EXCLUSIVE: Knight Capital, the Malaysian small business financier, is opening a London office to finance British small businesses.
Kuala Lumpar-based Knight Capital hopes to lend around £1.5m to around 15 to 25 small businesses in its first year through its UK offshoot Knight Credit.
Products on offer will include term loans, bridging loans and working capital with no minimum amount.
See also: Best small business loans in the UK
The implication is that it will be lending between £60,000-£100,000 a time to small businesses, although Knight Credit says it can go as high as £3m.
Knight Credit sees an opportunity to come into the UK market post Brexit, especially as it sees an opportunity for supply-chain finance given the inevitably more complicated red tape surrounding imports and exports.
Samreet Singh Randhay, who will be running the London office when it opens its doors on November 1 – the day after the UK is due to leave the European Union – said: “With Brexit coming, there will be a lot more financing required because of the UK’s vision of being self-sustaining.”
Singh stresses that, unlike other small business lenders which stress ease of applying for loans online and fast decisions, what Knight Credit will bring is old-fashioned personalised banking.
Singh said: “Personalised customer service will be something that sets us apart. You will have somebody constantly with you and you won’t be dealing with a platform. You will be able to justify your reasoning to a human. Yes, we have advanced systems that rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning, but you will also have a physical loan committee. They are people who have run businesses themselves and have had difficulties, so understand your situation.”
Knight Credit says it takes a holistic approach rather than just being a lender, offering business advice.
“If we’re just focused on the bottom line, that’s not creating a healthy eco-system for us. We have to ensure it’s a healthy environment the businesses are operating in. Rather than just profitability, we have to ensure the success of the client. Just lending money doesn’t release us from our responsibilities. Our responsibility only ends when you have achieved your goal.”
Knight Capital was formed in Malaysia in 1997 and has lent at least £50m to between 300 and 400 small businesses over the last 25 years.
Over the last year alone, it lent £8m to around 40 Malaysian businesses.
Products include working capital, term loans, bridging loans, invoice finance and revolving credit.
Sectors it works in include renewable energy, IT and property development.
Singh will run the London office with two British colleagues.
Singh said: “Over the years, we realised that the reason why we had returning business was that the loans committee could customise loans to what customers wanted. The businesses really appreciated the hand-holding as well as the finance, which enabled them to achieve a higher rate of growth than they had anticipated.
“We’re here to break the stigma of the difficulties pertaining to alternative lenders being a last resort. If anything goes wrong in your business, think about Knight Capital as being a partner. We will not be happy until you help you achieved your end goals. We will be there helping you through every step of the way.”