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Matchmaking service helps small firms secure finance

Daniel Liberto

FindSMEfinance.co.uk, which currently gives SMEs access to 106 lenders through an independent broker, covers various sources of lending from high-street and challenger banks to peer-to-peer and alternative financiers.

The national trade body, which works as a consultant to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, said the online portal was launched in response to research indicating that just 6 per cent of SMEs were aware of the full range of lenders in the market.

Marcus Grimshaw, chairman of the NACFB, 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.

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“The issue, however, is not availability of funds, but awareness and access. Many SME lenders are specialists that do not have a high-street presence, so it is difficult and time-consuming for small businesses to track them down.”

At present the largest four banks account for over 80 per cent of UK SME’s main banking relationships.

The online portal was developed with support from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the Welsh government and the Federation of Small Businesses and followed George Osborne’s consultation on the importance of referral processes.

As part of his Budget, the chancellor said it was pivotal to help SMEs that have been refused finance from mainstream banks.

Mike Francis, head of Investec Asset Finance, said: “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.”