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iwoca SME Expert Index data

Our quarterly survey on over 100 UK SME finance brokers who collectively submit over 2,000 small business finance applications a month.

1. When presenting two competing loan offers for unsecured finance to your clients, which factor would you say is the most impactful?

From Q1 21 until Q1 23, we had these four options instead of "Cost of finance": "Monthly repayment amount", "Total cost of borrowing", "APR", "Monthly interest rate". In Q1 23 we removed these options and added "cost of finance". We've added up the four old options to provide historical data for the new "cost of finance" category, as all four of the options were related to cost.

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Q1 21 Q2 21 Q3 21 Q4 21 Q1 22 Q2 22 Q3 22 Q4 22 Q1 23 Q2 23 Q3 23 Q4 23
Approved amount25%23%20%17%15%18%21%29%23%24%29%25%
Cost of finance62%59%62%67%64%65%68%55%53%57%53%50%
Length of loan6%9%15%9%12%6%7%9%15%10%12%12%
Flexibility of product7%9%2%7%9%12%4%8%9%8%6%14%
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2. In the last 4 weeks, which of these factors most often impacted the lender you chose to send an application to? (you can select more than one option)

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Q1 21Q2 21Q3 21Q4 21Q1 22Q2 22Q3 22Q4 22Q1 23Q2 23Q3 23Q4 23
No arrangement fee20%13%15%7%8%9%6%8%0%------
Speed of receiving a decision66%68%67%57.%60%75%63%63%65%60%61%69%
Duration requested meets lender's offering36%47%67%28%23%23%31%40%38%34%24%26%
Amount requested meets lender’s offering56.%68%59%44%40%42%43%43%44%35%42%39%
Commissions available18%34%17%26%30%26%17%14%14%21%16%18%
Level of operational support provided by the lender37%43%41%27%28%18%24%16%16%15%9%9%
Number of documents required by the lender compared to size of loan30%26%43%29%30%23%21%24%31%21%19%14%
Lenders reputation------------------11%13%13%

3. For unsecured finance, how does the total number of applications you submitted in the last 4 weeks, compare to the 4 weeks before that?

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Q1 21Q2 21Q3 21Q4 21Q1 22Q2 22Q3 22Q4 22Q1 23Q2 23Q3 23Q4 23
Significantly fewer (down by over 50%)7%6%2%10%4%0%3%1%0%1%7%4%
Fewer (down by 10% to 50%)11%9%15%19%10%12%12%13%14%12%13%11%
Broadly the same (give or take 10%)46%47%50%42%51%42%45%47%42%52%47%46%
More (up by 10% to 50%)22%19%22%17%18%32%26%30%29%22%18%24%
Significantly more14%19%11%11%16%14%14%9%16%13%15%15%

4. In the past 4 weeks, what's the most commonly requested unsecured loan amount you’ve applied for on behalf of your clients?

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Q2 21Q3 21Q4 21Q1 22Q2 22Q3 22Q4 22Q1 23Q2 23Q3 23Q4 23
Up to £25,00017%32%17%26%17%19%9%14%12%18%14%
£25,001 to £50,00038%29%20%21%13%22%33%30%36%30%26%
£50,001 to £100,00026%26%26%21%33%28.%34%39%29%37%35%
£100,001 to £200,00015%9%26%20%25%19%17%14%19%11%20%
Over £200,0004%4%11%12%13%12%2%4%5%3%6%

5. Thinking back to the number of loan requests you had each month before the pandemic, when do you believe the market will return to that level?

Q1 22Q2 22Q3 22Q4 22Q1 23Q2 23
Already returned30%26%21%24%36%27%
In 3 months10%18%7%7%6%2%
In 6 months21%11%13%19%7%9%
In 9 months6%11%4%9%4%5%
In 12 months8%16%8%7%11%10%
Over 12 months10%7%19%14%11%27%
Don’t know16%12%28%20%25%20%

6. How concerned are your small business clients about the possibility of a recession?

Q2 22Q3 22Q4 22Q1 23Q2 23Q3 23Q4 23
Very concerned19%19%17%10%20%9%8%
Neither concerned nor unconcerned16%20%27%34%25%32%41%
Very unconcerned2%0%0%0%3%0%2%

7. How concerned are your SME clients about their businesses surviving the increased energy prices?

Q3 22Q4 22Q1 23
Very concerned28%32%19%
Neither concerned nor unconcerned12%13%20%
Very unconcerned0%1%0%

8. What do you feel small business owners are most concerned about at the moment? (Pick one option only)

Q4 22Q1 23Q2 23Q3 23Q4 23
Increased business running costs32%40%37%41%45%
Having to close their business11%2%2%5%2%
Higher interest rates11%9%20%14%24%
Access to finance8%9%12%15%11%
Ability to hire or retain staff6%5%2%4%3%
Supply chain issues4%3.7%2%4%2%
Decrease in consumer spending4%0%4%4%3%
Repaying loans3%4%3%2%1%
Political uncertainty2%3%2%3%1%
Other options (combined)1%6%5%0%2%

9. To what extent do you agree with the following statement: ‘High street banks are reducing their appetite for funding SMEs’

Q4 22Q1 23Q2 23Q3 23Q4 23
Strongly agree51%44%50%33%38%
Neither agree nor disagree13%14%9%14%17%
Strongly disagree3%0%1%0%0%

10. Do you expect demand for finance from SMEs to rise or fall over the next 6 months?

Q4 22Q1 23Q2 23Q3 23Q4 23
Significantly rise40%36%31%26%26%
Slightly rise38%41%50%57%52%
It will not change8%8%6%12%14%
Slightly fall4%5%7%4%5%
Significantly fall3%0%4%0%0%
Don’t know7%10%3%2%3%

11. Did more of your clients’ applications get rejected for finance in the past 4 weeks compared to the previous 4?

Q4 22Q1 23Q2 23Q3 23Q4 23
Significantly more18%7%18%11%13%
Slightly more31%32%27%24%31%
There was no change40%40%41%46%45%
Slightly fewer7%10%7%9%4%
Significantly fewer2%5%4%6%2%
Don’t know2%6%4%4%5%

12. What is the most common reason small businesses get rejected for finance?

Q4 22Q1 23Q2 23Q3 23Q4 23
Trading record too short20%15%18%13%15%
Poor credit history17%19%19%24%24%
Overly indebted14%8%16%12%14%
Poor cash flow14%12%11%10%16%
Debt to income ratio13%12%15%19%14%
Insufficient income9%22%15%14%8%
Industry is deemed too risky4%6%2%4%5%
Late payments2%1%0%1%2%
Other options (combined)6%4%5%4%2%

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