And they've also told us about their business habits and the challenges being faced by small companies in these tough economic times. Above all, one of the main comments we heard was that SMEs throughout the UK were time poor.
"One thing that unifies SMEs is that they're very busy and that time is a very precious commodity," states Aldermore's Chief Operating Officer Paul Myers.
In a telephone interview, which you can listen to below, Paul explains how Aldermore's proposition was created after focused feedback from our customers. The online features available for new SME customers were all shaped and evolved from the comments of SME owners.
"Opening an account really is a very straightforward process and we believe that it demonstrates that Aldermore's committed to supporting and championing SMEs," Paul explains. "It comes with a promise that it will only take 15 minutes online. There's no need to submit paperwork or any other kind of identification or follow-up documentation."
But at Aldermore, we know that it is not simply a lack of time that currently holds back SMEs from reaching their full growth potential. Many smaller businesses have also expressed their frustration at the lack of funding options available to them from mainstream banks; a result of, among other factors, the computerised criteria systems used to assess eligibility for business loans.
"We have a very clear view that all of our lending decisions for SMEs are made by humans and we think that's a very important part of the proposition" asserts Paul. "We therefore employ people who understand SMEs and those decisions are therefore the best decisions that we can possibly make for lending propositions for a customer's particular circumstances."
These two initiatives come as part of a larger campaign drive by Aldermore to champion the needs of UK SMEs, a group Paul feels have not been given sufficient access to financial assets in the past.
"We're hugely supportive of anything that provides support for SMEs and in particular, in the current climate, encourages full availability of lending to SMEs to allow them to expand their businesses, keep their businesses going and also to invest for the future of those businesses," he affirms. Paul's comments come after the news that Aldermore had recorded £1bn worth of lending to SMEs across the United Kingdom. Speaking about the achievement, Paul adds:
"SMEs have got a vital role to play and it's important that organisations like ourselves and other banks are able to support those SMEs, whether that's through providing lending or, also in our case, providing competitive savings products to help those SMEs make the most of the cash that they have to spare."
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