Which banking services you get and how they are delivered to you will depend, to a large extent, on how you do your banking. There are three main channels – branch, internet and telephone - but they are not mutually exclusive. Some businesses need one, others use all three.
The traditional way of banking is to process all your transactions at your local branch. This service is available from all high-street banks and also some smaller banks (through arrangements with a high street bank to use their counter).
Plans by the high-street banks to close branches have generally been abandoned, so you still have a good choice of who to bank with if you want a branch account.
However, if you need to visit the bank every day to pay in cash or make withdrawals, convenience is key. Therefore, make sure your bank has a local branch, that it is in a good location and that it has good parking. And if you want to take advantage of the bank’s advice, also make sure it has a manager assigned to business banking.
Online bank accounts are becoming increasingly popular as banks improve the service and its availability. All the high street banks offer this service, as well as some of the former building societies and smaller banks.
The advantages are clear. With internet banking you can access your account, check your balance and make transactions 24 hours a day, seven days a week – all from the comfort of your own home or office.
You need a reasonable internet connection to take advantage of the service. Also see whether there is a set up fee or monthly charge for having an internet account. Ask for a trial period to check that it works efficiently. Also find out if there is a technical support line and what data security measures are in place.
Nearly all banks now offer telephone banking, which allows customers to call up, check account details and make transactions over the phone. The service is particularly good for those who work long hours, since it is usually available outside normal branch opening hours and may even offer a limited, 24-hour service. Access to telephone banking is normally free and calls are usually charged at local rates.
Some telephone services also offer business advice over the phone from a central advice centre.