Funding Circle has now teamed up with top accountancy firm PwC in order to forge a system of reciprocal referrals. The arrangement is not dissimilar to the one established back in June between the platform and Santander. PwC will now signpost businesses that are in need of alternative funding sources onto the Funding Circle marketplace. In turn, Funding Circle will advocate PwC’s newly-launched My Financepartner service to its growing base of borrowers. The new My Financepartner tool allows smaller, growth-stage businesses to gain access to accountancy expertise online – thus saving time and cost. The new facility will help to flesh out the support systems that Funding Circle can offer its borrowers.
“Some 77 per cent of businesses that have borrowed through Funding Circle would always come back to us first in the future. However, many small businesses owners are still unaware of the choice now available to them. We’re excited to be working with a trusted advisor like PwC to raise the profile of our industry.”
PwC has clearly taken note of the massive growth exhibited by the peer-to-business lending sector – and is trying to align itself with the industry before the other major accountancy houses can react. The Funding Circle partnership will also help PwC gain access to an increasing number of potential clients – and those clients will likely be exactly the types of tech-savvy business leaders that would be attracted to the My Financepartner tool.
Tony Price, the Partner at PwC leading the My Financepartner service, said:
“Combining access to finance and expert accounting support addresses two of the most fundamental issues facing early-stage enterprises. My Financepartner has been designed to help entrepreneurs address the challenges of growth through tailored accounting support and financial advice. Now, by working with Funding Circle, we can better address our clients’ funding needs by complementing traditional finance options with new alternatives. Our objective is to help British businesses to get to the next level of business growth.”
Funding Circle is truly blazing a trail in terms of partnering up with household name financial institutions. The Santander arrangement jumped out way ahead of the government’s mandatory bank referral plan – which likely won’t take effect until some time in 2015. We wondered at the time of the Santander union whether further banks might follow suit – and indeed whether partnerships would be established with other platforms besides Funding Circle. The same questions will now be puzzled over with the major accountancy firms in mind.
There are a number of platforms out there which would love to see PwC set up Funding Circle-like referral schemes across the alternative finance space. The peer-to-peer lending sector alone is incredibly diverse and between them the many platforms can cater for a great many small business funding situations. Some would argue that by singling out the Funding Circle platform, the businesses referred by PwC are missing out on the full range of alternative financing options.
But you have to start somewhere – and it makes total sense to kick things off with the market leader. Funding Circle has now hit a global cumulative lending figure upwards of $600 million – and growth rates are consistently high. Add into the mix a pipeline of finance-needy SMEs from one of the world’s leading accountancy firms, to go alongside the businesses already being funneled through by Santander – and there’s no telling the heights that Funding Circle’s lending volumes could reach.