The need for face-to-face interaction within the peer-to-peer world has been something of a talking point of late – and now it seems that one of the world’s foremost platforms has taken notice.
At the close of last week, leading peer-to-business lender Funding Circle announced that it would be trialing a groundbreaking, new and free advisory service for small business borrowers. Funding Circle represents a supremely efficient method of raising capital for SMEs – with 5,000 businesses now having accessed finance through the marketplace. But the platform recognizes that fundraising is just the start of a long and difficult process. As such, Funding Circle has now taken steps to ensure that business borrowers have the opportunity to engage with platform representatives in a face-to-face consultation.
Natasha Jones, Communications Manager at Funding Circle, explained:
“After speaking with many of our p2p participants over the last four years, we know that most businesses regularly review their management information. However time pressure can make other things such as the business strategy, competitive edge, value creation, revenue streams, marketing, financial health, staff morale and management competency, easy to overlook.
The good news is these things can be easily reviewed and improved if you know which questions to ask and some easy steps to take.
That’s why we are trialing a new and free business advisory service, for small businesses who feel they would benefit from independent professional business advice. These 60-90 minute sessions will take place with a Funding Circle account manager and an independent business advisor from a professional transformation organization. In a recent Funding Circle survey, 92 per cent of business owners said they would be interested in this service.”
That 92% figure chimes nicely with the recently unveiled research of Cognizant – which found that many peer-to-peer borrowers pine for a platform with bank-like branches. It would appear that Funding Circle – which pioneered the very concept of peer-to-business lending – is trying to stay ahead of the curve by catering to customer demand.
A few logistics about the new advisory service. The above-referenced “independent business advisor” will be sourced from either Baker Tilly, BDO, FRP Advisory or ReSolve Partners. The prospective borrower will need to provide a completed SWOT analysis. If possible, that business will also supply an up-to-date cash-flow forecast, management accounts, a business plan, debtor ledger and creditor ledger. These meetings are not mandatory, of course – they are an optional supplement to Funding Circle’s virtual customer services.
Natasha Jones continued:
“We want to see borrowers become successful and make the most out of their loan. We believe that this free service can help borrowers be better at business; and help you avoid, or plan for, any difficulties that may lie ahead. Meeting you in person and seeing your business will also help us gain a better understanding of your business needs.”
What’s clear from this final quote is that the benefits of this new service cut both ways. SMEs are getting a high quality consultation that should help them to identify and resolve any potential pitfalls that lie ahead. But why offer this service for free? Because the benefit for Funding Circle is that these intimate sessions should engender less instances of borrower’s plans going awry – and thus will only bolster the reputation of the world’s largest peer-to-business lending platform.