An initial approach to the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) to make APR mandatory was rejected. ABFA is an industry body that specifies the code of conduct that covers most major, commercial, finance providers (including the biggest banks in the UK).
We thought ABFA were wrong to reject this for several reasons, and following a meeting with the campaign they have subsequently agreed to raise the matter with their Executive Committee and Professional Standards Council.
We do not believe however that self-regulation will be successful and therefore requested that the Chancellor make it a legal requirement for all commercial finance to carry an APR within the March 2016 budget statement. We are yet to receive a response from HMT, although we were provided a copy of recent correspondence between Harriet Baldwin MP, Economic Secretary to HMT, and Graham Brady MP suggesting HM Treasury had responded. We will follow up with both parties.
We have also provided our views and evidence to several different stakeholders, including:
· An interview and submission of evidence to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)
· Submission to BIS (Business, Innovation and Skills) committee inquiry into Access to Finance.
· Comments on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) discussion paper regarding SMEs as users of financial services.
· Two meetings with Business Environment colleagues at BIS introduced by Baroness Neville-Rolfe.
· A meeting at 10, Downing Street with Chris Hancock and Tom Nixon.
Supporters can track our campaign and progress via the www.apr4smes.co.uk website, where they can Sign the Petition and use our free commercial finance cost comparison tool that estimates the APR for several popular commercial finance products. Supporters can also like the APR4SMEs campaign page on Facebook, and follow the APR4SMEs campaign on Twitter.
Who started the APR4SMEs campaign?
The campaign was started by Growth Street, an alternative finance platform, providing SMEs with business overdrafts.
Growth Street believes that well run businesses should be able to access finance that is flexible, transparent and fairly priced. Growth Street therefore voluntarily publishes the APR of its business overdraft product, and urges commercial finance providers to do the same.
The SME media soon followed with SME Insider, Bdaily, Commercial Reporter, Open Business Council, The Maven, Start Your Business Magazine, AltFi and Global Banking and Finance review are all carrying the story.
The campaign has received considerable coverage in the alternative finance press: including a recent response to some direct lenders to SMEs looking to criticise efforts to introduce price transparency via the adoption of APR.