Giving SMEs access to the financial tools, products and advice they need would increase their productivity by 10% and boost the UK economy by £70bn, according to a survey for high street bank TSB.
The study, based on a survey of 550 SMEs carried out by Oxford Economics and YouGov, revealed widespread dissatisfaction with current business banking options. Just under half (49%) of respondents believe that their bank understands their needs, with 42% stating that lacklustre bank services are actually holding their firm back.
This, in turn, is leading to very low adoption of technologies and digital services that could actually help small enterprises grow. According to the TSB report, just 62% of SMEs currently use accounting software and 53% use tax software.
To help SMEs access the guidance they need, TSB has suggested that banks improve their small business offerings while providing local advice services. The report also insists that banks must be more transparent about fees and charges that could impact smaller enterprises, while supporting them in making smart borrowing decisions.
“The report shows that a new relationship between banks and businesses is not only possible but profitable,” said Martin Whitfield MP, vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking, adding: “A relationship which focuses on giving SMEs the local support and guidance they need to grow and which offers them the financial services they require to exploit the digital age.”