WELSH SMEs need to make positive investment decisions now or risk missing the boat, according to new research by HSBC.

The research found that while businesses were taking action to benefit from the economic recovery, they needed to do more now to fully capitalise in the coming years.

According to the research, improvements in the economy were boosting SME revenues but while the majority were investing for growth, a significant minority were still hesitant.

Seventy-one per cent of Welsh SMEs are actively planning for growth this year, but 33 per cent still believe it is too risky to make significant investments.

Among those surveyed, 32 per cent said competition has heated up and 50 per cent said that if they don't continue – or start – to invest in growth in the second half of the year, they risk falling behind the market

The Ambitious Businesses report, issued earlier this month (July), 56 per cent of business leaders are confident in the economic climate, up from 24 per cent the same time last year.

As part of its £6 billion SME Fund, HSBC recently allocated £400 million of new lending to Wales to help businesses in the country achieve their growth ambitions.

South west and Wales regional commercial director HSBC Gary Burton said: “The findings of the report mirror what we’re seeing in Wales, with businesses looking forward now confidence has been acknowledged across the region.

“We’ve experienced consistent growth in overall new business lending in the last year, with opportunities emerging across a number of business sectors, particularly the agri-food sector, and our customers seeking our support for their investment plans.

“With improving conditions helping to boost SME revenues, there is no better time for businesses to be accessing advice and support.”

Amanda Murphy, head of business banking for HSBC, said: “There is still a sizeable minority of businesses that are understandably cautious about the recovery and reluctant to make significant investments now.

“These firms risk falling behind their more ambitious peers and we want to do all we can to help and support them in finding the right solution for their businesses.

“We have made available £6 billion of new lending to SMEs in 2014, and are also running events up and down the country to help get companies over the application barrier and into a position where they have the right type of funding to fuel their growth ambitions.”