More than two thirds of SME finance chiefs would increase headcount if they had additional access to lending

The majority of CFOs and FDs believe that increased lending to SMEs will help ease unemployment in the UK.

  • Eighty six per cent of CFOs/FDs believe that increased lending to SMEs will help ease unemployment
  • Four in 10 (38%) SMEs have been turned down for lending since the start of the recession
  • Majority (96%) of finance chiefs believe financial institutions should do more to lend to SMEs

London, 14 August 2013 – Despite the UK Government’s intervention to boost lending with initiatives such as the Funding for Lending Scheme, new research1 from leading recruitment specialist Robert Half UK, shows that more than two thirds (67%) of CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) and FDs (Finance Directors) in SMEs would increase headcount if they had access to lending. 

While the latest ONS figures2 indicate that employment rose by 69,000 in the three months to June, unchanged from January to March at 7.8%, finance leaders indicate that more can be done. Nearly nine in 10 (86%) CFOs surveyed said that having access to more lending will help ease unemployment.  In fact, the majority (96%) of CFOs and FDs called on lending institutions to do more to increase finance to small and medium-sized businesses, and help support growth. 

Indeed, since the start of the recession, four in 10 (38%) finance leaders at UK SMEs have been turned down for lending, despite the potential benefit this would have on employment. 

Midlands-based firms appear to be worst affected by the lack of lending.  According to the research, 43% of finance leaders have been turned down for extra lending since the start of the recession. This is closely followed by those SMEs based in London and the South East (40%).

Seven in 10 (70%) SMEs based in the South West and Wales would be most likely to increase headcount, followed by the Midlands (68%).  

200 CFOs/FDs were asked: ‘What is the likelihood of your organisation increasing headcount if you had additional access to lending?’

  UK North and Scotland Midlands South West and Wales London and South East
Very or  somewhat likely 67% 64% 68% 71% 63%
Somewhat unlikely 30% 36% 30% 27% 27%
Very unlikely 3% - 2% 2% 10%

 Phil Sheridan, Managing Director, Robert Half UK said: “Employment has been gaining positive momentum over the last number of months, demonstrating greater confidence from UK businesses to invest in the people necessary to drive growth strategies. However, what our research indicates is that employment could be further bolstered should SMEs have the financial resource necessary to expand their teams.”

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Notes to editors

About the Report

1 Robert Half surveyed 200 CFOs and FDs across UK companies in June/July 2013


About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at and