Lending market ‘is seeing a once in a generation change’

May 03, 2014

Fast growing mid-market businesses now have the opportunity to access financing options that were previously only open to large corporates, says the study by business and financial adviser Grant Thornton.

Kevin Gale (pictured), practice leader at Grant Thornton’s Milton Keynes office, said: “I believe this is a once-in-a-generation change in the financing market.”

The proliferation of non-bank lenders has been a key driver of innovation locally, he added.  

“These firms are an exciting source of funding for mid-market companies. Previously, only large corporates could access products that brought a multitude of benefits and allowed management to reinvest more cash back into their business to grow."

Grant Thornton’s recent Agents of Growth events, conducted with leaders from mid-market businesses, showed that access to finance was considered a critical barrier to growth.

The results of the Capital for Commerce research suggests that dynamic organisations are exploring increasingly innovative solutions to overcoming this challenge.   

Mr Gale said: “For firms yet to use non-bank lenders, there still seems to be some education required on what benefits non-bank lending can bring and it is worth keeping in mind that corporate respondents in this study had resoundingly positive experiences with them."

The research reveals that 79% of  respondents are now positively inclined towards non-bank lenders – defined as financial firms that lend to businesses but that do not accept deposits – demonstrating a clear acceptance of the opportunity which the rise in non-bank lending presents for raising finance and providing capital for commerce.

The survey of 100 UK mid-market companies and 100 non-bank lenders (including private equity, distressed, credit and hedge funds) also shows that when it comes to choosing a lender, the largest share of mid-market respondents (34%) identify access to capital as the most important factor, followed by terms and pricing at 23% and just 10% valuing existing relationships.

Out of the sources of non-bank finance available, over half of companies (56%) have used credit funds. This is followed by private equity firms with a direct lending arm (49%), junior debt funds (40%) and asset backed lenders (39%).

Despite the clear benefits non-bank lenders present, hesitancy still exists. Only 21% of those mid-market corporates that have not yet used non-bank lenders would consider doing so in the future.

Reasons for this reluctance included perceptions around high rates of interest.

Looking at the non-bank lenders, the research highlights that four-fifths (82%) of respondents cite corporates’ unrealistic expectations as the reason that potential deals do not complete, followed by a lack of awareness and understanding of the problems that can underpin deals (41%).

These results indicate that more work is needed to improve communications with corporates over these misperceptions, said Mr Gale. 

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