Pictured: Niall Dorrian, CEO, Linked Finance
Niall Dorrian, CEO, Linked Finance, discusses the alternative financing options to boost recovery.
Linked Finance is Ireland’s first and largest peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform for SMEs. The business connects a network of highly engaged lenders with Irish businesses that need access to unsecured lending. An established member of the Fintech landscape in Ireland, Linked Finance has arranged lending in excess of €135m for over 2,500 businesses across the country, and it’s only just getting started. Not only is the platform an easy way for businesses to access finance, it has opened up a new investment asset class for investors looking for consistent strong returns compared to deposit accounts.
“Many SMEs are under-leveraged because they got burnt during the last recession, they were treated badly by banks and they learned the lessons of the past. Many Irish SMEs today have no debt – which is not the right answer either. Debt has an important role to play in any capital structure, especially when you’re trying to rebuild your business after this economic crisis”.
Born out of a clear need to improve SMEs’ access to finance in the wake of the global financial crisis, Linked Finance CEO Niall Dorrian explains that the need for businesses to access finance has never been greater, as Ireland emerges from lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. “Many SMEs are under-leveraged because they got burnt during the last recession, they were treated badly by banks and they learned the lessons of the past. Many Irish SMEs today have no debt – which is not the right answer either. Debt has an important role to play in any capital structure, especially when you’re trying to rebuild your business after this economic crisis”.
The lender quickly responded to the worsening situation prior to the full lockdown with immediate, no questions asked payment breaks for all its hospitality lenders, as they knew these businesses would be the hardest hit. With the support of its loyal investor base, they also supported businesses in other sectors with payment breaks, something that will continue for many months to come in some cases. The business was also able to introduce a new type of loan which came with a 90 day repayment break built in from the start; the “Deferred Start Loan”, which has proved popular with businesses that have seen a downturn in trading.
Linked Finance has continued to actively lend to SMEs throughout the crisis, working very closely with their large network of accountants and business advisory partners, as well as promoting directly to SMEs. Niall goes on to explain: “Our lenders have supported in excess of €5m of loans during the crisis, and when you compare that amount with the lending being approved from government-backed schemes, this compares very favourably considering our size and market share”.
Linked Finance has partnered with the Business & Finance Media Group and will take part in the upcoming The Business Show in September because it believes passionately that SMEs need alternative financing options in order to get their businesses up and running. Having debt in your business is not a failing, when managed effectively it’s a sensible way to manage cash flow and take advantage of opportunities when they arise. The key factors to deliver finance to SMEs successfully are that it has to be simple to apply for, fast to access and be offered at a fair rate – and that’s what we promise at Linked Finance.