The banking industry’s 17 commitments to businesses
In October 2010, the Business Finance Taskforce committed to 17 actions which aimed to improve banks’ relationships with business, ensure better access to finance and promote understanding of the needs of business customers.
Improving customer relationships
1. Support a network of business mentors by working with the business groups to deliver a free service to businesses across the UK
2. Improve service levels to micro enterprises (businesses with fewer than 10 employees and turnover or a balance sheet under €2m) by setting out in a new Lending Code the levels of service banks will provide and outlining additional sources of help and advice
3. Publish lending principles which clearly set out the minimum standards medium-sized and larger businesses can expect when asking banks for finance and other services
4. Establish transparent appeals processes for when finance applications are declined, with processes independently monitored by a independent reviewer, who will publish the results of their review, to ensure each bank has a fair and equitable appeals process
5. Initiate a pre re-financing dialogue 12 months’ ahead of any term loan coming to an end, which will include a timely review of business and re-financing needs and an assessment of what needs to be in place to maximise the prospect of successful re-financing.
Ensuring better access to finance
6. Establish and invest in a new £2.5 billion Business Growth Fund (built over a number of years) to fill a crucial gap in the market and provide capital for viable businesses which want to invest and grow
7. Support the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, seeking continued Government backing through to 2012, and accommodating any changes made by Government
8. Help mid-sized businesses access syndicated debt markets by raising customer awareness, training customer-facing staff and engaging more actively with business groups and customers
9. Improve access to trade finance through targeted SME awareness-raising campaigns and exploring possible regulatory adjustments with the FSA. Seek with Government to open access to trade finance products for businesses that qualify for the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme
10. Signpost alternative sources of finance, giving customers information and advice if a loan is declined and raising awareness about the financial solutions they could consider
Providing better information and promoting understanding
11. Fund and publish a regular independent survey, commencing in mid 2011, and scoped by banks, Government and business groups, so there is an authoritative information base on business finance demand and lending supply
12. Enhance the cross-industry lending dataset by broadening the statistics on lending available for wider bands of business activity; on lending to deprived areas; and on national and regional data on the provision of bank support to business
13. Hold regional outreach events throughout 2011 with business groups to enable business customers and business groups to meet with key staff from the banks to answer questions and explain what services are available
14. Improve customer information including a review of literature and other materials, so customers can more easily understand what products will best meet their needs
15. Host a dedicated website through the BBA to draw together and link useful sources of information to help customers access appropriate information. This will also connect mentoring networks
16. Establish a Business Finance Round Table where senior representatives from the banks and business groups meet regularly to discuss and review trends, identify emerging areas of concern, ensure problems are addressed and facilitate the implementation of the Taskforce initiatives
17. Identify how the October 2010 Taskforce report affects micro-enterprises in particular; and determine any further initiatives specifically focused on encouraging relationships with micro-enterprises.
Download the factsheet in PDF format - here.