The turn of the year encourages reflection on past and future. In this case, the theme that has dominated the past year seems likely to loom equally large in the next.
Yet, while the uncertainty of Brexit is set to continue for a while longer, it should not deter SMEs from pursuing their ambitions in 2019.
Nor does it seem likely to. HSBC’s recent research found that small businesses are now more likely to be planning for Brexit, an approach previously confined mostly to larger firms.
Challenge your business
It is vital for businesses to understand the impacts of all Brexit scenarios, including ‘hard’ Brexit and, where possible, formulate contingency plans to mitigate the risks. Every firm needs to be conscious of how the final shape of the future UK-EU relationship will affect their supply chains, pricing and margins.
For many, Brexit planning has brought to the fore the challenges that face business at any time. It is sound commercial practice to scope out different scenarios, and to ask yourself constantly if you are using the right channels and reaching the best markets.
Should you be using insurance to protect your sales? Are you giving yourself the opportunity to diversify your customer base? Is your business exposed to currency volatility?
A partner for growth
Every day, the Relationship Managers in my team explore these and other issues with Business Banking customers, helping them to minimise risk and build for growth.
Repeatedly, customers tell us they value the expertise we bring them through these conversations.
They need funding and other services, but they do not just want a bank that provides products on request. They want a partner who is committed to playing an active role in their business ambitions. At HSBC UK, we aim to be that partner.
Building business communities
Our support goes beyond financial lifelines. We see it as part of our role to build business communities, helping overcome the isolation that can afflict business owners naturally focused on their own operations.
Our business customers are able to draw on our powerful network. By connecting customers with our business experts, with suppliers, and with potential partners in similar industries, our teams aim to bring fresh perspectives and growth opportunities.
These networks are especially useful when a business is entering a new market. The signs are that, despite current economic uncertainties, many firms will continue to establish and expand overseas trade in 2019.
Your guide in new territories
HSBC’s recent Navigator survey reveals 63% of firms are reporting that the outlook remained ‘fairly positive’, a further 18% saying the outlook was ‘very positive’, all underpinned by an expectation of global economic growth, consumer confidence and good buyer/supplier relationships.
As a truly global bank, we are best placed to lift firms to success in new territories.
Whether in Europe, the still dominant US market or the fast-growing Asian economies, our teams pass on their deep market knowledge to ambitious customers, and we build strategies to ensure businesses are equipped to handle currency fluctuations and new business relationships.
£12bn for SME expansion
At HSBC UK, we want to act as a dependable source of support as businesses explore growth opportunities.
Few significant growth plans can proceed without the assurance of a source of finance, which is why our £12bn SME fund exists.
We set aside higher sums after last year’s lending fund was fully allocated to business. It is made up of regional ring-fenced funds, so backing is available to firms in every part of the UK.
Whether you are planning, networking, investing or expanding, HSBC is at your side to support your ambitions. I wish you every business success for 2019 and beyond.
Businesses want a partner who is committed to playing an active role in their ambitions. At HSBC UK, we aim to be that partner.