However, much of the increase looks set to come from the existing client base, as the findings also suggest that the sector is still struggling to reach out to new businesses. Most (89%) of brokers identifying ‘repeat business for existing clients’ as a major source of growth.
The growth within a broker’s existing client base was suggested to come from ‘cross selling additional products’ and ‘consumer vehicle funding’, both featuring in the top six potential areas at third and sixth respectively.
Attracting new users to the sector is becoming more urgent since the number of brokers worried about declines in business volumes has doubled over the last 12 months according to the research, although it remains low at 2.2%.
The survey also found brokers are making use of the increasing range of funders who are active in the market, spreading their business more widely with the number of named funders they do business with, growing year on year. Meanwhile, the increased interest in the market from large funders has also led to the recent acquisitions of Kennet and Henry Howard by Star Capital and Cabot Square respectively.
In a more competitive landscape, speed and consistency of decisions has become increasingly important for brokers (rising from fifth last year to first this year). The survey also found that as more companies entered the market, consistency and trust has become increasingly important to the broker/funder relationship.
Commenting on the findings Mike Francis, head of asset finance at Investec, said: “Although overall broker confidence levels remain reassuringly high, the dependence on existing customers for growth suggests that there is still a significant way to travel in raising awareness of broker introduced finance and what it can offer SMEs.
“Investec have been working with the broker community to support the sector’s increasing ability to offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ for business finance which we hope will increase the sectors competitive edge and attractiveness to SMEs.”
Investec is also working to support brokers in expanding their services to existing customers with the introduction of VAT and tax loans as well as providing access to other products within Investec Bank Plc, with foreign exchange support proving particularly popular, the lender said.