Two thirds (67%) of brokers operating in the asset finance sector believed that Brexit is causing some businesses to delay investing in vehicles, plant and machinery, United Trust Bank (UTB) found.
The remaining 33% felt that Brexit was not affecting the companies they dealt with.
Figures from the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) showed mixed results for different sectors with funding of plant and machinery in December 2017 just 1% higher than in December 2016.
Keith Sangwin, head of sales, asset finance, United Trust Bank, said: “We’ve had a busy year so far at United Trust Bank and for those companies which, regardless of Brexit, are confident in their business plans the market is extremely competitive, especially for strong credits.
“The rates we’re now able to offer customers with solid trading accounts and consistent credit histories are the lowest they’ve ever been.
“As a responsible lender we’re keeping a very close eye on the economy and taking account of all contributing factors, not just Brexit.
“However, UTB’s reputation for being a robust and dependable funder through all market conditions is as valid now as it ever was. The Bank continued to lend throughout the financial crisis and our book is very much open now.”
Commercial vehicle finance was down 14% and the big assets including ships, planes, rolling stock were down by 41%.
However, broker introduced business increased by 14% from 2016 to 2017 with brokers accounting for around a fifth of new leasing business by FLA members, still the fastest growing channel.
UTB’s research was carried out just before the announcement that a breakthrough had apparently been made by the UK and EU Brexit negotiators in agreeing the terms of a transitional period. It remains to be seen whether this will give businesses, and SMEs in particular, greater confidence.
Sangwin added: “The next 12 months are going to be very interesting. Politics and the economy are going to continue to dominate the news, but many businesses will not be directly affected by Brexit and will continue operating much as before, serving a UK or even more local customer base.
“United Trust Bank is one of those businesses. As a UK bank with UK customers we’re confident that we’re ready to face whatever the future may hold, and we’ll continue to support brokers and our SME customers, helping them to seize opportunities with quick and competitive funding.”