What questions do you want to ask your bank?

We were recently invited to sit on the panel at a Barclays customer forum in Liverpool. It was set up a bit like Question Time – it was chaired by Nigel Cooper of Barclays, with an expert panel of Donal Bannon (Morecrofts Solicitors), Tim Woods (Sutton Kersh) and our very own Jon Davies as the expert accountant.

The audience could then ask anything!

So, what was on the minds of Barclay customers?

What does the bank do for Apprentices and the community?

Barclays has been heavily involved in the apprentice programme. We attended an event that they ran last year at the Echo Arena that highlighted their apprentices, but also encouraged other firms to take on apprentices. (We have two at the moment!)

What’s in store for the local economy? Are things getting better?

There’s a lot going on locally at the moment. Some of the large events, eg the International Festival of Business, will have an impact on local firms. Even if you’re not directly involved, the influx of visitors this summer will lead to a lot of local spending, eg in hotels in restaurants.

There is also the Atlantic Gateway project that’s underway and will bring a lot of business into the city. Again, smaller businesses might not be involved directly with the construction or even the growth in import/export, but the creation of jobs and the amount of business flowing through Liverpool will lead to opportunities for all of us.

How can young people set up a business when the cost of insurance is so high?

One of the attendees made the point that he has a fleet of vehicles, but the price of insurance for a young driver means he can’t afford to send them out in one. Therefore, how can a young person set up a business if they can’t even afford to insure a vehicle to get out and meet clients/contacts?

There’s no easy answer to this. Barclays themselves have a tie-in with an insurance firm but that doesn’t solve the underlying issue. Do you have any solutions?

The $100 million question – are banks lending?!?

Yes! But it’s still difficult. The criteria are much stricter than they were 5 years ago. The rates are also higher.

Barclays did make it clear that there is still a human element to lending decisions. “The computer says ‘no’!” isn’t the end of the conversation – the local advisers do put a lot of effort into working with customers to make the loan application a success. The final decision is usually made by an independent underwriter but the local business manager does make a case to them if the initial application is unsuccessful.

Each bank will have slightly different criteria, but the underlying things to consider include:

  • Banks are more likely to lend if there is some security being offered, ie the business has a premises or some assets that can be used.
  • The customer’s history is taken into accounts. Long-term customers with a good record (eg no unauthorised overdrafts) are more likely to get a loan…..and at a better rate.

The key thing that came up was that you are much more likely to successfully get a loan if you have good quality financial records. The bank wants to see that you are managing the financial side of your business every month. If they have confidence in that, they’ll have confidence that you can manage the loan repayments.

This is exactly what we tell our clients, and what we can help you with! For example, our business strategy service gives you all of the information you need to monitor your business and support a loan application.

Overall, it was a really interesting session and we’d like to thank Barclays again for inviting us to be part of the expert panel.

Any questions?

If you would like to arrange a free meeting with a Liverpool accountant to discuss your accounts or an application for lending, either at our office or at your premises, please contact us on 0151 724 3960 or by email at [email protected].

Alternatively, you can use our website contact form.

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Added by Jon Davies

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