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December 8, 2021updated 28 Jan 2022 11:50am

Paragon SME lending returns to loan growth as business confidence returns

By Alejandro Gonzalez

Paragon Bank’s SME lending division returned to growth in its latest financial year, the company revealed in a statement.

The division lent £336.9m to UK SMEs in the year to 30 September 2021, up 17 per cent on £288m recorded the previous year.

Volumes increased by 20.5 per cent to £198.2m in the division’s core asset leasing business, excluding government-backed balances, compared to £164.5m in 2020, with business levels strengthening towards the end of the period.

The division continued to invest in system improvements during the year. Enhancements to the new lending process were rolled out in April, offering improvements to customers and brokers including the launch of a new Asset Finance Broker Portal, providing enhanced functionality, in response to extensive research amongst the broker community.

John Phillipou, Paragon Bank SME lending managing director, said: “2021 marked a return to growth for the SME Lending business on the back of growing confidence amongst the SME community. As Government support schemes start to wind down, we’d expect lending volumes to pick-up further.”

Commenting on the asset finance broker portal, he added: “The finance broker portal, which provides significant benefits in terms of process automation and response speed, was rolled out to a larger population following the year-end and the reengineering programme will continue into the new financial year, enhancing controls, operational agility and the customer experience.”

The Paragon Banking Group reported a 61.8 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £194.2m for the full year. Visit Paragon Banking Group’s website for our full results statement.

Nigel Terrington, chief executive of Paragon said: “We have delivered an outstanding performance in 2021, which is testament to the strength of our operating model, the quality of our customer base and the capability and adaptability of our people.

“Every lending business in the Group has this year made excellent progress, and at over £2.6bn, aggregate new lending now comfortably exceeds pre-pandemic levels. These results validate our longstanding strategy to concentrate on specialist lending markets where we can add value for our customers with complex requirements.”

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