Barclays to meet SME lobby group
The SME Alliance – a small business group that lobbies for fair treatment by banks and advisers – said it will hold quarterly meetings with Barclays in what is is expected to kick-start a raft of regular engagement with British lenders.
The group has also approached Royal Bank of Scotland about holding meetings, and agreed with Lloyds Banking Group to do the same once all the cases linked to fraud at HBOS Reading are closed.
It is understood that Lloyds and SME Alliance are in regular dialogue already in regards to HBOS Reading matters. SME Alliance representatives will hold their first sit-down with a senior executive of Barclays’ business banking unit on October 10.
While Barclays has not been plagued with the same small business scandals that have affected peers such as Lloyds and RBS, the move is notable given the lobby group’s efforts to expose fraud at some of the UK’s largest lenders.
SME Alliance founder and director Nikki Turner said: “We’re not just going in to say, ‘You’re terrible banks and look at this and look at that’.
“We need a genuine dialogue with the banks because… if we can’t put things across to them in a non-litigious way then we’re never really going to get off the ground, we’re never going to stop this ‘them and us’ [mentality].”
Mrs Turner spearheaded a report in 2009 that is credited with uncovering fraud at HBOS in Reading and helping put some of its bankers in jail.
That case led to corrupt financiers being jailed over a £245million loans scam, which destroyed several businesses and saw profits squandered on high-end prostitutes and luxury holidays. HBOS was acquired by Lloyds Banking Group at the height of the financial crisis.
The SME Alliance founder is also the mastermind behind a fresh probe into RBS’s treatment of small firms by its now-defunct Global Restructuring Group.
Mrs Turner said she has also been holding meetings with Financial Conduct Authority chief executive Andrew Bailey.
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