We will report regularly and fully on our progress, as part of a wider organisational commitment to openness and transparency that is already well established through our quarterly Corporate Reporting. NatWest supports more SMEs than any other bank. We have maintained this position through listening to our customers, understanding their needs and responding to them.
Confidence and trust are at the heart of our relationships and we recognise that the events of the past 12 months have tested this. As we rebuild our bank our SME customers are as important as ever to us, and now is a good time for us to set out the core business principles that we commit to in order to ensure that we are supportive, fair and transparent as we help businesses grow. This Charter sets out the basis for relationships with our SME customers.
Helping with cash flow: for the first two years of trading, offering free transactional banking when you start up a new business(1). NatWest helps more than 100,000 businesses to start up each year. It is our intention to continue doing so and for NatWest to remain the market leader for start-ups.
Providing advice and support: through our Relationship Managers and dedicated Business Hotline.
Providing free guides, on-line cash flow tools and regular local training seminars: we will adapt these facilities based on feedback from customers.
Providing loans and overdrafts to viable businesses: over the last two years we have provided over £60bn of gross new lending to SMEs. It is our intention to continue to make this level of support available to viable business propositions. We will support all reasonable applications from viable businesses(2) and we will continue to provide access to Government lending schemes such as the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG).
Providing overdrafts on a committed basis: recognising that businesses need to know their access to working capital is secure, overdrafts will remain in place for the entire term of the agreement unless there is a breach of the terms and conditions of the overdraft.
Providing support to businesses facing short term financial difficulties: through our specialist teams whose focus will be returning businesses to good health.
Extending our Overdraft Price Promise: this commits us not to increase the margin on overdrafts on renewal unless there has been a material change in the risks associated with the business.
Committing to charge arrangement fees on loans or overdraft facilities of not more than 1.5% when we arrange or review a facility(3).
Providing guidance on the factors that determine loan pricing: our Guide to Lending Pricing (PDF, 234KB) clearly explains the factors which influence loan pricing.
Always explaining the reasons for our lending decision: we will clearly explain the basis for our lending decision including how we assess whether a business is viable.
Helping you to structure your borrowing and present your business proposition: we will work with you to determine the optimal lending facility and provide guidance on how best to present your requests for lending to us.
Offering you the right to challenge our lending decision: Business Hotline gives you an additional route to challenge us if you disagree with our original lending decision.
These commitments will remain in place until at least the end of 2012 following which we may alter some of the detail of these principles. However, the overarching themes are intended to be a long term commitment to our customers, typically customers with turnover of up to £25m. We will continue to offer competitive pricing on all new loans.
1. Free banking means that the charges for the day to day running of your account (known as your 'service charge') will not apply during the free banking period. At the end of this period, you will automatically move to the Standard Tariff.
Charges for "Additional Services" and "Unarranged Borrowing" are not part of the free banking offer. Free banking applies to businesses that started trading within the past twelve months with projected or existing annual turnover not exceeding £1 million.
2. Subject to the prudent management of the Bank’s balance sheet.
3. Effective from 5 July 2011. Our commitment on maximum arrangement fees is subject to: (i) a minimum fee of £150 and (ii) customers remaining within Terms of their facility. It does not apply to (i) fees other than arrangement fees, for example, monitoring or security fees (ii) the property finance sector (iii) where we provide intensive support for businesses facing financial difficulties. Where we provide intensive support, fees will reflect additional work, but we will offer the ability to add any fees to the overall facility to help manage cashflow or (iv) transactions supported by our Structured Finance business.
4. All figures, commitments and claims relate to RBS Group.