Small Business Banking Revival to Start in Yorkshire?

With recent reports of small business loan approvals having halved since 2007 it’s good to see that one bank is actually taking an interest in reversing this trend.

Yorkshire Bank is looking to expand its small business banking services at a time when other banks appear to be deserting the country’s High Streets, according to a report in yesterday’s Yorkshire Post. In addition the bank is also expecting to see a rise in the number of start-up businesses.

Gary Lumby, the director of small business banking at Yorkshire and sister bank Clydesdale, sees the future of small business support is still uncertain with Government plans seemingly not finalised and he thinks the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships still remain unclear. With this in mind Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks are investing in their small business operation so that they can offer enhanced advice to the small businesses, particularly those in the sub £1M turnover market:

“In the current economic climate, it is clear that small businesses are looking for more than just the financial support that comes from their bank. Small Businesses expect a proactive approach to support; advice on areas such as Access to Finance, Mentoring, Investor Readiness, Marketing and Strategic Business Reviews. This is why the strategy of Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks’ new Small Business division is to invest in the training and development of Relationship Managers – so that they can give better advice, signposting and introductory services to their clients.”

said Gary Lumby. He also commented on the tendancy for banks to shift small businesses "up the food chain" as he put it, where businesses tend to be dealt with by call centres or "relationship teams".

“The era of the traditional bank manager, who understands the local market and can make lending decisions, as well as giving valuable advice would be a welcome return for many small businesses, and this is where we believe we can truly add value.”

Yorkshire Bank’s determination to restore the importance of relationship and "trusted advisor" status in bank managers is stated with some highly qualified insight from Gary Lumby, who has more than 30 years experience in banking and is currently President of Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

“The role of the Bank is to work with professional advisors such as accountants, lawyers, support agencies and business consultants to ensure that every small business has the best chance of success – accessing the right type of advice and support. But in an era of reducing public-funded small business support, the help available to business owners at no cost is reducing, so help finding the best advice is vital.”

Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks are currently on target to provide their promise of £10bn of new lending to small businesses by 2012 and the new services will be a welcome addition to micro-businesses. Whilst no figure has been put on the new investment the banks will be offering a 48-hour service agreement, promising to answer funding queries within two days, and managers’ portfolios will total 250 cases where rival lenders can often manage up to 700 accoutns each, a sign that Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks intend to offer a more personal service. There will also be free business banking and aded value for small business customers.

For further information contact your local branch of Yorkshire Bank.

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