A small business owner opinion poll found 80 percent of entrepreneurs believe Wall Street and financial companies should be held accountable for the practices that caused the financial crisis.
The national Internet poll of 500 small business owners, conducted by Lake Research Partners for Small Business Majority, an advocacy organization founded and run by small business owners, revealed nearly six in 10 entrepreneurs agree that for far too long, Wall Street banks and financial companies wrote their own rules, leaving small businesses and consumers vulnerable and without protection.
The poll also indicated that small business owners believe the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the organization created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to protect people from abusive lending practices, is needed to address that issue.
Republican poll respondents outnumbered those who identified as Democrats by 52 to 34 percent, according to a Small Business Majority media release. Those identifying as independent made up 11 percent of respondents.
“Small businesses, along with our economy, are getting stronger, but they’re certainly not immune to the lingering effects of our financial meltdown,” said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority. “That’s why they feel strongly that Wall Street banks and other financial institutions need to be held accountable with tougher regulations. Predatory lending practices are still a problem and small businesses support the government’s and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s role in fixing that.”
The poll also found a strong link between small business finance and personal credit. About 58 percent of small business owners said they’ve used a personal credit card to finance their business and 53 percent have personally guaranteed a loan for their business.
Small business owners also strongly support provisions of the 2009 Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, which established a series of laws to help protect consumers from banks and other financial institutions, according to the release.
About 96 percent of owners support requiring financial companies to give at least 45 days notice of substantial change in terms, 98 percent support requiring that monthly statements include clear due dates, and 19 in 20 owners would like to see provisions of the act, which only applies to personal credit cards, extended to small business credit cards.
In addition the poll found that:
• Most small business owners agree that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should maintain independent funding so that financial industry lobbyists cannot block its work when it makes decisions they do not like.
• Nearly four out of 10 entrepreneurs report a first-hand experience with a bank or other financial institution processing their bank transactions in a way that maximizes fees, such as by processing withdrawals faster than deposits, or changing the order of withdrawals to generate more overdraft fees. Nine out of 10 owners support regulations to explicitly bar banks from the practice, and instead require them to process transactions neutrally.
• About 24 percent of small business owners have experienced a lack of transparency or unclear terms with prepaid cards, mobile banking and more.
• About 94 percent of owners would support regulations requiring full disclosure of terms for these financial products up front.