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A study by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in 2017 revealed that, at a time when many people’s thoughts might have been on tightening their belts, two-thirds of UK businesses had a cash surplus. And, not only that, but, since then, the level of deposits and cash reserves held by British companies has even risen! Cash deposits grew by 8% in 2018, and have increased by a whopping 51% in the last 5 years.

It’s of course important that businesses have contingency funds in place for the unexpected. However, with reports showing that Brexit uncertainty has been dampening capital expenditure by company directors, we believe a lot of this extra cash has come from funds previously earmarked for investment in the business.

It seems a shame that such a large chunk of business capital is left to languish on the balance sheet, earning next to nothing in return. A problem a lot of companies that we speak to face is a lack of investment opportunities that meet their risk profile and need for flexibility. Understandably, not all companies would be comfortable putting their business assets at the mercy of the stock market, or tying their money up for years on end.

Here at Growth Street, we’re passionate about supporting great British businesses, and providing them with the tools they need to grow. While we’re perhaps best known for supporting companies that need a flexible, overdraft style working capital facility, we work with many cash-rich businesses, too, helping them understand how they can invest surplus cash on their balance sheet.

How can Growth Street help?

With Growth Street, your business can earn an extra source of income by investing in loans to other like-minded British businesses, focused on growth. So far, more than 170 business owners have chosen to do so.

Here’s how it works:

  • Earn up to 5.3% a year*
  • Get access to your funds within 30 days (in normal market conditions)
  • Your investment is protected by our Loan Loss Provision – so far, no investor has lost any interest or capital (although past performance is not a guarantee of future results).
  • There are no fees associated with investing

How are companies currently investing with Growth Street?

Your business can start investing from as little as £10, however, on average, our company investors deposit over £50,000 with Growth Street. They come from a range of industries and regions. The way they use our investor product varies, too.

For example, one IT consultancy has been investing with Growth Street since the beginning of 2017, and has earned over £11,500 of interest in the process. They’ve made use of their flexible investor account by adding money and taking it out as their cash position changes over time: the company has made more than 30 deposits and 15 withdrawals. The following chart shows their investment balance over time:

We also have another company investor in the market research sector, who focus on online gaming. They joined Growth Street as an investor in late 2016, and their balance has increased steadily from £10,000 to £260,000. For the past year, the company has been withdrawing monthly interest as a source of an extra income, and so far have earned more than £23,000 in interest.

If this sounds interesting, why not sign up as an investor, too? You can also learn more on our investment website or call our investor team at 0800 123 1231.

Are you a broker or introducer? We recently launched a new company investor referral scheme!

Know some businesses that might be interested in investing with Growth Street? Refer businesses to Growth Street as investors, and you could earn a commission equal to 10% of the interest paid out to companies in the first two years from when you refer them to us. If you are interested to become an investor introducer, fill out this quick form and a member of our investor team will get back to you.

*assumes that all principal and interest earned is reinvested for a year and that you are matched to borrowers throughout that time. Of course, you should remember that by investing in peer-to-peer lending, your capital will be put at risk and there is no FSCS protection.

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We’re excited to announce that Growth Street has partnered with leading cloud accounting platform Xero, helping bring funding and accounting solutions closer together for the UK’s businesses.

The agreement will see Growth Street’s flagship lending product, GrowthLine, available on the Xero App Marketplace as an option for businesses seeking working capital finance. GrowthLine is an overdraft alternative, giving SME borrowers access to up to £2m of working capital finance, unlocking cash tied up in unpaid invoices, stock and work in progress.

The firms are soon to deepen their collaboration with a sophisticated integration via the Xero partner API. Xero customers using Growth Street’s GrowthLine facility will see GrowthLine transactions automatically reconciled in real time, saving business owners by seamlessly reconciling withdrawals and repayments on their behalf.

Growth Street’s Xero partnership follows its tie-up with digital bank Starling last year. Since launching in 2014, Growth Street has now facilitated more than £85m of borrowing through its platform. Earlier in 2019, the firm announced a £7.5m round of funding led by Merian Global Investors.

