Jack Spratt
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Which bank should we move to?

Which bank should we move to?

The company has banked for many years with RBS but because it is based in England the branch is being sold to Santander and there is no way the company is going there.

So where should it move to?

It has very simple needs - no overdraft or loan facility is needed; nobody has been to a branch for years; a few cheques are paid in; very few cheques are written; most transactions are on line so a good online system is wanted. 

I have experience of Barclays and NaWest (RBS) online systems - and prefer NatWest as it is smoother and easier to get through the security stuff.

Which bank  do you recommend?


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09th Aug 2012 10:24

None....they are

 all the same (not in a good way!)...sorry not what you wanted to hear....

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09th Aug 2012 10:39

HSBC are okay, sometimes annoying but better than alternatives.

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09th Aug 2012 10:48

There were some good pointers on this;-


particularly from Mr Scholes.


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By dreamcatcher
09th Aug 2012 10:56


Natwest for purely online banking are great (if you don't count the recent problems).  The system generally works well and I've never wanted to do something I couldn't.  In the past I've recommend Natwest business banking to clients.  Previously I was with Halifax, which had an awful online banking system in comparison and even worse customer service.

However I am considering changing banks myself as I feel that Natwest haven't given me great service in recent months on a couple of occasions.  One on which was an attempt to open a new business bank account, which took 3 appointments in my local branch.

Personally I'm considering switching to Co op or Yorkshire bank so I will be interested to see if either of these get recommended or not as the case may be.

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By merlyn
09th Aug 2012 10:57

I started a business account

I started a business account with Natwest 2 months ago, then 2 weeks later I got told all their online business accounts are being moved to Santander.



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09th Aug 2012 11:29

Can you walk in and shout?!

A new 'set up' client of mine has trawled around each bank and my advice is the same as I gave to her...

Each bank is attractive to different types of company and business and they will attract you with free charges at the beginning but in the end you have to look for whether they will suit your business and your clients business.

I was with good old Abbey before it was taken over by Santander. With Abbey we had a brilliant business manager who was always available. Now with Santander it is different. The same managers have had their areas widened so that ours now covers the whole of the South West from Exeter to Southampton so you are just one of many, many; you have to leave emails or mobile phone messages and book an appointment days in advance if not weeks.

Even tho Tim was a good business adviser we therefore went to HSBC - for one reason and one reason only..... there was a business manager always onsite and hence you could go into the branch and shout at them should anything go wrong and it was dealt with immediately. I know you say your account needs are basic but you never know when a problem may arise. Also - you may want to expand locally and therefore need an adviser who knows the lie of the land. Impossible with just online banking.

However...be aware... HSBC are not having a good time of it (which bank is!) and the branch in the large village where I have my second office has just closed and taken its ATM with it. Inconvenient as you now have to go into the nearest town which is a nightmare parking (I still have clients who love to pay by cheque).


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09th Aug 2012 12:53

I'm also considering changing banks, but mainly because I want to collect my monthly fees by direct debit.  Santander don't offer this facility (and I've also read they are about to renage on their promise of no fees for my account, ever, promise) so I'm hoping to find a bank that does.

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09th Aug 2012 13:12


I met with Handelsbanken yesterday, who were quite interesting so worth looking at.  Literally carving up the UK banking market opening a new branch every few weeks.  They are a Swedish Bank and they features on the "safest" bank in the world list. 


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09th Aug 2012 14:10

Good morals too

Co-Op's Business Direct account is cheap, cheerful and the one drawback of it has been a lack of a branch network; it's nice to pay cheques in locally sometimes.  But with Co-Op's acquisition of a chunk of Lloyds then you may well find that this flaw is addressed at some stage.

And they're good human beings, with good ethics and no shareholder-profits driver.  


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By a_m
09th Aug 2012 15:37

Depends on your requirements!!!

I am with Santander and never experienced any problems - best of all its FREE.....!!!!!

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to Btownzack
15th Aug 2012 14:50

not for much longer

I've had a business account with Abbey National - now Santander for almost 10 years. Now Santander have written to me to say the account will not be 'free for ever' as promised by Abbey National, as they are 'upgrading' me to a £7.50 per month account. I have moved the majority of my businsss surplus cash to ING.

