Helping hands in a new financial world?


Sources of finance for small and medium-sized businesses are widening. A major accountant and an online portal have announced new developments they say will help SMEs grow and make the best of a rapidly diversifying market for cash.

ACCOUNTANCY and professional services firm PwC says it’s on the lookout for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) who want to grow and could do with advice in organising and managing financial services in a rapidly changing business environment, where sources of finance beyond banks and traditional investors are becoming increasingly important.
The company says in Scotland, there are over 340,000 SMEs, employing over 1m people and accounting for almost 40% of private sector turnover. It has launched My Financepartner, a new accounting service that, it says, will help SMEs get the professional support and financial insight they need to secure future growth. The service has been designed for start-ups and companies looking to grow rapidly and offers a “Financepartner”, a commercially focused accountant who can meet with them regularly to act as mentor and adviser.
My Financepartner can also provide management information that can work with existing accounting software, plus a secure cloud-based accounts package, and telephone and web support. My Financepartner has also joined with two alternative finance providers – Funding Circle and Market Invoice.
Funding Circle, a marketplace for business loans, enables investors to directly lend to small businesses. To date, it’s said to have helped more than 5,500 businesses borrow £370m.
Businesses use MarketInvoice to sell long-dated invoices direct to investors, releasing money that would otherwise be tied-up.
Martin Cowie, PwC’s head of private business in Scotland, said: “Many SMEs are finding that they need a much more flexible model for accounting that can grow with them as their business evolves. This is where My Financepartner can help – it gives businesses access to accounting support they need when they need it and sophisticated management information which will deliver the necessary insight for planning for future growth.”
The new My Financepartner service’s pricing reflects the elements used by the customer bundled into a monthly fee where the initial financial commitment required is a single month’s fee.
“While working with SMEs we’ve found a common misconception – the belief that traditional financing routes are the only ones open to them,” said Cowie.
“Businesses are demanding new, flexible and faster options for funding, and our arrangements with innovative companies like Funding Circle and MarketInvoice will help us to get businesses’ leaders the information and services they need to grow, fast.”
• Web-based alternative funding portal (ABF) announced late last year that TradeRiver Finance and Boost Capital had joined its service and a further 25 – 30 funders are expected to join before legislation comes into effect in April this year.
ABF brings together what it says are market-leaders for the main forms of alternative funding for SMEs – including short-term and long-term loans, equity crowd funding, invoice trading, peer-to-peer, trade finance and pension-led funding.
It says it intends to win designated portal status from the Treasury under proposed new rules and to “set the standard in linking SMEs with alternative funding solutions appropriate to their needs”.
Adam Tavener, chairman of “With TradeRiver and Boost Capital now live on the portal – we are not only one step closer towards the £2bn business funding landmark – we’ve opened up an even greater choice of non-bank funding solutions for the UK’s SME economy.”