SME community on track for success, but only with continued support - Derek Money

Having spent the majority of my career in alternative lending here in Scotland, which includes three decades at White Oak, it is fair to say the last few years have been some of the most difficult for our SME community.

To put the pressure into perspective, inflation peaked at 11.1 per cent in October 2022, the highest level for more than 40 years. The aftereffects of this continue to rumble on, as although the Bank of England expects inflation to fall by the end of the year, the 2 per cent target is not expected to be met until 2025. There is no doubt that this has significantly increased the pressure on Scottish businesses, as they work hard to continue to drive their businesses forward, while the cost of borrowing continues to increase.

Encouragingly, we have seen a real resilience in our customer base, which is a promising sign that the market is recovering well as we round out 2023. To continue on this positive growth trajectory, however, we believe that continued support for SMEs is crucial.

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SMEs are the backbone of Scotland’s economy. With over 350,000 operating in the market, they provide over 1 million people with jobs. The Programme for Government announced earlier this month that sets out a £15 million plan to support innovation and entrepreneurship is a good start, but it is support from lenders that will provide the tools to help SMEs grow through every stage of their journey. While stimulating growth at the early stage of a business is essential, ensuring a business has a place to turn throughout the ups and downs is what’s truly needed to build a stable and resilient economy.

Derek Money, Head of Sales, White Oak GlasgowDerek Money, Head of Sales, White Oak Glasgow
Derek Money, Head of Sales, White Oak Glasgow

As one of the few alternative lenders with an office on the ground in Scotland, we’re in a unique position to support customers from our local base, and this year we’ve already lent £40 million to the Scottish the market. Having boots on the ground is key to ensuring long-standing relationships, and it’s something we know is so important – and one of the core strengths – in the Scottish business community. We’ve recently partnered with the Institute of Chartered Accounts of Scotland, and the Law Society of Scotland – allowing us to leverage each other’s relationships to better support firms in the market in a more cohesive manner.

Our business community is tight-knit one, and working together truly is the key to success. Furthermore, it’s important for businesses to have a network and a supportive ecosystem that can support and encourage business growth. I’ve seen this being done successfully at our White Oak Business Club events, which take place in our Glasgow offices and are an opportunity for our clients and the small business community to come together.

I know that businesses across Scotland are adaptable and determined, and I’m confident that working together will help SMEs to thrive, whatever the weather, through 2024 and beyond.

Derek Money, Head of Sales, White Oak Glasgow



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