The British Bankers’ Association is working on a project that ensures small businesses won’t be left out in the cold.
Banks will be required to refer rejected loan applications to one or more other parties. It’s a vital second chance at funding.
The NACFB’s findSMEfinance.co.uk website is a strong candidate to handle these referrals. It is backed up not by one or two lenders, but by well over a hundred.
Now the NACFB has cleared the first hurdle, remaining on a shortlist of organisations that wanted to step in and play a really central role in leading SMEs to funding.
We want borrowers to be able to find local brokers. Face-to-face contact is important to building trust, and once a borrower has already had one rejection, a friendly face is all the more welcome.
The FCA, too, makes such a clear distinction between direct and indirect contact with the borrower. For instance, where a broker is never physically in the same room as the small business owner he or she is arranging finance for, there’s a mandatory “cooling-off” period. That’s new for 2015.
But the NACFB’s ethos has always been a little bit old-fashioned in the way our brokers like to work, and I mean that in the positive, handshaking sense.
Admittedly ours isn’t the only name in the hat. However, we were the first to be called, and the sheer size of the website as it is (more than £40million from over 400 leads just in the relatively quiet month of January 2015) will hopefully stand us in good stead when the final decision is made.
This round for the competing platforms concluded on 19th February. I know that the current coalition want this legislation agreed and the commencement of the referral process in place before Parliament is dissolved on March 30th so we’re now in that “clock ticking” period.
There are more than five million SMEs in the UK and it would be a great moment for our Association if a significant number of those could find the funding they need through our brokers and lenders.
Perhaps we will be in a position to share good news at our sixth Commercial Finance Expo on17th June at the Pavilion, NEC Birmingham. You can register to attend now, whether you’re an NACFB member or not: go to nacfb.org.uk and follow the events links. We’ll make sure you have a worthwhile day.
Adam Tyler is chief executive officer of the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers.