Daily News: March 30, 2015

Greenwich: Positive Signs for Small Business, Mid-Market Banking

For the past two years, small businesses and mid-sized companies have become increasingly happy about the status of their banking relationships, according to a new study from Greenwich Associates.
For qualified borrowers, credit has been widely available at extremely favorable terms and conditions. At the same time, banks competing aggressively for sparse loan business have been rolling out the red carpet for good clients in terms of coverage and service quality.

More than 80% of mid-sized companies and 70% of small businesses participating in the study say they are satisfied with their banks and are not currently seeking a new provider. Those shares are up significantly from 62% of mid-sized companies and 58% of small businesses reporting their potential to switch providers in Q4 2013.

One-third of the small businesses and mid-sized companies expect their credit needs to increase in 2015. This long-awaited increase in loan demand shows that companies are finally feeling confident enough about their growth prospects to take advantage of banks’ willingness—even eagerness—to lend to high-quality borrowers.

Forty percent of the small businesses in Q4 2014 say credit is easier to come by today than it was a year ago. One-third of mid-sized companies say it’s easier to get credit, and another 23% say it is much easier.

“The combination of favorable credit conditions and building loan demand is good news for banks, companies and the economy as a whole,” sayid Greenwich Associates consultant Duncan Banfield. “That’s assuming the recovery in the U.S. can sustain its momentum this time around.”

Impact of Regulation

About one in three companies experienced a price increase for banking services in the past year. Although new compliance burdens on banks undoubtedly played a role in driving some of those increases, research results show that approximately 60% of mid-sized businesses and 55% of small businesses do not see new regulations as an acceptable excuse for higher prices.

“There is no doubt that new regulations are having some negative impact on the customer experience and customer satisfaction levels,” said Duncan Banfield. “But we strongly believe banks can minimize the negative effects by taking steps to deliver high-quality service and to find every opportunity to minimize the impact of new compliance and documentation requirements.”