Neither true nor fairweather friend: relationship banking and SME borrowing under Covid-19

Tianshu Zhao, Kent Matthews, Max Munday

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


A growing literature addresses the costs and benefits associated with relationship banking, particularly for smaller firms, but with much of this work focused on normal trading conditions. Covid-19 provides an ideal testbed to explore the resilience of relationship banking. We examine whether the presence of closer pre-Covid ties between SMEs and their banks helps in accessing funds in the Covid-19 pandemic period. Then are ties between relationship bankers and SME borrowers a case of ‘true love’ or rather are the parties more akin to ‘fair-weather friends?’ Data from the UK SME Finance Monitor from 2018Q2-2020Q3 is used in this paper to examine this question. Our analysis suggests that relationship banking was important for the acquisition of bank credit pre-Covid-19 but was of limited influence in post-Covid-19 lending behaviour. Banks treated SMEs that had a good relationship with them in the same way as those that did not and with public interventions to support lenders material in this.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1957-1974
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Finance
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Covid-19
  • SMEs
  • relationship banking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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