Friday 23 February 2018

ISME needs to make mind up

SMALL business body ISME has formally elected a new chairman, Sligo man Eamonn Kielty, who will replace outgoing chairman John Ryan.

The founder of investment advice firms Kielty Cashel and Money Sligo has announced that "the lack of access to badly needed finance and excessive red tape and bureaucracy" will be a particular area of concern during his leadership.

But The Punt notes that the organisation just can't seem to make up its mind as to how serious the problem is for small enterprises.

Though a shortage of lending to businesses is an oft-repeated ISME line, chief executive Mark Fielding has also said it comes in about fourth in terms of the most pressing concerns for small business owners, superceded by the rather vague problem of "economic uncertainty", the lack of orders and lack of consumer confidence. The Irish Banking Federation, whose members are clearly aggrieved with being constantly accused of failing to lend to small businesses, has even commissioned research to dispute this; its recently released study says that access to loans is not a major problem for SMEs and argues there is little evidence to suggest that SMEs have fared worse than larger enterprises when it comes to credit.

And both ISME and the IBF agree that the majority of businesses are now focusing on paying back existing loans rather than looking for new ones.

What this all ultimately means is that no one is quite sure whether access to loans actually is or isn't a problem for small businesses. ISME needs to clarify that itself before its new chairman announces it as his biggest concern.

Irish Independent

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