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SME market gap an opportunity for brokers

Brokers are well placed to fill a critical gap in the growing SME space, according to a new study.

According to a survey by Scottish Pacific, smaller business owners are broadly untrusting of outside advice.

The results were based on interviews with senior managers of 1,253 SMEs from around Australia in January and revealed that 38.6 per cent had no trusted business adviser.

Of those who nominated trusted business advisers, 26.6 per cent chose trading partners, 9.7 per cent chose friends and 9.0 per cent chose accountants. Only 4.2 per cent nominated their bank manager.

“The fact they were more likely to trust a friend to provide advice about their business than their well-qualified banker or accountant shows there is a real opportunity for finance brokers, accountants and lawyers to step up and fill this gap for SMEs, to make the process easier for them,” Scottish Pacific chief executive Peter Langham said.

The research also revealed that 34.9 per cent of small business owners do not have any long-term plans for their company.

Mr Langham said this “alarming” statistic reflected the tough landscape facing many SMEs, and suggests a short-term focus among small business owners.

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Furthermore, the research found that 58.9 per cent of small business owners were still optimistic about growth, despite the average growth of SMEs dropping to 6.7 per cent in January from 8.6 per cent in September 2014.

The use of specialist non-bank lenders among SMEs has grown, with 13.6 per cent naming them as a preferred method of funding future growth, compared to 10.8 per cent in September.

Scottish Pacific said this statistic suggests an increased awareness among SME owners that there are strong funding alternatives beyond the banks, but there is still a long way to go.

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