SME Survey – The shortcomings of business financial services

SME Survey – The shortcomings of business financial services

Over the summer, Paysend conducted a survey of over 250 SMEs across the UK to understand how satisfied they were with their business financial services.

At a time of significant macroeconomic uncertainty across different markets, SMEs looking to grow and expand internationally face significant challenges. Effective business financial services are the key enabler for SMEs to be successful in a highly globalised world, however, to be confident in their strategic ambitions and strive for growth, SMEs need clarity, consistency, affordability, and tailored guidance.

Unfortunately, this is clearly not the case for most small businesses. According to the survey, 7 in 10 SMEs believe that their recent growth ambitions have been negatively impacted by financial administrative processes, meaning that traditional business financial services solutions represent a barrier to growth for entrepreneurial and innovative companies to expand successfully. So, what are the key issues and where do they lie?

1. Awareness of better alternatives

Twenty-nine percent of SME respondents said that long-standing relationships with incumbent providers was one of the greatest internal barriers to improving their financial services. Related to this, 6 in 10 SMEs said they are not sufficiently aware of the different money transfer options available to them. This lack of awareness means that SMEs are settling for less and sticking with the traditional financial services providers they have always done business with. It is clear, however, that there is appetite for this knowledge gap to be closed for SMEs – competition with new digital market entrants increasing customer choice is driving higher standards for business financial services. SMEs shouldn’t settle for less.

2. Lack of internal expertise

Secondly, twenty-nine percent of SME respondents also believed that a lack of the required technical expertise internally was holding back their ability to better control their business financial services. Payments and other key financial services products are increasingly going digital for improved service levels, faster speeds, and lower costs. SMEs must accelerate their adoption of digital alternatives as consumers have in recent years to streamline their operations and accelerate growth. Fintechs hold the technical keys to unlock these opportunities for SMEs. No internal expertise required.

3. Long settlement times

Settlement times for traditional business payments are usually clunky, slow, and inconsistent, particularly when operating cross-border and in different currencies. Twenty percent of SMEs reported being dissatisfied with their settlement time periods for payments. Taking this a step further, 6 in 10 SMEs said specifically that they have cash flow issues due to the time it takes to receive sales revenue and send money to suppliers. Traditional settlement times are driving short term cash flow issues for SMEs, causing delays to transactions, supply chains and new business contracts. The huge rise of instant payment digital alternatives in recent years is transforming this issue for businesses. Choose an instant payment option, based on a digital platform, to reduce delayed payments pain and drive cash flow consistency.

4. Expensive pricing structures

Naturally, SMEs do not have the same financial firepower or balance sheet strength as larger enterprises. As a result, scaling in a cost-efficient way is fundamental to the successful growth of smaller businesses. In Paysend’s survey, it was clear that small-size companies are significantly more sensitive to the pricing of their business financial services. 36% of SMEs want this area improved with traditional business financial services often being defined by bolt-on fees and hidden charges. SMEs need transparency and affordability to drive sustainable, profitable growth. Digital solutions incorporating flat fees, fixed exchange rates and clear communication are shining a light on expensive pricing structures in this market.

Conclusion: SMEs must expect better 

The successful business development and international expansion of SMEs forms the bedrock of economic growth in markets around the world. Paysend’s recent survey, however, clearly shows that the traditional financial services these SMEs rely on is hampering this growth potential. Entrepreneurs and small business owners - fear not. The emergence of fintech and digital alternatives are positively disrupting business financial services and unlocking the door to domestic and international growth. SMEs should look to explore the options available to them today. 


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