This is a topic for you to let loose! Whether your a sole trader running your business as an individual or a small or micro business, we would like you to share your experiences of setting up and using business accounts – from the head aches to perks, we’re all ears…
I personally haven’t had a problem with a business account, it’s with Barclays where I hold my main personal accounts, I found it all simple and efficient, no need for business plans, filling in pages of forms or anything like that.
Some business accounts want so much information that its a chore to open them.
My biggest problem has always been excessive bank charges for business accounts, well personally I don’t have that problem, as the charges we pay are reasonable, but the charges they quote make it difficult for smaller businesses, that’s why I’m sure many sole traders use personal accounts instead.
I use Tide, almost in parallel with Starling. The idea of not paying any fixed monthly fees to have a separate account for my business was hugely appealing and apparently not typical among the high street banks. Tide is okay, but lightyears behind Starling in terms of UX. Their app is bare-bone and still smacks of being a wireframe MVP.
There is an immediate incentive to reduce number of apps if business banking can also be managed inside the Starling app I use, but I guess from a download perspective you may be looking to separate business functions into an entirely separate app? Either way I’m certain that it would be an improvement over the Tide product.
I haven’t got my head round invoicing in Tide’s app: perhaps it’s good for those working on the move (tradespeople), but in business I have no desire to do it from an app, I do it sat at a laptop after a project. The only value I’d get is record that I sent an invoice, so Starling tell me it’s paid (perhaps smartly matching value even if reference not used).
To be honest at the moment the most useful business feature I have is from Curve not Tide: card management and particularly the retrospective re-assignment of payments. The ability to have my Starling, my personal credit card, and my Tide business cards all linked to one card, and even correct/re-assign business transactions later.
If Starling could combine that kind of capability (across personal and business use) with perhaps even some kind of smart assignment as personal/business based on the type of purchase, it would be a killer app. Increasingly payments are frictionless (iPhone) and having to carry/rifle through personal and business cards is so old world!
There’s actually a sweet spot (for me at least but I know a lot of people like me) where you perform self-assessment (tax) too. Every year I spend hours going over statements reminding myself of dividend payments received (CGT), charitable donations paid (Gift Aid), rent received (landlord - CGT), payments across from my limited company etc.
Given Starling’s ongoing investment in smart transaction labelling, there’s huge room for a valuable product around labelling and preparing an annual statement that can be used as an easy input into the self-assessment process. This is additional to business banking, but a smart bank will see these all as inter-related opportunities.
I use crunch , cloud accounting. I want to be able to automate bank account downloads reconciliation. Crunch allow downloads from Barclays. But you still need to create expense and reconcile.
If you have digital receipts that can be automatically sent to the accountant and line expense and receipt evidence created and the accounting company can then auto reconcile . This is time consuming for me. Also if the tags of expenses are linked to HMRC expense lines. That should make it easier too. Happy to discuss
I’m looking forward to trying out Starling Business.
Barclays Business haven’t been very good over the years.
I think the final straw was when I switched from Barclays Personal to Starling. Unfortunately, Barclays IT systems can’t handle a situation where someone is a personal customer, then they open a business account, then close their personal account.
I’m currently having to login to Barclays Business using my old personal account details, and when I login, the system still thinks I’m a personal customer and displays an empty list of personal accounts to me. I must then manually enter the business section.
Barclays have said that because I was a personal customer first, I will always have a “personal profile” on their system, with a business account attached. The only way to remove this profile is to close all accounts (personal and business). Then open a new business account.
It’s hardly a major issue but it’s one of many little annoyances with Barclays.
I have literally last month just done a current account transfer of my business account from Santander to Yorkshire Bank. My primary motivator for this was Yorkshire’s 25-month free business banking offer.
I am a freelancer, and my taxation is done as a sole trader, as such I don’t technically need a business bank account, I could have a second personal account or even just run out of my main personal account but in my brain, I want to keep things separate and more professional.
