A United Trust Bank (UTB) survey of 108 brokers and intermediaries has shown that 61% of asset and property financiers believe it would take only one more 0.25% increase in the base rate set by the Bank of England for a potential stifling in SME investment.
Conversely, 37% of respondents felt that a base rate of 1% would have little to no effect on SME investment. Martin Nixon, head of asset finance at United Trust Bank, said: “Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) figures indicate that the asset finance sector continued to grow in the first half of 2018 but it is too early to tell if the recent base rate increase has had any impact on SME borrowing for investment.
“The asset finance market is extremely competitive and, from our own perspective, UTB has experienced above average business levels so far this summer.”
Interest rates impact on SME investment
Nixon added: “Responsible business owners will have factored in some eventual upward movement in interest rates, and with funders continuing to offer attractive terms and forward-thinking SMEs still wishing to take advantage of opportunities, I don’t think there would be a major setback were another increase to come about later in 2019.
“If, however, the Bank of England were to announce another base rate hike this side of Brexit, that combined with continued uncertainty over our future outside of the EU, may well cause some businesses to pause and take stock.”
In a previous broker sentiment poll carried out by UTB, two thirds (67%) of brokers operating in the asset finance sector expressed belief that Brexit uncertainty is causing some businesses to delay investing in vehicles, plant, and machinery.
The remaining 33% felt that Brexit was not affecting the companies they dealt with. The research was carried out by UTB in February 2018 among 124 brokers and intermediaries working in property and asset finance.