Midland, Barclays lose market share

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The Independent Online
MIDLAND and Barclays are rapidly losing market share to Bank of Scotland and mainland European banks, as British companies shop around rather than establish long-term banking relationships, according to a survey by the Manchester Business School.

A fifth of the 670 finance directors who responded to the survey published in the latest issue of Financial Director magazine had changed banks in the past five years, with most making the switch in the last two.

The study carried out by Professor Doug Wood of the International Centre for Banking and Financial Services at the Manchester Business School found that less than 8 per cent of the sample confined their business to a single bank. While Lloyds and National Westminster were picking up as many customers as they were losing, European, US and Japanese banks seemed to have gained a foothold in a quarter of UK companies. Twenty-three per cent of respondents have increased the number of banks they deal with over the past five years.

The main strain on banking relationships is the level of fees and the introduction of new fees, closely followed by quality of service. Larger companies are more likely to argue over interest rates, while smaller ones are more worried by lending restrictions.

Only half of respondents believed their bank provided dependable support in a crisis, with the same proportion feeling the bank would stand by the spirit of its commitments. Clearing banks inspired less confidence in their customers than solicitors, accountants and merchant banks but outperformed stockbrokers, public relations and advertising agencies and consultants.

Bank of Scotland is regarded as the toughest bank, but it is felt to offer a better service. Smaller banks, such as the Co-op, Abbey National, Bank of Wales and Yorkshire, are considered less aggressive than the main high street clearers in terms of fees and pricing.

Half of respondents expected to expand their international operations over the coming years.

But although this is a potential growth area for the banks, they used their exisitng banks in only 60 per cent of transactions.