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Choosing a commercial finance broker

Commercial finance brokers have long played a critical role in getting vital finance through to Britain’s hard-pressed firms, and never more so than in the aftermath of the credit crunch.

Business finance brokers are a mixed bunch, and often lack the regulatory protections that we’re used to in personal financial matters — so it’s vital that you do your homework before entrusting the future of your business to one.

Funding Options is regulated by the FCA, rated "Excellent" by customers, and was named "Best Commercial Finance Broker" at the Commercial Finance Awards 2017, so you can feel safe in the knowledge that we treat all of our customers fairly.

Here’s a checklist of questions to ask any firm or individual that claims that they can get you the right business funding.

Do they have real customer case studies?

There’s little stopping an individual or website setting up as a commercial finance broker, so unfortunately the segment attracts many fly-by-night operations. Do they give named customer case studies you could easily pick up the phone to? Are they on an authoritative independent customer reviews site?

Sadly, we often see brokers with fake website case studies that use stock photography, or others claiming to have helped real businesses that they’ve really had no involvement with. Your business could provide real customer references, so why can’t they?

You can find all of our real case studies here, and see what our customers think of us on independent review site Trustpilot.

Are they regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)?

Many firms don’t realise that the business finance market is largely unregulated, meaning that it doesn’t necessarily offer the protections that we’re used to in our personal finance matters, such as a Financial Ombudsman, or an overarching obligation to Treat Customers Fairly.

Though many unregulated commercial finance brokers will provide excellent service, a regulated broker is surely a safer bet.

Funding Options is fully authorised and regulated by the FCA, and we support their Treating Customers Fairly initiative.

Do they actually specialise in business finance?

Many self-proclaimed commercial finance brokers will actually be specialists in another area of finance, such as residential mortgages or life insurance, but may still claim to be able to help you with business finance. For them, business finance is a side-of-the-desk activity at best, meaning nothing like the breadth and depth of knowledge required for the complex and ever-changing alternative finance market.

We call our staff Business Finance Specialists for a reason — they know the market better than anyone. Funding Options exists to help your firm find the best finance for your situation, quickly and easily, and that’s all we do!

Do they only cover one finance product?

These days there are literally dozens of different ways to finance your business, but many brokers only specialise in one particular product area, such as commercial mortgages or hire purchase. These brokers may serve their typical target customers extremely well, but if you’re outside of their norm, it can feel a bit like they’re forcing a square peg into a round hole.

We help UK businesses find the right finance from across the market, whether you need a business loan, invoice finance, asset leasing, a commercial mortgage — whatever fits your situation best. And if you simply don’t know what kind of finance you need, we can help with that too.

Are they too closely tied to a lender?

Many commercial finance brokers are closely tied to a particular lender, and are sometimes actually owned by one. Indeed, some commercial finance brokers are even lenders themselves. If a commercial finance broker fancies lending to you, it’s against their interests to refer you to a more suitable alternative finance provider.

Funding Options isn’t a lender, and our relationships with lenders are based on what they can offer our customers — not what they pay us. We don’t charge our customers a fee, and we have standard commission terms with our lenders, so there’s no incentive to favour one over another. We’re actively doing business with more than 50 lenders across the whole market, and we’ll never match you with a lender that doesn’t suit your requirements.

Do they have Professional Indemnity insurance?

If something goes wrong that’s not your fault, and your business suffers as a result, there’s no point pursuing a claim against a commercial finance broker if they have no assets or insurance. You’ll just be throwing good money after bad. Professional Indemnity insurance gives more potential recourse if you’re mistreated, and is also a sign that an insurer has taken a look at the commercial finance broker’s credentials before choosing to back them.

Funding Options is fully insured.

Final thoughts

There is unquestionably more choice in the business finance market than ever before, with the government actively promoting a flourishing alternative business finance sector in the UK. Make sure that you give yourself the best possible range of finance options, and protect your business from harm, by doing your homework before you chose a commercial finance broker.

Our customer reviews speak for themselves — you can read them on the independent reviews site Trustpilot.

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