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Understanding business funding

Finance 4 Business

The SME market is the lifeblood of the UK. Without it, we do not have an economy.

At the start of 2016, there were 5.5 million businesses in the UK, with 99% of them SME’s (companies with up to 249 employees) equating to over 60% of total private sector employment.

This is an increase of 2 million businesses since 2000. During this period we encountered a major recession and the largest financial crisis the world has ever seen, yet the SME market has grown.

Of course, not all have survived, but it is the British resilience and entrepreneurship that has assisted the UK to grow. These businesses require access to all available funding options to enable them to continue their growth.

Traditional business banking, having a dedicated person in branch who understands your business has long gone. A banks principal asset historically was their people. Unfortunately, the most valuable, experienced individuals have been heavily cut, replaced by systems, technology and cheaper less experienced staff. With 461 branch closures already announced, with the possibility of this rising to 525 in 2017 alone, where does this leave the most important stakeholder – the customer?

I am all for technology and moving with the times, but that personal touch is still very much required especially when trying to establish a customer’s needs and financial requirements. Combining these provides one very powerful solution. That solution has a name, “broking”, the new form of banking.

Banks are unquestionably still the biggest players in business finance, and will be for years to come, but seemingly reserve this boutique experience for their larger, stronger customers. The entrepreneurial businesses on the other hand, must seek out the most appropriate of the new innovative, fast moving suppliers.

In recent years, a raft of products, lenders and services have developed in the business finance market. These include asset based lenders, invoice finance, spot invoice financing, peer to peer, crowdfunding, online term loans, supply chain finance, trade finance, asset finance etc etc.

The list is extensive and to a small business, can be confusing. What type of finance do they need to complement their business bank account? What are the terms? Where do they look to find it?

Every business is unique. Evaluating and understanding a business’s requirements and providing a bespoke service with the products they require is best done face to face. Established quality brokers, such as Finance 4 Business are doing just that.

Not all customers are fortuitous enough to fall in the best category, with good assets and an excellent credit profile. A professional broker can take a holistic approach with business owners to plan ahead, considerate of the clients’ specific circumstances or past. A computer terminal can’t.

High Street bank products will form part of a brokers offering, as many banks utilise brokers as part of their overall distribution strategy. As a leading broker, it is having the knowledge and experience to present a transaction in the right way, that enabled us to successfully approach a client’s bank and facilitate a transaction, when initially they said no.

The case in point occurred when we recently reviewed a business’s borrowing requirements, with particular focus on their commercial mortgage.

The existing rate was high and significant savings had been identified in this area, which could then be utilised in another side of the business. Their bank, a traditional High Street said no, yet when we packaged and presented the case fully, we placed it with that very bank.

This is a prime example of how a true brokerage should work, using the wealth of knowledge, experience and understanding a business fully enabling us to present a case like in traditional banking days.

Some of the new challenger banks only facilitate business via external distribution channels meaning clients cannot approach them directly.

They will audit a brokerage to ensure they meet the requirements to offer their products to customers, this is imperative and provides our clients with an additional layer of comfort whilst assisting them with their needs.

Without utilising the services of a broker, how does a customer know that they are getting the right products for their business?

The days of traditional bank lending, the overdraft as core borrowing, are behind us. A modern business has a wealth of choice about what finance facility is best suited to their cashflow and asset profile. The only slight set back is understanding that breadth of choice to find the right solution, but help is at hand.

Banking is in great health in the form of broking. Traditional values combined with new products, technology and knowledge is the way forward.

Partnering with a specialist broker enables you to build a relationship you can trust. We take the time to understand your business and your needs, enabling you to enhance your business and assist in the growth your business deserves.