Can Accountants Do More to help SMEs obtain bank support?

Some say they are…..A lot say they aren’t….. but the debate as to whether banks are lending to SMEs during this ongoing economic crisis rumbles on. There must be a whole load of reasons why some SMEs succeed in persuading banks that they are worth the punt, and then again, a number of reasons why banks turn down loan applications.
I was down in Westminster the other day talking to a Trade Credit insider at the government’s BIS department to learn of one big reason that prevents banks from lending. Apparently, from evidence that the banks have shown to BIS officials, its clear that many applications from SMEs are woefully inadequate. Which raises a big question in my mind…… are SMEs trying to obtain advice from accountants on how to pitch for a business loan i.e. what should a loan application be supported with (management accounts, cash flow forecast, breakeven analysis, yearly business plan?)
If SMEs aren’t asking for this advice from their financial advisers, they should be. Many business owners are good at what they do on a day to day basis when running their businesses, but pitching to a bank for a loan in this economic climate calls for a degree of expertise that I would guess sits outside the average SME owner’s comfort zone. Perhaps accountants should come forward a bit more to proactively market this type of service to the SME community, as clearly, there is a gap in the market that needs filling. Maybe some accountants are helping their small clients obtain bank support by offering advice on shaping a loan application. If you do, I’d like to hear from you because i reckon you’re the exception to the rule based on the evidence I can see.

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