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09th Aug 2012 19:07

The Reliance

Just to reiterate Time for a change's reference above, I moved my simple business banking to The Reliance Bank in December and it's been great, you speak to humans who care and they are about as ethical as you can get.

It's the old Salvation Army bank, but don't let that put you off, I'm not religious but have seen the great work the organisation does and had no hesitation trusting them with my millions (not).

Internet banking works fine and they allow you to nominate a local big 4 bank to pay in cheques.  I have a personal co-op account but it was the Post Office queues that put me off when paying money in.


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09th Aug 2012 21:00


Changed to Handelsbanken at the beginning of the year. Easy change over, good online facility. So far so good.

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09th Aug 2012 22:08

HSBC online

In my view HSBC's online offering knocks the rest - and especially Barclays - into a cocked hat.

With HSBCs special dongle, a client can grant me access to view bank accounts he or she nominates.  So:

1.  Easy to give more regular updates.

2.  I never need to ask for copy statements.

The history kept online also goes back a few years too.

However, there may be other factors locally.  For example, in my home town Nat West has a really strong team - as does HSBC - so I recommend Nat West as number 2.  But just 12 miles down the road the nat West team is really slow and not that knowledgeable so in that town I recommend Lloyds as number 2 to clients there.

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09th Aug 2012 23:08

Metro Bank

Has anyone had any experience with Metro Bank? They are only based in London at the moment but extensive growth plans and are fairly ground breaking in some ways opening 7 days a week etc.


Thinking they might be a good alternative to Santander given 'Free Banking for Life' is soon to be no more apparently.

Handelsbanken looks interesting too, must have a look at them.

@ Mr Mischief I wasn't aware of the HSBC facility for clients to give access to their statement, are they the only bank with that feature, do you know?


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15th Aug 2012 11:39

Stay with RBS !

Because we have never had any problem with RBS (even recently) we actually WANTED to stay with RBS as we also do all our banking on line and find the RBS Bankline is just perfect !

You CAN in fact STAY with RBS ... this is not generally known ... by simply asking to move to one of their Scottish Branches !!  Ask for the switcher team and they'll be happy to move your account with the minimum of fuss.

I think our costs have gone up by only £5 monthly over the old arrangements, a price we are happy to pay to avoid Santander with their customer service reputation.


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By zxcvb
15th Aug 2012 12:44


In the process of changing to them from NatWest/Coutts.


Very impressed so far.


Called yesterday to register debit card, operator recognised my voice - "Hi Bob, glad you got it OK, is it convenient for me to drop the cheque books in to you on Friday"


Never experienced anything like it before! :)

Full change over can't come fast enough!!

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By kelvin
to I'msorryIhaven'taclue
15th Aug 2012 15:33


I am among the millions whose RBS accounts have been sold to Santander and am unhappy about the situation.


Having read about Handelsbanken in the Telegraph, I was quitre impressed.


My only concern is that in the 15 years I have been with RBS, I have never paid bank charges - other than a £4 bounced cheque fee here and there when a client's cheque has not been honoured.

I have never had an overdraft or loan and I assume RBS has been happy to make a "turn" on lending out my monies deposited with them.


What is the position with Handelsbanken charges?


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15th Aug 2012 12:46


I have banked with HSBC for 4 years and had just one bank charge in all that time for paying in cash.

I opted for their business direct account, which is meant to be mainly online but still provides bank statements on paper although I can view bank statements online as well as all recent transactions. Included FOC is the facility to write and bank up to 5 cheques per month.

They do charge for the facility to use foreign transactions at £6 per month, but provided you make it clear you don't need the facility they don't charge for this either.

My local branch has always been great, I can see the business manager normally the same day, she is friendly and approachable and deals with my needs quickly.

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15th Aug 2012 13:27


I agree with Ralarsen - HSBC.  Ask for a business direct account.  Free banking for life if your needs are simple, turnover less than £0.5m and even if you go over the 5 cheques limit only a nominal charge is made.  Good online banking and a mainstream bank.  Also a £50 referral fee if you refer anyone (which as you can see I do!). 

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15th Aug 2012 13:42


Another plus 1 here for HSBC.

The online statements go back for 10 years!  The online payment system is the best one I've used and I think I've used most of the competition's offering. I found NatWest to be the most awkward online system.

