63% of SMEs haven’t switched business account provider in five years

A survey of 602 UK, French, and Polish small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has revealed they are sticking with traditional financial services providers despite new demands from digital-first businesses.

Over half now do some form of international business and a further 13 per cent expect to start doing so soon. In 2008, 60 percent of all transactions were paid in cash, but today 34 per cent of SME customers are paying by bank transfer, 23 per cent by cash, 23 per cent by credit/debit card and 19 per cent by other means.

Despite this, almost a quarter of SMEs have not switched business account provider since 2008. In total, 63 per cent have had the same provider for more than five years – with 27 per cent of UK respondents citing proximity to branches as key factor.

Just over a quarter of SMEs also stated they still visit a physical branch of their provider every day. Over half say they seldom or never call their provider and just under half seldom or never visit a branch. In contrast, 43 per cent of SMEs use web or app interfaces to manage their business accounts daily and a further 30 per cent do so weekly.

However, the findings suggest the status quo is set to change, with just under half of SMEs revealing that they are looking to change business account providers in the next 12 months.

In terms of what SMEs value in business account partnerships, security (89 per cent) ranked highest, followed by transparency of charges (89 per cent), low fees (86 per cent) and constant access to accounts (80 per cent).

Half of SMEs want a business account to be user friendly – the most popular attribute amongst respondents. Automation of regular tasks (28 per cent) and ‘perks’ (25 per cent) were the next two most desirable attributes.

“Most SMEs have stuck with longstanding, traditional business account relationships, but this is set to change,” said Vaidas Adomauskas, head of product at Revolut Business. “Today’s global SMEs are embracing accounting or collaboration solutions such as Xero and Slack, that make running a business easier – they’re looking for features that make running their business finances faster, more flexible, and more friendly toward global growth.”

The primary research was commissioned by Revolut Business and conducted by Sapio Research in November 2019. The sample was comprised of business owners, managing directors, senior managers, chief finance officers and financial directors, from SMEs with 1 to 250 employees. The sample covered several markets, including financial services, retail, professional services, manufacturing and hospitality.

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