By: 22 July 2020

Colin Goldstein, Rob Jones and Della Hudson discuss the important role that accountants are playing in gaining access to UK government-backed lending

Accountants crucial to helping small businesses, says iwoca

The accountancy profession can play a key role in helping businesses access the finance they need to secure their future beyond the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, according to small business lender iwoca.

Accountants are central to gaining access to the UK Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), of which iwoca is an accredited lender.

According to iwoca, accountants provide cash flow forecasts, financial statements and assistance, ensuring small businesses have the correct documentation to complete the application process.

Accountancy leaders at a recent iwoca event expressed frustration when supporting their small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients through CBILS applications with larger lenders, alluding to delays in response times, getting stuck in call centre queues and banks not understanding the needs of businesses.

In response, iwoca has designed its CBILS application process to address these concerns and meet the needs of small businesses and their accountants.

The lender expects to triple accountant referrals, delivering 10 times more lending through this channel than before Covid-19.

Each business will receive a dedicated iwoca relationship manager, who gives regular updates to accountants and can provide a decision on the application within days.

“This speedy, personalised approach is particularly important for those businesses whose financial needs are too large for a Bounce Back Loan but too small to qualify for a relationship manager at their main bank, meaning they risk losing out on vital assistance to guide them through the application process,” according to iwoca.

Having already worked with more than 1,000 accountants, iwoca is now one of the first fintech lenders to reach out to accountants directly, illustrating the value that the company—which has lent more than £1 billion to more than 50,000 small businesses—places on these essential operatives in the profession of supporting the future of SMEs.

Accountants can sign up to become an iwoca CBILS introducer on iwoca’s portal.

Colin Goldstein, commercial growth director at iwoca, said: “The impact of Covid-19 means that small businesses need more financial support than ever to survive the crisis and rebuild their business. CBILS loans are a key part of the solution, and accountants are a key adviser and line of support for businesses applying for CBILS.”

“iwoca has worked with more than 1,000 accountants nationwide to help them secure the right finance solutions for their clients, and we’re now investing heavily to provide the support accountants need in securing CBILS loans for clients, in particular, small businesses who are struggling to get the support they need from the high street banks.”

Ben Johnson, global director of financial partnerships at Xero, commented: “If you’re a small business needing access to finance, you may find yourself being sent down a bit of a rabbit hole. Applying with a fintech can give you another option, and in many cases you will get a fast response and be able to share your financial information digitally.”

“CBILS is a really powerful scheme that could set you up for the next couple of years of ramping your business back up, so while it’s still here I would urge businesses to explore it by speaking to an advisor, and if you do go ahead make sure you have a plan to serve the repayment of the loan.”

Della Hudson, founder of Minerva Accountants, added: “Automation is perfectly adequate when everything is going smoothly, but if there is a problem you need to be able to pick up the phone and speak to somebody. This is where a lot of banks are struggling—they are barely coping with the automation in place, and haven’t even thought about the backstop of a human being. It’s nicer dealing with fintechs and the more modern banks who are able to handle both the automation and the customer relations that really makes a difference.”

Rob Jones, co-lead of the new iwocaPay service, recently told FinTech Intel why fintech stands ready to aid businesses dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

He said: “The fintech community in particular is able to scale fast and as a group has already supported more than 400,000 small and micro businesses with finance, representing 30% of all small- and medium-sized enterprise lending. Fintechs have the ability to get money to exactly where it is needed within hours, not weeks. We want to be at the heart of this recovery for small businesses not just this year, but for many to come.”

Image: iwoca