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Is knowledge that powerful? Financial literacy and access to finance

Is knowledge that powerful? Financial literacy and access to finance The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between financial literacy, access to finance and growth among small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the Midlands region of the UK. It assesses whether financial literacy assists SMEs to overcome information asymmetry, mitigates the need for collateral, optimizes capital structure and improves access to finance.Design/methodology/approachTo gain a deeper insight into the complex relationship between financial literacy, access to finance and growth, a qualitative research is carried out among SMEs that have operated for over five years or longer. Using the purposive sampling technique, 37 firms were selected based on size, location and characteristics, mainly from the city of Birmingham and the joining conurbations. Open-ended and a combination of dichotomous questions were used for the survey. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and thematically analyzed.FindingsFinancial literacy is an interconnecting resource that mitigates information asymmetry and collateral deficit when evaluating loan applications, therefore financial literacy should be part of school curriculum. The analysis suggests enhanced financial literacy, reduces monitoring cost and serves to optimize firms’ capital structure that positively impacts on SMEs growth. Financial management knowledge is recognized as the core resource that aids an effective decision making by owners of SMEs.Research limitations/implicationsThe limitation of this research is the small sample that limits its generalization. Its findings could be enhanced by a larger sample and by conducting comparative studies in other regions or economies. SMEs growth is seen as a strategic policy to stimulate enterprise but the finance gap tends to constrain that objective. The UK Government’s effort to improve access to finance and to mitigate excessive collateral demands by lenders has proved elusive. This empirical research provides evidence that financial literacy enhances access to finance and, in turn, promotes growth potentials.Practical implicationsThe results of this study advocate the provision of financial literacy at schools and target support for SMEs to acquire financial management skills in order to mitigate information asymmetry between lenders and borrowers.Social implicationsFindings suggest that financial literacy mediates access to finance, enables enterprises to use optimal financial structure to mitigate business failure, creates employment and reduces public sector support for social benefits.Originality/valueThis study is novel in that it examines financial literacy and its implications for access to finance and firm growth in the UK. The study is an effort to highlight the role of financial information in mitigating barriers to finance for SMEs. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Emerald Publishing

Is knowledge that powerful? Financial literacy and access to finance

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1462-6004
DOI
10.1108/jsbed-01-2018-0021
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between financial literacy, access to finance and growth among small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the Midlands region of the UK. It assesses whether financial literacy assists SMEs to overcome information asymmetry, mitigates the need for collateral, optimizes capital structure and improves access to finance.Design/methodology/approachTo gain a deeper insight into the complex relationship between financial literacy, access to finance and growth, a qualitative research is carried out among SMEs that have operated for over five years or longer. Using the purposive sampling technique, 37 firms were selected based on size, location and characteristics, mainly from the city of Birmingham and the joining conurbations. Open-ended and a combination of dichotomous questions were used for the survey. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and thematically analyzed.FindingsFinancial literacy is an interconnecting resource that mitigates information asymmetry and collateral deficit when evaluating loan applications, therefore financial literacy should be part of school curriculum. The analysis suggests enhanced financial literacy, reduces monitoring cost and serves to optimize firms’ capital structure that positively impacts on SMEs growth. Financial management knowledge is recognized as the core resource that aids an effective decision making by owners of SMEs.Research limitations/implicationsThe limitation of this research is the small sample that limits its generalization. Its findings could be enhanced by a larger sample and by conducting comparative studies in other regions or economies. SMEs growth is seen as a strategic policy to stimulate enterprise but the finance gap tends to constrain that objective. The UK Government’s effort to improve access to finance and to mitigate excessive collateral demands by lenders has proved elusive. This empirical research provides evidence that financial literacy enhances access to finance and, in turn, promotes growth potentials.Practical implicationsThe results of this study advocate the provision of financial literacy at schools and target support for SMEs to acquire financial management skills in order to mitigate information asymmetry between lenders and borrowers.Social implicationsFindings suggest that financial literacy mediates access to finance, enables enterprises to use optimal financial structure to mitigate business failure, creates employment and reduces public sector support for social benefits.Originality/valueThis study is novel in that it examines financial literacy and its implications for access to finance and firm growth in the UK. The study is an effort to highlight the role of financial information in mitigating barriers to finance for SMEs.

Journal

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise DevelopmentEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 25, 2018

Keywords: SMEs; Growth; Financial literacy; Access to finance

References