By Daniel Hunter

Almost two thirds (61%) of businesses believe they are missing out on business opportunities as a result of restrictive or inflexible bank overdrafts, according to new research from ABN AMRO Commercial Finance.

“Now is the time for businesses to embrace growth opportunities and push our economy forward, yet too many are finding themselves unable to do so because of restrictive financial arrangements," ABN AMRO Commercial Finance Managing Director, Peter Ewen, commented.

When asked about their overdraft facilities, flexibility of funding appears to be the main issue for businesses. The majority (86%) say their facility lacks flexibility, while 87% say they find the size of their facility restrictive. A similar proportion (88%) feel constrained by overdraft charges.

As a result of these restrictions, businesses are being discouraged from taking on new customers (73%) and making investments (71%). Three quarters (75%) are also missing out on opportunities to expand or grow.

The overdraft facilities that are currently available to businesses in the UK are not supporting growth, according to half (52%) of business leaders.

Worryingly these restrictions are also affecting business’s ability to react to opportunities. If an opportunity to invest in growth came along today, a third of businesses (32%) feel they would be unable to seize it in their current financial situation.

As well as the restrictions placed on facilities, businesses are worried about a lack of support from providers.

More than four fifths (84%) of businesses find their overdraft unreliable and two thirds (64%) say they lack support from their bank with regards to their overdraft.

Two fifths (41%) of businesses say overdrafts are harder to secure than this time last year. A similar proportion (43%) find overdrafts are more difficult to access than they were pre-recession (2008).

Because of this, more than a third of businesses (34%) say they have now lost faith in traditional sources of finance.

However, businesses say if they had reliable funding, they would be more positive about their prospects. With access to more flexible funding, companies would be more able to grow, say two fifths of businesses (41%). Not only this, but 44% of businesses believe they would be more successful, too.

Nine out of ten (89%) respondents would improve cash flow and working capital if they had a bigger overdraft while 80% would use it as a safety buffer against a worsening economy.

“Businesses have realised that overdrafts are no longer fit for purpose and are, in fact, restricting their growth," Ewen added.

“Many have fallen out of love with their facility providers and are looking for more sustainable finance partners. With more reliable funding in place, UK businesses will have a real opportunity to succeed.”

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