Greg Carter, Growth Street CEO, commented: “I’m thrilled that Growth Street and Xero are working together to make life easier for Britain’s brilliant SMEs. Xero shares our desire to sweat the small stuff for business owners, saving them time and letting them concentrate on what they’re good at.”

Shalom Joseph, VP of Partnerships at Growth Street, added: “The average small business now has access to more smart digital tools than ever before. But I think this toolkit works best when all the parts are working together intelligently. I’m glad we’re playing our part in making financial management a little easier and smoother.”

Edward Berks, Xero’s EMEA Director, Business Platform, commented: “It’s great to see Growth Street integrate with Xero. Through this integration, customers can securely share their data for a quicker decision and easier application process.”

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Growth Street Exchange Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 739318). Growth Street Exchange Limited is registered in England & Wales (company number 09495712) and our registered office is 5 Young Street, London W8 5EH.

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Seeing as you're here, we'd like to take this opportunity to let you know that Growth Street is always looking for fun, ambitious and talented people to join our team. Why not take a look at our careers page to find out more about the company and our current vacancies, or share this page with people who might be interested. Thanks!

This year, we’ve made it a priority to address the gender imbalance in the make-up of Growth Street’s engineering team. As a culturally diverse team already, we know the value that wider representation can bring, with research showing that diverse teams are more likely to be profitable, create value and be innovative.

We're not going to achieve this by setting hiring quotas. Instead, we will be actively targeting more high-calibre female and non-binary applicants to our open roles. With this in mind, we will be attending the Wonder Women Tech London International Conference on 8th June. The team is excited to discuss why Growth Street is a great place to work and listen to ideas on how we can attract and retain the best talent.

At Growth Street, we celebrate diversity. What’s more, to truly achieve our vision of ‘giving small and medium sized businesses the tools to grow’, we need to build a company that reflects the diversity of those businesses. The engineering team is no exception.

Building a gender diverse team in what is a male-dominated industry won’t be a simple task – the most recent StackOverflow developer survey shows that over 90% of 70,000 professional developers report their gender as male. Clearly only passive acknowledgement of this challenge won’t be enough.

In the Growth Street software engineering team, hiring great people is the most important thing that we do. As engineers, it’s our job to ensure that the growth of the team is treated with just as much respect and consideration as the code we write.

Day-to-day, we invest most of our time in designing and building secure, extensible and performant web-applications to support the requirements of an ambitious business. We think carefully about how the applications we construct will evolve and scale to meet the future demands of our customers. We learn about and adopt modern software development methodologies that will make us more efficient engineers. Our build-test-deploy-monitor development cycle helps us deliver new features to customers quickly and regularly.

Yet if we don't also consider hiring as a first class citizen, then all this effort could end up being wasted. We’re looking forward to interviewing more excellent candidates this year. If you’re interested in speaking to us, our open technology roles can be found here. Alternatively, let us know if you’ll be attending the Wonder Women Tech London International Conference – we’d love to meet you!

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When it comes to business borrowing, interest rates are often what grab the headlines. But considering all the additional fees and other factors that can affect the overall cost or customer experience, are they really so important?

A recent Growth Street survey of 2,006 business owners revealed that, when considering different aspects of a business loan, a cheap interest rate comes bottom of the list of priorities. Transparent pricing was the most important factor, followed by flexibility and the provision of a structured repayment plan.

Interestingly, the group most attuned to the idea of a product that was simpler but worked out more expensive were the 286 businesses polled in London. Respondents in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, on the other hand, preferred a cheaper solution, but that comes with lots of different fees and add-ons.

Based on these results, it’s clear that many business owners are starting to wake up to the fact that identifying the most suitable business finance isn’t necessarily just a matter of finding the best headline rate.

Besides, interest rates can often be misleading. The commercial finance space in the UK is unregulated, meaning there’s no requirement to disclose a product’s Annual Percentage Rate (APR). This enables providers to hide the true cost of credit.

