Thursday, 10 May 2012

Research File: Banking on it

The financial crisis caused by the banks have given rise to a lot of uncertainty about the banking industry in general. People are wary as to which banks to trust if not, understandably angry. The advent of the Occupy Movement is, if nothing else, a reflection of this.

WildeHeads has no political particular agenda or affiliation other than to encourage the community in its broadest sense to connect to brainstorm for solutions. That is very much part of its ethos and purpose. In essence what people are doing is looking for new ways of doing things in the aftermath of the crisis – hence the UK government’s ‘Big Society’ idea.

When it comes to the banks themselves there are many reasons why sticking with the high street names of HSBC, Natwest, Lloyds, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland is a good idea. For others though it might not be.

It really does come down to identifying what you require from a bank and shopping around to find one that fulfils your individual requirements. At the Enterprise2Impact conference last year at Duxford (hosted by Social Enterprise East of England and Business Link), keynote speaker Arthur Potts Dawson outlined this point brilliantly when he went window shopping for the right bank account for his business, The Peoples Supermarket.

This is particularly relevant in the case of those of you running a company or organisation with a social ethic as it makes sense to bank with someone that understands that ethic to your own satisfaction and can provide products and services that fit in with how you function. The same goes for any other service (e.g. Insurance) vital to business.
The point is that by taking time to think about what your particular needs are, asking questions and shopping around, we are all more likely to find the bank that suits us best. In the same way as we have a choice over who provides our utilities and communication services, so we can choose who we bank with.
All manner of factors can come into play, not least the legal structure of your organisation and these will help you to decide upon the right bank for you. For example, a CIC may find complete satisfaction with a high street bank or find they’re not supplying the full range of products and services that they need. It can depend on the organisation’s activities and way of trading as much as anything.
Here then are just five alternatives to think about, in no order of preference whatsoever and in no way endorsing any. The worth of whoever you choose to banks with is very firmly up to you to decide.
The Charity Bank
Credit Unions (a whole raft of them are available, so look for ones near you)
The Co-operative Bank
Finally tap in alternative banking or banks for social enterprises into a google search to find more.
Always remember that you are the customer and that banks are there to deliver the best products and services they can to secure and retain your business.

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