In praise of bankers?

Over the last three or four years, a lot of words, both written and spoken (some of them four letter) have been wasted on the subject of the British banking system. We are often reminded that the bankers are to blame for the mess we currently find ourselves in – probably not strictly true, the blame lies more with the spineless administrators who let them get away with corporate homicide on the basis that they were making huge “profits” and were the backbone of our economy. We have even been asked to forgive them their ridiculous bonus schemes, which appear to be based on attending work rather than contributing anything positive.

It is now easier for a Taliban insurgent to get a job as a security guard than for any one individual or company to borrow money from a bank If you want to buy a house, you have to take both great grandparents with you as collateral on the loan, and only then if they were both members of the upper class before the First World War. The “cheapest” loan on the market now means that by the time you have finished completing the paperwork you already owe them more money than Greece.

And yet, I find myself in the extremely odd position of complimenting our bank for one of their services. Yes they charge us every time we use online banking and for writing to me to tell me that they are no longer going to write to me, but without them, we would be significantly worse off. One of our clients, thinking they could bully us by virtue of being a much bigger company than us, decided they were only going to pay half the money they owed us. No reason, we hadn’t done anything wrong or not provided the correct service, they just decided not to pay us.

Reason didn’t work, and without the help of our bank we wouldn’t have got anywhere. However, for a monthly fee (obviously), we have access to a credit tracking system whereby we get information on our customers’ creditworthiness. It’s quite useful, but the best bit of it is that if you follow all the guidelines, you are able to have free advice from a firm of commercial lawyers, which includes all the legal action letters and prospective court action. We received part of the money quite quickly, but the client was still messing us around, so we stepped up to the next level, and were within thirty minutes of issuing a CVA, which would have closed their business down.

We got all the money we were owed, which in this day and age is probably more important than new business. As they say, cash is king, but without this service, we could have gone to the wall ourselves. My advice on this beautiful spring day is this – ask your bank if they have such a service, because frankly it is one monthly bank charge I would advise everyone to pay.

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