Gareth Butler, our Head of Bank Delegation, on how we’re helping more SMEs to access financial support through their banks.
Last October, we made significant changes to our Bond Support and Export Working Capital schemes. These UKEF-backed bonds or working capital loans help SMEs access the funds they need from their banks to increase export activity. Whereas previously it could take weeks to access this support, it now takes a matter of seconds where the transaction is eligible.
Here’s how we’ve made those turnaround times so much quicker.
We’ve given the largest UK commercial banks the autonomy to automatically put in place UKEF’s guarantee. If you’re an exporter, we’re pleased to tell you that the lengthy UKEF application form and exporter questionnaire are now things of the past. Your bank will still require you to complete their own application but, provided your transaction meets all UKEF’s eligibility criteria, it will speed through our process.
Streamlined eligibility criteria
By using clear eligibility criteria, we’re cutting out the duplication of the due diligence historically carried out by both the bank and UKEF.
Banks can pre-vet your transaction to determine whether it automatically qualifies for UKEF support. If it does, they can speak to you straight away knowing that UKEF cover will be available without needing to make their facility letter conditional upon UKEF approval.
When your case can go through automatically, getting UKEF support only requires banks to enter the case details and an authorised ‘checker’ within the bank to approve and submit the transaction to UKEF. If all eligibility criteria are met, banks will get a confirmation from UKEF in seconds and will be able to inform you, issue the bond(s) and/or allow drawdown of the working capital loan immediately. The bank benefits from improved response times and, in turn, can pass that benefit on to you.
Even if a case doesn’t meet all the criteria, you’ll still benefit from improved turnaround times as we will only look at those criteria which were not met.
A new digital service
Your bank is responsible for making all applications for our trade finance schemes. So, as well as considering exporters, we needed to improve the process for them, making it easier for banks to apply for coverage on behalf of their customers.
In place of the old paper applications which had to be scanned and emailed to us, we have built a new online service through which all transactions are now submitted. Feedback has been extremely positive, and the service represents a significant step forward for UKEF and our operational working with our bank partners.
Has anything else changed?
For the first time, UK suppliers to exporters can now access our trade finance support. You’ll be able to read our blog on this significant boost for small businesses that form part of an export supply chain soon. In the meantime, read our news story from the launch for more information.
How do I find out more?
If you want to work with your bank to see whether a transaction is are eligible for UKEF support you can find contact details for banks who deliver our Bond Support Scheme and Export Working Capital Scheme on our website.
Our new delegated service is currently limited to businesses who bank with Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds/Bank of Scotland, NatWest/Royal Bank of Scotland/Ulster Bank and Santander but we will be expanding this group in 2018. If your bank is not one of these eight, you can still benefit from UKEF support through the old process.
If you’re curious about what else UKEF can offer, get in touch with our customer service team or call 020 7271 8010.