We're delighted to announce that, together with the support of the many and varied lenders we work with, we have now facilitated more than £15m of essential loans and working capital facilities for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Among the many highlights are:

  • A commercial mortgage of £850,000 provided for a company within the film industry supplying camera and audio equipment for blockbuster movies – the mortgage payments are much lower than the rent they were paying and they now have a secure unit to home them as they grow.
  • A working capital facility of £200,000 provided for a firm of Architects to aid cashflow whilst working on large, slow paying projects
  • A consolidation exercise carried out for a company in civil engineering, which cut monthly debt repayments in half. This enabled them to focus on tendering for new jobs and worry less about the financials of the business.

Of course, we like it best of all when customers come back to us again and again.

  • We have helped a repeat customer with asset finance to put a sixth van on the road, having grown to a level where the fleet regularly needs to expand to fulfil demand.
  • A portfolio landlord has completed on five buy-to-let properties with us and has handed over the reins to manage his upcoming renewal deals.

We are very proud to have been a part of supporting the SME community in securing much-needed funding, especially through the trials of COVID and its aftermath.

Whether it's been for growth and expansion, getting business owners on the start-up ladder to success, or simply a helping hand with cashflow, we've achieved a lot and have built some lovely business relationships along the way.

Thank you to all our customers for using our services, we wouldn't be here without you.

And here's to the next milestone and many more years of serving business owners in the way we know best - as independent and impartial advisers, with our whole of market brokerage services.

A Guest blog from our friends at Productivity Finance.


Fewer small businesses are now borrowing money according to The British Business Bank’s second annual Nations and Regions Tracker, published yesterday (23 November 2022).

Does that make borrowing a bad idea in 2023? Let's have a closer look at the numbers.

38% of smaller businesses were using external finance in the second quarter of 2022, down from 45% a year earlier, driven mainly by repayment of Bounce Back Loans and CBILS.

Overdrafts, loans, asset finance and credit cards remain the most widely used products, with overdrafts in particular seeing a resurgence. The deteriorating economic picture and increase in input costs is, unsurprisingly, creating the need for more working capital for many.

Asset finance is the most used ‘alternative’ finance product (and, incidentally, the best way of acquiring vehicles and equipment).

The way small businesses are financing themselves is also becoming more varied. The proportion of businesses now only using non-government-backed loans has dropped 15 percentage points to 22%. Indeed, the proportion of businesses using a blend of government-backed loans, grants and traditional finance has increased from 21% to 23%. 

The report also gives insight into the appetite to apply for finance, and the likelihood of being turned down.

Nationally, nearly a quarter (22%) of businesses in need of finance did not apply in 2020-21 and 11% of applications were declined.

The report found that businesses in the most deprived areas of the UK* are more open to using finance and report higher levels of ambition for growth. Nearly half (49%) of businesses in the most deprived areas have a long-term ambition to be a significantly larger business, compared to 40% elsewhere. They are also more willing to use external finance to grow (36% vs.33%). 

So, what does this all mean for you?

There are several useful take-outs from this data for business owners planning their approach to 2023.

  • Debt is not something to be taken on lightly, but equally, it is not something to be afraid of. Despite all the gloom, there are growth opportunities in the economy and there are some very early indicators that inflation might be nearing its peak. Carefully considered borrowing to support growth in 2023 could be the right strategy.
  • Not applying for the finance you need for fear of being turned down is the wrong approach. A conversation with a good broker may open the way to loan products, loan schemes and providers that you weren't previously aware of, including government funded loan schemes and regional investment funds.
  • 11% of loan applications being declined in 2020-21 means that 89% were accepted. The odds are in your favour for any properly presented business case.
  • Regional variations in success rates are likely to be driven by differences in property prices (i.e. security), business sector concentrations and the general distribution of wealth influencing credit scores and borrower contributions. Again, a good broker can help you navigate these challenges if you live in one of these areas.
  • More businesses are using a mix of government-backed funding, grants and non-government backed loans to meet their overall requirements. A funding strategy or roadmap is a useful part of your business plan and is something that our funding experts can advise on.

