Brokers launch online matching service to help SMEs access finance

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The National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers has begun an online “matching service” for SMEs who are unable to access funding beyond high street banks.

The website aims to helps small and medium enterprises unlock finance from an array of lenders in the UK, from high street and challenger banks to peer-to-peer lending and alternative lending via independent brokers.

The NACFB currently works with 106 separate UK lenders, but its recent research suggests that just six per cent of small businesses are aware of what is available to them beyond the high street. They also didn’t realise that they can access those lenders via an expert broker.

The website has been created with the support of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the Welsh Government and the Federation of Small Businesses.

Its launch comes days after the Chancellor George Osborne began a consultation on referral process to help SMEs secure loans that have been refused finance elsewhere.

Marcus Grimshaw, the chairman of the The National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers said despite various lending initiatives and awareness campaigns to make it easier for SMEs to borrow, small businesses still face “significant challenges when it comes to securing finance.”

Mr Grimshaw said: “The issue, however, is not availability of funds. It’s about awareness and access. Many SME lenders are specialists that don’t have a high street presence, so it’s difficult and time consuming for small businesses to track them down.”

He said he hopes the website will be a game changer that will “bridge the gap” between the many thousands of credit-worthy SMEs who want to borrow, “and the wide range of lenders out there who are ready and willing to lend. It is a platform for change and a vital resource to help the UK SME community grow.”

The NACFB is in consultation with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in the creation of an official referrals process for SME lending. It fully supports any initiative to make the lending process more straightforward for these companies.

Investec Asset Finance head Mike Francis, which sponsors the site, said: “We are in total agreement with the Association that there is a huge opportunity to help UK SMEs by highlighting the many different forms of finance available to businesses.

“If small company directors were more aware of asset finance, for example, it would give them the confidence to make more investment decisions, win new contracts and create extra jobs, and we are proud to support this initiative.”