Inaccessible high-street banks could cost UK SMEs £245 million a year

Tide, the new mobile-first business account, today releases research that finds it takes on average over two and a half weeks (2.6 weeks) to set up a new account with the ‘big five’ high-street banks. Through research of 89 branches across the UK, Tide is also able to reveal that for SMEs in London it can take up to 37 days to get a face to face meeting in a bank branch, whilst the quickest city to get a meeting is in Bristol, with a wait of 10 days.

With the average UK SME turning over half a million pounds each year, Tide calculates that missing out on just 10% of business during this period, by not having access to an account, represents a potential loss of £245,237,340 in cash-flow for the 97,000 new businesses founded in 2016. Individually this could potentially result in a £2,528 loss of turnover per business over the course of two and a half weeks because of a delay.

Tide also researched into how long, on average, it takes an SME to book a face-to-face meeting with a bank advisor; widely seen as the cornerstone of traditional banking practices. Tides research finds that on average it takes an SME just under three weeks to get a meeting in the UK. This wait rises to over five weeks (37 days) for businesses in London, the slowest out of the 10 cities researched. The average wait per city for a business meeting across the UK is as follows:

  1. London: 37 days

  2. Liverpool: 19 days

  3. Manchester: 17 days

  4. Belfast: 16 days

  5. Birmingham: 16 days

  6. Edinburgh: 16 days

  7. Cardiff: 14 days

  8. Glasgow: 14 days

  9. Leeds: 11 days

  10. Bristol: 10 days

George Bevis, founder of Tide, comments: “High street banking for SMEs is inherently slow and outdated. Our new research showcases just how sluggish set up and getting a meeting can be, and the subsequent cost to the business. For many start-ups, for whom time and money are a premium, this can be critical. Both in branch and online, the services big banks offer are not tailored towards the specific requirements of SME banking.

What is even more shocking is that London, the UK’s business hub, is the slowest when trying to get a business meeting. Whilst the high-street bank’s online offering may be sufficient for consumer banking, the existing online business banking tools offered for high street banks are not good enough. Now is the time more than ever for SMEs to look to dedicated online and mobile services rather than stick with the traditional banking system that is already moving off the high street.”

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