Associate Feature: Committed to helping households and businesses in turbulent times
Ever since our founding in 1727 – in a close just off the Royal Mile - our aim at the Royal Bank has been to try to help people, families and businesses navigate uncertainty and flourish in more prosperous times. The impact of Brexit, the pandemic and recent economic turmoil means that there has been no shortage of uncertainty for Scotland’s businesses and households to find their way through.
We support one in three businesses, one in five people, one in seven homebuyers and have the privilege of being one of the nation’s largest private sector employers. We are under no illusions about the challenges that communities across Scotland are facing, but we are determined – and well placed – to support those who have been through so much over the past two and a half years.
As well as providing a hardship fund to support partners such as the Money Advice Trust and StepChange – who are on the front line in supporting households – we have launched a cost-of-living hub to provide help to our customers, including a benefits calculator and practical tools to help those in need. When the recent mini-budget caused upheaval in the mortgage market, we chose to remain in the market throughout, providing a degree of much-needed stability for house buyers across the country. We also extended the roll-off window for those on fixed rate mortgages from four to six months to provide additional flexibility to borrowers.
For businesses, we are providing tailored support to the most impacted sectors, including a lending package for our agriculture customers, as well as freezing fees on business accounts for 12 months to help SMEs. Our network of locally-based relationship managers work directly with businesses across a range of industries, from agriculture through to hospitality. It’s through this network of relationship managers that we’re to able to understand the big issues facing our customers as well as the opportunities for growth in Scotland’s economy.
But we are also committed to driving the growth that will provide the jobs, incomes and generate revenue in the future. Entrepreneurialism has long been at the heart of Scotland’s economy, and we have a responsibility to create an environment where businesses can start, grow, and thrive. We’re helping to empower early-stage businesses through our Royal Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator programme – a network of hubs up and down the country designed to support thousands of small and medium businesses in taking their dreams, plans and ambitions to the next level. And we are working with partners such as Scottish Edge – the UK’s biggest funding competition for high growth potential businesses – to discover and invest in Scotland’s entrepreneurs.
We are also supporting customers on the journey to net zero. Our research shows that there is an £18-22bn revenue opportunity for Scotland’s SMEs if fully supported to drive the transition and reduce their own emissions. We are ensuring SMEs have access to the funding they need, empowering them with practical tools like Carbon Planner to help them understand their own climate footprint, and partnering with the University of Edinburgh and the ECCI to provide direct support to our customers from climate experts.
One of the main lessons of the pandemic was the importance of public and private sectors working together to rebuild the economy and tackle the challenges we face as a society. It is that spirit of collaboration we need to foster today, to help meet the challenges facing communities across Scotland in the coming months and years.
So, as we approach our 300th anniversary, we remain committed to supporting our customers and colleagues as they face the challenges ahead. And in turn we’ll be adding our support to the Scottish economy - helping it weather the current challenges – but looking ahead with optimism to a brighter future.
Judith Cruikshank is Managing Director, Commercial Mid Market and Chair, Scotland Board at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
This article is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland.