Listening to SMEs and feeding in their views to the BBRS
9 March 2021
Antony Townsend, Chair, BBRS SME Liaison Panel
Why did I jump at the opportunity to be the first Chair of the Business Banking Resolution Service’s SME Liaison Panel? The answer is because I have heard some of their stories, and I would like to help them receive fair treatment and thrive. As someone who has worked across a wide range of regulatory and complaints services, I have some insight into the misery that business owners and entrepreneurs can unfortunately experience when things go wrong for them through no fault of their own. We need to do better.
Most people working in the private sector don’t work for the famous names or household brands. They work day-to-day in the hundreds of thousands of SMEs that provide crucial jobs and services, and nourish supply chains up and down the country. And they’ve been through one of the most gruelling periods in living memory.
I started as Chair of the Panel last week. It is an important role, designed to pull together and provide a voice for the disparate parts of the small business sector as the BBRS takes its important early steps, mindful that the scope of the BBRS extends to charities, trusts and partnerships as well as traditional small businesses. We’ll feedback constructive criticism and ideas on how we can make the scheme work better. Most of all, we will be in a position to share the views from the coal-face to ensure that the service remains in touch with reality, that the experience of complainants is transformed, and ultimately that the need for complaints is driven down.
My first job is to recruit members to the panel. My starting point will be to cast the net wide. I want to hear from people across the UK, in diverse sectors and from diverse backgrounds. I do not want to restrict applications through a prescriptive set of skills and experience, but among the things I am looking for are a mixture of attributes: experience of running an SME; experience of complaining about a bank’s treatment of an SME; a commitment to improving the handling of complaints and to finding ways to avoid the need for complaints; knowledge of the background to, and the setting up of, the BBRS; and a diverse range of business owners from a variety of geographies, age demographics, sectors and ethnicities. We will want to hear the voices of those from groups who have statutory protection from discrimination.
So please get in touch if you want to help in any way. How should we go about recruiting the panel? I am open to ideas. And even if you don’t have the time formally to sit on a panel, we always want to hear your suggestions. Get in touch via email@example.com