As you say that there are very few payments in by cheque and everything is online, ask for an electronic tariff and you should avoid all charges like some of the other posters, including myself.

Good luck.

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15th Aug 2012 15:01

Handelsbanken protection

those who have opened accounts - have you fully checked your exposure to a failing bank.. i believe that although this is a swedish instituion, protection is afforded first in sweden under swedish compensation

i do like these guys, but for SME's with all eggs in one ltd co basket may be a bit risky?   at least the irish banks were covered in the uk, under the UK protection regime [as opposed to the icelandic banks where i recall claims were to sovereign/bankrupt state ]

surplus funds to put in notice accounts -can be negotiated, unlike most other banks at present


so please do your own research - be interested in the readership comments/views  on protection v services

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By jonsa
15th Aug 2012 15:53


Just read their leaflet, which states:

Beyond Handelsbanken’s own financial strength and stability, depositors with the bank are covered by the Swedish Deposit Guarantee Scheme. This provides compensation of up to EUR 100,000 for each eligible depositor, the same EU-wide

level upon which the UK compensation scheme is now based. However, it is worth noting that the protection afforded by the Swedish scheme also includes larger customers.

So, kiwilondon99, you have protection from one of the world's top ten strogest banks.  I do not even bank with them - yet.

Kelvin asks about charges - look up your local branch online and phone them - surprise - you will speak to someone at that branch!



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By smallbeancounter
15th Aug 2012 19:04

HSBC & Lloyds

We have a small tourism business. HSBC closed our local branch so we had to switch to Lloyds, now the only branch of a clearing bank left in our town (which used to have all the old "big 4", Midland, Barclays, Lloyds, Natwest). Thankfully we kept our HSBC account open. Within a few weeks we have given up on Lloyds and now use them only for paying in cash and buying change. All our "serious" banking business has gone back to HSBC even though we have to send the occasional customer's cheque to them in the post. But cheques will be completely dead for retail customers within 5 years. We are now scouting round for somewhere else to buy change - the combined charge for one business to pay in change and another to buy it is over 3% so there must be a deal to be done. And anyway, Lloyds keeps running out of change, literally. They get one delivery a week and it's never enough. Saturday is the last day you can get any before Tuesday when the next delivery arrives. So Lloyds get 2 out of ten and HSBC 8 so far as we are concerned.

OTOH a friend of mine who owns a business turning over hundreds of millions of pounds with over a thousand employees swears by Lloyds and thinks they are great. So perhaps his advice is better than mine, he does after all drive a new Bentley, and I don't.

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15th Aug 2012 20:10


Our very simple business has been with Investec for some18 years. The service has been excellent although it is necessary to hold an average monthly balance of £10,000 to attract a small interest receipt and avoid charges. Its main disadvantage is that it has not offered a direct debit facility in the past. There is a useful on-line facility.

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By lme
16th Aug 2012 08:19


I don't understand why no one has mentioned the Co Op Yet.

If you join the FSB (federation of small businesses) Co op gives you free business banking for life and I even earn noticeable interest and bonuses on the small amount of cash I have in there. I've always been happy with the service, I do nearly everything on line.

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By Old Greying Accountant
to mr. mischief
22nd Aug 2012 13:38

I'm sorry ...

lme wrote:

I don't understand why no one has mentioned the Co Op Yet.

If you join the FSB (federation of small businesses) Co op gives you free business banking for life and I even earn noticeable interest and bonuses on the small amount of cash I have in there. I've always been happy with the service, I do nearly everything on line.

... but Marion, in post 9. mentioned the Co-op!

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16th Aug 2012 08:36

Ethics & Bank charges

lme - I think the Co-Op and similar banks are more likely discussed in terms of best practice, ethics, Corporate greed, CSR etc etc on threads such as this rather than in in terms of free banking and where you will see mention of banks such as HSBC & RBS.

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By lme
16th Aug 2012 10:11

agree a major advantage of Co op is its ethics and that its a mutual - which I presume is why I seem to get so much back for just having a regular business account. But it does offer free banking so I think that's also relevant. I see a lot of clients paying very high charges or getting virtually no interest on quite large balances. 

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16th Aug 2012 17:57

Appreciate the advice-cheers!