If there is anything in this update that affects you, we will be pleased to put you in touch with one of our regional funding experts for advice.


A Guest blog from our friends at Productivity Finance


There are different business finance options available for businesses looking to grow. The FSE Group provides accessible market-gap funding to high growth businesses.

Business Loans:

A business loan is a popular option for businesses. Lenders work with businesses to find a suitable loan amount and repayment plan that meets their needs.

Business loans can be used for a variety of purposes, including purchasing inventory, hiring staff, or expanding the business. They can be offered with fixed or variable interest rates and repayment terms ranging from a few months to several years.

To qualify for a business loan, businesses must have a strong business plan, and a clear understanding of how they will use the funds.

The British Business Bank have more information about business loans on their Finance Hub.

Equity Investment:

Equity investment is another option available to businesses. This type of finance involves selling shares in the business to investors in exchange for funding. Equity investment can be a good option for businesses that are looking to grow quickly and need significant amounts of capital.

One of the advantages of equity investment is that businesses do not have to repay the funds they receive. Instead, investors become shareholders in the business. This can be a good option for businesses that are confident in their ability to grow and generate profits over the long term.

However, equity finance also involves giving up some control of the business to investors. This can be a concern for businesses that want to maintain full control of their operations.

The British Business Bank Finance Hub has more information about equity investments.

Business funding from The FSE Group:

The FSE Group has been providing high-growth SMEs with accessible market-gap funding since 2002. We work with stakeholders and partners, including British Business Bank, Finance Yorkshire, Funding London and Local Enterprise Partnerships, to deliver funding that supports job creation and economic prosperity. FSE is committed to supporting in the long-term, sustainable businesses that will grow, provide employment, and generate economic benefit in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

For more information visit: or to enquire directly fill out our enquiry form.


About The FSE Group

At The FSE Group, we have a 20-year history of supporting high growth UK SMEs, especially in underrepresented areas of the UK. In that time, we have had the opportunity to work through multiple market cycles and economic phenomena and see how they have affected SMEs.  Our mantra is “more than money”, which is achieved by genuinely looking to provide insight and challenges to businesses we support, to ultimately improve their “probability of success”.

This time is not different

The COVID-19 pandemic threw multiple assumptions about economic policy out of the window. One of them being whether the government should provide direct financial support to people and businesses, and if so, what are the circumstances under which that support is considered a good idea? Society appeared to agree that direct monetary assistance was reasonable in an economic crisis that was caused by non-economic short-term factors – namely, a global pandemic.

Whilst some SMEs have been hit very hard, others have remained unaffected, and for them it really has been business as usual, some are even showing strong growth.  Having spoken with many different sized SMEs which make up our portfolio, they have managed to demonstrate their true competitive advantage – their adaptability. From quickly changing their working models to fully remote ones, all the way to launching new businesses and products built around the new world of work, SMEs took up the challenge to boost productivity and keep the engine of the UK economy running.

SMEs now face quite a different challenge, including most government support to businesses coming to an end. Whilst they faced inflationary challenges during the pandemic, partially driven by challenges in supply chains, this has now been amplified by the rise in energy prices, bringing back memories of the 1970s. This has driven up costs considerably - the RPI (Retail Price Index) for April 2022 was 11.1%, notably the highest in decades. SMEs face the challenge in costs for themselves, but also for their staff who are feeling the pressures of inflation. This leads to challenges in staff retention and is a factor in what is being termed “The Great Resignation”.

Facing the challenge

There are going to be some causalities from this current business trading environment.  There always is – typically it boils down to decisive management action.  Using mentors and other support resources helps owners and leaders to work “on their business” even when it feels that it’s fire fighting “in the business”. 

