Access of VSEs and SMEs to banking services
The Business Finance Observatory report published in March 2021 highlights overall positive access to banking services for very small and medium-sized businesses. The analysis of costs, pricing conditions, their impact on the health of companies and the financing conditions of VSEs-SMEs highlights the efforts of banks to adapt to the situation of professionals.
Even if the amount of the fees they face is higher than those of individuals (they are 1700 euros per year if we include the fees relating to overdrafts, according to figures from the Federation of Approved Management Centers) , there is a very large disparity depending on the banking institutions. Indeed, it should be noted that the offers are highly personalized, proof of the flexibility and adaptability of the banks according to the situations of their customers. It should also be noted that these costs represent only 0.69% (overdraft costs included) of the turnover of VSEs-SMEs.
These costs, which are low compared to the general costs of a company, should therefore not be a hindrance to the opening of a professional bank account for the self-employed. Given the many advantages they represent in managing accounts, it is strongly recommended that you have one, even if your company’s status does not require it.
Opening a business account: which bank to choose?
If you decide to open an account dedicated to your professional activity, you will need to choose a bank that meets your needs. It should be noted that mobility is one of the elements that most characterize independent professionals. To meet this need, opening a professional account with an online bank is the solution generally recommended for auto-entrepreneurs.
Online banks, for the most part, have customer service that responds quickly to customers and helps them find answers to their concerns. Attached to physical banks, they therefore provide access to traditional services such as support from advisors. This can be done through the usual channels (emails, telephone, etc.), but also through chats on social networks.
This flexibility is particularly appreciated by busy professionals. This also coincides with the digitization of the French, who were 66% in November 2020 to have downloaded an application to manage their bank accounts, against 55% in November 2018, according to a survey by the IFOP in partnership with the French Banking Federation. It should be noted that 96% of French people consult their bank’s website or application, hence the importance for establishments of offering an appropriate online offer.
To find the ideal bank, evaluate the structures according to the following criteria:
- the cost of opening the professional account,
- management fees,
- the overdraft authorization and the maximum amount accepted,
- additional services,
- the accompaniment offered,
- customer service responsiveness.
Once the bank has been chosen and the professional account opened, you will receive an account agreement which will be useful to you, for example, in the event of a dispute with the banking establishment. Finally, it should be noted that a bank has the right to reject an individual’s opening request without giving reasons. If you find yourself in such a situation, you will then have to look for another establishment.
Professional account: compulsory or optional for the self-employed?
Having a professional bank account is a legal requirement for companies with share capital. All companies with the following legal forms are therefore concerned:
- SAS (Simplified Joint Stock Company),
- SA (Société Anonyme),
- SARL (Limited Liability Company),
- EURL (Single-Person Limited Liability Company).
For these structures, the opening of a professional account at the bank is a sine qua non condition for obtaining registration in the RCS (Register of Commerce and Companies). For their part, promoters of sole proprietorships operating under the status of auto-entrepreneur are not subject to this rule. If you are self-employed, you can legally start your business without opening this account.
However, the PACTE law of May 22, 2019 brings a nuance to this derogation. It stipulates that independent professionals whose turnover has exceeded 10,000 euros over two years in a row are obliged to open a professional bank account. This means that the opening of such an account is optional for sole proprietorships under conditions. The ideal would be to consider this operation as a necessity and not as a constraint, especially if you plan to develop your activity.
Self-employed: what is the point of having a professional bank account?
Beyond the regulations, a professional bank account promotes the proper management of the financial aspect of a commercial activity. The self-employed are generally alone in looking after their sole proprietorships. Being the sole partner of his structure, the professional is not accountable to anyone. The reverse of this apparent freedom of action could be the lack of rigor in financial management.
Opening a business account will help you remember to make a clear distinction between personal and business expenses. This is one of the measures to be taken to ensure sound and reliable accounting management. Like companies, sole proprietorships must file turnover declarations and pay social security contributions to the competent bodies. If you mix up banking transactions carried out on a personal basis and those carried out on a professional basis, the accounting risks being biased.
Creating a business bank account is therefore a way to improve the financial and tax situation of your self-employed business. In some banks, this operation makes you eligible for services reserved for companies. Depending on the banking establishment, you could obtain loans to finance your activity. You could also afford to have a significant overdraft. An account created with the appropriate bank for your activity will therefore benefit you in many ways.