Belfast Telegraph

Bank study to examine ways to help credit flow

By David Elliott

Researchers from the Ulster Business School (UBS) Research Institute are joining forces with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to examine the state of relationships between Northern Irish SMEs and their banks.

Professor Mark Durkin, UBS professor of marketing and himself a former banker, said: "There is no more important time to examine the state of the SME-bank relationship.

"As Government talks about the need to grow the private sector, aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike cite barriers to finance and poor relationships with finance providers as key reasons for non-expansion. We wish to examine this pivotal relationship and see in what ways we can help inform policy and practice."

The study, which launches this month, will see the membership of the FSB in Northern Ireland receive a questionnaire for completion online which examines various dimensions of their banking relationships.

Welcoming the UBS initiative, Wilfred Mitchell, FSB policy chairman, said: "Understanding the often complicated relationship between small businesses and the banking sector is central to our drive to improve access to credit for our members.

"The Ulster Business School is keenly aware of the issues facing the sector and, using the information gathered from our members, this study will help provide critical insight into their experiences with banks and identify key areas and issues that need attention.

"It will also give an invaluable understanding of the factors being faced by many business owners in the current economic environment and we would encourage all our members to play their part in helping to improve conditions between banks and business by completing the survey."

Findings from the study will be reported back through a public event hosted by the Ulster Business School scheduled for early summer 2012.