Some will also add on hidden costs for borrowing money, such as application, origination or late-payment fees. These often won’t be disclosed upfront, but will instead be hiding in the terms and conditions. The result is that many businesses are misled about the true cost of a business finance product, and end up paying more than they originally thought.

Sometimes, the very best rates are only available to borrowers able to accept certain restrictions or business requirements. For example, many low-rate options are only open to those willing to provide security in order to reduce the risk to the lender. Or, in the case of invoice finance, there could be limits on the amount of exposure you could have to a single debtor.

Helping make business finance more affordable

But, of course, keeping costs down will always be a priority for most businesses. And there are things you can do to make business finance more affordable. Here’s our top tips for next time you’re in the market:

  1. Urgent money is often expensive money – plan ahead.
  2. Monitor and maintain your business credit score.
  3. Keep in-depth and up-to-date management information.
  4. Are you able to offer security on the loan?
  5. Consider more flexible products that charge you based on what you borrow each month, rather than a set amount.

Choosing a business finance provider is a big decision, and it’s important to properly scrutinise each option and not be distracted by an attractive headline rate. Alongside uncovering any hidden costs, there’s a number of other factors that should be taken into consideration, such as flexibility or security requirements, to make sure you’re picking the suitable option for your business. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it often is.

At Growth Street, we only charge two fees: a service fee and a loan rate. No nasty surprises here!

To find out what Growth Street could offer your business, you can apply now online – it should only take a few minutes.

Growth Street Limited is registered in England & Wales (company number 09264172).

Our registered address is 5 Young Street London Greater London W8 5EH United Kingdom.

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Thursday 4 April was an exciting day for data practitioners in London as they gathered at Growth Street’s London HQ for Europe’s first ever dbt meetup.

Our very own BI Analyst, Dom Sventickas, kicked off the night by talking about the changing role of a BI Analyst, and how dbt can help them to adapt and thrive. For the uninitiated; “dbt is a tool to help you write and execute the data transformation jobs that run inside your warehouse. dbt’s only function is to take the code, compile it to SQL, and then run against your database” (Tristan Handy, Fishtown Analytics). It facilitates DRY-er (Don’t Repeat Yourself) code via integrated Jinja templating language, testing the data models to validate if they are working correctly, and enables practitioners to describe the models in documentation. If you are interested in finding out more, these links describe what the tool is, and what role it plays in Growth Street’s BI stack.

Dom was followed by Colleen Mahon from Tails.com, who talked about how they manage model quality and complexity using dbt. Through the use of layered schemata, the Tails.com data team are able to define and limit the individual roles of each of the schemata, allowing a more streamlined and less bug-prone structure. Another benefit of dbt, when used in conjunction with github, is that it allows their team easier collaboration, version control, and quality assurance.

Dylan Baker, a freelance data consultant, was next up to highlight how challenging thinking probabilistically can be, and suggested what steps data analysts and data consumers can take to forecast more effectively; essentially training themselves to make more accurate predictions and adjusting faster and more effectively when these prove to be incorrect.

To round off the night, Drew Banin, who’s own Fishtown Analytics develops dbt, talked about the future of the tool. Drew’s vision includes filling the missing links between the base tables and the raw data sources through a new feature, sources, to extend the functionality of the tool; broadening the horizons of dbt and it’s capability through new adapters, including SparkSQL, Presto, Hive, and Athena; and extending test classifications performed in the data warehouse to allow different behaviours should the tests not pass. The night saw over 40 people turnout to hear more about how dbt has helped Growth Street, and other businesses, build scalable, sustainable BI stacks. Thanks to all of our speakers, and a special thanks to Snowflake for the drinks, pizza and snacks. If you’re interested in joining future meetups, make sure to follow the London dbt Meetup group on meetup.com!

