Lobby group Downtown in Business and boutique finance company Currency Matters held a summit of business leaders in the city where it was agreed a feasibility study be carried out. Tony McDonough reports
A ‘Bank of Liverpool’ providing vital funds for start-up and established businesses has moved a step closer following a summit of business leaders in the city centre.
Lobby group Downtown in Business and boutique finance company Currency Matters organised the event at Liverpool’s Malmaison Hotel where it was agreed a feasibility study be carried out on the idea.
At a meeting in the city earlier this year, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson backed the Bank of Liverpool proposal saying it could “potentially unlock further investment and support for the local SME market”.
He added: “With devolution now established, it is an idea that is well worth exploring further.”
This week’s private dinner was chaired by former TV political journalist at both the BBC and Granada, Jim Hancock, and brought together leading figures from the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Lack of funding
The consensus centred around the need for greater access to finance for SMEs and delegates raised a range of questions and hurdles for the project to overcome.
Since the financial crash almost a decade ago SMEs have found it much more difficult to get funding from banks which has sparked the growth of an alternative finance sector and methods such as crowdfunding.
At a Professional Liverpool seminar last month, Johnathan Diggines, from North West private equity group, Mercia Fund Managers, asked “why won’t banks invest in SMEs?”.
Liverpool does have organisations such as MSIF which provides loans and equity investment to companies in the city region with growth potential but the appetite for funding mean more sources of investment are required.
‘Barrier to growth’
Downtown chief executive Frank McKenna said at the Malmaison event this week: “Access to finance is still the major barrier to growth for some of the finest businesses within our region.
“Regional knowledge of those businesses and local knowledge of the city and its markets is something that a Bank of Liverpool would bring – alongside a less risk averse approach to financing entrepreneurs.”
‘Time has come’
It was agreed at the event that Currency Matters would undertake the feasibility study. Its boss Jon Anderson said: “We think the time has now come for the Bank of Liverpool to be established.
“The appetite for regional challenger banks has support from across the political spectrum. Liverpool is built on innovation and entrepreneurialism. The Liverpool brand is internationally strong. The time for this project to take off is now.”
For further information about the Bank of Liverpool project and how your business could become involved, please contact Jon Anderson via Jon@currencymatters.co.uk