Urgent action needed after CMA report, says NACFB chief

by: Carmen Reichman
  • 10/08/2016
  • 0
Urgent action needed after CMA report, says NACFB chief
The Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) report into retail banking was a “giant step in the right direction”, but measures need to be implemented swiftly to help small businesses, said National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) Adam Tyler.

Tyler (pictured) said the government had to create better awareness of alternative financing options among small businesses to allow them to take advantage of opportunities presented post-Brexit.

“This report is a giant step in the right direction, but these measures need to be implemented swiftly,” he said.

“Business owners shouldn’t see their existing business account provider as their default lender and their only source of finance. There needs to be greater awareness and transparency of the types of funding available to small businesses, beyond the high street,” Tyler added.

In its two-year investigation into the retail banking industry the CMA found banks needed to work harder for their customers and ensure greater competition in the sector.

It unveiled a package of measures targeted at banks dealing with consumers and small businesses, including the development of comparison services for small businesses, publication of SME lending product prices and the development of an SME loan price and eligibility tool.

The CMA found businesses lacked the tools to provide them with comprehensive information about bank charges, service quality and credit availability.

Chair of the investigation Alasdair Smith said: “The reforms we have announced today will shake up retail banking for years to come, and ensure that both personal customers and small businesses get a better deal from their banks.

“We are breaking down the barriers which have made it too easy for established banks to hold on to their customers. Our reforms will increase innovation and competition in a sector whose performance is crucial for the UK economy.”

But Tyler said business owners shouldn’t see their existing business account provider as their default lender and only source of finance.

He said he found it “staggering” that most small business owners turned to their existing bank for finance when there was a diverse range of alternative options available.

“At a time when the banks are still ultra cautious about who they lend to, there are more lenders than there’s ever been in the commercial finance sector who are happy to provide finance to small businesses.

“It would be a positive message from the government if they highlighted the alternative funding options that are available,” he said.

Tyler’s comments echoed those of Forum of Private Business managing director Ian Cass in July when he urged members to consider options such as funding from challenger banks, crowdfunding or pension-led funding to bolster their business’ finances.

Cass said the problem was many firms seemed reluctant to research the market for the best deals and were sticking to their local high street banks instead, while others were simply ”unaware” of where to find alternative options.

“There has been this story ongoing since the crash that the banks need to get more money out and make more cash available to businesses to grow.

“We are saying businesses need to start looking at other options, take a bit more control, realise there are options out there that may be more relevant to them, than just the banks,” he said at the time.

A Department of Business Innovation and Skills survey, published in May, showed 22% of SME employers saw access to finance as a major problem in 2015.

However, it also showed about a third of business owners considered they were strong when it came to obtaining finance compared with a mere 19% who said they were poor. By comparison, in 2012 18% reported they were strong, while 42% said their prospects were weak.

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