“In an increasingly difficult business climate, it comes as no surprise to learn that there has been a huge impact on inward investment into the UK. Combined with the strengthened pound over the last 18 months, we can but guess when we will see a successful turnaround.
In such turbulent times, it is vital that the banks make matters easier for inbound companies looking to invest in the United Kingdom. Understandably, there are procedures in place to prevent carousel fraud, money laundering etc, and these must be adhered to. However, we often hear from many banks how their “easy-open”, “seamless and, “relatively painless” account opening processes are, but, – it is very important that this happens in practice if the banking industry wants to support the UK’s image as a destination for inward investment.
One of our clients chose to use their own bank in their home territory Canada to help them in the UK as they thought, this would speed the process up due to familiarity, continuity etc. Interestingly, the Canadian bank encountered more issues, even with their own affiliated UK counter-part.
The Inward investment department of a different bank issued a 22 page form and requested the client to complete the questions. After much back and forth, when the process was nearly at a close, the bank, informed our client that their proofs of identity were subsequently now out of date. The entire process had taken over 4 months, however the bank had not warned the client of the danger of the ID expiring earlier in the process.
When we approached another bank to open an account for a different, foreign owned company, the bank requested that the directors present themselves to the bank by “walking in to the local branch”. Naturally, this was not possible, as the client was based in the United States – not Reading.
This is very surprising in light of the fact that the United Kingdom is placed 6th in Ease of Doing Business, with Singapore in at first place, followed by New Zealand and the United States in second and third.
Although it is understandable that additional checks are performed for new accounts being opened for international companies, it is vital that the banks recognise the role they play in attracting investment to the United Kingdom. Ensuring that an account is up and running in a timely fashion is a very important factor. For any company entering the UK, opening a bank account and VAT registration must be at the top of their “need to-do” list and if this process can be smooth, beyond legal requirements, it contributes valuably to the UK’s reputation.”
Paul Beare, Marketing Manager at Kevin Beare & Co
Published in Autumn edition of “Network”, by BritishAmerican Business.