SMEs find banks ‘biased against them’

NEARLY three quarters of UK SMEs say their banks discriminate against them in favour of larger companies.

Fintech platform HedgeFlows canvassed the leaders of 500 SMEs via independent polling agency Censuswide. The firm quizzed industry chiefs about access to finance, support and tools for expansion.

A full 72 percent of respondents said banks provided “very limited” support for international payments. Most feel “ignored” and say they struggle to secure a meeting with their bank or financial manager.

Bosses said plans for international and overseas trade had been scuppered by high trading costs, citing high transfer fees abroad.

A majority — 69 percent — said their company would benefit from international expansion, and almost as many feel they lack the financial expertise to open an overseas office. Even more — 78 percent — admitted that their company had limited cash reserves.

HedgeFlows co-founder Neh Thaker praised SMEs as “the beating heart” of the UK economy, creating jobs and driving crucial growth in uncertain times. “It’s absurd that so many of our most ambitious and fast-growing businesses feel left out in the cold by their bank,” he said.

“The time has come to equip SMEs with a level playing field to expand internationally, giving them access to a suite of services required to manage overseas transactions, currency conversions and cashflows.

“These privileges are already enjoyed by larger enterprises and should be available to businesses of all sizes.”