Seek advice on financing

Alex Till chief executive of Menta
Alex Till chief executive of Menta

Companies seeking finance to grow should think beyond the banks, business advisors in the east have said.

The advice comes after a limited survey by Close Brothers Invoice Finance said only six per cent of East Anglian businesses will seek growth investment this year and only a third of those will use a bank.

Andy Sopp , Close Brothers’ East Anglian sales director, said: “Our findings seem to suggest many firms are holding back from investment in the present climate, adopting a rather cautious approach.”

He said many companies did not seem to understand the options available.

Menta chief executive Alex Till said: “I agree with that. They’re not aware or are confused and don’t want to step over a bank’s doorstep because they’re worried the bank will look at their whole financial situation.

“They can have a quick chat with one of our advisors who can tell them if they are taking the right approach.”

Menta is at www.menta.org.uk

James Knights, director of Bury’s Knights Lowe chartered accountants, said: “I wouldn’t have said only six per cent want finance to grow, but it’s actually getting it.”

He said finance often had to be secured so people needed assets in place. He added: “It’s still difficult for new businesses to get finance.

“Local bank managers know the businesses and want to help them but often it’s ‘the computer says no’.”

He said low interest rates on savings often made ‘the bank of mum and dad’ agree to invest in family’s businesses.

Emma Finn of New Anglia Local Enterprise Agency, said Close Brother’s survey only being of 550 firms nationwide did ‘not give it a lot of credibility’ when there are more than 60,000 business in Norfolk and Suffolk alone,

But she added: “What continues to be important is that companies are looking for finance.

“We have three or four different funds to help businesses. We can also point them in different directions. There are alternatives to banks.”

The LEP has just begun a website at www.businessportal.co.uk to show what is available and its own website is at www.newanglia.co.uk