Retaining, and motivating highly productive staff is so important.  Businesses that can afford a pay rise for their staff in line with inflation, should pay their staff more – or at least understand the difference between the effects of inflation on their staff’s disposable income.  However, this is a relatively privileged position - for many SMEs, especially those at the earlier stages who may not be profitable or have a balance sheet that can support this, this is not a viable solution. This is where the adaptable and nimble nature of SMEs can be an advantage. SMEs that are focussed on rapid growth and increasing shareholder value can consider setting up an option pool for their staff – it is generally good form for options to be allocated to all staff and not just restricted to senior team members. SMEs can also consider providing additional flexibility to their teams, as moving to a hybrid or fully-remote working model can help keep costs under control, and can help provide staff with greater flexibility. Additionally, it no longer restricts the hiring pool for candidates to a 20-mile radius of the office, allowing SMEs to hire skilled staff based across the UK’s regions.  The key is for leaders and owners to think differently.

In summary

UK Plc needs SMEs to grow and prosper. The FSE Group’s regional funds are open to support them by providing funding to eligible businesses to assist in their growth journey.  Many of the funds can provide both debt and equity finance and this allows the right combination of funding.  In addition, the funds are there to support the future – through genuine projection-led funding.


This year, International Women’s Day (#IWD2021) falls on Monday 8th March and what a good way to start the week!

In the early 20th century, Emmeline Pankhurst founder of the suffragette movement, led marches and fought for women to have a voice and be equally heard like their male counterparts. Since then, women have proved that in this ever-changing and challenging world, they are helping to forge a gender equal environment where they are not intimidated by the challenges which they may encounter.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme focuses on “choosing to challenge” and striking this year’s pose, “a raised hand” could encourage everyone to commit to help forge an inclusive world.

Through skill and sheer determination, many women have earned themselves senior positions in a wide range of sectors including the defence and security sector. The FSE Group has supported many female founders to help them scale-up their businesses and reach the next level. We are proud of our success in supporting female led SMEs and across our funds, 24% of our portfolio companies have at least one female director.

Julie Silvester, Head of Commercial at The FSE Group comments: “Defence and Security is a key sector within the UK economy. We consider it highly important in terms of investment and many of our existing portfolio companies work within this sector. So, we are thrilled that more and more women are taking up high level positions within the field. We have a rich history in not only supporting female led SMEs but also having great representation of female leaders in senior positions within our company. Last year we were delighted to sign the Investing in Women Code, a commitment by financial services firms to improve female entrepreneurs’ access to tools, resources and finance. We appreciate that there is more work to be done and strive to build on our successes over the coming years.”

Ann-Marie Warner-Read, Defence Advisor at TriCIS Secure Integrated Solutions added: "As of March 2019, four of the five largest defence Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the US are being led by women. By nature, women tend to be problem solvers. It’s a trait that is important in whatever role a woman plays but can work to our detriment at times as it takes longer to reach the top. Often, I am the only woman in the room and I’m absolutely fine with that. Working in defence should be about bringing authenticity to the table and building credibility. If there are errors or problems, it’s best to acknowledge them and move on. My gender doesn’t matter, what matters is what I do with the opportunities given to me."

Ren Kapur MBE, Founder & CEO at X-Forces Enterprise and Board Member SME Lead at Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, said:“It is absolutely brilliant to see the phenomenal presence International Women’s Day now has around the world and is testament to all the incredible work local communities are contributing to the greater worldwide platform of #IWD. Wearing both my X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) and Enterprise M3 LEP (EM3) hats, I am thrilled that within our own business communities, we are continuing to champion women empowerment and women in enterprise. I am proud to say that through XFE we have one of the largest cohorts of female entrepreneurs in the armed forces network, with 30% of our start-up businesses being female led. Also, one of my non-exec board role positions at EM3 makes up a rich diversity of representation, including women. There is still much to do as a society, but we are making such great strides and I strongly believe the future is bright for all when diversity is embraced.”