In the CMA’s original Retail Banking Investigation in 2017, the CMA found that 90% of SMEs went to their own bank for lending and that “competition … is not working well”. Prior to the COVID crisis there were promising signs of a shift in the market, with product innovation, new market entrants and a growing acceptance that small businesses can and should shop around for credit. Open Banking was starting to play a role in giving access to transaction data for lending decisions.
This was before the dramatic changes launched by the Government to help small businesses survive the COVID crisis.
This SME Forum will explore what comes next for SME lending. A number of small businesses have taken on additional debt and some for the first time. Some alternative lenders have become distributors of Government funds and some small businesses report having to return to the large incumbent banking providers in order to access credit. The market is at a cross-roads and we have gathered a panel of experts to help look at whether pre-COVID trends will resume or whether a longer-term structural shift has occurred.