Jo Swinson MP, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), has urged accountants to ensure that their clients are aware of alternative finance options.
Speaking at the first Alternative Finance conference organised and hosted by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), Ms Swinson added that ACCA’s members have a key and critical role in promoting alternative finance, saying that financial options need to be available to, and understood by, small businesses and individuals.
Ms Swinson also added that peer-to-peer lending platforms can open up new opportunities and potential for both borrowers and lenders, as long as their services are valued and trusted by both. The Minister confirmed that the government is taking a keen interest in a healthy and vibrant environment for alternative finance, pointing to its £100m investment in alternative business finance providers through the Small Business tranche of the Business Finance Partnership scheme, including £30m in online peer-to-peer lending platforms. She also added the hope that new channels of funding can in turn attract new investment in businesses.
Helen Brand OBE, chief executive of ACCA, welcomed attendees to the event, explaining: '2013 can and should be the year that crowd-funding and peer-to-peer finance come of age, as properly regulated services serving mainstream business.'
Comparing the sector’s current state to five years ago, she noted that it is now the UK, rather than the US, that is leading the race for innovation in financial services – building on traditional strengths in banking, venture capital and professional services.
However, Helen Brand warned: 'Alternative funding providers are still benefiting from a very benign climate: widespread mistrust of the banks and the financial system, rock-bottom interest rates, substantial interest from venture capitalists and now government support too. It cannot always be this way and the incumbents know this.'
Helen Brand concluded: 'We look forward to these changes and want accountants, businesses’ most trusted advisers, to be part of this new financial services industry.'
The Alternative Finance Conference included expert presentations by Simon Deane-Johns of Keystone Law on the regulation of alternative finance platforms and Prospect associate editor Andy Davis on the past and future of the sector, as well as a showcase by six of the sector’s leading service providers:
- Marketinvoice, the invoice auctioning platform
- Funding Circle, the peer-to-peer lender for business
- Crowdcube, the online crowdfunding platform
- Kantox FX, the peer-to-peer FX trading platform
- Finpoint UK, the finance matchmaking service and
- Bilbus the business finance hub
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For more information, please contact:
Alana Sinnen, ACCA Newsroom
+ 44 (0) 207 059 5807
+44 (0) 7715 812120
Helen Thompson, ACCA Newsroom
+44 (0)20 7059 5759
+44 (0)7725 498654
Notes to Editors
- Videos of the conference will be available on ACCA’s Access to Finance micro-site, which can be found via the 'Related Links' section, left of this article.
- ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
- We support our 154,000 members and 432,000 students in 170 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 80 offices and centres and more than 8,400 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
- Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.
- ACCA’s first Alternative Finance event was made possible with the support of ACCA’s Corporate Sector Network Panel, which brings together ACCA members in business in both large corporates and SMEs.