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Over half of our companies don't look for better bank deals: survey

More than half of Northern Ireland's businesses do not look for alternative banking deals despite complaints about lack of credit and other issues, according to a new survey.

Businesses in the province are the least likely to look for new banks compared to anywhere else in the UK, the latest Business Barometer from Close Invoice Finance claimed.

The study showed that 52% of companies have never changed their bank account and 66% have no plans to do so in the coming year.

The Business Barometer is a quarterly survey of more than 500 companies from across the UK, designed to gauge SME owner/manager sentiment on a range of issues affecting their business.

During the last five years - one of the most difficult economic periods in history - only 17% of respondents chose to switch provider, with a mere three per cent doing so in the last year.

Harry Parkinson, managing director of Close Invoice Finance in Ireland, said the unacceptably high level of bank complaints suggests this loyalty is 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.

"Businesses clearly feel that it's safer to stay put with their existing provider than jump ship in pursuit of something better.

"But if they look around and do their research they will find plenty of other willing and able, and often more flexible, financiers in the market place.

"It's a shame that many healthy and expanding companies aren't realising their growth ambitions because of a lack of knowledge as to who can help them.

"It's also a sad reality that some small businesses aren't able to access the cash flow they require to stay afloat."