SMEs heavily reliant on banks for finance

SBCI urges businesses to find new ways of funding in wake of CSO report.

SMEs heavily reliant on banks for finance

Picture by: Tim Goode / EMPICS Entertainment

The results from the 2014 Access To Finance survey are out and show bank loans are easily the most popular type of finance sought by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ireland.

The survey, conducted by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), found that over a fifth of all SMEs applied to banks for funding in 2014.

While 20% of micro sized enterprises applied for bank finance, the rate rose to 35% for small-sized enterprises and increased further to 39.8% for medium-sized enterprises.

In comparison, few SMEs went to non-bank sources for finance. A mere 4.7% of medium sized enterprises looked for equity finance.

Following the news, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) issued a plea to Irish SMEs to move away from traditional bank finance and explore new avenues.

SBCI Chief Executive Nick Ashmore pointed to the €75m in new low-cost funding the SBCI has available through non-bank lenders, in addition to the €675m available through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank.

Irish SMEs are more dependent on bank loans than their foreign equivalents.

The European Commission's recently published report for Ireland was critical of the support SMEs receive in Ireland, and noted the enormous gap between multinational and homegrown businesses in the country.

The report said: "Specific regulatory concerns of SMEs remain insufficiently considered. A number of measures are in place to ensure that policymakers take SME interests into account, including through consultations. However, implementation is incomplete."