A Global View Of SME Health


SMEs are the bedrock of many economies, not just that of the U.S. With that in mind, PYMNTS thought it was time to check in with small businesses across the globe. This week, we break down the latest statistics on SME health, optimism and finance for markets in the U.S. and beyond, including the U.K., Australia and South Africa.


84% of U.S. SMEs visit bank branches to make deposits, according to a new survey by Mercator Advisory Group that examined how small business owners interact with their banks. Their 2016 Small Business Payments and Banking Survey found that, after teller deposits, SMEs visit their physical bank branches to make ATM deposits (47 percent). And while nearly all small businesses surveyed said they visit a bank branch regularly, only about a fifth said they regularly meet with an actual bank relationship manager when they go. According to Mercator analysts, small businesses are waiting on their banks to improve their online and mobile banking services as they look to grow their own companies.

76.2% of Australian SMEs say they are confident in their prospects for the next three months, said the Bankwest Future of Business: 2017 Outlook report. Analysts found that confidence across SMEs in the finance and insurance industry is highest today. Still, less than a quarter expect the Australian economy to accelerate its rate of growth in the next quarter, while uncertain economic conditions remain a top concern for small business owners. Even more concerning, however, is cash flow management, with more than a quarter of small business survey respondents citing that challenge as their top hurdle for the three months ahead.

67% of U.K. small business accountants say better integration of software is a key focus for them this year, even more important than replacing physical paper forms with digital ones, the latest report from Exact said. A new report found that U.K. SMEs are twice as happy with their tech-savvy accountants than with their accountants that aren’t as familiar with the most cutting-edge solutions. And luckily, Exact found, U.K. SMEs are reducing their dependence on spreadsheets, with a 5 percent decline in the use of this tactic for accounting needs.

66% of U.K. SMEs expect revenue growth of at least 4% this year, said American Express’ Global SME Pulse report. The analysis finds widespread optimism among the world’s small businesses, with U.K. SMEs a highlight of the report, compared to the global average of 58 percent of SMEs that expect significant revenue increases over the next 12 months. According to the report, U.K. small businesses are nearly twice as likely to be positive, rather than negative, about the state of the nation’s economy this year. Still, more than a quarter of U.K. small businesses said domestic political uncertainty is a concern for them.

48% of South African small businesses are negatively impacted by late B2B payments, the latest analysis from Xero found. The research highlights how the problem of late supplier payments isn’t just an issue in the U.K., where the topic has gained significant attention. In South Africa, Xero found, small business owners spend an average of 1.3 days every month chasing outstanding invoices that are 10 days late. Late payments have hampered cash flow for nearly a third of SMEs surveyed, while 18 percent said late payments have caused a decline in morale and 16 percent said late payments are responsible for reduced productivity.

24% of big U.S. banks approved small business loans last month, Biz2Credit found in its most recent Small Business Lending Index. It marks the sixth month in a row in which large banks increased their loan approval rates to small business applicants. At the same time, loan approval rates are falling among alternative lenders. Biz2Credit analysis points to ongoing presidential efforts to reduce regulation in the financial services industry as a key factor behind banks’ boost in SME lending activity.