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More lenders accredited under Coronavirus Business Loan Schemes

The British Business Bank has approved six more lenders for accreditation under its Coronavirus Business Loan Schemes.

The new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) lenders are 365 Business Finance, FOLK2FOLK, Handelsbanken, LendingCrowd, Maxxia, and Nucleus Commercial Finance, who will be able to provide financial support to smaller businesses across the UK that are losing revenue and seeing their cashflow disrupted, as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Close Brothers, ThinCats and HSBC Bank plc, a separate entity from the previously-accredited HSBC UK, have been accredited under the under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). They will be able to provide finance to midsized and larger UK businesses with a group turnover of more than £45m (the upper limit for the existing smaller-business focused CBILS).

To find out more about how we can assist you with your Business Loan requirements, please click here to get in touch

Coutts and Arbuthnot Latham will join the other 21 Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) lenders who have been accredited since the scheme opened.

Keith Morgan, chief executive at British Business Bank, said: “Our accredited lenders continue to see high levels of demand for Covid-19 business loan schemes. Accrediting these additional finance providers means further support for smaller business customers and continues the British Business Bank’s long-term objective to offer more diverse sources of finance to smaller businesses.”

According to government-published statistics, more than one million businesses have to date benefitted from more than £42bn in loans and guarantees through the British Business Bank’ schemes.

By Stephen Farrell

Source: Insider Media

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Small business loans will “give hope to thousands”

New government loans announced for small businesses will “give hope to thousands” as they fight to survive the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

That is the view of the Federation of Small Businesses, who welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement of the micro loan scheme which provides loans of up to £25,000 with a 100 per cent government guarantee.

Making the announcement yesterday, the Chancellor said the bounce back loans – which are capped at 25 per cent of turnover and have a streamlined application process – will be available from Monday.

And FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said the announcement was vital for those firms not covered by the existing coronavirus loan scheme.

He said: “The decision by the Chancellor to listen to our recommendation will give hope to thousands.

“The headline terms will be hugely welcomed by the sole traders and micro businesses that make-up 95 per cent of the small business community.

“Removing the need to provide forecasts marks an important step forward – small firms cannot be expected to predict the future in this climate.”

Mr Cherry called on the government to ensure the delivery of the loans was administered correctly so help reached the right people in time. 

”From here, we need the right delivery,” he said. “The fast-track system must be established by next Monday with money delivered 24 hours after a successful application as promised.

“All those who have been declined a small Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme facility should now be written to with the offer to re-apply via this new system.

“Many small businesses have had to pay March and April’s payroll, on top of other overheads, with no revenue coming in at all. This announcement promises to change that fundamental lack of access to working capital.”

He continued: “In the long term, we need to protect the competition achieved in the small business lending market that so many have fought so hard to secure.

“At the end of this crisis, non-bank lenders are going to be key to economic recovery as part of a thriving small business finance market that does not just rely on the big five banks.

“Equally, the big banks must ensure they are in a position to facilitate a large a number of small business loans. Some of their systems are already creaking under the strain.”

The loan scheme was also welcomed by Business West, who represent the region’s Chambers of Commerce, but Gloucestershire director Ian Mean warned that the Chancellor’s statement to the House of Commons contained some less welcome news.

He said: “The good news will be very welcome by small businesses so worried about the delays experienced by many of them in applying for cash through the government’s much-heralded Coronavirus Business Intervention Loans Scheme.

“But there was good and grim news. The Chancellor told the Commons that ‘survey evidence suggests that a quarter of firms have stopped trading’.

“He made no amplification of that alarming figure – many of them might have just paused trading, but this figure must be of great concern for our economy.”

The new loan scheme is available for firms which existed on March 1 with money due to be in accounts around 24 hours after an application is approved.

Applications are short and can be submitted online from Monday with basic details to confirm a business is eligible with tax returns required in a small number of cases.

While the Government will cover interest and fees for the first 12 months, businesses will pay back the loan at what the Treasury describes as ‘very low’ interest rates over around five years.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor has dismissed calls from church leaders for companies that avoid UK taxes by routing profits through tax havens to be barred from receiving coronavirus support packages.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was among the senior clergy who called on the Government to follow Denmark, Poland and France in refusing to help companies registered in tax havens.

A spokesman for the Treasury said: “HMRC has robust tools to challenge businesses who avoid paying their fair share of tax.

“That is the right way to challenge avoidance, not by denying support to British workers who pay their taxes and would otherwise lose their jobs.”

