Guide to Business Bank Accounts in the UK
It is vital to the success of most businesses to have a solid relationship with a bank. The business banking relationship takes some time to develop, so it is important to ensure that you are making the right choice at the outset.
There is a lot more choice around nowadays as business banking is no longer confined to the major High Street banks. Many of the building societies offer business current accounts and business savings accounts, and there is consequently a lot more competition, giving rise to some very good deals.
However most people still tend to automatically start their business banking accounts with the same bank that holds their personal current account. Whilst it certainly is a good idea to check out the offerings of your existing personal bank, it is inadvisable to just place your business banking with them without checking out the competition. Having said that, if your personal bank is running a competitive offering and you have a solid and positive relationship already in place, then you pay receive a higher level of business banking support from them.
Narrow your search down to those business banks within your preferred area. Arrange a meeting with their Business Banking Officer or equivalent and pay particular attention to the way you are treated.
Make sure you ask the Business Banking Officer the right questions. Here are some that we would consider fairly important:
Does the bank have a business banking team at the branch? Will you have a named person to deal with?
Will calls be routed straight to the business banking team or routed through an overseas call centre? Do they run full service telephone banking?
What are the charges on the account? Are there special deals for new customers? i.e. the HSBC account is currently offering 18 months of free free business banking facilities for companies with under a million pounds annual turnover.
Ensure the bank discloses all the ‘hidden’ charges i.e. for sending out letters.
Are you able to have a business overdraft facility straight away? If so, what are the costs and is it necessary to have a personal guarantee?
Do they offer internet banking?
Can they offer a business charge or credit card?
What interest do they pay on their savings and current accounts?
To properly compare business banking services, be meticulous and rate each business bank on the points above, and don’t forget to give each an assessment on their level of helpfulness, openness, courtesy and the degree of ‘comfortability’ with the bank and the banking personnel.