Business and finance terminology stops almost half of UK SMEs applying for finance

Half of UK SMEs are so terrified by common business jargon that they avoid applying for finance all together, a study reveals.

With a number of the UK’s five and half million SMEs facing uncertainty after last year’s Brexit vote, and official reports showing that over £26 billion is owed to small firms across the country, nearly half say they have been deterred from applying for finance simply because of the terminology used.

Research by LDF, a independent provider of SME finance solutions, shows that 47.8 per cent have been put off from applying for business finance, with 33 per cent not understanding the term CAPEX, closely followed by ROCE (31.4 per cent) and Ebitda (30.4 per cent) as the least understood terms.

Elsewhere, however, HP is more familiar to small business owners, alongside asset finance, with just 14.4 per cent and 14.2 per cent respectively not understanding what they mean.

SMEs need to learn terminology

Across the UK, it is SMEs in the East region (57.1 per cent) who are most likely to be put off while those in the South West (70 per cent) are the most comfortable with the terminology and range of acronyms. Plymouth SMEs in particular deal with the terminology best, well over 80 per cent say they haven’t been put off.

‘It’s disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, that nearly half of UK SMEs are put off applying for finance by the terminology used,’ says Peter Alderson, managing director of LDF.

‘For many, running a SME is a challenging, all consuming activity, so complicated financial jargon and acronyms are just extra barriers in the way of their success.

‘At LDF, we are committed to making not just the terminology of finance, but access to it, as easy, quick and trouble-free as possible.’

The willingness to deal with financial terminology for SME owners is also impacted by gender, age and size of the company. Women are far more likely than men to be put off by finance terminology, just over 53 per cent say it’s the case against 44.5 per cent of men.

When considering the size of the SMEs, it is those with between 50-99 employees who find business and finance terminology the most off putting (56.8 per cent), a sharp contrast to those enterprises with up to nine employees (32.4 per cent) and a workforce of between 10-49 employees (35.3 per cent).

‘The point at which a larger number of SME owners are suddenly put off by business and finance technology is an interesting one,’ says Alderson.

‘There seems to be a tipping point, at which the companies really start to grow, and there is often a need for additional finance, but the language used doesn’t encourage people to apply, potentially hindering their expansion.’

Elsewhere, the research by LDF shows that those SME owners who are over 55 are the least likely to be put off by the terminology (21 per cent), in contrast to the 25-34 year olds of who nearly three in five (58.2 per cent) claim that terminology has put them off applying for finance.

After the over 55s, it is the 16-24 year olds, early in their business lives, who are the next least likely (45.9 per cent) to be daunted by finance and business jargon.

LDF’s research into UK SMEs has also revealed that of the sectors surveyed – professional services, administrative services, wholesale & retail, human health/medial, manufacturing and construction – it is construction SMEs that are least likely to be put off by jargon, while administrative services are the SMEs that are most put off.

The research was conducted for LDF by Opinion matters between 27.01.17 and 06.02.17 and sampled 506 SME decision makers in construction, professional services, administrative services, wholesale & retail, human health/medical and manufacturing.

Further reading on terminology

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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One reply on “Business and finance terminology stops almost half of UK SMEs applying for finance”

  1. Interesting statistics, although the sample is small and covers a broad range of businesses. Which Financial Terminology was the most offputting, I wonder? May be the larger businesses employing over 50 people are just plain tired of banks!

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