By Rob Freeman

Source: Punchline Gloucester

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Businesses turn to alternative money trees as big bank lending stalls

Smaller businesses are turning to alternative ways of financing in much larger numbers than five years ago, as traditional lending flatlines, according to a new report.

Marketplace business lending, which used to be called peer-to-peer, is now providing more than £2 billion a year to British small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), the British Business Bank said.

It is a 374% rise since 2014, the year the bank was set up by the government.

Meanwhile equity finance, providing money in exchange for a stake, has jumped by 131% over the same period.

Since it was set up the Business Bank has provided support to success stories such as cybersecurity outfit Mimecast, and fintech firms Transferwise and Revolut.

Earlier this week Revolut announced it had raised another 500 million US dollars (£387 million), giving the business a valuation of around £4.3 billion.

But while alternative financing has boomed in the last five years, gross lending from major banks to smaller businesses has remained largely flat, growing just 1.2% in real terms.

Gross bank lending reached £56.7 billion last year.

In 2014 it was £53 billion.

Last year 52% of smaller businesses that wanted financing looked beyond the Big Five banks, according to the research.

There is evidence that the flatline in traditional lending is due to demand from businesses drying up, British Business Bank chief executive Keith Morgan told the PA news agency.

More than 70% of them say that they would be willing to forego some future growth rather than take more loans.

Mr Morgan said that small business confidence seems to have rebounded in recent months.

“We are seeing some indication that confidence has rebounded given the additional clarity that is now present with the outcome of the general election and the increased understanding of the course with respect to Europe,” Mr Morgan said.

However it is too early to say whether that will increase demand for finance, he added.

Business Minister Paul Scully said: “Finance for small businesses is essential to our goal of making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

“This report will shape our support for business leaders across the country, so they can drive innovation and growth.”

By August Graham

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Fears for SME retailers as banks cut lending

Bank lending to small and medium-sized retailers has fallen by 6% since the 2016 Brexit vote, while large retailers have benefitted from a 20% increase in lending.

New figures show that funds lent to SME retailers has dropped from £15.6bn to £14.7bn in the three years, accountants and business advisors, Moore. Funds borrowed by large businesses has increased from £31.5bn to £37.8bn during the same period.

In a statement, accountancy firm Moore said: “The figures suggest that some banks are favouring big businesses, [which] are typically seen as more able to repay any funds borrowed… With big retailers increasing their borrowing so aggressively, that means less finance for smaller retailers.

“As well as needing finance to see them through the current volatile trading conditions, SME retailers also need to invest to ensure their stores and overall offering remain contemporary. Without that investment, smaller retailers risk losing more ground to bigger competitors and to e-commerce.”

It also said smaller-sized businesses need funding to help prevent them from going into administration, with the number of retail insolvencies up 31% from 951 in 2016 to 1,252 on 30 September 2019.

Bridget Culverwell, director at Moore, added: “It is a real worry for smaller retailers if banks are treating them less favourably than larger retailers.

“With the final outcome of Brexit still uncertain, it is expected that banks will continue to be apprehensive to lend to the sector in the months ahead.

“Small retailers are still big employers. They occupy space in high streets where larger retailers are not present and often not interested in being present. If too many small retailers fail, then that leaves those parts of town centres with the highest level of vacant shops even emptier.”

BY KATIE IMMS

Source: Drapers

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Personal guarantees are turning 50% of SME owners off business loans, weakening Brexit preparations

In recent years, many banks in the UK have offered increasing support to British businesses through access to finance. However, many SME owners are rightly concerned about the prospect of using personal guarantees when securing access to funding.

Taking a different viewpoint on the matter, Purbeck Insurance Services has suggested that small business owners should not be deterred by personal guarantees, and instead should seek out ways they could dampen the risk.

In a survey carried out earlier this year on 500 small business owners and directors, Purbeck found that while a staggering 49% had never taken out any business finance, 29% of respondents had typically called on their bank overdraft to fund their business.

What types of business finance have you ever taken out?

I have never taken out any business finance 49.00%
Overdraft 29.00%
Unsecured business loan 16.00%
Commercial mortgage 10.40%
Asset finance 9.00%
Invoice finance/factoring 7.60%
Other loan secured by debenture or charge 5.20%

Furthermore, a significant 12% of small business owners claimed to have decided against using business loans to fund their organisations as they included a personal guarantee.

Todd Davison, director of Purbeck Insurance Services, explained: “Our findings suggest that many small business owners could be looking at external finance for the first time in readiness for Brexit. It’s important they seek independent advice and consider Personal Guarantee backed finance as part of their options as they can seriously reduce the risk of these types of loans.

