Nearly three quarters of SMEs say their bank actively discriminates against them in favour of larger companies, according to new research.
The findings were contained in a survey of 500 UK SME owners, conducted by independent polling agency Censuswide. The research quizzed industry chiefs about access to finance, support and tools for international expansion.
A shocking 72 per cent of SME owners say their bank provides very limited support around international payments, and further support is necessary to bridge the gap and provide the confidence to expand. A substantial majority also feel ignored by their bank with 73 per cent saying they struggle to secure a meeting with their bank or financial manager, leading to delays in their business plans.
SME bosses also said plans for international and overseas trade were scuppered by high trading costs. 72 per cent said they felt bank transfer fees abroad were too high and should be reduced for smaller companies.
Worryingly, 69 per cent said their company would benefit from international expansion, but 65 per cent currently lack the financial expertise to open an office overseas. Additionally, 78 per cent admitted that their company have limited cash reserves in the face of rising inflation and an uncertain economy.
Neh Thaker, co-founder of HedgeFlows, who commissioned the research said: “SMEs are the beating heart of the UK economy, creating jobs and driving crucial growth in uncertain times. It’s absurd that so many of our most ambitious and fast-growing businesses feel left out in the cold by their bank and unable to access the level of service enjoyed by their super-size counterparts.
“The time has come to equip SMEs with a level playing field to expand internationally, giving them access to a suite of services required to manage overseas transactions, currency conversions and cashflows. These privileges are already enjoyed by larger enterprises and should be available to businesses of all sizes.”