Clydesdale bankAs the UK economy starts to show signs of recovery it has emerged that around one in six Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the South East of England have never sought advice on how to drive business growth. The research from Clydesdale Bank also found that among those businesses which do seek advice, many are seeing a significant financial benefit.

The survey suggests that 16% of the South East’s 791,000* SMEs never seek out advice on gearing up to grow their business. The research also found that the average saving or extra profit made by businesses in the region who did take external advice was more than £8.650 every year. If this saving was applied to all 126,560 South East businesses who don’t seek advice, the total saving could be in nearly £1.1bn.

Across the UK, the survey found that 22% of Britain’s 4.9m* SMEs never seek out advice. If this saving was applied to all 1,078,000 businesses who don’t seek advice, the total saving could be in excess of £10.6bn.

The survey also indicates that 69% of those polled in the South East were convinced that good professional advice was a key element in a successful business. Indeed 77% of businesses in the region seek out advice at least once a year or more, 67% once every six months or more, while 8% looked for advice once a month or more.

Whilst the main source of advice was from peers (65%), other sources included accountants, lawyers, trade bodies such as the Federation of Small Businesses and banks. Meanwhile the most popular areas of advice sought were in law and regulation (66%) or industry-specific issues (12%)

Business confidence appears to be growing with recent SME research from Clydesdale Bank also showing that the vast majority of SMEs in the South East were looking to invest over the next year. Nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents in the region agreed that the UK economy offers good long-term prospects for business growth.

Andrew Merrifield, Regional Director for Business and Private Banking with Clydesdale Bank in the South East of England, said: “The pressures and demands on business owners and managers have never been greater therefore finding the time to seek out external advice can be extremely challenging. It is more important than ever that businesses are aware of the specialist help and advice that is available to them and we will do all we can to help.

“Through our recent Business Week programme where we hosted over 200 events throughout the UK, we got the chance to provide relevant information on the topics that mattered most to our customers. SMEs are crucial to the UK economy and its emerging recovery and we will continue to support them and those that advise them, in 2014.”

Clydesdale Bank’s Business Week ran from 4th – 8th November with the Banks’ network of 43 Business & Private Banking Centres across the UK hosting more than 200 free events for local companies.


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