Establishing the BBRS’ SME Liaison Panel
19 May 2021
I have spent the last two months talking to a range of people about how we can make the BBRS’ SME Liaison Panel a success – and how in turn that can contribute to the BBRS making a success of its important role. I have spoken to people representing SME organisations, people with first-hand experience of complaints against the banks where serious mistakes were made, people who have advised SMEs on banking complaints, and people involved in the set-up of the BBRS, including, of course, members of its multi-stakeholder Board.
I have been struck by a number of things. First, everyone I have spoken to is determined that the mistakes of the past must not be repeated. Secondly, everyone wants the BBRS to succeed. And, thirdly, everyone recognises that we can only judge the success of the service when we have experience of how it works in practice. I recognise that, as the BBRS begins to make its initial decisions, stakeholders will be looking for reassurance that it is working as intended, and that the eligibility criteria are operating fairly. It is therefore important that the panel can begin its work as soon as practically possible, seeking information from the BBRS and from users so that early experiences can support continuous improvement.
With BBRS approval, I have begun to appoint members to the panel immediately, with the first five members appointed subject to final checks, and with four places remaining.
The first five members bring personal and professional experience of SME complaints against banks, knowledge of the events leading up to the establishment of the BBRS, and strong connections with SMEs.
I would like the four remaining positions to be filled by SME business people from a broad range of businesses who can help the panel to ensure that the BBRS provides an exemplary Alternative Dispute Resolution Service for both historical and contemporary complaints. We will publish the full panel membership when the process is complete.
The CBI, IoD and British Chambers of Commerce have kindly agreed to give us access to their networks so that we can swiftly recruit four people from a variety of SME backgrounds. I hope to have completed that recruitment by the beginning of July, enabling the panel to start work in earnest. If you would like to receive more detailed information on the role of a panel member and how to apply please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be accepted until 18 June 2021.
I am confident that the SME Liaison Panel will play an important role in ensuring that the BBRS achieves its objectives. With a well-informed panel we will be able to advise the BBRS about issues as they arise, and give SMEs confidence that the lessons of the past have genuinely been learnt and that there is an Alternative Dispute Resolution service in which they can have confidence.