Financing the Future: 21 April

CBI’s Aitken to set out SME ‘challenges’ in debut speech

Financing the FutureHugh Aitken, the new director of CBI Scotland, is to set out the ‘big picture challenges’ facing firms attempting to raise finance when he gives his first set-piece public address since his appointment.

Mr Aitken will tell the Financing the Future Summit in Edinburgh next month that access to capital remains an issue for small and medium sized companies.

He will also point to some of the work being done at the CBI from its report ‘Financing our future economy’, which was published earlier this month,

His comments will be closely watched by the business community ahead of the General Election in May. CBI director-general John Cridland has already called for decisive action from the new Government to avoid a “power vacuum”. This includes the need for a clear strategy for ensuring finance continues to flow to the country’s growth businesses.

The Financing the Future event on 21 April has been organised by Daily Business and LendingCrowd, the Edinburgh-based crowdlender. Alternative finance is a theme of the Summit and how firms can use it to expand and build a brand.

It takes place at the offices of law firm Burness Paull  in Lothian Road.

The Scottish Government yesterday published a report examining business finance issues in Scotland which revealed that RBS and Lloyds Banking Group continue to account for more than 70% of the SME business banking market north of the border.

Around one in four Scottish businesses continue to warn that accessing external finance is an obstacle to the success of their business, the official data shows. The report also underlines that business finance problems are more pronounced in small businesses than medium-sized firms.

Colin Borland, the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) head of external affairs in Scotland, said: “Ahead of the General Election, we’re calling on all of Scotland’s political parties to commit to developing a business finance model that works for small businesses.

“Two banking behemoths continue to dominate the Scottish business finance market. Until we see more players fighting for the smallest firms’ custom – we’re unlikely to see the innovations and levels of service which our economy needs.

“Lastly, while public sector interventions are to be welcomed, a large number are focussed on a small group of high-growth businesses. We need to see better co-ordination in this area and the development of an approach which helps all sorts of Scottish enterprises.”

>> Summit details here:

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