“As well as taking Personal Guarantee Insurance, they can also share a Personal Guarantee with fellow directors of the business, and negotiate which part of the loan is covered.”

The company’s personal guarantee insurance is an annual insurance policy that provides SME directors with insurance in the event their business lender calls in the personal guarantee, provided by the directors as part of raising business finance.

In an effort to help mitigate risk for small business owners considering opting for a business loan including a personal guarantee, Purbeck offered several tips including:

Negotiate a time limit for the Guarantee and a cap on the amount;

Educate yourself about the risks, whether you can afford to take them and always seek legal support;

Consider splitting the Guarantee between directors;

Know where your responsibilities for the Guarantee begin and end – is it loan specific or does it cover all future loans that the lender may provide?

Remember that if you have signed a Personal Guarantee for another business loan they are cumulative;

Agree terms so that the lender seeks settlement from company’s assets before enforcing the Guarantee

Confirm all points of agreement intention and expectation in writing with the lender.

Consider Personal Guarantee insurance to protect against the risk that the Guarantee is called by a lender. This will offset any outstanding obligations called in under a Personal Guarantee.

Written by Miles Rogerson

Source: Asset Finance International

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More than half of SMEs unable to fund business ambitions

More than half (52%) of UK SME owners have business ambitions they feel they are unable to fund, alternative finance provider Nucleus Commercial Finance has revealed.

Business owners in the capital are struggling the most to match their ambitions, with over three-fifths (61%) of London SMEs unable to access funds.

Chirag Shah, chief executive, Nucleus Commercial Finance comments: “Although it’s great to see an increase in both profit and revenue for small businesses, it’s clear that funding challenges still remain.

“If business owners cannot access the funds they need to achieve their strategic goals, we could see a significant impact on the UK’s economy if SMEs are held back.

“With SMEs accounting for 99% of all UK businesses, the alternative finance industry has a significant role to play in helping businesses succeed.

“Particularly as high street banks become more reluctant to lend, we need to better educate small businesses on the other solutions out there.

“The alternative finance industry offers a more flexible and personalised approach to lending, meaning they can help business owners who otherwise thought they had no available option.”

Despite SME owners reporting that revenue and profit increased by 10% and 8% over the previous year respectively, businesses are reportedly struggling to achieve their strategic goals.

The biggest goals are increasing brand, marketing or online presence (19%), expanding across the UK (17%), increasing staff (14%) and launching a new product or service (13%).

By Michael Lloyd

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Lack of available funding holds back a fifth of UK SMEs

Nearly a fifth (19%) of UK SMEs have missed a new opportunity in the past 12 months due to a lack of available funding, according to SME specialist bank Aldermore

The bank’s latest Future Attitudes study shows medium-sized businesses are worst hit, with over a quarter (28%) saying they have been affected.

The report, which surveyed over a thousand business decision-makers across the UK, found that those impacted are missing out on income worth an average of £76,888 each year.

Regionally, businesses based in London are losing out on the most additional income due to missed business opportunities, £135,791 on average annually.

This is followed by those based in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (£67,380 per year).

Lack of funding poses problems for those SMEs focusing on scaling up. Achieving growth is the top business objective for almost two fifths (37%) of SMEs, while almost a quarter (24%) are prioritising developing and expanding their products and services. Additionally, just over a fifth (21%) are concentrating on expanding in the UK.

Furthermore, business owners are apprehensive about not being able to innovate and grow.

A quarter (25%) of SMEs state that cash flow is their biggest business concern over the next 12 months.

Moreover, one in 10 (12%) feel keeping up with new technology is their main worry, while a sixth (15%) are anxious about attracting, retaining or upskilling staff.

Tim Boag, group managing director, business finance at Aldermore, said: “It’s concerning to see that almost a fifth of SMEs are missing out on opportunities as a result of financing issues. Small businesses need adequate cash to innovate, grow and keep up to date with the latest developments.

“That’s why it’s important that lenders understand and are responsive to the needs of SMEs.

“By providing specific solutions in a timely way, which meet business needs, we can start to address this problem and ensure SMEs – the lifeblood of our economy – continue to thrive in uncertain times.”

Written by Tom Seymour

Source: Asset Finance International

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SMEs are shunning traditional banks

ThinCats, the leading fintech lender to mid-sized SMEs, has today published new research highlighting a growing lending divide as younger, modern businesses move away from traditional lenders towards alternative finance providers.

