SME survey shows optimistic outlook

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By The CA magazine

5 December 2016

A poll by ICAS and the Royal Bank of Scotland tells us that it’s a digital future, but SMEs need the banks to address today’s issues.

The Small to Medium Size Enterprise (SME) Survey, carried out in partnership with ICAS Practice Community Partner Royal Bank of Scotland, offers a unique insight into the ambitions and concerns of CAs across the country.

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Of the 131 responses, from CA practitioners acting for SME clients, there appears to be an optimistic outlook for their own businesses and that of their clients. Growth and activity have remained strong over the last three years.

Growth on the horizon

Half of the respondents reported growth despite a challenging environment, with 37 per cent saying their business had stayed at around the same size. Looking ahead, 47 per cent expect to see growth in their business.

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Banking services were also a major focus of the survey. The vast majority (87 per cent) agree that: “Digital banking is changing the way I/we interact with my/our bank.”

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Despite new technology, however, traditional challenges still loom large. More than half (54 per cent) reported that they were satisfied with the service they receive from their bank, but a similar number (52 per cent),  said they were not happy with the banking service their own clients receive.

It is heartening to note that many of the issues highlighted are challenges that we have already addressed or are working towards answering.

The survey suggests some don’t change who they bank with  because switching banks is perceived to be “too much effort”. What they would like to see more of from their bank includes: being more willing to lend (70 per cent), dealing with requests at the first point of contact (66 per cent) and generally being more efficient (51 per cent). Just one in five (17 per cent) was not happy with the general service their bank offered.

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Susan Fouquier, regional managing director for business banking in Scotland at the Royal Bank of Scotland, comments: “Clearly, the banking and finance sector in general needs to look at how best to serve its customers, but it is heartening to note that many of the issues highlighted are challenges that we have already addressed or are working towards answering for our clients.

Boosting Scottish businesses

“We are already investing heavily in our digital services but understand that no matter how safe and secure the technology we can offer, face-to-face engagement is still a priority for many. We are looking to further boost Scottish business by launching 11 Business Growth Enablers across Scotland.”

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She added: “Thanks to members’ feedback through this survey, and our community partnership with ICAS, we are in a position to hear what the sector requires – and to work with CAs to help provide the service they need.”

Read more about the survey in the November 2016 edition of CA magazine.

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