What European businesses want from their banks is getting the right banking services at the most reasonable cost.
Based on the factors that are specific to the customer’s own type of business, the most important thing is to match all of the available services to ensure that the bank supports all of the company’s business needs.
As a business owner, you need customized banking services tailored to your specific needs easily and with business-friendly policies. The top three factors you would need to monitor from a financial services provider are the cost of basic services, competitive interest rates for both savings and loans, and products and services that match your business needs.
In recent years, the demand has been growing for an omnichannel banking experience, which means making the same set of services available to you across all the channels, including face-to-face, digital and offline. You need to be able to perform the same banking operations, whether you use a website, a mobile app, a call centre, a bank’s branch, or any other available channels.
Although the dependence on physical banking in brick-and mortar street branches is reducing, an enhanced in-person environment at physical locations, with experts on hand, that helps you deal with activities, is still a strong plus point that helps business owners choose the right bank.
To cope with the requirement for omnichannel services, business operators have been selecting online banking services where they can use the same provider for all their business banking needs. Apart from legal reasons that require you to visit a physical branch – for example to open new accounts – all subsequent activities like applying for loans, requesting merchant services and setting up other financial services need to be actions available both digitally and by visiting a branch. Ease of access is a priority for business owners, using online tools rather than visiting a branch in person.
Also important is the degree to which banks are still relying on legacy bank interfaces, which are generally slow and difficult to use. The explosion of Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) has brought the digital age into the forefront for business owners in their demands for banking services that are fast, efficient and user-friendly. The same thing goes for older procedures that rely on paperwork and snail-mail. Businesses today expect the bank to operate in a wholly digital way, except for exceptional cases where legal requirements demand a piece of paper. Most small and medium-sized businesses have clear overall business goals, and discuss with their bank how the bank can support those. One of the most critical questions is whether the bank can support your business as it grows.
Typically the services the bank provides include:
- Checking accounts and structured savings accounts
- Short-term money accounts with attractive interest rates
- Overdraft facilities and lines of credit
- Debit and credit cards for company expenses, vendor payments etc.
- Employee checking accounts and credit/debit cards to assist in expense management
- SWIFT/IBAN account management, plus the provision of sub-IBAN accounts to facilitate ease of accounting
Easy funds transfer facilities at minimum cost
Businesses are working with banks that already have applications that support transactions online or via a mobile app. Promises of future implementations are not really good enough -they want to see an operational and fully functional service that matches what their customers and workers want and need.
Smaller banks do offer personalized attention that may not be available at a large corporation, but bigger banks tend to have a wider range of services and improved access. Most businesses are taking into account how much the volume and value of their financial transactions will grow in the medium and longer terms, and make sure that the bank has capacity to carry the business all the way.
If most of the company’s business is conducted in a single country, then a bank solidly based in the same area makes good sense, because you will have much better relationships and communications with an organization that shares the same culture and language as you. In Europe, most banks today provide uniform services for transactions anywhere in the EU, like mobile deposit and digital payments, so the location of the bank’s head office is less important.
As we write this, the pending departure of UK financial services may be significantly changing the banking scene. This is important because the UK financial services sector is by far the largest and most sophisticated provider of products and services for European businesses. The terms of the final agreement regarding financial services are unknown, but several service providers have already made plans to relocate from London to an EU-based operation. Companies that are doing business primarily in the EU are thoroughly evaluating what this could mean for them.
It is a good idea to read reviews of the situation on expert web sites, and always ask colleagues and friends any questions you may have.
To summarize, what most European businesses want from their banks is shaped by the common need to offer advanced digital operations for computer and mobile users at the lowest possible costs.
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