From today, all of NatWest’s business and commercial customers will benefit from a new and expanded panel of alternative lenders to which they can be formally referred if borrowing directly from the bank is not possible. The panel, called ‘Capital Connections’, builds on NatWest’s existing partnerships to signpost small business customers to alternative sources of finance and creates even more opportunities for customers than the Mandatory Lending Referrals will require.
The panel now enters its final full launch phase, following a successful pilot which introduced the wider panel of all five lenders to commercial customers with a turnover of up to £25m in South West England, Wales and Scotland earlier this year.
‘Capital Connections’ includes two peer-to-peer or marketplace lending platforms which are already working with NatWest to support Business Banking customers; Assetz Capital and Funding Circle. They will be joined by iwoca, which offers working capital financing to small businesses, RBS Social and Community Capital for social enterprise and charity lending, and Together, a property secured lender. Providers have been selected to cover the range of different funding products and include a mix of speciality finance and peer-to-peer lending. More partners will join ‘Capital Connections’ in the coming months.
Customers can choose to contact any of the funders directly or be referred to a provider on the ‘Capital Connections’ panel by their relationship manager. There will be no commission paid as a result of any referrals, ensuring maximum transparency and no conflict of interest.
Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private Banking at NatWest, said: “Following a successful pilot, I’m delighted that we will now be able to formally refer all business and commercial scale businesses, across England and Wales, to an unrivalled panel of experts and professionals with a wide range of lending appetites. NatWest is the biggest supporter of British businesses and we are committed to improving the support we can offer, including enhancing access to the borrowing which is essential for jobs and economic growth, whether they are existing customers of NatWest or not.”
Andrew Holgate, Co-Founder & Chief Credit Officer at Assetz Capital, said: “As one of the original partners of the NatWest alternative lending scheme, we’ve worked closely and successfully with the bank’s customers for more than a year. Today’s announcement reinforces our proposition to provide SME businesses throughout the UK. The collaboration between high-street banks and peer-to-peer lenders means that small businesses will have more funding options to meet their short and long-term goals. .
“No two SME in the UK is the same. With local experts on the ground who understand business, local economy drivers and market differences, Assetz Capital helps businesses flourish by providing quick, viable and affordable loans.”
James Meekings, UK Managing Director and co-founder of Funding Circle said: “NatWest is leading the way at putting their customers first. Millions of pounds has already been lent to businesses through our referral partnership. By helping businesses access fast finance, the bank is able to retain or even win customers, which in turn helps the UK economy to grow. It’s a win, win, win.”
Christoph Rieche, CEO of iwoca, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen by NatWest to offer SME customers fast and flexible access to working capital loans. Our award-winning technology will help them access much needed credit within hours using a simple online application form, and this will help thousands of small businesses manage their cash flow and take advantage of growth opportunities.”
Megan Peat, CEO, RBS Social & Community Capital, said: “Our mission as a charity is to fund social enterprises that can’t access mainstream finance, which is why we are thrilled to be involved from the start of this ground-breaking initiative. Through this partnership we will be able to assist many more charities and social enterprises to grow and increase their impact on local communities”.
Marc Goldberg, commercial CEO of Together, said: “We’re delighted that the Capital Connections scheme is now available nationwide, giving us the opportunity to assist even more SME customers where direct funding from NatWest is not available. Our broad product range, combined with funding channels of over £1.6bn and our expertise in the specialist lending sector, provides customers with a complementary offering. We look forward to working with small businesses and entrepreneurs across the UK to deliver the funding they need.”