The alternative funding scene for SMEs

July 15 2015


  • Tania Ziegler (Cambridge Judge Business School)

  • Mark Williams (RateSetter)

  • Brian Basham (ArchOver)

  • James Codling (VentureFounders)


You may remember that, in July 2012, we produced a report by Andy Davis on emerging sources of non-bank funding for Britain’s SMEs. Entitled “Seeds of Change”, it identified 49 internet-based alternatives to the High Street banks. They included everything from P2P lending platforms to business angel initiatives, alternative stock markets, factoring and invoice discounting and supply chain finance. No doubt, some will have disappeared – and, equally, others will have emerged. Whatever, the report was one of our most important, and it seems well worthwhile to have a look at where the alternative finance sector stands today.

Plus, Andy himself has become involved with the launch of the Alternative Funding Network – a member organisation that provides intelligence and industry insight in the SME funding market. This is an opportunity to hear him explain what the AFN is up to – and to take stock of who’s up, who’s down and who’s in/out in the alternative finance space.

For those of you who don’t know him, Andy was previously editor of FT Weekend, but has more recently emerged as a leading researcher, commentator and adviser on SME funding. However, he won’t get things all his own way, since we have four powerful respondents:

  • Brian Basham, executive chairman of ArchOver and serial entrepreneur. He began his career as a journalist, moved into corporate communications, founded the first regulated paid-for research business, and now acts as a champion of both smaller companies and independent investors.
  • Mark Williams, head of commercial credit at RateSetter, the UK’s largest P2P lender by number of new loans created. Before joining RateSetter, Mark served as head of remedial management at Habib Bank AG Zurich – and, before that, as head of the loan management unit and risk control at HSBC Private Bank.
  •  James Codling, co-founder of VentureFounders, an equity crowdfunding site. He has 14 years of private equity, investment banking and start-up experience, including stints at J.P. Morgan and Montagu Private Equity.
  •  Tania Ziegler, research project manager at the Cambridge Judge Business School’s Centre for Alternative Finance, where her research interests focus on small business economics and SME utilization of alternative funding models. Previous to her work in alternative finance, Tania specialised in Chinese outward direct investment and was a Fulbright Scholar. 

I hope that this round-table will look at developments in the market over the last three years, and at the competitiveness (or otherwise) of the alternative finance offering. We will also try to cover barriers to the sector’s development, and the role of the banks themselves.