Belfast Telegraph

Bank services thumbs-up

Survey finds most small businesses happy with their lender

By Clare Weir

A POLL of 100 independent businesses in Northern Ireland has suggested that a majority are satisfied with their banks.

The telephone survey this month by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association included grocers, chemists and butchers from every part of Northern Ireland.

The respondents represented 14% of NIIRTA members.

The survey focused on NIIRTA members' ability to access finance, credit card and overdraft services, the bank branch closure programme and overall customer satisfaction with their banks.

The organisation's chief executive Glyn Roberts said the poll was the first ever survey of the views on banking services from independent retailers across Northern Ireland.

The findings will be part of a submission to the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs committee inquiry into banking and its findings will be discussed with the Finance Minister Simon Hamilton.

"Sixty-five per cent of those who have applied for finance within the last three years were successful in accessing it, which suggests an improving trend given the difficult trading conditions in the last year," he said.

"However banks still have some way to go in this area as 35% were turned down for finance. We hope that when we repeat this survey next year there will be great improvement shown in this area.

"Given the recent closure of bank branches, we were keen to see how this had impacted on footfall and spending patterns. While 76% said there has been no impact, 24% said they have been affected. Rural members especially expressed concern at the greater distances they now had to travel to their local banks to lodge money.

"Along with the Lord Mayor of Belfast we are pressing banks to adopt a vacancy strategy to tackle this issue and to examine options for alternative use for empty buildings."

Mr Roberts added that 42% rated the service from their bank as good or excellent, 38% average and 20% below average or poor.


total businesses who rate their bank as 'good' or 'excellent'

Belfast Telegraph