An Examination of the Factors Associated with Bank Switching in the U.K. Small Firm Sector
Previous research has consistently shown that a large number of firms are sufficiently dissatisfied with their bank relationship to have considered switching to an alternative bank. In practice, however, the number of firms which actually switch banks is relatively low. This paper examines empirical evidence from a postal survey of small firms in order to investigate this paradox. Binomial and multinomial logistic regression is used to identify the characteristics which discriminate between a group of firms considering switching banks and two other groups, namely those which had switched banks in the previous three years and those which had not switched banks and were not considering doing so. The paper tests the hypothesis that some small firms may be "informationally captured", in that they are tied into their current bank relationship due to difficulties in conveying accurate information about their performance. The results provide some evidence in support of the hypothesis in that rapidly changing information, particularly changing technology, was a characteristic associated with firms which were considering switching but had not switched. However, there was no significant evidence to support the hypothesis that superior performing firms are more likely to be "informationally captured"; growth and perceived business success were both associated with firms which switched banks. There was strong evidence that the main drivers of the decision to switch or consider switching banks were difficulties obtaining finance and dissatisfaction with the service provided. The results also showed that firms which were considering switching banks tended to use more alternative (non-banking) sources of finance. It is concluded that some firms will resolve difficulties obtaining finance by switching banks, whereas others will use alternative sources of finance depending on the balance between the benefits of switching, such as increased finance, and switching costs including information provision. Copyright 2003 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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