Comment: Debt levels soar for UK businesses

Figures from EY have shed light on soaring debt levels for UK businesses as a result of the pandemic, with businesses on course to have borrowed £61bn by the end of 2021.

In response, Brian Holden, Global Director of Financial Services at SAS UK & Ireland, said: “The amount of support handed out to businesses means banks will soon need to collect money from them on a scale which has never been done manually before. Throughout the pandemic, many businesses have borrowed purely to survive rather than drive growth, which begs the question as to how many of these businesses will exist long enough to repay the loans.

“The reality is the manual processes currently used for debt collection may not be able to cope – will right and fair decisions get made when current processes become overwhelmed? The pandemic has underlined the need to industrialise and automate the current approach to collections given the scale of decisions which have to be made – and this is where AI and advanced analytics come in. These advanced open and transparent capabilities provide banks with the required insights to identify individual businesses at risk of collapse and initiate proactive support before it’s too late (finding the needle in hundreds of hay stacks). Together, they will help to build a bridge between banks and their customers and provide bespoke solutions to help guide them through the current crisis.

“Relying on the current approaches to debt collection will be a Herculean task for today’s collection teams. Banks which automate decision-making processes will put themselves in a position to rescue cash-strapped businesses, helping to avoid the extreme measures we saw in the last financial crisis.”