Online Business AwardsOnline Business Awards

Years of being turned down for finance have resulted in the hesitancy of smaller companies to borrow money, and that this is holding back the UK economy, says Graeme Marshall, Chief Executive of P2P lender FundingKnight.

Loans_143394364Issued on January 22, a Bank of England report to November 2014 clearly showed the divide that still exists between large and small companies when it comes to borrowing money. There is no shortage of demand for funds from large businesses and interest rates are falling significantly as the competition for their business hots up. It’s a different story, however, at the other end of the scale where the demand from SMEs for business loans is falling and pricing shows little change.

The trend is confirmed by the Bank of England’s Credit Conditions Survey, in which respondents “expected demand for bank lending to increase for all but small businesses in 2015 Q1”. The same survey reported that the proportion of SMEs not seeking bank loans or overdrafts was 77% in 2014 Q3 – a figure that has remained stubbornly the same for the previous four consecutive quarters.

Commenting on the report, the Chief Executive of Funding Knight, Graeme Marshall, said, “The difference in demand from large businesses and SMEs is a portent for the economy. Large businesses are now starting to invest to push ahead, but reluctance remains among the small businesses that account for more than 50% of GDP.”

“Is it that we’re still not out of the recessionary woods and confidence among SMEs is lagging – or is it that small businesses have become inured to borrowing by the experiences of the past few years, crushed by declines and onerous conditions, and not knowing where to go for fair finance? If it’s the latter, the establishment, via its restrictive lending policies, stands guilty of putting a handbrake on the growth of SMEs and that of the economy at large.”

“Borrowing for growth is a positive decision by an SME as it provides leverage that wouldn’t be achievable from cashflow and retained profit alone. The extra money can be used for the purchase of property, income producing plant and machinery or for significant strategic development, such as an acquisition. These can all lead to more profit, more jobs and more wealth creation.”

Marshall continued to outline how banks and the alternative finance industry need to work together to help and encourage SMEs to borrow responsibly.

“The one place where we can see real signs of an upturn in activity is in the alternative finance sector, which receives no mention in the BoE report. If the predictions from innovation charity NESTA prove to be correct, the size of the industry is set to hit £4.4 billion in 2015, a year-on-year rise of 150%.”

“The rise of the sector means that SMEs no longer need to fear rejection because of their size or the prospect of lengthy approval processes and onerous security requirements. Companies like FundingKnight are offering a new age of responsive lending backed by modern processes, transparent charges, speedy decisions and a warm welcome that is allowing SMEs to fulfil their ambitions.”

“If we can remove the fear of rejection, we can release the brakes. And if we can release the brakes on 50% of GDP, we can look forward to a much longer recovery.”