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17th Aug 2012 10:54


Another HSBC fan here if you do everything on-line - works perfectly for us last 4 years 

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21st Aug 2012 12:30

Staying with RBS

It is true that it is perfectly possible to remain with RBS especially if you have no need of a physical branch to go into.


Ask for their switch team (as already mentioned) and most probably you're account will be transferred to RBS head office in Edinburgh.  Simple as.....

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21st Aug 2012 15:29


I was also advised that they have no exposure to sovereign debt crisis or derivatives markets.

I have decided to start the ball rolling around moving my personal banking to them - the information they require suggests they really filter out unwanted customers. 



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21st Aug 2012 17:33

Experience with RBS/Natwest and HSBC

Natwest is OK for bog-standard stuff, and they do have a useful iPhone/Android application that allows you to check balances, make inter-account transfers, and execute payments to payees that have already been set up with online banking.

The app uses its own login and you do not require your PIN card reader etc.

On the negative side, the NatWest online banking still cannot let you make payments to the same payee bank account with different payee reference (eg. EXPENSES, DIVIDEND, SALARY).

NatWest in our experience are very slow and bureaucratic to set up a new business account - after a week we gave up and went to HSBC for an account for a new business.


In contrast, HSBC:

- opened a business account on the spot - we made an appointment (Saturday morning!), took in company details, photo id and other proofs of identity, and walked out an hour or so later with an account number and security keyfob giving access to the online banking

- gave us a business credit / payment card to help manage cash flow (paid off automatically each month)

- does let you set up multiple payments for the same payee account, different reference.

- has terminals in the bank so you can do online banking in the branch, if you have the keyfob

On the negative side, the HSBC mobile app still requires the keyfob to log in, but otherwise is similar to the NatWest app in terms of facilities.

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21st Aug 2012 17:46

staying at RBS?

If I opt to stay with RBS, as I haven't been into my own branch for 10 years, will I keep the same sortcode and account no?

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22nd Aug 2012 13:25

Staying at RBS ?

Er ... no !

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By DMGbus
22nd Aug 2012 15:52

Free banking "forever" - Santander's exact words, August 2010

"  Free day-to-day business banking forever

While others may offer free business banking for 12 or 18

months, we give you free day-to-day business banking

forever – you’ll only be charged if you exceed the agreed

limits. And with our e-banking and telephone services you

can access your business account anytime, wherever you

are. Apply for your Santander Business Account today.

Why choose the Santander Business Account?

Free day-to-day business banking forever: provided

you keep within our agreed limits. Please see below for

details.   "


Above copied precisely from Santander webpage August 2010.


I wonder if Santander are now in breach of contract by breaching their "forever" promise?

Maybe the get out is "force major" or similar - as in something really serious like state of finances - having taken over RBS business accounts they can't afford to offer free banking to all customers?

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23rd Aug 2012 13:17

make me an offer


well contractually then they are st***d

ask them to make a serious compensation offer to vary the banking contract- surely they will ?

just as they would vary their charges when you walk in  and ask for more interets and or less fees/charges

they do dish out the compensation when they make a real clanger !  [flowers £  and case of wine -  for not setting a limited co up to receive interest gross - despite a comment in the covering letter to this point when returning ALL the paperwork ]

no it is a take it,  or leave and go somewhere else , not even a 'fait de complis'

 just like S now hiking personal mortgages with free govt handouts.  they really do take the biscuit though

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By sidar
04th Feb 2013 12:05


I have just moved both my personal account and my business account to Handelsbanken. So far, I highly recommend them, for the reasons mentioned above, including

- Personal service from someone who you know - and who gives you both their email and mobile phone no

- Small branches (10 people or so) but still they make something like 95% of the decisions in the branch. No call centres, offshore or otherwise, no phone menu systems.

I had banked with Smile for a number of years but lately their service has gotten worse and their IT systems seem to be messed up somehow, so that for over a month I have not been able to make any online payments. They now tell me that they finally know that this is supposedly not some strange issue only affecting me but also affecting lots of other customers so they will be looking into it. It's a shame as I really liked their ethical stance, but Handelsbanken actually has some pretty good ethical values as well.

Most customers need to pay a monthly fee with Handelsbanken though - which you need to keep in mind, but it's not much and in my opinion well worth it.





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