For businesses less than ten years old, 32% call on their bank as the lender of first choice compared to seven-in-ten (71%) businesses over 35-years old. The younger businesses were also more likely to pick an alternative finance platform with more than one-in-five (23%) compared to 4% of the oldest SMEs.

Likewise, in businesses where decision makers were aged under 35, two-thirds (65%) said a traditional bank was not their first port of call for funding. This is in contrast to businesses with decision makers aged 55 and over, where it was just under one-third (30%). For these groups (under 35 decision makers) 22% said they would choose an alternative finance platform, while only 6% (over 55) said they would consider the option.

Sectors such as IT, telecoms and marketing, which are traditionally knowledge or service-based are those leading the way in moving towards alternative finance providers.

Damon Walford, Chief Development Officer, ThinCats, “The SME lending ecosystem is complicated. Changes in the economy, technology and how people work mean that traditional lending models are not meeting the needs of the modern economy by excluding thousands of SMEs from potential funding. Thankfully, it’s encouraging to see that smart minded entrepreneurs are switching to the growing number of non-bank lending alternatives.”

Traditionally, high-street bank lending focuses on asset-backed financing that requires SMEs to provide a physical asset (such as equipment or property) as collateral for a bank loan. Yet, for thousands of service-based companies with few tangible assets, traditional banking credit models often overlook the wider value of a business including the cash being generated.

The research, which surveyed 512 UK SMEs with between 10 and 249 employees, also shows 30% of SMEs who were rejected by their first-choice lender, stopped searching for external funding altogether. This suggests that many businesses, of whom 55% said high street banks were the first lender approached, are potentially giving up when there are suitable alternatives available.

Positively, appetite for lending remains high with more than a quarter of businesses (27%) saying they applied for funding within the last year.

Walford added, “Cashflow lending is a solution for thousands of SMEs, where lenders look at the underlying cash flow generated by the business. For businesses who are service-focused like IT, telecoms and marketing companies it works perfectly. We’ve found that many of these businesses are also more willing to share their accounting data, opening them up to financial providers beyond their banks.

“I hope this message gets out to more SMEs and would encourage them to plug into the growing network of accountants and commercial finance advisers now advising on alternative finance options. It’s critical that UK entrepreneurs can access modern funding solutions for a modern economy.”

BY PETER SMYTH

Source: London Loves Business

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SME lending hits 2-year high – bullish approach essential to Brexit survival

So says Angus Dent, CEO of ArchOver, following the news that the Bank of England has announced that UK SME lending hit a two-year high in June, despite Brexit uncertainty continuing to escalate.

Dent explained to IFA Magazine why we shouldn’t be surprised to see SME lending go up amidst this uncertainty, and why the FS market needs to follow suit and support UK business.

“The message here is that business must continue as usual, regardless of the Westminster-Brussels psychodrama. Businesses still need cash to invest. New projects still need to launched and new customers still have to be served. The SME market in this country is still pushing for growth, however incompetent its political leaders.

“We shouldn’t be surprised to see business lending at a two-year high. Good debt is good for business. Injecting cash into stable companies is the foundation of economic growth – we need to see more of this bullish approach from business as we approach October 31st. We need to see companies taking control of their own futures with sustainable growth finance – not emulating our perpetually dithering government.

“The question is whether the UK’s financiers will support them. The banks have been routinely turning down smaller companies’ loan requests for years now. They may have low-cost capital in spades, but they’re not letting British SMEs put it to work. Instead, businesses need to look beyond the high street and seek out alternative finance that will treat them with the respect they deserve. SMEs need personalised, flexible finance if they’re to make it through the next six months in one piece.

“It’s good to see our small businesses taking this challenge head on. Now we need to see the financiers following suit.”

BY ANDREW SULLIVAN

Source: IFA Magazine

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10 Common Finance Hurdles UK SMEs Face (And How To Overcome Them)

If you run an SME, you probably are familiar with these all too well. But it’s easier to overcome these finance hurdles than you think!

First of all, let us begin by admitting and acknowledging the harsh reality. The UK economy has been through a constant grind of speculation, debate and uncertainty over the past few years, all thanks to Brexit. Without commenting on the issue, we would just like to mention that not all SMEs are happy about the way things have been unfolding. Nearly 40% of UK SMEs think that Brexit – if and when it actually happens – will leave them worse off in terms of financing and sales. That’s a very serious trend.

However, that’s only a part of the finance riddle. There are quite a few non-seasonal hurdles that SMEs have to face while applying for and getting commercial finance. Here are our picks (and some advice from our experts on how you can easily overcome them).

