Firms 'least likely to swap banks'
Businesses in Northern Ireland are the least likely in the UK to switch bank accounts despite the difficulties in accessing finance, a survey has revealed.
More than half of firms are failing to shop around for the best deal because of a lack of knowledge about who can help with cashflow.
During the last five years, one of the most difficult economic periods in history, only 17% chose to switch provider, with a mere 3% doing so in the last 12 months.
Harry Parkinson, managing director of Close Invoice Finance, said: "It is a sad reality that some small businesses are not able to access the cash they require to stay afloat."
A total of 53% of 52 businesses surveyed last month in Northern Ireland have never changed their bank account. Two thirds have no plans to switch in the next year. The percentage who have never changed their account compares to a UK average of 37%.
Mr Parkinson said it was vital for the success of small to medium-sized companies that their finance needs were addressed.
Banks have faced concerns from the business and political communities about their failure to lend, prohibitive costs and rigid terms.
Mr Parkinson added companies' loyalty to banks was often misplaced.
"Until businesses start voting with their feet, banks have little incentive to raise their game and firms may be missing out on the best deals and service, or worse, face insolvency," he said.