Trade credit is an important source of finance for SMEs and this study investigates the use of the financial statements and other information used in making trade credit decisions in smaller entities in Finland, the UK, USA and South Africa.
The study adds to the literature by examining the information needs of unincorporated entities as a basis for making comparisons with small, unlisted companies. In-depth, semi-structured interviews in each country were used to collect data from owner-managers of SMEs, credit rating agencies and credit insurers.
The findings provide insights into similarities and differences between countries and between developed and developing economies. The evidence suggests that there are three main influences on the trade credit decision: formal and report-based information, soft information relating to social capital and contingency factors. The latter dictate the extent to which hard/formal information versus soft/informal information is used.