SMEs don't credit check - is it price or an education issue?
I was a bit surprised to read in the Daily Telegraph on the 8th july about a Barclays Bank idea to offer free of charge credit checks to its 580, 000 corporate customers. OK, the service is only a plan and I’m not sure where they’re going to find millions of free credit reports to give away, but the more interesting aspect of the piece by Richard Tyler was that he quoted Barclays as saying that small businesses didn’t do credit checks on customers due largely to the cost of such services from the established agencies. First of all, i have to say Barclays is absolutely right to say that a large majority of small businesses don’t avail themselves of credit reports before opening up accounts. However, it is also true that prices of credit reports have dropped considerably over the years, and there are many credit agencies offering tailor made products at low prices to small businesses nowadays. Personally, I think the reason why SME’s don’t use credit reports is more to do with a lack of credit management expertise within SMEs- and that’s not a criticism; its a fact that most businesses under 6 million turnover don’t employ professional credit managers who know all the tricks to get cash in quicker and to avoid bad debts and protracted payments. Most small businesses don’t have any finance department specialists, as their businesses are too small to sustain them. Therefore, SMEs really do need a lot of help from their accountants and other external advisers, which is why i think Barclays should at least be patted on the back for trying to tackle the issue.