A new SME bank has raised £14 million to clear the way for the removal of deposit-taking restrictions.

London-based Recognise Bank said its latest capital raise included an additional £10m investment by existing shareholder, real estate investor and entrepreneur Ruth Parasol.

It means Recognise Bank has met the capital requirements set by the PRA (Prudential Regulation Authority).

Once the PRA removes the restrictions, Recognise Bank will become fully authorised and plans to launch FSCS-protected savings products to both personal and business customers, enabling it to further increase its business lending to the SME sector.  

“This is a major milestone in our journey to create Recognise Bank and change the complexion of SME banking in the UK,” said CEO Jason Oakley.

“We set out on a mission to help the UK’s growing small and medium sized businesses, who need expert support more now than ever before. This successful capital raise is proof that we are on the right trajectory.”

Recognise Bank was set up in 2018 and received its Authorisation with Restriction (AwR) in November 2020. Instead of the centralised call centres many mainstream banks use, it is creating a network of regional hubs with experienced relationship managers who work directly with small businesses and advisers. 

The bank uses cloud-based banking technology to provide SMEs with quicker lending decisions and speedy access to funds, using the nCino Bank Operating System and the Mambu SaaS cloud banking platform. 

Parasol said: “Recognise is the right bank, with the right team, to change SME business banking in the UK. 

“Recognise combines personal service with the cutting-edge digital banking technology to increase speed and service to its customers. As a fully authorised bank, Recognise will be able to offer a much wider range of services to business and personal customers.

“I am delighted to further support Recognise Bank, especially Jason and his management team. Their expertise and commitment to the Recognise mission is truly outstanding and I look forward to the delivery of their plans in the years ahead.”

Oakley added: “Not only have I worked in business banking and commercial lending for many years, I have also run my own business, as have a number of the team at Recognise. Therefore, we are uniquely placed to understand the challenges SMEs face and the frustrations they have dealing with many of the mainstream banks. 

“In creating Recognise Bank, we have focussed on the pain points smaller businesses have with current banks, such as the lack of personal contact and speed of lending decisions, to build a bank that addresses those issues. 

“That means relationship managers who are able to provide real support and guidance to businesses, and back-office technology that ensures companies get the funds they need as quickly as possible.”

Recognise Bank offers a range of unregulated funding options for SMEs, including commercial mortgages, bridging loans and working capital loans, in addition to specialist professional practice loans for firms such as architects and solicitors, as well as the medical and healthcare sectors. 

Buy-to-let loans for professional property investors are due to launch imminently. 

Recognise Bank also plans to offer savings accounts to personal customers in the coming weeks, and then business customers later this year, aiming to support more than 50,000 business and personal savers over the next five years.

The bank has already received £750 million in lending enquiries since it opened its doors in November 2020 and aims to provide £1.3 billion in lending to more than 5,000 SME borrowers over the next five years.