With banks turning their backs on SMEs new and alternative sources of finance have sprung up, says iwoca’s Richard Sutton
It’s been well documented that since the credit crunch, now more than eight years ago, small businesses have found it incredibly difficult to access finance from banks. The withdrawal of overdrafts has become particularly problematic, as small businesses traditionally relied on this short-term funding to buy inventory, plug cash flow gaps or fund one-off expenses.
iwoca was specifically set up in 2012 to help small businesses access finance. Our vision is to make access to finance simple and seamless for these businesses and enable them to generate growth in our economy. This is a powerful motivation for us. To date we have lent over £170m to more than 8,000 businesses, and in the process helped create new jobs and opportunities. We’ve grown to be one of Europe’s leading alternative finance providers.
We offer a flexible credit line up to £100,000, which can be kept for up to 12 months. It’s very similar to an overdraft or credit card so your clients can draw down funds and pay back when it suits them and simply pay interest when money is outstanding. In the past, accountants have had to spend many hours preparing management accounts, cashflow forecasts and other documents for meetings with the client’s bank to discuss a loan. Now, however, iwoca’s cutting edge technology allows accountants or clients to apply online quickly and easily. You provide supporting information about the business by either linking other online accounts or uploading basic existing documents. For example, you can link accounting software, such as Xero or KashFlow, or payment processing accounts, such as WorldPay, PayPal or Stripe, or even eCommerce accounts, such as Amazon or eBay. Alternatively, you can attach basic documents, such as PDF bank statements or VAT returns.
iwoca then uses this data to make fast and fair credit decisions. No meetings. No wasted time.
iwoca has a ‘Broker Portal’, which enables accountants to manage applications on behalf of their clients if preferred, and you can process and track multiple applications at the same time through a simple dashboard. Using accounting data rather than just a credit score means we can often approve businesses that struggle to get finance from their bank. This is proving to be a big market – the recent British Business Bank survey found that nearly 100,000 SMEs and approximately £4bn worth of applications for credit are rejected each year.
Applying to iwoca is also much faster than a traditional finance provider. Our online application process takes as little as five minutes, and we can approve a business within hours, rather than in weeks or months. This means that your clients don’t miss out on short-term opportunities and can get on with actually running their business rather than filling in forms or passing them on to you to prepare at a cost. Once a business is approved with iwoca there is no commitment for them to withdraw funds straight away. They can draw down at a time of their choice. Having a credit facility set up puts their mind at ease and will allow them to manage any expenses that they weren’t necessarily predicting.
Your client can withdraw as little or as much of their approved amount as they wish, and we’ll transfer that money into their account within two hours. We’re a short-term lender, so a business owner will be put on a 12 months’ repayment plan. However, they have the flexibility to make early repayments without incurring any penalty fees. We only charge interest on the amount they withdraw and the days for which they kept the funds.
As small businesses typically turn to their trusted accountants for financial advice, we have set up a team dedicated to helping accountants understand how iwoca works and the benefits it can bring to clients. We want to put accountants in a position of being able to give clients helpful and accurate information about funding options. There are many different circumstances in which accountants discuss financing options with clients. In some cases it is simply a goodwill service to make them aware of different options available. However, at other times accountants are putting in substantial work to help a client access finance and need a way to cover the costs of this time spent. iwoca has a special commission scheme for introducers for just these circumstances.
If you want to know more call Richard Sutton on 020 3778 0324, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Richard Sutton is Head of Accountancy Relationships, iwoca
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