Cardiff Breakfast Club 27th September – Adrian White, Lloyds Banking Group

Posted: September 27, 2013 in Business/Cardiff News, Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events
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Breakfast ClubKicking off the new Cardiff Breakfast Club season this morning was Adrian White, Managing Director of SME Banking at Lloyds Banking Group. Lloyds is the largest financial services employer in Wales, with over 6000 members of staff.

Financial services is a key sector within Wales, yet banking can only thrive if SME businesses can benefit from Access to Finance. It is these smaller businesses, defined as those ranging from start-up to a turnover of £25million, that form the foundation of a “strong and vibrant economy”. Adrian discussed whether a collaborative approach could be the answer to supporting SME growth.

Adrian conceded that the marketplace has been challenging for SME businesses, with many forced to examine all aspects of their operations and “tighten their belts” over recent years. However, many are emerging from the recession stronger than they were when it began. Confidence is a key factor for smaller businesses, and something that Lloyds, and all lenders, need to encourage. With many discounted funding schemes currently available, there has in fact “never been a better time to borrow”, and lending in Wales is currently growing at a very high rate of around 6%.

Alongside these positive indications, Lloyds welcomed the opportunity to discuss and examine the challenges that still face SMEs by taking part in Professor Dylan Jones Evans’ recent review into Access to Finance. This was commissioned by the Welsh Government following extensive consultation with businesses, academia, government and the FSB, among others. Its preliminary findings were recently published on how effectively SMEs are served in Wales, issues that remain challenging, and recommendations to resolve these.

Adrian commented on 2 possible areas for improvement in particular. Firstly, he discussed how greater knowledge of how banks assess funding applications will lead to better applications. While Lloyds currently approves 8 out of 10 requests for funding, the information provided is in many cases presented poorly – even if the business itself is good. Adrian acknowledged that banks themselves could communicate what they need in a business plan better, and went on to discuss the seminars Lloyds are involved with to do just that. 

Lloyds offer a wide range of funding schemes to SMEs - and approve 8 out of 10 funding applications.

Lloyds offer a wide range of funding schemes to SMEs – and approve 8 out of 10 funding applications.

The second area touched upon this morning was awareness of the support already available to SMEs. There is a wide range of Welsh Government support schemes available, but take up of those could be better and more consistent. Start-ups and very small businesses (turnover under £1million) in particular need support, yet Adrian said it is a “continuing challenge” to get these businesses to present bankable proposals. Their lack of track record and lack of ability to demonstrate repayment make it harder for them to have funding approved. Making better use of the support already available would make their success more likely.

Adrian moved on to discuss the wide range of funding options they offer to SMEs, including peer-to-peer lending, business angels and mentoring. 20 members of Lloyds staff in Wales actively work as mentors, and Lloyds is a member of the Business Angel network board. This range of options enables Lloyds to encourage customers to look at the source of funding that is most appropriate for them.

Adrian finished by praising Wales’ “can do” attitude and previous successes: with many successful businesses here, there “must be a lot of things going right”. It is important to continue to work collaboratively to help more SMEs become “business ready” – these good, small businesses “deserve nothing less”.

The next Cardiff Breakfast Club meeting will take place on Thursday 10th October with guest speaker Lynda Campbell, Regional Director for Wales, British Gas. For information or to book your place, contact Sally Taylor on 02920 549597 or sally@petersenspr.com. 

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