with Cater Allen you need to work with a financial professional such as an accountant or financial adviser.
  4. Coutts & Co. Coutts offers SMEs current accounts through phone banking and a network of hubs based in cities and larger towns. They came second in four criteria, including having the best interest of your business at heart and going out of their way to help.
  5. Metro Bank. This fast-growing challenger bank scored well in most categories. They were ranked fourth in four categories including value for money, level of fees and charges and having clear and transparent terms and charges.

What do I do if I want to switch providers?

Today switching is both quick, safe and thorough. The Current Account Switch Service ensures all your transactions and direct debits are securely transferred to your new provider within seven days. The scheme is backed by the Current Account Switch Guarantee and promises that if there any problems with payments as a result of the switch your new bank or building society will correct them. Read the Current Account Switch Guarantee to find out more.