At a time when there is a question mark over agricultural aid as the exit negotiations with the EU get underway, this latest research sheds light on the SMEs’ relationship with their banks and how this may help them grow as a business.
The top concern cited by SMEs was banks not having specialist knowledge of the agriculture sector. Tracking opinions from over 1,000 SMEs from 15 different sectors over the past 18 months, a trend emerged suggesting that this was an issue for a steadily growing proportion of SMEs in the agriculture sector – rising from 26% in 2015, to 39% in 2017.
Alarmingly, 31% of agricultural small businesses wanted to see banks committing to the sector more generally – another issue that has seen a big leap in the proportion of SMEs that would like this addressed.
Transparent fees were also high up the list of ways banks could better support agriculture businesses, as well as being an issue that has concerned an increasing number of SMEs. While calls have increased for banks to have specific sector knowledge, there has been a drop in the number of SMEs complaining that banks are unwilling to lend. While this remains an issue for one in five agriculture businesses (21%), there has been a gradual decline from 29% 8 months previously.
Gavin Wraith-Carter, Managing Director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance commented:
“These results highlight the fact that businesses in the agriculture sector can, at times, feel like a square peg in a round hole when it comes to financial services. If their specific needs are not being met and if the pressures they are under and challenges they face are not properly understood, the situation will become increasingly frustrating for them. With the threat of economic uncertainty ahead, SMEs need partners who speak their language to ensure their businesses continue to grow. At Hitachi Capital, we work with a range of customers in the agriculture sector helping to find