Do you Have the Right Bank Accounts?

If you haven't reviewed your bank recently, and considered whether you might get a better deal elsewhere, think about doing it now. If more small businesses did this more often, and acted on their findings, we might all start getting some additional value from our banking service.

Your Level of Importance in The Bank's Customer Portfolio

Are you a high priority for your bank, or are their preferred customers in a different league from your business? Don't be afraid to ask questions about this, as well as looking at their marketing materials. Have you outgrown the customer profile they are targeting, or are you actually too small to matter? When was the last time your account manager called you or suggested a review of your account structure? Or do you not get calls like that at all?

A Benchmarking Exercise

When you check out other banks, of course you will compare transaction charges, but there may be a number of other ways they can help you with money saving ideas. Set up meetings with potential account managers and judge how interested they are and how proactive they are likely to be. The questions they ask will give you clues.

If they ask whether you export or do business in foreign currencies, you could be offered holding accounts for monies in those currencies and an information service about exchange rates so that transfers to a sterling account can take place at the time you would get most financial benefit. If you are concerned that a current account operates at close to zero, or to your overdraft limit, they might offer automatic movements between accounts to avoid additional costs. If they ask about the possibility of mergers or acquisitions, they may know of other companies seeking a partner or a buyer. A proactive account manager will network on behalf of his or her customers, making appropriate suggestions and introductions.

Ensuring a Smooth Transition

You'll also need to be confident about how the transition will be handled. How much will the new bank be involved in this? How much of the organising will they undertake? How will they take over your payroll payments, your standing orders, direct debits and other payments to suppliers. Will it be a gradual process or happen overnight? How will they make sure it all goes smoothly?

Ask your outsourced bookkeepers for their opinion. They will see all levels of banking service during the course of their work for other clients.
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