2014 SME Growth Charter
Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, as part Lloyds Banking Group, has made a new set of pledges to help support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) throughout the coming year, in its latest SME Charter.
The UK’s five million SMEs are the bedrock of our economy and as such it is their confidence and growth that will underpin the economic recovery as it continues during 2014.
The new Charter builds on the commitments first set out by the Group in 2009, and is focused on helping SMEs seize opportunities for growth, as part of the Group’s stated aim of helping Britain prosper. We want to ensure that the terms on which we lend to our SME customers are fair and clearly understood; that they have access to affordable finance; and that we are providing the right support to help these businesses grow.
Our commitments to all our SME customers for the year ahead are as follows:
Access to finance – we promise to make more money available for SMEs, more easily
- Growing SME lending: We will grow our lending to SMEs by at least £1 billion net. Having grown our lending for three consecutive years (6% net in 2013) this pledge will help us maintain our growth, even when net lending across the banking industry as a whole is in decline.
- Making lending decisions locally: We will increase the maximum amount our most senior managers can authorise locally within their own discretionary powers to £1m when renewing loans. This is in addition to the £500,000 discretion we allow for new lending. Lloyds Banking Group is one of the only banks that gives local discretion to its managers and the policy plays a crucial role in delivering a fast local service and growing the bank’s lending across the UK.
- Boosting support for exporters: We will increase our trade finance lending, used by businesses when exporting across the globe, by 25% in 2014.
- Signposting alternative sources of finance: We will signpost start up and micro businesses to community finance providers where they may be best able to help and suitable growth businesses to equity providers including the Business Growth Fund and business angel networks.
Transparency – we promise to be clear about the terms on which we lend and the decisions we make
- Ensuring fair pricing: We will continue to cap our arrangement fees, so that we charge a maximum of 1.5% subject to fixed minimum levels.
- Offering discounted lending: We will continue to provide discounts of 1% on all SME term lending, through the Funding for Lending Scheme.
- Responding fast to appeals: We will respond to appeals on lending decisions faster than the industry as a whole and we will provide goodwill payments for any cases overturned. We commit to looking at 90% of appeals cases within 15 working days and we have led the industry in our approach to appeals, for example by recruiting a dedicated appeals manager.
Support – we promise to provide a wide range of help to businesses, whatever their stage of growth
- Helping start ups: We will help 100,000 start-ups get off the ground, drawing on the expertise of our local business managers across the UK; their local business networks; and our dedicated recruitment centre.
- Launching more digital and mobile services: We will launch new services this year, including an application which will allow SMEs to take card payments from their customers while on the move; as well as mobile banking for all our SME customers.
- Turning around businesses in difficulty: We will continue to work with customers whose businesses are in difficulty to bring them back to financial health. We have a track record of turning around 70% of those supported by our Business Support Unit and we will strive to maintain or exceed this turnaround rate.
- Providing access to mentors: We will provide an additional 200 mentors, who will offer wider business community support including to social enterprises, expanding our 400 strong network of enterprise mentors across Britain.
- Expanding training and credentials: We will provide professional accreditations covering banking and relevant business sectors for all our business and relationship managers.