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Opinion > HTB

Looking forward to 2018

Mark Sismey-Durrant, chief executive officer at Hampshire Trust Bank | 07:27 Wednesday 6th December 2017

With the end of 2017 fast approaching, most of us are already looking forward to 2018 and the opportunities that lie ahead.

There have been challenges this year – mainly caused by the continuing uncertain economic and political environment – but there have been positive signs too, with GDP continuing to grow, however slightly.

As we look forward to next year – with Brexit negotiations ongoing and the continued debate on the strength of the May government – there may be difficult times ahead. However, UK SMEs are a resilient bunch and we are confident that continued growth is achievable.

As part of our SME Growth Watch report, we analysed the industries in which we have specialist expertise. According to the research, the transportation and distribution sector has grown 41% in the past five years, a trend reflected by our own asset finance division, which has seen an increase in business from this sector. In addition, the report found that the transportation and distribution industry was the most positive, with 60% of respondents stating that they were optimistic about the long-term economic prospects of their sector.

We also provide property development finance to SME housebuilders and commercial mortgages via brokers, so these sectors are also of great interest to us. The study found that the number of domestic building sector SMEs has grown by 38% in the past five years, while the number of smaller firms in the renting and operating real estate sector has increased by 16% over the same time period, with over half (53%) of real estate SMEs optimistic over the long term.

It's good to see that SMEs are thinking long term about their business and for many sectors this is a positive projection forward. We back this sentiment – businesses should be positive about their firms as this state of mind will provide them with the strength and determination to make their companies succeed.

But positive thinking is not enough to keep growing in 2018. We need to recognise the importance of smaller businesses and the role they play in the success of the UK economy and ensure these firms have the support they need to thrive and grow.

We believe this is where specialist banks such as Hampshire Trust Bank can help, providing SMEs in the sectors in which we operate with the funding required to support their growth aspirations.

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