"In the battle against uncertainty, preparation can be a business’ greatest ally and that is what we can be delivered by independent lenders and brokers."
No one could have predicted how the approach to the world of work and our finances would be redefined in 2020.
Whilst we have entered this new year with a renewed sense of hope, the lockdown has dampened growth aspirations for some businesses and there remains challenges to be met. As such, it is vital now more than ever that funders and brokers double down on our efforts to get the right support to small and medium sized enterprises.
With the rollout of a vaccination programme there are tentative steps being taken towards a more normal way of life -one that doesn’t involve living room zoom meetings. However, until we get to that point, we will continue to see financial pressures for businesses across the country. When businesses began to close at the start of this pandemic, decisive action was taken by Government and independent lenders were able to mobilise rapidly to get support to businesses, the same again is needed now.
An uncertain future
The challenging January hangover for businesses in terms of cashflow has been worsened by the implementation of a national lockdown forcing many businesses to shut up shop. There are also some financial challenges on the horizon with double tax months and the arrival of deferred payments.
The challenge now is that it is difficult to predict when an improved business environment will come and what form it will take and so preparation is vital. There are the products in the market to help and it’s up to funders and brokers to come together to deliver those products to SMEs so that they can be confident in their financial position as we look towards 2021.
In the battle against uncertainty, preparation can be a business’ greatest ally and that is what we can be delivered by independent lenders and brokers.
CBILS and beyond
The roll out of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, or CBILS, has been a key feature of the lending landscape in 2020 and provided a lifeline for many businesses. With the scheme coming to an end on 31st March, there is still time for businesses to take advantage of the flexibility the scheme provides whether that’s financing vital workplace upgrades or ensuring a smoother transition into working remotely.
It is at yet unclear whether there will be further lending scheme extensions or what form future Govt-backed support will take with all eyes on the Chancellor’s budget in March. Some businesses can’t wait that long and will need independent lenders to act fast in providing access to capital.
For instance, we delivered £200 million of CBILS loans to businesses in 2020 and we are learning and adapting all the time in order to meet the needs of brokers and the broader SME community. As lenders, we can provide as much clarity as possible for brokers which helps them in identifying the best offering for their clients. Ultimately what is vital now is to be able to fund fast, flexibly and securely.
Opportunities for growth
Funders, brokers, and businesses share one common goal and that is growth. In amongst the uncertainty of the pandemic and Brexit rule changes there are opportunities for growth and in order to finance that growth the industry must be more agile than ever. Everyone is hoping that 2021 can be a turning point as trade increases, new funding options are provided, and supply chain challenges are met head on. Economic recovery in the UK will be driven by our SMEs and there is a vital role still to be played by brokers and funders to enable growth and boost our recovery.