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Poor Cash-Flow Management Stunting Growth of UK SMEs


RBS and NatWest launch free cash-flow management tool as research reveals:

  • Over half of UK SMEs are concerned about business cash flow, but 48% have never heard of or run a cash flow forecast
  • A fifth of businesses, who employ 26 people or more, have been unable to pay staff due to cash flow issues
  •  Only 14% of SMEs use professional cash-flow tools and a quarter rely solely on Microsoft Excel

WCO-1RBS and NatWest, the leading banks for UK SMES, announced the launch of a free working capital management tool Working Capital Optimiser as findings from an independent survey reveal over half of UK SMEs (55%) are concerned about business cash flow.

Despite concerns, nearly half (41%) of those surveyed had never run a cash flow forecast, even though poor cash flow management meant that a fifth of SME’s, with 26 employees or more, had been unable to pay staff on time. Research also revealed cash-flow was stunting SME growth, with one in four companies missing out on a business growth opportunity due to access to funds.

Small to medium size businesses, with 26 – 100 employees, were worst impacted, with 41% stating that they had been unable to scale-up their businesses, invest in new technology or larger premises, due to cash flow problems. Further to this, one in four businesses admitted they had been forced to turn down a high volume order because of concerns around capital.

When it came to financial support and advice, around a quarter of SMEs surveyed felt like there was nobody they could ask for advice and 78 percent felt that the government was not doing enough to provide SMEs with access to capital.

WCO-2Aron Thompson, Digital Director, RBS & NatWest commented on research findings that indicate half (55%) of UK SMEs do not use any cash-flow management tools at all and a further 25 percent rely solely on Excel spreadsheets: “Good cash-flow management is business critical, so it’s really worrying to see so few SMEs proactively managing working capital. In working closely with our customers we designed the Working Capital Optimiser to provide all businesses with the ability to better understand their current working capital position and see how they may be able to improve it and make more informed business choices around growth opportunities or running their business more efficiently.”

The RBS & NatWest Working Capital Optimiser is a free to use, open to all tool and is available online from today and includes features such as the ability for businesses to understand their current working position, identify improvements and scenario plan for future activities within their business, enabling them to focus their hard earned capital on the areas that will drive the maximum benefit for their business.  To learn more please visit or

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