As I didn’t use the Santander account to its full potential as a business account it did sting a bit that I was having to fork out £7.50 per month to use the account, hence the switch.
Now, I am not averse to paying business banking fees, for the right service and at the right level. My business is almost exclusively day rate based, as such I probably only have 10 incoming and 20 outgoing transactions per month, all electronic via incoming BACS or faster payment, or outgoing faster payments, direct debits and debit card transactions (not cash withdrawals). I have no need for cash or cheque processing, so I don’t want an account that charges me based on that.
I looked at Tides charging methods, their per transaction model probably fits my use case best, but I just CANNOT bring myself to let a non-bank handle my business finances (Tide being one of these Pre Paid cards with bells and whistles services), even though their pricing model probably suits me best (after free business banking terms run out obviously )
In terms of bank account features, a good API may not be essential to begin with as an API is only as good as the implementations that 3rd parties bring, however, I am sure with Starlings PDS2 compliant API for personal accounts already in release this will just come as standard, however until the accounting companies catch up with PDS2 (me being selfish I will specifically be looking at Quickbooks), Starling need to launch the account with support for the old-fashioned scraping services that online accounts packages currently use, as without the ability to import seamlessly into my accounts for reconciliation like I can do with Yorkshire there is absolutely no point in transferring for me.
Even if starling launch with an almost ‘accounts lite’ service that attempts to be a book-keeper and bank account (like Tide), my accounts are already set up and working and I have no want to change that. In fact, I actively want to keep my accounts and books separate from my actual bank and money (this is something I believe in for personal banking as well and I have posted about my support for @anne’s vision of banks being almost an information feed for other services before).
The other great experience I have had recently, both as a business and personal customer, is the use of CASS (Current Account Switch Service). I used CASS to move to starling for personal banking and Yorkshire for business and both have gone without a hitch, so I would want to see CASS implemented ASAP for Starling for business.
Obviously feature parity between iOS and Android goes without saying, but as a business account I think there is a bigger argument for desktop access as well as app access, and a big case for multi-user access, unless the account is to be targetting ONLY at sole traders (and even then, really there is still a case for multi-user access) so I think that needs to be looked at.
I would also like starling to reach out to potential clients to chat with us and find out what we want, invite a group of users from different target markets (sole trader, micro business, cash heavy, electronic payment heavy, POS users etc) to come and chat and have a coffee with you guys and find out what we really want as in my opinion business banking is much more about face to face relationships than personal banking ever is/was, and a lack of a branch network I think is more of an issue for a business bank than a personal bank, not that its a challenge that cannot be overcome.
All in all, this mornings announcement excited me, I fully hope and expect I will be a Starling Business customer, and if my needs are met, I will be in the queue to sign up in the very first wave!
What features can you expect next from Starling?
Great account - thanks for that.
I work full time in my day job, but also run a small photography business as a sideline during the evenings and at weekend. What I’d really like to see is a bank account that caters to those of us with a small side-hustle like this. I know that most banks (including Starling) say in their terms and conditions that personal accounts must not be used for business purposes, but I’m never entirely sure what that means. If I pay my takings straight into my personal account, does that mean I’m using it for business purposes? If I pay my takings into a business bank account and then immediately transfer it into my personal account, does that get around the requirement not to use a personal account for business purposes?
My business is small enough that it’s really not worth distinguishing it from my personal finances, but it’s big enough that I file a tax return every year. Given Starling’s blog series on side-hustles, I’d really like to see you guys cater to this kind of market - I’d especially appreciate it if you made it clear when side-hustlers would need to move to a business account.
Oh, one other thing. As I said, my business and personal finances are very closely intertwined. One thing that has put me off most business bank accounts is that they require different log ins and different apps than the same banks’s personal accounts - preventing you from seeing your personal and business accounts in the one place. It’d be great if I could see my personal and business accounts with Starling together in the one place.
