Alternative finance defies lending slump

Robyn Hall

April 30, 2013

In a recent survey of 350 brokers carried out by West One intermediaries reported 16% quarterly growth in short-term commercial loans secured against real estate assets.

The expansion is the second highest rate of growth ever recorded, and brings commercial alternative lending to a new record high.

Duncan Kreeger, director at West One Loans, said: “Politicians are talking-up the economic recovery but the vast majority of lenders are still in full retreat from business lending.

“It remains to be seen whether last week’s Funding for lending tweak will have any impact on mainstream business loans. But the odds don’t look great.

“Meanwhile alternative lenders are galloping twice as fast in the other direction now providing a million pounds in business loans every day.

A growing number of UK firms are turning away from the inflexible packages on offer from traditional lenders.

They want the personalised approach of smaller and more modern lenders. Peer-to-peer models are the most flexible of all, with sophisticated private investors who can take the initiative where cumbersome institutions fail.”

The latest increase leaves the value of short-term business finance secured against real estate at a new record – at £360m in the last twelve months.

This compares to £210m in the same quarter a year ago and means alternative business lending has more than doubled since the end of 2011 when this figure stood at £170m.

However, intermediaries report the latest expansion comes in spite of poor understanding with 81% of intermediaries believing some of their clients are missing out on the opportunities offered by alternative funding.

Over one quarter of intermediaries (27%) said poor understanding amongst clients is in fact the biggest barrier of all to the completion of alternative finance deals.

In November only 14% thought a lack of understanding was the greatest obstacle to alternative finance.

Kreeger said: “Streamlining other processes has brought to light the most critical step of all – knowledge of the options on the table. This is really a huge opportunity in light of the industry’s growth so far.

“There will always be a lag between developing new products – like second charge loans or specially-designed commercial deals – and their wide take-up.

“After all that’s why it’s called alternative lending, because it keeps adapting. Alongside our broker partners we’ve recently become aware of a new breed of commercial client, as knowledge of new finance spreads.”

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