What SMEs really need

Future of Financial Advice

By Bob Dodd, CEO Centrepoint Alliance Lending Solutions

People who run a small business will tell you they need three things – better cash flow, more time, and peace of mind. It’s no surprise to those of us who work with SMEs all the time. We know they don’t have time to do everything they need to do and that they worry most about the imbalance between incomings and outgoings.

And rightly so. Dun & Bradstreet’s reports confirm what we all know already, that big business makes small business wait for their money. In some small business sectors they are paid on average 62 days past the due date. And if their business is growing, the issue can become critical. They end up providing increasing quantities of goods and services on credit, but struggle to be paid so they can settle their own bills.

Access to finance is critical

Your average small business is reluctant to go to their bank for help. They generally already have a mortgage or a line of credit with the bank that they don’t want to increase. They know if they go to a bank they won’t have a choice of products because large financial institutions are obligated to offer their own. They don’t like the idea of providing their property, or other asset security the banks require, and they certainly don’t have time for all the paperwork. So it’s not surprising that easier access to finance is a critical issue.

We’ve learned over the years that every business is different, but their needs and problems are often shared. A recent survey by one of our insurance industry leaders, Vero Insurance, shows us that SMEs worry about rising costs and a falling economy. The greater their concerns about economic matters – the more important their insurance becomes. Yet an insurance premium is often one of their biggest annual costs, and it comes without flexibility.

We know these problems well, because it’s our business to help solve them. Being able to spread that annual lump sum cost can save a lot of headaches, and free up cash for essential business building resources like a new truck, an information technology overhaul, or an office refurbishment.

So what’s the solution?

It’s not all about technology. Today you can get a $15,000 loan online with minimal detail and only a few clicks of your mouse – but at what cost?

At Centrepoint Alliance we drive technology like crazy behind the scenes because, after all, that’s what makes the process quick and easy for our intermediaries and their customers. But it’s not the solution.

Sometimes it’s as simple as flexibility. I’ve lost count of the number of times a customer has called their broker to say they can’t pay on the first of the month, but they can make the tenth. “Ok”, we say, “is that just this month, or every month?”.

Sometimes it’s just about finding the right finance option. And that means choice.

We’ve done the hard work by reducing a large (and complex) global finance market down to what we see as the 40 best options to enable them to buy that property, a commercial building, or a piece of equipment for the factory.

We have the solutions to appeal to SMEs across all geographies and industries. That choice makes all the difference when it comes to finding the right fit for customers in terms of offering, price, and conditions.

That’s what SMEs need. They need it to be easy, quick, and simple.

We listen, and then deliver exactly the right solution, because at the end of the day it’s all about trust and peace of mind.

The issue may be money, but this business is about people.