Close Brothers banking division grew its loan book by 13% to £4.6bn over the 12 months. Between 2009 and 2012 Close Brothers increased its lending to SMEs by 20% year-on-year as it took advantage of high street banks pulling out of the SME market.

Chief executive Preben Prebensen said in his joint statement with chairman Strone Macpherson: “It is clear that trust in the financial services sector and consumer confidence continue to be low. Despite this, we have successfully continued to build our business through the cycle, supporting SMEs as their businesses grow.”

Close Brothers Commercial loan book grow 13% to £1.8bn on the back of a 12% increase in asset finance loans to £1.5bn and an 18% hike in the invoice finance loan book, from £308.7m to £363.4m.

Prebensen said: “There is widespread recognition of the role SMEs will play in the economic recovery, but they remain under-served by the banking sector.

“We currently lend to over 23,000 SMEs in our commercial businesses and we believe that our cautious, high-quality credit underwriting and service-led approach together with our reputation as a trusted, reliable lender place us in a strong position for further growth in this market.”