Nearly three quarters of UK SMEs (70%) have abandoned plans to expand overseas due to sky-high trading costs, according to new research from HedgeFlows, a leading fintech platform.
The findings were contained in a survey of 500 UK SME owners, conducted by independent polling agency Censuswide in April 2023. The research quizzed industry chiefs about their plans for expansion, ambitions for the year ahead and concerns around the economy.
Resources and training were cited as a barrier to international trade. 68 per cent of those polled said that they feel their business lacks the tech infrastructure to operate in international markets. Meanwhile 72 per cent said that their company does not have the capabilities to manage foreign payments.
SME owners were also concerned around a lack of skills for expansion, with 65 per cent saying they lacked the financial expertise to open an office overseas.
Company owners also felt their bank could do more to help. 72 per cent of business owners said their bank provides very limited support around international payments. Meanwhile 72 per cent said that transfer fees are too high and should be reduced for SMEs.
A total of 70 per cent said that financial predictability is critical for their business, a factor which has reduced enthusiasm for international expansion.
Neh Thaker, co-founder, HedgeFlows, comments:
“SMEs are the beating heart of the UK economy, creating jobs and driving crucial growth in uncertain times. It’s absurd that so many of our most ambitious and fast-growing businesses feel unable to expand internationally due to a lack of support and access to the tools they need to grow.
“The time has come to equip SMEs with a level playing field to expand internationally, giving them access to a suite of services required to manage overseas transactions, currency conversions and cashflows. These privileges are already enjoyed by larger enterprises and should be available to businesses of all sizes.”
HedgeFlows, is a smart toolkit to manage international finances for small and medium sized enterprise (SMEs). The company is backed by £2m seed funding.
The Hedgeflows platform is designed to enable SMEs to grow and compete internationally by easily managing financial risks and complexities of trading in foreign currencies.
The company is a SaaS alternative to expensive enterprise solutions, giving ambitious companies access to services which are often denied by the big banks. The company is fully licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).