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Time Finance has launched a new asset finance solution ‘Fast Track’ in response to an increased demand for finance from both established UK SMEs and aspiring business owners, as many prepare for increased costs around their operations. The move is being driven by Steve Nichols, director of asset finance, who joined the firm in January to help bolster funding support to UK SMEs, and will be available to a select panel of brokers.

Nichols commented: "The UK business market has faced a challenging time over the last couple of years and many are looking for finance solutions to help them achieve their investment plans and ease cashflow. We want to offer real support for those looking to start their next business venture at a time when many are feeling uncertain about the future, so that they can do so confidently and with success.

With soft asset finance facilities up to £10,000 available under the Fast Track solution, Time Finance’s broker network and their SME clients can benefit from swift decisions and easy access to funds.

“By accelerating the process in which business owners typically go through to secure soft asset finance, it means that we’re able to help our brokers and their clients acquire the vital pieces of equipment quickly so they can concentrate on running their businesses.

“It’s something we feel has been a massive gap in the asset finance market and so we’re delighted to be driving change in the market and stepping up support for SMEs, particularly those just entering the business market,” Nichols said.

SME research

Time Finance’s innovation comes as new research shows one in three UK-based SMEs who sought access to finance were denied in the last year. The survey from smart payments and data enrichment platform Yolt calculates this resulted in an estimated £3.7bn lost in potential funding.

Lender pushback on SME requests focused on the business being too young (31%), having too- high levels of existing debt (22%) and insufficient collateral (20%). Medium-sized businesses (50-250 employees) were the most likely to be refused for funding (56%).

Even for successful candidates, the process of borrowing money via traditional means was rarely seamless. Only one in five SMEs (20%) described the process of borrowing as easy and less than 10% felt the process was low effort or utilised technology to integrate with their systems to give the most reliable result.

Yolt says sharing data via open banking technology could significantly increase approvals and reduce the processing time of SME borrowing, and its latest research found two thirds (66%) of SMEs are willing to do this.

Nicolas Weng Kan, Yolt CEO, said: “SMEs represent the foundation for a thriving economy, in the UK they represent 99% of all private sector businesses; as such, it’s important we nurture SME growth. Traditional borrowing, limited as it is, can make access to finance difficult. This can impede growth and make it hard for small businesses to achieve their true potential.

“We can see a clear desire from small business leaders in our research to use the power of their data and insight to allow for more accurate decisioning when it comes to borrowing money; open banking is the solution to this. By employing open banking technology, lenders can get a clearer picture of a business’ behaviours and can then provide financing with far more confidence: it’s not about taking on extra risk but accessing a great level of insight. This technology also makes the application process quicker and automated, allowing for efficiencies on both sides.”

The research found that in the last year, the average SME sought to borrow £331,275 in financing to help grow their business. However, on average, small businesses managed to borrow approximately £50,000 less than this. Business leaders are seeking similar amounts in the coming year (£332,289) with a specific focus on investing to help grow their business including new equipment (36%), product development (21%) and improved technology (17%).

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