Integration with Xero is super important!
Funny you should mention that, I had very similar problems when I closed a Business bank account but kept my personal account with Barclays!
I suppose a question for @sarah.guha related to this would be: will the Starling Personal and Starling Business accounts share the same app or will they be separate? Also if you do something like Pleo would this also be in the same app and could you be part of multiple accounts.
For example, could I have a Pleo-type card for my ‘day job’ if they decided to go with Starling for Business and have my own account for my ‘side-hussle’ that we’ve been affectionately calling it.
Your personal and business accounts will be separate accounts, but we intend to be accessible from the same app and login. Think of it like flipping between being a host or guest on Airbnb. One app, but separate.
Of course we have a way to go yet to consider other business use cases.
@sarah.guha is this set in stone? I’d prefer a separate app for Starling Business. What are your thoughts for having business and personal within the same app?
Bringing the UX and ease of onboarding of the Starling App to business banking will be a big step forward in the first instance so I look forward to it.
I made an account just to vent here, I have been a HSBC Business customer for a few years tried tide, and Barclays. Tide has been covered extensively by others and I echo their sentiment. Stagnated development and lack of features. No balance column on their CSV export etc.
Opening a Barclays account was a total nightmare, takes a week to get an appointment and only in the middle of a working day. They ask for your entire life story literally from University to present day. Business plans etc. And then it still takes over 1 month of no contact before you get a card that you forgot you even applied for.
HSBC were a bit faster and over the phone but their website is really old but somewhat functional which is good because their app is possibly the single worst app on android. Just read the play reviews or try it.
Both banks rely on portable key pads for security codes which is a massive pain. Touch ID or two factor authentication codes?? It would so refreshing to see a business bank from a modern challenger bank.
Welcome to the party!
Can you believe I actually have 2 keypads for Yorkshire Bank as their 2 different systems (Online Banking website and BusinessOnline) BOTH require keypad login and keypads get linked to individual accounts.
A serious challenger needs to get into this space (be it starling or someone else) as the current challengers just aren’t cutting it (and aren’t even proper bank accounts!).
I hope you have signed up for info on the website https://www.starlingbank.com/business-account/
my honest plan is to do the same as I did with my personal current account, open a Starling account as soon as I am offered one, trial it with limited transactions and once current account switching is enabled for the business accounts, so long as it meets my needs, switch.
(By the way, personal accounts were right for me at starling, so I switched using CASS and now Starling are my main personal bank, so let’s see if I get there with their upcoming business features)
Thanks, I have registered my interest and will be up for trying out a starling business account the first chance I get!
I’m using HSBC at my company. They are a complete nightmare. Continually unable to find paper work and asking us to resubmit things. After we did the management buy out it took a year to get the old owner off the account as the only signatory. And a further 4 months to get business debit cards issued to the directors.
We’ve just moved to metro for our client side money and they are way better. Although the KYC stuff is still a real pain in branch.
I use tide for my side hussel. It’s very much improved from many of the comments above. Material design etc. There biggest issue is you can’t change from a sole trader account to a company account when you decide to make that leap. Unless you close one and reopen another.
I think the sole trader to ltd limitation is common across all business bank accounts, and it’s to do with the way the account has to report and be run. Seems to me if I ever do go limited I will want a new business bank account because I am starting a new legal entity so everything needs to be fresh.
Of course from starlings account launch perspective it will be interesting if they allow multiple business accounts for one user as there would be an overlap if I were a sole trader customer going limited so I would need to run 2 accounts. At the moment on the personal side its strictly one account per user.
Any thoughts from the Starling in house team on that?
Ahh yes that’s a good point.
I probably should have expanded on that a bit. You can only have a phone number associated to one tide account. So with one mobile I can’t run a sole trader and business account. I found myself signing up to a burner virtual mobile (onoff) just to do the switch then adding a cloned version of the app to my phone. Then closing the sole trader then swapping the phone numbers around.