Anstee: Small businesses need audits to help raise finance

FORMER ICAEW chief executive Eric Anstee has raised concerns that small businesses will struggle to gain access to finance without externally audited accounts.

As the audit threshold has continued to climb, pushing smaller businesses outside of the audit remit, the reliability of their accounts “is brought into question”.

The process by which they can gain access to finance is slowed as they look to have the financial statements externally verified.

“It would be much better if they had properly signed off accounts in the first place,” said Anstee.

“When they have consulted with accountants, then it’s good. The problem is that SMEs come to us (for funding) before speaking to them.”

He was speaking to Accountancy Age after the business of which he is CEO, City of London Group, was one of four firms to be awarded a multimillion-pound ‘mandate’ by the government to invest into SMEs.

Under the scheme, launched by the Department of Business last week, it will match 1:1 with funding providers – with up to £110m up for grabs.

However, Antee warned that a lack of gearing made the government’s funding less attractive: “It makes it difficult to raised private sector money.”

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