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The big banks have traditionally dominated business finance. For many small companies, they’ve always been the first port of call when extra funding is needed. And, while a recent influx of new challengers has no doubt got them looking a little worriedly over their shoulder, new research by Growth Street shows that they still have the number one spot.

Our survey, which polled 2,006 businesses across the UK, revealed that 51% of SME owners would approach a bank first when thinking about finance for their business. This figure increases to 55% when looking only at the 462 respondents based in the capital.

We can’t help but feel that speaking to your bank first for advice on how to fund your business could seriously limit the likelihood of you getting a good deal. Can you really trust a bank to have your best interests in mind?

Not to mention, many may find that there’s simply not the expertise on the high-street that there used to be. A recent report revealed that less than one in five SMEs thinks their high-street bank understands their business challenges.

But, if not your bank, then what other options are there? Well, you could speak to your accountant. They’ll already know about your company’s financial situation, so could provide a useful perspective on the types of finance that might be most suited to your business.

Alternatively, you could use a finance broker. Their wide scope of the market might save you hours of time spent on research. They may also have access to deals that you won’t have been able to find yourself.

Despite this, though, the popularity of these options is still pretty low. Just 10% of businesses we surveyed said they would approach an accountant in the first instance, with 9% saying they’d use a broker. In fact, compared to our survey last year, the likelihood of a business approaching the bank first actually went up by 5%.

Greg Carter, CEO of Growth Street, said:

“As banks’ footprint on the high-street continues to shrink, I think many small business owners will find themselves approaching a broker or accountant for advice on what funding options are available to them.

“This should be a welcome change – more businesses receiving independent and expert guidance can only be a good thing. Hopefully this will result in SMEs finding solutions better tailored to their business challenges, and a better deal, too.”

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to receiving advice on funding. In some cases, it might be a matter of working with a number of parties to find the best way to solve your business challenges. For example, seeking guidance from a business consultant or mentor to define strategy; working closely with your accountant to gauge what type of product might be most suitable based on your financial position to achieve that strategy; then employing the help of a broker to find you the best deal.

Either way, if your business is looking to find finance, taking a bank-centric view of the market is likely to be a sure-fire fire way to limit what’s available to you. So, next time your business needs finance, what’s going to be your first port of call?

Growth Street Limited is registered in England & Wales (company number 09264172).

Our registered address is 5 Young Street London Greater London W8 5EH United Kingdom.


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According to a recent Growth Street survey of 462 London SMEs, 60% of business owners in the capital haven’t considered looking beyond their bank to find funding.

At a time when the big banks are becoming increasingly cautious about lending to businesses – recent analysis shows the value of loans to SMEs fell by over a half last year – it may come as a surprise that there’s been little attention paid to the non-traditional options.

London isn’t alone, though. SMEs in cities up and down the UK are likely to have only considered their bank when looking for funding. Only the 171 businesses in Manchester we polled reported to be more likely than London to have looked at their non-bank options, although even they had only a 43% chance.

There was also a noticeable gap along gender lines. UK-wide, of the 2,006 businesses surveyed, women were far less prone to have considered non-bank options (29% of women, compared to 42% of men). Perhaps less surprisingly, millennial business owners proved to be the most open to the idea.

It’s all down to education

We suspect the reason for this is a lack of knowledge about the alternatives to the bank. Just 31% of London businesses polled said they had a good knowledge of the non-bank finance options. Worryingly, this is actually a decrease on last year, when 42% said they had a good understanding.

Another factor could be the scarcity of advice. When asked where their first port of call would be when looking to secure finance, just 19% of London SMEs said they would consult a third party (such as an accountant or broker). Instead, over half said they would go straight to their bank.

Greg Carter, CEO of Growth Street, said:

“At a time when the banks are withdrawing support for UK SMEs, it’s more important than ever that business owners broaden their horizons when looking for ways to support their future growth. With a growing number of new finance providers entering the market each year, the opportunity for businesses to secure funding isn’t going away – it’s just going to come from somewhere else.

