My name is Lorna and  I run the financial side of things here at VirtualStudio.TV. I have been encouraged by the team to start writing blogs for a while and this is my first attempt! After reading an article in the Sunday Times this weekend about how much Banks have changed in the last 25 years I felt it was a good time to add my opinion to this topic.

I worked for one of the High Street Banks many years ago. Since then there have been huge changes in banking, and having spent more than 20 years running my own businesses, I feel very few have been positive! Back then we then had a Bank Manager who was in charge of a particular branch or in some cases in rural areas 2 or three branches. They were part of the community and knew their customers and their needs very well.

Now when I ring the Bank who deals with our business, I am rarely connected to the same person twice. More often than not, I can’t speak to that person immediately but have to wait up to 24 hours for a response to my call. Then I have to go through the whole story again to the so called “Business Manager”. Not the best way of building up a relationship with your bank – hence I very rarely ring the Bank!

When we do make an appointment to meet with someone in the branch, we meet with a person who is very polite but you could write on the back of a stamp their knowledge of the needs of small businesses.

Since Banks have centralised lending decisions, small business owners are shunted around and are at the mercy of so called relationship managers many who have little or no knowledge about business.

In the so called good old days, Bank Managers knew their customers and their businesses well – they knew who was a real risk regarding lending and who wasn’t and they had almost complete autonomy to sanction loans or not as the case may be.

I’m not advocating going back to the old days but it would be so good if Banks could educate their Business/Relationship Managers in the real needs of businesses instead of having a sheet where they tick box questions appearing on that sheet.

I think some of the problems with Banking in general over the last few years could be down to the fact that the personal touch gone and I think that we need to get this back into Banking as soon as possible.

This probably won’t happen but I can always live in hope!!

I would love to hear what other people think about the developments in banking in the UK over the last 25 years.

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Lorna Malone