Test banking for small business

When you’re setting up business bank accounts, you barely have time to scour through the Aussie market, let alone swing by the international scene for kicks. Financial comparison gurus, on the other hand, have all the time in the world – along with an unhealthy interest in product disclosure statements.

So when Mozo was putting together our new business banking comparison service, we thought we’d take a look at how Australian business bank packages stack up against those of the UK.  You’d like to think a more robust economy that isn’t teetering on a gut-wrenching debt precipice would fare pretty well in the financial services stakes – especially now that the taxpayer is guaranteeing savings and all that.

But you’d be wrong.

In Australia, your typical business bank package looks something like ANZ’s Business Select Package, which offers unlimited transactions, internet banking and free debit cards for a somewhat hefty $32 a month – on top of which you’ll pay for credit cards, terminal fees and the like. Basically, no free business lunch, and certainly no free account.

In the UK, by contrast, they’re giving away business accounts. HSBC offers 24 months’ free business banking. Lloyds counters with 18 months free, plus free business software. Santander goes for free day-to-day banking, without expiry, so long as you deposit £3000 (AUD$4500) a month. And Barclays offers two years free plus business seminars and “free expert advice in your crucial first months”.

Which all seems fair – after all, does ANZ really face $32 a month worth of costs for a simple transaction account? And it makes the likes of Westpac look particularly stingy: their Business Foundations package offers “savings” of up to $1,100, including “a 25% discount off Financial Management Workshop 101” – for which course they only charge you $665. But think of the savings!

The obvious question is, why the difference?

And the only answer we can suggest is that financial comparison sites such as Money Supermarket have been around for almost two decades in the UK, while over here it’s a much younger market (Mozo started up just three years ago). Meaning there’s been less informed banking in Australia, and so less need for competition.

If you want a better answer still, why not ask your financial provider why they’re happy to let British banks show them up?

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