Israel's banks failing small businesses that seek growth

Hedva Ber

A Bank of Israel survey finds that only 15% of micro and small businesses are satisfied with the tools their banks provide for growth and progress.

A month ago, the Bank of Israel Banking Supervision Department, headed by Dr. Hedva Ber, revealed that the transition by Israel's banks from traditional banking to "the new, digital world" as the banks call it had left behind many private customers who were not happy at the change. The central bank now reports that self-employed people and micro and small businesses (with up to 19 employees), are better pleased with the service they receive at the medium-size banks than with the service at the largest banks. The Bank of Israel's current survey also shows that satisfaction among customers who use the banks' Internet sites and telephone apps is much higher than the general level of satisfaction and satisfaction with the service at the banks' branches.

The survey found that only 15% of small business owners were satisfied with the tools provided by the banks for progress and growth in their businesses. Only one third of the survey respondents said they were satisfied with the guidance provided by the bank in financial decisions affecting their businesses. This is a particularly important topic, since small businesses often get into difficulties because of a lack of understanding of financial and cash-flow problems, and need professional advice.

On the other hand, 70% of respondents expressed high satisfaction with the methods that the banks offer for depositing cash and checks using technological solutions that were not available in the past.

Mizrahi Tefahot and First International lead

Mizrahi Tefahot Bank received the highest rating for general satisfaction with banking services, with First International Bank of Israel in second place, followed by Bank Hapoalim, Discount Bank of Israel, and Bank Leumi last, as it was in several of the categories of service examined in the previous Bank of Israel survey, which was carried out among private bank customers.

In previous years, Bank Leumi led when it came to the speed at which it rolled out digital banking services. In that area, the ranking of the banks in the current survey shows Hapoalim and First International leading, Discount Bank a close third, and Leumi and Mizrahi Tefahot bringing up the rear. For all the banks, satisfaction with their Internet services is higher than general satisfaction and satisfaction with service provided at their branches.

In satisfaction with mobile apps, First International again leads, with Hapoalim and Leumi joint second.

The self-employed people and small business owners who participated in the survey put good service, personal relationship, telephone availability, a convenient app, and account management via a website, as the most important factors contributing to a sense of satisfaction with their banks. High fees, poor service, a lack of a personal relationship, and lack of accessibility and telephone availability were the main factors cited by those who expressed dissatisfaction with their banks.

The survey was carried out by the Ruschinek Research Institute between August 8 and September 5, 2019, through 2,116 Internet interviews among a representative random national sample of self-employed individuals (who do not employ others), microbusiness owners (who employ 1-4 people) and small business owners (who employ 5-19 people), who are connected to the Internet.

1,951 of the respondents reported that their sole or main business account was currently managed at Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Discount Bank, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, or First International Bank.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on January 27, 2020

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