1. The Personal Credit Vs Commercial Finance Conundrum

This is by far the most common confusion we’ve seen SMEs struggle with. Much of this has to do with the fact that most SMEs are built ground-up without any solid plan for expansion. This, however understandable, is not the right approach. When you start a business, it’s advisable to treat it like a business. Sure, you can use your personal credit cards or even mortgage your home – but you need to know where to draw the line.

Personal loans tend to reduce your creditworthiness, making things difficult for when you want to get a business loan. The best way to overcome this conundrum is to separate personal and business finances as strictly as you can. Your personal creditworthiness should be a credit to your business – not a burden.

2. Bad Credit

This is the most obvious hurdle. If you have bad credit, you’re going to struggle to get a good deal (or any deal, for that matter). It’s important to know what impacts your credit in addition to the usual do’s and don’ts.

We’d like to note here that having bad credit doesn’t spell the end of the road by any stretch of imagination. We, at Commercial Finance Network, regularly broker bad credit loans for many otherwise successful SMEs. You can read more about our adverse credit mortgage services here.

3. No Credit History

Not many SMEs take business credit seriously, thanks mainly to the fact that most operate as sole traders. Quite naturally, it’s not very common for SMEs in the UK to have business credit history.

The easiest way to establish business credit history (you’ll need it when you want to apply for high-end commercial finance products) is to register your business and start trading regularly. Most companies, just by trading actively, are able to establish various credit tracks that help towards their credit history. To speed up the process, you can also use easy-to-access finance products like credit lines, business credit cards, overdrafts and so forth. Short-term finance products like bridging loans and invoice finance can also be very helpful in building a good credit score.

4. Multiple Applications

As is the case with personal credit, your chances of getting approved for a commercial finance product may get severely hampered by multiple applications. If you overestimate your creditworthiness and have half a dozen applications turned down, it’s almost always going to leave a dent in your business credit history.

This, however, is easily avoidable. If you want to directly work with lenders, make sure you are familiar with the lender’s expertise, expectations and track record. If not, you can send your applications through a reputed whole of market broker like Commercial Finance Network to improve your chances of getting an affordable and customised finance deal.

5. Going After Incompatible/Unsuitable Products

Another easy to avoid problem.

If you’re in need of commercial finance, make sure you know what exactly it is that you need. Specialty finance products are always more affordable than blanket packages. For example, many SMEs apply for a generic business loan to cover all sorts of expenses, instead of going for specialty, focussed loans. This not only makes things more expensive; it also increases the chance of having their application rejected.

An easy fix is to know what commercial finance products are available out there, and how you can best customise them to your needs.

6. Not Making The Right Points

This shouldn’t be a point of discussion, but we’ve seen too many SMEs fail to paint themselves in good light.

If you want to work with specialty lenders (like the ones we have on our panel), you will need to make sure that you know your business inside out. And by business we don’t just mean your day to day operations. You need to be able to demonstrate how you are planning to fuel the growth and overcome the competition. A detailed business plan that touches on all these point (and more) will always be helpful in getting lenders on board.

7. Weak Cashflow

This doesn’t and shouldn’t apply to every SME out there. However, you need to ensure that the cashflow numbers are always as healthy as possible.

Lenders, by and large, look for affirmative signs that tell them that you’ll settle the dues. And there’s no better sign of surety than strong cashflow numbers month after month.

8. Short On Security

Many commercial finance products require you to attach a security. It could range from personal guarantees and shares to properties and even vehicles.

Some specialty products (a good example is that of invoice financing) may not work at all without an inherent security. So, before you apply, know how these products work and what sort of security might be needed to get your application through.

9. No Trading History

Many SMEs try to apply for commercial finance right after they start trading. This is a rather hasty approach, because at that point, no SME can show any sign of credibility – no credit history, no volume of transactions and no track record.

To avoid this, we advise our customers to establish a long-enough trading history (typically six months or longer).

10. Tie All The Loose Ends

If your business has availed any loans in the past – however small the amounts – make sure you pay them off at your earliest, before you apply for commercial finance. If you aren’t in a position to make these payments right away, make sure these loans are represented correctly on your credit file, so that lenders can understand why you needed them and how you’re going to pay those back.

Commercial finance can appear daunting – but trust us, it’s anything but. With specialist lenders who know what your business needs, we’ve got you covered. To request more information or to request a call back, please call us on 03303 112 646. You can also get in touch with us here.