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East Anglia: Access to bank finance still a concern for region’s SMEs

PUBLISHED: 13:00 07 June 2014

Mike Randall, chief executive of Close Brothers Asset Finance.

Mike Randall, chief executive of Close Brothers Asset Finance.

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Four out of five small and medium-sized firms in East Anglia which plan to seek funding for growth in the next 12 months fear their bank will turn them down, according to a new survey.

The poll for the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer found that nearly 20% of SMEs in East Anglia plan to seek growth funding but that, of those, 80% fear they will be refused by their bank.

Mike Randall, chief executive of Close Brothers Asset Finance, said: “It is encouraging that many firms are planning for growth and seeking investment, but unless they can get access to funding it will be difficult to realise their ambitions.

“To successfully build long-term development plans, companies will require greater access to working capital. It is important they understand and explore the alternatives available to bank lending, especially if they fear being turned down.

“Our research found that almost a fifth of firms surveyed in East Anglia have been declined access to bank funding over the last six months, so the fears businesses have are not unfounded.”

The survey also revealed that more than half of local businesses admit that their knowledge of alternative sources of finance could be better, while 11% say they are unaware of any alternatives to bank lending.

Mr Randall added: “It’s vital that firms consider other means of investment to help them fund their growth and find a solution that supports their needs.

“Asset finance is one alternative that has become increasingly popular in recent years. However many companies remain unaware of how it can help them to achieve their potential.”

However, the BBA organisation, which acts as a collective voice for the banking sector, said last week that new loans to medium-sized businesses grew during the first quarter of this year by £3.6billion, with overall new borrowing totalling £6.8billion – a 10% increase on the same time last year.

“This is reinforced by encouraging results from independent SME Finance Monitor where fewer than one in ten businesses said that they view access to finance as a major barrier to their growth and success,” BBA added.

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