Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Survey Finds Small Firms Are Happy with Metro Banks

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Survey Finds Small Firms Are Happy with Metro Banks

Article excerpt

Small Oklahoma City business operators said they were pleased with their banks but were surprisingly ignorant about specific services they offered, according to a survey commissioned by the Central Oklahoma Clearing House Association.

Between one-third and one-half of the just over 800 businesses responding to the survey indicated that they did not know whether their banks offered Small Business Administration loans or loans on accounts receivable, whether they provided information on how to obtain a loan, explained what appropriate collateral would be or if the bank was consistent in its handling of loan applications.

The survey showed that 85 percent of the respondents were satisfied with the services of their financial institution, but only 52 percent expressed confidence in Oklahoma financial institutions in general.

The survey also revealed that while 69 percent of the group said borrowing money was difficult, 92 percent of the businesses that had applied for a loan in the past two years had received one. And about half of those that were at first denied loans were able to get financing at another institution.

"A lot of it is perception," said Wayne Stone, Clearing House president and head of Founders Bank & Trust Co. "The businesses said one thing, but the facts were another. It's something we need to look into. We know how important those businesses are to our economy and marketplace. We need to better identify our role in this size company in Oklahoma City."

He said the 85 percent approval rate given by the businesses was encouraging.

"We scored pretty good. We had a high satisfaction rate, but we need to do more, such as seminars or other educational efforts targeted to businesses, such as how to borrow money."

The survey was conducted in February and March by Consumer Data Service, a market research firm, and Ernest F. Larkin, director of the Journalism Research Center at the University of Oklahoma. It was obtained by The Journal Record this month. The data has a margin of error of 3.6 percent either way at the 95 percent confidence level.

Most of the businesses surveyed indicated a belief that the general Oklahoma economy is improving. In fact, more than half said they have considered expanding their businesses in the next three years. Half of the expansions would be financed by company profits and 31 percent by loans.

"It is encouraging to see that many of the businesses may expand,"

Stone said. "Most said they would do it off cash flow rather than borrowing money. That is fine. Small businesses are often so thinly margined on their money, they need to operate on profits."

Stone said if half the businesses in the survey expanded by adding one employee, that would mean 400 new jobs for the Oklahoma City area.

Surveyed firms were from Oklahoma County, eastern Canadian County and northern Cleveland County. …

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