No one starts a small business so they can spend time with their bank manager or their accountant. Britain’s 5.6 million small businesses make up 99.3% of all private sector firms in the UK and their output is vital to our economy. They are a thriving group, with the number of employing small businesses rising by 25% since 2000 and the number of sole traders up 82%. Despite the uncertainty of Brexit, this section of the business population is still largely optimistic about the future.
A persistent challenge, however, for businesses of this size is the burden of administrative tasks and the time and money that this eats up. According to a 2016 FSB study, the average small business owner spends more than 33 hours a month dealing with internal admin, with accounting, tax and business banking taking up the lion’s share of this time. Unsurprisingly, 55% of small firms said this negatively impacted their growth.
What respite is there in a financial world where paper forms still exist – as do clunky software integrations and application processes that take weeks to complete? The answer is simple: go with a digital-first bank. Chances are, you’ll save yourself time, energy and a whole lot of headache. Here are four reasons why.
READY, SET, SPEND
Joining a digital-first bank tends to be a much faster, simpler process. It takes an average of 11 days to set up a business bank account with some of the traditional banks, according to the FCA. Now compare that to digital-first Starling Bank, where applications take minutes – from a mobile – and your account could be up and running within a few days. In some cases, it can take a matter of hours. If you can’t wait for your card to arrive, then don’t – you can use Apple Pay and start spending the moment you’re approved. When your business hasn’t got weeks to wait around, a speedy application process like this can make a massive difference.
(THIRD) PARTY LIKE IT’S 2019
As readers of XU Magazine, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the concept of a financial marketplace (looking at you, Xero). Many fintechs and digital banks have them, albeit with pretty widely varied product offerings.
The Starling Marketplace was established in 2017. It puts customers at the centre of a wider financial ecosystem, allowing them to choose from a range of third party products and services. There’s something for virtually everyone. If you’re in the market for better cyber security, you’ve got CyberSmart and Digital Risks to choose from. On the lending side, there’s GrowthLine – Growth Street’s flexible lending product, which allows you to unlock cash tied up in assets like stock and unpaid invoices. The list goes on – and by the end of 2023, Starling aims to have 48 Marketplace partners.
We make sure you don’t pay more for products on the Starling Marketplace than you would by going direct to our partners. It’s what we call the Starling Promise. There’s no added markup, which isn’t the case for some challenger banks (naming no names).
JOIN THE UNBUNDLING REVOLUTION
Having plenty of partners to choose from is great – but not if that choice comes with a bunch of ifs, buts and restrictions. The innovative thing about the Starling Marketplace is that you can pick and choose the products and services you want – and cancel them at any point. For example, you can integrate your business bank account with Xero, so your statements are automatically synced. Through the Marketplace, you can view, manage or cancel that integration at any time. Customers should be in control of their own banking experience – so, we designed the Marketplace to help them do just that.
SAFE AND SOUND
When you think of a digital-first bank, various words probably come to mind. Mobile. Fast. Real-time. But what about safe? It’s important to note that not all banking apps are associated with licensed banks, which does come with a certain amount of risk. A bit of an anomaly in the digital space, Starling Bank is a fully-licensed bank. Adding that extra level of security, we’re also a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This means – should the worst happen and Starling folded – up to £85,000 of a customer’s deposits would be fully covered. Digital doesn’t have to come at the expense of security – and nor does a slick app have to come without the backing of a proper banking license. Always make sure you check how safe your money’s going to be, but know that there are lots of secure digital options out there.
So, there you have it: four reasons why digital-first doesn’t necessarily mean everything-else-last. If you’re looking to save time, stress and the faff of applying for third party products to help your business run more smoothly, then opening a digital bank account might just be the answer