5 Reasons Why You Can’t Get That Business Loan in Singapore


“Why so tough?”

It’s a common situation all SME owners face: Just when your business needs assistance with cash flow, you just can’t seem to get a business loan. Even when banks reject your application, they may not tell you why. Here are some insights.

1. Your company’s paid-up capital (PUC) is too low

Financiers like to see a reasonable PUC for your business, which signals that and Directors/Shareholders have “skin-in-the-game”. This minimizes fraud risk and is a strong incentive for company directors to achieve profitability in order to repay the loan.

If the PUC is minimal (e.g. only $1), it may signal that the directors are not confident of the business.

Financiers don’t want to feel that they are financing your entire business; they prefer to co-share the risk with you. One way to achieve this is to have a reasonable amount of PUC, as well as evidence of retained earnings from previous operating years.


Source: Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau


2. Legal suits over the past few years

All legal suits are captured on the director’s individual and company publicly-available ACRA records. Different legal suits impact credit assessments differently but are generally bad due to the implications regarding the company’s behaviour.

The worst record a company can have is a credit facility legal suit, where another financial institution had sued to recover funds. It diminishes confidence that you will be willing and able to repay
new loans.

Conversely, most traffic suits have a negligible impact, unless there is a large potential payout still pending. The company’s (defendant) financials could be altered significantly, should the ruling go against the company.

Most business loans have duration of between 1 – 3 years and many financial institutions will not stomach any risk of future bankruptcy.

3. Your company seems to be in a “High Risk” industry.

Oh, but you argue that you are not specifically in the marine or construction industry? Unfortunately, banks calculate their exposure based on the group of industries listed in the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) code.

If your business happens to fall within this broad high-risk category, you will most likely be evaluated together i.e. Civil Engineering might not be construction itself, but still considered within the Construction Industry and hence, assessed together.

Source   : SSIC 2015

Source: SSIC 2015


4. Too many return cheques

There are many reasons for bouncing cheques but the ones we are talking about are, return cheques due to insufficient funds. Excessive return cheques (>1 a month) within 6 months indicate that the company is likely facing cash flow issues and hence may be unable to repay a new loan.

It also reflects poor book-keeping practices within the company, even if it’s not due to
insufficient funds.

Financial institutions rarely extend loans when they have uncertainty in a customer’s repayment ability. They prefer to finance normal operating or expansion purposes and rarely for bridging purposes or to tide the company over difficult periods.

5. Debt-Servicing Coverage (DSC) Ratio too low

A company’s DSC ratio shows how much profit it generates annually compared to their loan repayment obligations. A higher DSC would mean a greater likelihood  of a company being able to fulfil its loan obligations with profits, and therefore more likely that you would get a loan.

e.g. Your current DSC is 1.5x, due to existing loans. If this requested new loan is approved, your DSC ratio falls to 0.8x which suggests that annual profits are no longer able to support all the repayment.

Formulae below.

DSC Ratio = Net Operating Income / Debt Service

Net Operating Income = Net Income + Amortization and Depreciation + Interest Expense + Other Non-cash Items

Debt Service = Principal Repayment + Interest Payments + Lease Payments

SME Business Owner’s Tip!

Click here to learn 4 More Ways To Improve Your Chances Of Getting a Business Loan, and understand how the banks really look at you.

Learn how LendingPot is Changing Small Business Financing in Singapore.


About The Author


Eric Koh is passionate about helping SMEs grow and has spent years interacting with business owners at OCBC and IFS Capital. He is interested in 70s Rock n Roll, the odd novel and copious amounts of historical trivia.

Connect with him via eric@lendingpot.sg

Top photo adapted from: Freepik

Eric Koh