Credit Review ensures viable SMEs and Farms have access to Bank Credit
Catherine Collins, recently appointed Head of Credit Review, explains the function of the organisation and how it assists borrowers
Set up by the Minister for Finance in 2010, Credit Review provides a simple, independent, effective and affordable appeals process for SME and farm businesses who have either been refused credit or have had existing facilities reduced or withdrawn.
We can review credit facilities such as overdrafts, term loans, invoice or asset finance up to a value of €3 million. Participating banks include AIB, Bank of Ireland, PTSB and Ulster Bank. We can also review appeals on restructuring proposals, whether the restructuring has been sought by the borrower or the bank.
Restructuring may be increasingly important post Covid, as business adapts to the ‘new normal’. Most importantly, in over 80% of the cases we support, SME and farm businesses are approved a lending or credit solution by their bank.
So, what happens when a business or farm applies to Credit Review?
When a business applies for a review, a Reviewer is assigned to form an opinion as to whether the business is viable and will make sufficient cash to pay back the loan or meet the new restructuring obligations. The Credit Review team includes a panel of expert professionals, across Ireland, with frontline SME and farming finance experience. They are credit experts who know and understand the banking sector and how it works, and understand what it takes to run a successful business.
The Reviewer contacts the borrower to discuss the case and better understand the business by looking at its track record, existing debts, future potential, management and markets, as well as the reason for the new credit application or restructuring request. The bank is also asked to provide details on how it views the business and why it has refused to lend.
The Reviewer then forms an opinion as to whether the business is viable - will it make enough cash to pay back the loan? The aim is always to achieve successful outcomes for the business owners. In most cases that come to Credit Review, we can suggest a credit solution that works for both the business and the bank.
Where the Reviewer is unable to recommend the credit facility requested, we will suggest a roadmap to make future bank applications more likely to succeed, and will try to signpost SMEs towards other supports that can help them to grow and develop their businesses.
Easy to Use Service
When Credit Review was established, our guidelines stated that the review process was to be conducted with as little formality and as expeditiously as possible. The service has stayed small and nimble, with a minimum of formality, and a strong client focus on being as responsive as possible to the needs of our users.
Borrowers who have used the service report that the Reviewers are approachable and do their best to help the business achieve its objectives. Our Reviewers are happy to discuss cases with applicants at a time that suits them, often outside of traditional business hours. Our helpline responds to calls promptly and can sometimes solve issues without the need for formal appeals.
In addition to reviews and appeals, Credit Review also provides accessible, easy-to-understand information notes on banking and credit issues on our website creditreview.ie.
Moving forward post-pandemic and as restrictions ease, borrowers and banks will need to work together to ensure successful outcomes to requests for forbearance, restructuring or new lines of credit. And for those that are unsuccessful, Credit Review is ready to help.
For more information on our independent appeals process, visit creditreview.ie or call the helpline on 0818 211 789 or 087 121 7244.