The ArgusWork harder to gain our trust, Sussex firms tell banks (From The Argus)

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Work harder to gain our trust, Sussex firms tell banks

Banks must work harder to gain the trust of entrepreneurs, according to the county’s business leaders.

But the Sussex area business manager at a major bank said start-ups in the county must not expect the bank to shoulder the burden of risk of new firms.

The latest Funding and Finance Outlook survey from Worthing-based accountancy firm Carpenter Box reveals almost half of Sussex firms said they are not planning to raise finance this year. Bosses said this is due to the barriers to raising finance, with many respondents citing the current cost of finance or finance not being available as the main barriers.

The survey of 256 companies show-ed that Sussex firms, which are looking to raise money, are asking for less than £250,000, predominantly for acquisitions and property expansion.

Robert Dowling, head of corporate finance at Carpenter Box in Worthing, said: “Difficulty with accessing funding is often the perceived barrier to business growth. The answer to the funding barrier is to be innovative and methodical. First of all, make sure you have a professional looking business plan where the financial projections are sound and supportable and, secondly, be prepared to look at more than one solution.”

Keith Fox, Barclays area business manager for Sussex, said he and his fellow business managers are actively lending, adding: “We agree more than eight in ten lending applications and where we decline we believe that this is the right decision for us and the right decision for the customer.

“When I review those applications that have been successful the themes that come through are a well-run business with the owner having experience in the sector, a clear business plan and usually some security to factor into the application.

“Those that fail tend to be those who are looking to expand without these foundations, or where they are asking the bank to take on a disproportionate amount of risk.

“On occasion businesses look for debt to expand or survive when really they should be looking for equity and increasingly we are seeing business angles and alternative funding routes being run alongside bank debt.

But Neil Edwards, boss at The Marketing Eye in Uckfield, said there was uncertainty among entrepreneurs about how willing banks are to lend.

He said: “Banks need to work hard to build trust with new firms. We need to regain that trust that has been lost during the recession. It needs to go all the way up the line in the banking organisation. Too often the area manager may be positive but the loan gets restricted as it moves up the hierarchy.”

Julia Chanteray, president of the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce, said that the Government must push banks to lend to start-ups.

She said: “New businesses often assume the bank will say no, when it could quite possibly say yes, so it is always worth having a go. But banks will often ask for a personal guarantee, in which case you might as well take out a personal loan.

“The Government has got to make it easier for banks to make sure the money is going to the firms that need it most.”


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