SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt, says a radically improved UK auto environment presents ‘a game changing moment’ as the banking community expresses more interest in the sector. 

Addressing delegates at yesterday’s inaugural ‘Meet the Funder’ event in the UK’s second city of Birmingham that attracted around 70 suppliers and 25 financial institutions, Everitt used the occasion to put the case for better automotive and banking relations.

“For the past couple of years, accessing finance has been a challenge,” he said. “We try to understand why companies face that challenge.

“At a strategic level, the finance community did not perhaps fully appreciate the challenges going on in the industry. For a variety of reasons the ground level relationship with the finance sector are not as well developed as they need to be.

“It is [about] developing a sense of trust and confidence in the industry and in individual businesses.”

Everitt added a further motivation for the event was the fact a large number of banks were not available on the UK high-street as they once were.

“There were very few people who were able to look [at] an individual company in the context of the supply chain,” said Everitt.

“We have tried to create an event, to create a broad picture and then also begin dialogue from the ground up. Getting in now is going to get you in a much stronger position than in the next three to five years.”

The UK automotive environment is in rude health compared to some of its troubled European counterparts, who are experiencing the twin pressures of recessionary forces and massive reductions in government expenditure as enormous national deficits are reigned in.

But the UK could start to post some extremely impressive numbers, with speculation growth of 9% per year could see 2.2m units by 2019, a situation on which the banks could be in pole position to capitalise.

“If you went back 18 months, the banks would not have been here,” [at the funding event] said Everitt. “So already there is change and a recognition it is a genuine opportunity.

“They are commercial enterprises – they are not altruistic – they are here because there is business to be done. The process of accessing that finance and building that capability is now in train. We are putting down a marker here.”

Exceeding the 2m unit level in the UK was achievable said Everitt given a European economic recovery as well as “reasonable” growth in global markets.

“We could achieve this – that means huge business for suppliers,” said Everitt. “There is a real game-changing moment.”