“There’s still a lot of work to do on the part of the finance providers themselves, though. In particular around education, as there’s clearly not enough awareness of the other options available to SMEs outside of their bank. That’s where Growth Street can help.”

An opportunity to look beyond the banks

With a growing number of non-bank and specialist finance providers entering the market, businesses may be able to find products more tailored to their specific needs. A bank term loan, for example, often can’t provide the flexibility or cost-effectiveness some require, especially seasonal businesses. On the other hand, fees charged by banks to open and maintain an overdraft can make it more hassle than it’s worth.

What’s more, on top of a shrinking appetite for business lending, a report in The Times revealed that it’s becoming increasingly difficult just to get an application for bank finance off the ground. Some banks, for example, have gotten rid of their regional relationship managers, expecting SME owners to phone a call centre and discuss terms with someone who may not even know the local area.

This is where modern finance solutions, such as GrowthLine, might be able to help. GrowthLine is a flexible line of working capital that works very similar to an overdraft. However, unlike a bank overdraft, we don’t charge any hidden fees. It can also be incredibly quick to get an application submitted through to making your first draw down – a recent Growth Street borrower got approved and set up with their GrowthLine in just eight days.

It’s high time small businesses shake up the old guard, and start making the most of what we think has been a big missed opportunity. The banks are no longer looking after their SME customers, so why not find someone who will?

Growth Street Limited is registered in England & Wales (company number 09264172).

Our registered address is 5 Young Street London Greater London W8 5EH United Kingdom.

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One of the most important things our team does is to take time to understand each business applying for a GrowthLine. Risk-based decisions can’t be rushed. Properly gauging how much money we’re able to offer and the best way for us to support each prospective borrower over the long term is vitally important.

This process has traditionally taken old-school lenders quite some time. Some SMEs have reportedly taken up to 25 hours filling out the loan request paperwork to their bank. While successful applicants have found themselves waiting for weeks, or even months, for the bank to approve the funds. These extensive waiting times and rigid lending criteria meant that company directors had little oversight of when they’d get a decision from a potential finance provider.

It doesn’t have to be that way anymore, though.

At Growth Street, we ask all borrowers to link up their cloud accounting software and give us oversight of transaction data using the Open Banking framework. By doing so, they are able to help dramatically speed up the ‘get-to-know’ process, meaning they could potentially be approved for finance quicker and with a greater level of insight into our decision-making process.

But what good do these accounting and banking connections actually do?

By connecting a company’s cloud accounting software and Open Banking to the GrowthLine platform, our team is able to quickly – and securely – assess each business’s financial position. This cuts out a lot of time-consuming paperwork, and means we can continue to monitor a business throughout their time as a customer to identify how we could further support them.

Open Banking was introduced by the UK government in early 2018. It enables customers of the UK’s largest banks and building societies to share banking data with third parties in a secure and managed way. It is expected to increase competition and improve the overall customer experience by encouraging greater innovation. In the case of Growth Street, our credit and risk team can use this real-time banking data to make decisions confidently and quickly – and it means less paperwork having to change hands, too.

Streamlining the application process

Mark Heggarty from AHS Commercial – an independent contractor and project management company – got approved for a GrowthLine in just eight days, having connected his cloud accounting software and Open Banking with Growth Street.

Mark said: “Applying for a GrowthLine couldn’t have been easier. By connecting my bank accounts and cloud accounting software, the Growth Street team were easily able to review my business’s financial position without me having to send numerous documents through the post. It really took the hassle out of what is usually quite a long and labour-intensive process.”

We encourage all businesses applying for a GrowthLine to connect their cloud accounting software and Open Banking as soon as possible. It usually only takes a few clicks, and could mean we’re able to make a funding decision much quicker. Now that’s fast finance.

Growth Street Limited is registered in England & Wales (company number 09264172).

Our registered address is 5 Young Street London Greater London W8 5EH United Kingdom.

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Growth Street was delighted to be present for a packed day of discussions at the Altfi London Summit on March 18th.

