By Marcus Leach

British ‘micro businesses’ are being let down by their business banks, according to a new research report amongst UK small-to-medium sized businesses (SMEs).

While 43% of larger SMEs (with between 50 and 250 employees) have regular access to a business banking manager, only 16% of micro businesses (under 10 employees) are given this support.

The report, published by Metro Bank, which interviewed over 500 SME banking decision makers, revealed that not only are micro businesses less likely to be given the support and advice of a business adviser, micro businesses are also substantially less likely to successfully request a business loan. 29% of larger businesses have applied and been granted a loan in the last 12 months — as opposed to a tiny 2% of micro businesses.

This is despite micro businesses requesting significantly smaller amounts of money from their bank. Today’s research shows that only 19% of recent loan applications from micro businesses have been over £50,000, contrasted to the fact that almost all (92%) of larger SME loans request more than £50,000.

Larger businesses are more likely to request large amounts of money, but they are also far more likely to have the confidence to request money at all. Only 7% of micro businesses have turned to their banks for a loan in the last 12 months, with five times as many larger businesses (34%) searching for funding for their organisation.

This two handed treatment of businesses has not gone unnoticed by smaller businesses. A higher number of micro businesses (8%) answered that they were ‘very likely’ to look for another bank in the next year, compared to 6% of larger SMEs. This lack of attention has also had a clear impact on the relationship between bank and customer: only 11% of micro businesses state that they have a good relationship with their bank, as opposed to over double that of larger SMEs (but still only a figure of 23%). This has led to only 10% of micro businesses viewing their bank as a ‘trusted adviser’, in comparison to double that (but again this figure is only very small at 20%) of larger SMEs who feel the same.

Being denied a loan has more serious implications for the growth of smaller businesses than larger, as 82% of micro businesses said being denied the loan meant that the growth of their business will be restricted or stunted, as opposed to only 17% of larger SMEs.

“Clearly, smaller businesses are being let down by their existing banks," Mark Price, MD of Business and Commercial Banking, Metro Bank said.

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