20/12/2007 - 10:38

SME's lacking the personal touch from banks: Survey

20/12/2007 - 10:38

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More than 60 per cent of Australia's small to medium enterprises say their preferred way of interacting with their bank is through a relationship manager but very few currently have one, East & Partners' latest SME Banking Markets Report reveals.

More than 60 per cent of Australia's small to medium enterprises say their preferred way of interacting with their bank is through a relationship manager but very few currently have one, East & Partners' latest SME Banking Markets Report reveals.

East's report, which is released six-monthly and is based on interviews with almost 1,500 businesses turning over between $5 million and $20 million per annum, finds that a massive 71.1 per cent of SMEs are not provided with a dedicated relationship manager by their bank.

The report shows that 61.5 per cent of SMEs say their preferred way of dealing with their bank is via a relationship manager.

Internet banking comes a distant second with just 16.2 per cent of SMEs citing this as their preferred channel to their bank.  

Despite the efforts of Australian banks to introduce business banking expertise in the branch network, only 5.6 per cent of SMEs nominate the branch as their preferred method.

East's SME report finds that where businesses do have a relationship manager, the tenure is generally in its infancy.  

Some 93.4 per cent of SMEs have had their current relationship manager for less than two years. Almost a quarter of all SMEs have been with their current relationship manager for less than six months.  

"Relationship banking small business customers has been one of the major themes of 2007 for Australian banks but there is a major discrepancy between what these customers want and what they're getting from their banks in terms of service," East & Partners general manager, client services, Paul Bartholomew said.

"There's been a huge amount of recruitment of relationship managers taking place over the past 18 months but it's still very much a drop in the ocean in the SME market," he said.

"The fact that roughly a quarter of relationship tenures are less than six months old is indicative of the relatively recent focus of the major banks on SME customers," Mr Bartholomew said.  

St George Bank is rated the best relationship bank to SMEs with Bendigo Bank and Bank of Queensland also rated highly by their customers for relationship management.  

National Australia Bank is rated the best of the Big Four banks for relationship management customer satisfaction.

 

 

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