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New British SME lender Shawbrook Bank challenges Lloyds and Barclays

London, UK (17/10/2011)

LONDON (SMEweb) Shawbrook joins the likes of Aldermore and Metro Bank as a new bank in the UK.

Shawbrook Bank, a new British lender, opens for business today challenging the Big Four Lenders, Lloyds Banking Group plc (LON:LLOY), Barclays plc (LON:BARC), Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS) and HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA). The bank joins other new British banks such as Aldermore and Metro Bank and will offer lending and savings products to small and medium–sized businesses, and individuals.

Shawbrook combines three financial businesses; Whiteaway Laidlaw Bank, Link Loans and the lending platform of Commercial First, and is 100 per cent financed by RBS Equity Finance. It will be chaired by Sir George Mathewson, who ran Royal Bank of Scotland (LON:RBS) up until 2006.

SMEs losing confidence in banks
A survey by Shawbrook has revealed that 89 per cent of SMEs in the UK believe the country's banks fail to use common sense when they make decisions about business loan applications.

The survey of over 800 SMEs shows that a significant number of SMEs feel banks are failing to make it easy for them to borrow, despite continued calls for banks to lend more freely to small businesses to help them grow.

Lending too "bureaucratic"
According to the research almost half (45 per cent) of SMEs questioned feel banks are too bureaucratic when dealing with small businesses, and only 6 per cent of SMEs questioned feel confident that banks are clear and transparent in their dealings with small business customers.

Owen Woodley, CEO of Shawbrook Bank said: "At a time when SMEs should be given all the help they need to grow and succeed, it’s worrying that so many feel they are up against a loan application system that is unclear and obstructive.

"Having access to the right finance at the right time is vital for an expanding small business —and so is having a straightforward and efficient lending process. It’s all very well for a bank to say the money for SMEs is there to lend, but if the process is bureaucratic and inflexible it means nothing but lost opportunities and slowed growth."

Lending through brokers
"We have chosen to operate through brokers rather than a branch network which makes us efficient and agile, and we make fast, robust decisions based on common sense and knowledge of our customers – not a computer score," Woodley concludes.

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