Bank of Ireland seeks to grow share of business lending market as it launches its sixth National Enterprise Week “Business confidence must be restored to stimulate demand for lending”, according to Bank of Ireland

The Bank is today, 17 May 2012, launching its sixth weeklong support initiative for SMEs with its upcoming National Enterprise Week, which runs from Friday 18 May to Friday 25 May 2012 and hopes that the events taking place during the week will help stimulate business confidence and generate increased demand for lending in this key sector of the economy.
“Bank of Ireland has plenty of capacity to lend to viable businesses and, as part of National Enterprise Week, we are calling on all stakeholders to join us in restoring the business confidence necessary to stimulate growth and demand for lending,” said Michael Lauhoff, Head of Small Business & Agriculture, Bank of Ireland Business Banking, as he announced details of the Bank’s sixth National Enterprise Week, adding that: “the demand for business lending remains muted in the first few months of 2012.”
Bank of Ireland wants to be the undisputed number one Bank for business in Ireland.  At present, the Bank’s relationship managers talk to one in three business customers across the country on a daily basis and are well aware of the financial needs and challenges those customers face. In addition, the Bank wants to play a key role in the economic recovery of this country and this will start with a buoyant SME sector.  The Bank believes that consumer confidence is one of the key ingredients to seeing a sustainable recovery in the SME sector at present and key influencers must work together to help restore this.
The Bank’s National Enterprise Week was established three years ago to provide SMEs with varying types of support that are equally important for the development of their businesses. These include networking opportunities, seminars and advice sessions, and technology developments, to name but a few.  Today these events have grown into valuable forums for both customers and non customers of the Bank and hopefully to help move forward their businesses in a positive way.
Another important aspect of Enterprise Week is the business showcasing element ‘Show your Business’, which allows SMEs to exhibit, promote and sell their products in the Bank’s branches nationwide.  Over 2,200 businesses are expected to attend in Branches and feedback from previous events highlights both the financial benefit and the networking opportunity that these provide.
According to Michael Lauhoff: “We are committed to supporting viable SMEs and help them grow their businesses.  In fact, we have an imperative to increase our lending to this sector – otherwise, we will not achieve our objective of being the number one Bank for business. We want to be the most successful business bank in the country and we would ask any viable customers and indeed, non customers who have borrowing requirements to come and talk to us.
“We need to ensure that all business owners and prospective new businesses understand that we are lending and we want their business. We have the money and we need to lend it to SME customers who can meet their loan commitments. Our new Business Lending Inquiry Guide will provide all prospective customers looking to borrow from us with very clear information as to what we require to progress their application.  On our part, we aim to continuously improve turnaround times for credit applications and commit to keeping communications lines open with the customer throughout the application process. Standard turnaround times are three to five working days. However, this can vary, depending on the size and the complexity of the deal or the level of information required to support the loan application. We receive on average in excess of 1,000 credit applications from customers each week – 80% of whom get the finance that they are looking for.
“We will also restructure existing debts to support viable businesses or customers who have to deal with reducing incomes. We encourage customers to contact us at an early stage and we will help them arrive at solutions that will help them succeed in the long run if at all possible. We have an almost 230 year old history of doing business in Ireland and being at the heart of business in communities throughout Ireland with highly skilled staff who help and advise our customers every day. We are here to stay – if you don’t believe us, come and talk to us today”, concluded Michael Lauhoff.
12 large flagship events will be held during the week and will focus on a variety of themes such as the agri industry, tourism, business networking, IT and export. Participants will meet local influencers, experts in several business fields like accountancy or business management along with senior bank personnel who will share their knowledge and experiences.  Several events will offer speed networking opportunities and business clinics with hands-on advice that people can put into practice immediately.
On Wednesday 23 May, an IT solutions clinic will take place in over 100 Bank branches.  Experts from Microsoft will be on hand to provide SMEs with advice and information on technology solutions for their business including Microsoft’s Office365 cloud technology.