We were looking forward to new insights into the state of alternative finance, and what the next 12 months might hold for bank and non-bank finance firms. We weren’t disappointed.

We heard about Zopa’s ambition to bring together banking and P2P products on one platform from P2P CEO Natasha Wear. It was fascinating to hear how Zopa has built its loan book north of £1bn through a variety of different channels: Natasha repeatedly drew on the importance of trust in building long-term relationships, something that has helped Zopa as the oldest P2P provider in the UK.

One enjoyable feature was AltFi’s question submission format, wherein questions ventured by the audience were thrown up live on the big screen. It proved an engaging way to focus speakers’ minds!

Attendees also benefited from insights into the next steps for digital banking in a conversation featuring Curve CEO Shachar Bialick, Bud’s Head of Implementations James Perry and Starling Bank CEO Anne Boden. We heard views on whether the big banks have the capability to become API-first businesses, and what the ‘great unbundling’ of Open Banking might do for customers in 12-24 months time.

Later on, the relationship between business customers and finance brokers came into focus. Are alternative funders a last resort for brokers who can’t place a deal with high-street banks? Not according to the alternative credit roundtable panel: guest speakers suggested that informed borrowers will look for a good deal at an affordable rate, no matter whether it’s with a bank or a non-bank finance provider.

Thanks to all at AltFi for a superb knowledge-filled day! We can’t wait for the next edition.

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Growth Street Limited is registered in England & Wales (company number 09264172) and our registered office is 5 Young Street, London W8 5EH.

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2018 was supposed to be a revolutionary year for financial services consumers and businesses alike. The introduction of Open Banking – an initiative which allows customers of the UK’s nine largest banks and building societies to share banking data with third parties – was touted to shake up competition in the sector, and change how customers choose their service providers.

The reality is, though, that things have taken a little longer to take off than expected. The big banks, who still lay claim to the vast majority of the banking market, have been slow to build out native Open Banking solutions. Fortunately for consumers and businesses, tech providers like TrueLayer and Bud are building out-of-the-box products that enable Open Banking to work in practice.However, with more buy-in from the banks, it's fair to say that Open Banking might have more name recognition than it does right now.

With the foundations now firmly in place, though, we think 2019 has the potential to be a transformational year for Open Banking. Figures released by the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) show that the technology was used 17.5m times in November last year, up from 13.9m in October and just 6.5m in September.

And there’s clearly a growing appetite among financial services providers, too. As of January 2019, fully 84% of them now have Open Banking services either live or in development, according to law firm TLT.

We’re proud that Growth Street was at the forefront of the Open Banking movement in 2018. Greg Hinch, Head of Product at Growth Street, explains that “we recently integrated Open Banking into our platform to help us understand our borrowers better. Now, we’re able to access real-time data on a business’s financial transactions and situation. This allows our credit and risk team to make more informed decisions when reviewing an application for a loan. We can also continue to monitor all our borrowers throughout their time with us, so we can better identify how to support them.”

“We were never able to do this to such an extent before Open Banking. It makes the whole process much simpler and faster, meaning our borrowers can focus on what’s important to them – getting on with business – rather than lots of admin.”

“Of course, it benefits our investors, too. It means we could get new borrowers approved and available to lend to far quicker. And we’re able to monitor each borrower’s performance closer than ever before.”

It’s these kinds of innovations that have helped us to be nominated recently for two awards – Best Alternative Business Funding Provider and Best Service from a Alternative Funding Provider – at the Business Moneyfacts Awards 2019. It’s great to see Growth Street recognised alongside the likes of Funding Circle, Seedrs, Funding Options, ThinCats, and Assetz Capital.

This year we will continue to innovate and push the boundaries of Open Banking. There are endless opportunities to explore how we can create a financial services industry that is transparent and puts the customer in control. We want to be right at the centre of it.

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(Your capital is at risk when you lend to businesses. Lending through Growth Street Exchange Ltd is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.)

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