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The argument for online financial assistance: are you for or against?

I went into my local bank branch recently to sort out some finances. I asked the person dealing with my request to please send me an email with all the information we’d just discussed. Their response was a shocking: “sorry sir, we don’t have access to email”!

I still can’t believe that in 2016, the age of efficient and timely customer engagement, one of the UK’s biggest banks doesn’t have access to this essential tool. In fact, the benefits of online banking as a whole are so cost and time effective, that using email and text to communicate with customers and vice versa, should be the norm. Or should it?

Atom Bank has embraced online wholeheartedly. This purely digital bank will never build a bricks and mortar branch. There is something hugely appealing about being able to conduct all your transactions remotely. The challenge however, will be to keep its interactions with customers more human than robotic. While we might enjoy the convenience of technology, it doesn’t quite have that reassuring personal touch – yet. On the other end of the spectrum is Metro Bank. It prides itself on offering an in-store customer experience that doesn’t rely on algorithms to see to its clients’ needs.

The future of finance

If we look at the broader picture though, the reality is that bank branches are closing across the UK. I can think of two reasons why, both linked to the surge in online banking: 1) less customers are visiting their bank branches and 2) banks can save on expensive overhead costs. All well and good, but what about those customers who are elderly and without smart technology? Or those who prefer the personal touch – no matter how digitally connected they are?

The issue with traditional finance – and trying to access it via offline routes – is that it can be a very laborious process. When a small business needs funding, for example, its owner may need to make many trips to the bank to push the application and approval process along. This could include standing in long queues or having to wait lengthy periods to speak to the right person. Essentially, it uses up precious time that could be better spent building the business.

While a face-to-face approach creates a personal feel, the bank’s employees still have to input everything into a computer in order to process loan applications and they don’t take the time to learn the intricate details of the businesses they work with.

In my opinion, the financial institutions that will stand the test of time are those that can combine the old-school expertise and personal touch of a traditional high street bank, with the online speed, flexibility and transparency of peer to peer business lending.

At Nucleus, we have an online portal that enables SMEs in need of funding to submit their applications quickly. Our technologies are used to process the paperwork faster, not decide who qualifies for funding and who doesn’t. With the admin taken care of, our very human financial team can spend more time understanding a business’ funding needs – and make a much more informed decision. Unlike a more traditional lender, we don’t have a one size fits all application for finance checklist. If the computer says no, we may still say yes.

If you don’t want to stand in a queue and you’d like to discuss your financial needs with our expert team, whether that be a business overdraft or asset funding, they are ready and waiting to hear from you – by phone or email.

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