4th November 2019
Nikki Turner to step down as SME Alliance director
Nikki Turner, director of SME Alliance, has announced she is stepping down after five years leading the support, knowledge sharing and lobby group. She intends to leave at the end of the year having helped to oversee the successful creation of the Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS), which aims to give a mechanism for past, current and future disputes between business owners and banks to be settled without having to go to court.
SME Alliance was created to help victims of bank abuse and misconduct including the HBOS Reading scandal, which brought down the business run by Mrs Turner and her husband Paul, and has grown to give much needed support to those impacted by the unscrupulous and often illegal actions of many of the UK’s leading banks and their advisors. One of the key objectives was to find a way that businesses can gain compensation for bad behaviour by banks without the need for expensive and lengthy legal proceedings, something it is hoped that last Friday’s launch of the BBRS will deliver.
Mrs Turner has informed members of SME Alliance of her decision. Nick Gould, SME Alliance chair, is also retiring after four years in the role. Andy Keats, a director of SME Alliance, will take over in the lead role. New directors, and a new chair, will be announced shortly.
Nikki Turner said: “We have achieved a great deal and been able to help many SMEs, not least by showing them they are not alone in their fight against the banks. We have had tremendous support from our members, the board and our chair, Nick Gould, who has given many hundreds of hours of his time on a pro-bono basis.
“I hope the BBRS will be a major step forward in rebuilding an equitable relationship between the banks and the SMEs which are the lifeblood of the British economy. While there is always more to do, I feel that now is the time to step down to concentrate on rebuilding our business and spending time with my grandchildren.
“To echo comments made by Nick Gould, SME Alliance should not need to exist, but it does, and it needs new people with fresh ideas to take it forward and keep holding the banks to account.”
Nick Gould, outgoing SME Alliance chair, said: “No-one can overestimate the amount of time, dedication and knowledge that Nikki has brought to the helping SMEs fight for their rights and livelihoods. The banks are so powerful and have all the cards in their hands when fighting SMEs, but through the hard work of Nikki and her family, SME Alliance has been able to redress the balance to some extent.”
One of Mrs Turner’s final actions as SME Alliance director will be to review the report by former high court judge, Sir Ross Cranston, into the compensation scheme put in place by Lloyds Banking Group for victims of HBOS Reading.
In a report commissioned by SME Alliance, Jonathan Laidlaw QC found that the Review, led by Professor Russel Griggs, is “procedurally defective” and “unfair” and its methodology and guiding principles are “flawed and appear partial to LBG’s interests”. Mrs Turner is confident that Sir Ross will take account of those conclusions and hopes he will recommend that Lloyds revisits the outcomes of the Griggs review to deliver a more suitable outcome for all the victims.
1st November 2019
SME Alliance demands banking resolution scheme has fair remit
SME Alliance, the support, knowledge sharing and lobby group, has called on the Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) not to prejudge which businesses are eligible for compensation after concerns were raised about terms on the BBRS website.
The BBRS was launched today to “to resolve disputes between eligible small and medium sized businesses and participating banks” without having to go to court.
SME Alliance directors, Nikki Turner and Andy Keats, along with SME Alliance member, Derek Carlisle, dedicated many hours to help create the BBRS. They welcome the launch, and are encouraging SME Alliance members to sign up for the pilot scheme that will test the process over the next few months.
However, Mrs Turner and Mr Keats have serious concerns about the section of the BBRS website about which SMEs are eligible for the scheme, notably the part that says: “We will be unable to consider complaints for which customers have already been included within the scope of reviews we recognise to be independent, once these reviews have been confirmed.”
SME Alliance will be meeting the BBRS early next week to clarify which that means, as the BBRS has also stated it will not finally determine eligibility issues until it has run its live pilot.
Said Nikki Turner: “The BBRS has to be fair, transparent and consistent, yet its policies on eligibility are confusing and contradictory. There is no way you could consider compensation schemes run by the banks as ‘independent’. Unless the BBRS sort out this eligibility issue, we face the prospect of the vast majority of historical claims by SMEs being excluded, which would make the whole process a farce.”
Mrs Turner added that when the then Chancellor Philip Hammond proposed the BBRS, he said it should resolve “a meaningful number of cases”. “Excluding a large number of SMEs would turn this from meaningful into a poorly executed PR exercise,” Mrs Turner added. “Our members deserve fair treatment, and we will fight to achieve this.”
About SME Alliance
SME Alliance was formed in September 2014 to support SMEs “battling against fraud, corruption and misconduct in the financial sector” and to lobby for the fair treatment of businesses by their banks and advisors.
About the BBRS
The BBRS is a non-profit organisation set up to resolve disputes between eligible small and medium sized businesses and participating banks. We will deliver an accessible and transparent service, giving eligible businesses the opportunity to have their complaint heard and independently reviewed. We will make decisions based on what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances and seek to inspire confidence through the consistency of our approach.
To register for the live pilot go to https://thebbrs.org/register-your-interest/