BANK managers in the Netherlands and Germany take greater account of management experience, entrepreneurial skills, training and qualifications than their British counterparts when assessing business propositions, according to an industry study. British bank managers, in contrast, place greater weight on financial criteria when assessing risk. These are among the findings of a three-country study of financing practices in the West Midlands, Baden-Wurttemberg and Twente by researchers from the University of Central England Business School. In Germany, in particular, bank managers were able to call on a range of additional information when assessing business plans. There was a high level of networking between business support organisations and rival banks. It is probably more difficult to get started in Baden-Wurttemberg because entrepreneurs are required to provide much more information to potential backers, but it is likely that start-ups are of a higher quality than in the UK, the researchers suggest. This is partly because bank managers have more information about the businesses they back, and are able to be more generous in their funding. In the West Midlands bankers were uncomfortable with gearing ratios of more than one to one while ratios of two to one were normal in Twente and as high as five to one in Baden-Wurttemberg. The study suggests policies which could be adopted in the West Midlands, including closer co-operation between chambers of commerce, banks, colleges and local authorities; broader training by the banks to emphasise the importance of management skills; and increased publicity for specialist funding schemes.