Many overseas firms will miss out on receiving the UK corporate banking treatment. Either because they fall below the revenue threshold or because they are not taking additional services like loans. For these firms it can often be a shock to discover just how difficult it is to secure basic banking facilities.``
Director of Governance and Corporate Services
High Street Bank
Approaching one of the main UK High Street Banks eg HSBC, Barclays etc
Good functionality at low levels of cost.
Fully regulated and holding regulated capital.
The majority of applications will be rejected if there are no UK directors or shareholders.
We have seen greater levels of success where clients are able to leverage an existing personal or historical business banking connection.
Approaching an International Bank with a UK presence, where there is a pre-existing relationship.
Clients may enjoy a more seamless service across borders as well as good value.
Often fully regulated in the UK.
UK banks are increasingly reluctant to liaise with their overseas arms for KYC purposes and need to complete their KYC independently.
Non-Traditional Financial Services
Challenger banks and alternative providers are looking to fill the gap.
Excellent user experience focused on technology.
Easier to complete applications and AML checks.
Generally not regulated as a bank, although still financially regulated in the UK.
Higher account fees may apply.
May work well initially but often not a long-term solution.
Not all offer actual bank account numbers and sort codes
Non-UK Bank Account
Certain European banks will open accounts for UK companies denominated in sterling, euro or dollar.
This is a perfectly legal approach.
Some have London Branches.
A non-UK sort code and account number, will mean you will not be able to receive refunds e.g. HMRC. It is also less attractive for customers.
Group Company Bank Account
If the company is part of a group of companies, the company could utilise the bank account of another group company.
There is no legal obligation for a company to have a bank account.
Unable to receive refunds e.g. HMRC.
Causes mingling of company funds.
Elemental has strong relationships with a number of UK banks and other financial institutions that can provide UK current accounts for our customers. We regularly work with our overseas clients setting up a UK company to ensure they have the banking facilities they need to operate their business.
The increased focus by UK banks to reduce risk and associated costs have made it harder for overseas companies to open bank accounts. However, over the years we have been able to advise our existing clients on putting in place the right type of ownership structure that can increase the chances of success.