Big Banks Roll Out 14 Promises in ‘Customer Charter’

Customer Charter for Small & Medium Enterprise Clients

This is the first time RBS and NatWest say it has formally published a charter of this kind. “It’s an enduring commitment to our Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) customers,” the banks said. “One that will evolve over time as we continue to consult with all our stakeholders, and principally the organizations that represent business, with which we are already working closely.”

RBS says it will report regularly and fully on its progress, an initiative it’s including undera wider organizational commitment to openness and transparency.

We will help businesses to start up and grow by:

  • helping with cashflow: for the first two years of trading, offering free transactional banking when you start up a new business 1. We help more than 100,000 businesses to start up each year. It is our intention to continue doing so and to remain the market leader for start ups.
  • providing advice and support: through our Relationship Managers and dedicated Business Hotline (telephone number 0800 092 3087 or visit our website).
  • providing free guides, on-line cashflow tools and regular local training seminars: we will adapt these facilities based on feedback from customers.

We will provide access to finance for SMEs by:

  • providing loans and overdrafts to viable businesses: over the last two years we have provided over £60bn of gross new lending to SMEs. It is our intention to continue to make this level of support available to viable business propositions. We will support all reasonable applications from viable businesses 2 and we will continue to provide access to Government lending schemes such as the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG).
  • providing overdrafts on a committed basis: recognizing that businesses need to know their access to working capital is secure, overdrafts will remain in place for the entire term of the agreement unless there is a breach of the terms and conditions of the overdraft.
  • providing support to businesses facing short term financial difficulties: through our specialist teams whose focus will be returning businesses to good health.

We will be fair and transparent on pricing by:

  • extending our overdraft Price Promise: this commits us not to increase the margin on overdrafts on renewal unless there has been a material change in the risks associated with the business.committing not to charge arrangement fees on loans or overdraft facilities of more than 1.5% per annum 3: this means that even if we need to review your overdraft more than once per year (e.g. where you ask for additional facilities), we will still charge no more than 1.5% per annum.
  • providing guidance on the factors that determine loan pricing: our Guide to Lending Pricing explains the factors which influence loan pricing.

We will be transparent when making lending decisions by:

  • always explaining the reasons for our lending decision: we will clearly explain the basis for our lending decision including how we assess whether a business is viable.
  • helping you to structure your borrowing and present your business proposition: we will work with you to determine the optimal lending facility and provide guidance on how best to present your requests for lending to us.
  • offering you the right to challenge our lending decision: The Business Hotline gives you an additional route to challenge us if you disagree with our original lending decision.

These commitments will remain in place until at least the end of 2010 following which RBS and NatWest may alter some of the detail of these principles. However, the overarching themes are intended to be a long term commitment to our customers, typically customers with turnover of up to £25m.

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