Another Small Business Banking Pledge – Santander

Santander’s new UK CEO, Ana Patricia Botin, had a trial by fire as she took up the reigns of the UK arm of the Spanish banking giant.

Ms Botin, Britain’s first female bank boss, stood before the Treasury Select Committee in her inaugural public appearance, telling MPs that one of her top priorities was to improve customer service. In a recent Which? report, Santander was polled as Britain’s most complained-about bank, backed up by data from the Financial Services Authority (FSA), with around 216,158 complaints in the first half of 2010.

After aggressive takeovers of Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and the Bradford & Bingley brands in recent years, Santander found itself struggling to integrate the separate banking houses and as a result customer service suffered as a result.

Ms Botin apologised for the bank’s recent poor customer service record and assured MPs that Santander’s customer service was starting to improve as the bank addressed issues with systems and processes plus hiring 1000 additional staff to deal with complaints.

When questioned by MPs about small business lending, Ms Botin stated that unfavourable lending rates and financial risk factors were the greatest challenges her bank faced but made a promise on lending to small businesses:

”We have been growing lending and we very much support those objectives [lending to small businesses and supporting growing the economy]. Our intention is to be part of lending commitments.”

Santander hopes to become a major player in the small business banking market with Ms Botin adding:

”It’s the hardest thing we have to do – we have got to get the person dealing with an entrepreneur and understanding their business.”

”It’s one of our priorities to become not only a larger player, but a better player.”

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