New joiners build on success of leading debt recovery team

A series of new appointments have been made within the industry-leading Taunton-based debt recovery team at national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP.

The team is ranked in the Top Tier of Legal 500 and has recovered over £200 million for clients in the last ten years.

“Following a number of promotions earlier this year the team continues to go from strength to strength,” said Phil Roberts who jointly leads the debt recovery team together with Kat Quinton.

“The new joiners reflect the growth in business from both new and existing clients and will help Clarke Wilmott to maintain its position at the forefront of the debt recovery industry.”

Joe Hampson, Darren Brooks, and Lisa Cornelius start new positions as caseworkers and Shannon Robinson joins the IT support team.

“The new appointees will help to manage the team’s increasing workload for a variety of clients including regional and national commercial businesses, government departments, insurance companies and managing agents,” added Phil.

“Debt recovery is one of Clarke Willmott’s largest teams and plays an important role in the overall success of the company.”

Gallagher appoints head of trade credit in Manchester

Gallagher has continued its strategic investment to build out its specialist UK Trade Credit & Surety Practice across the North with the appointment of Daniel Stewart. Daniel will lead the Manchester-based practice reporting into Tim Fisher, UK Managing Director of Trade Credit & Surety.

Bringing almost 20 years of specialist broking experience, Daniel joins Gallagher from Marsh where he was a national practice leader for trade credit, responsible for the Midlands, North and Scotland. As well as leading the Manchester trade credit & surety team, Daniel will work closely with Tim Fisher to grow and develop the national practice across the North where a growing proportion of both clients and new business opportunities are arising.

Daniel’s appointment closely follows that of Colin Cunningham and Rachel Smailes, who joined the Manchester-based team this summer. The move demonstrates Gallagher’s ongoing commitment to build out its national specialist trade credit capabilities and scale up the Manchester practice, on the back of strong 20% organic growth across the UK niche.

Tim Fisher said: “As a key hire in our broader UK strategy of developing market-leading specialist client propositions, I’m delighted to welcome Daniel to the team. We are determined to attract and retain the best talent and I’m excited to see how our Northern footprint will grow under Daniel’s guidance, supported by Rachel, Colin and the rest of the team. Daniel’s detailed knowledge of trade credit insurance and business development skills place him well to lead our Manchester hub in catering for the needs of our growing base of clients across the North – from smaller UK businesses to multinationals demanding innovative global solutions.”

Daniel Stewart added: “Joining Gallagher’s talented trade credit team is a pleasure, particularly in today’s economic and political climate, when clients need specialist support and advice to navigate the shifting challenges they face. I look forward to leading the Manchester team, and working closely with all my new colleagues, as we strengthen our position in the North and provide vital trade credit support, not only for clients based there but throughout the wider Gallagher network.”

The Money Stats September 2018 – Public Sector Improvements Mask Household Debt Concerns

Striking Numbers
£19.97: The fall in Debt growth per adult in June
£58,658: Average total debt per UK household in July 2018
£32,220: Average student debt for 2016 cohort in England
£227.94: Increase in consumer credit, per adult in the UK, in the year to July 2018
94%: First-time buyer deposit, as percent of average salary, in July 2018
0.2%: Average interest rate on instant access savings account in July 2018
18.35%: Average credit card interest rate in July 2018
34%: Proportion of income, including benefits, spent on rent by private renters
– 0.5%: Change in house prices in August 2018 according to Nationwide
– £31 billion: Change in Public Sector Net Debt (excluding debt to Bank of England) in the year to July 2018

Every Day in the UK
The population of the UK grew by an estimated 1,074 people a day between 2016 and 2017.
On average, a UK household spends £4.34 a day on water, electricity and gas.
301 people a day were declared insolvent or bankrupt in April to June 2018. This was equivalent to one person every 4 minutes and 47 seconds.
In August 2018, cash machines were used an average of 94 times a second across the UK.

Personal Debt in the UK
People in the UK owed £1.592 trillion at the end of June 2018. This is up from £1.545 trillion at the end of June 2017– an extra £900.74 per UK adult.
People in the UK owed £1.5955 trillion at the end of July 2018. This is up from £1.5494 trillion at the end of July 2017– an extra £884.32 per UK adult, and £69.32 higher than the previous month.
The average total debt per household – including mortgages – was £58,658 in July. The revised figure for June was £58,525.
Per adult in the UK that’s an average debt of £30,636 in July – around 113.0% of average earnings – up 0.3% on last month. This is up from a revised £30,567 a month earlier.

Mortgages, Rent and Housing
Outstanding mortgage lending stood at £1.382 trillion at the end of July. This is up from £1.35 trillion a year earlier.
That means that the estimated average outstanding mortgage for the 11.1m households with mortgage debt was £124,506 in July.
The average mortgage interest rate was 2.46% at the end of July. Based on this, households with mortgages would pay an average of £3,063 in mortgage interest over the year.
For new loans, the average mortgage interest rate was 2.07%. Using the latest figures from UK Finance, this means new mortgages would attract an average of £2,907 in interest over the year.
According to UK Finance, gross mortgage lending in July totalled an estimated £24.6 billion. This is up 9.8% on July 2017.

Savings and Pensions
In Q1 2018, households saved an average of 4.3% of their post-tax income, including benefits. This is up from 3.2% in Q1 2017.
According to the Family Resources Survey, 45% of working age adults actively participated in a pension in 2016/17, up 2% on the previous year. This was 66% for employees, and 16% for the self-employed.

Spending and Loans
In the year to June 2018, consumer credit increased by 8.8% with new lending outstripping repayments according to UK Finance. In the year to July 2018, outstanding levels of credit card borrowing grew by 7.2%, slightly down on the rate of growth at the beginning of the year.
In Q1 2018, households in the UK spent £118.1m a day on water, electricity and gas – or £4.34 per household per day.
The average interest rate on credit card lending bearing interest was 18.35% in July 2018. This is 17.60% above the Bank of England Base Rate of 0.75%.

The Bigger Picture
The UK economy grew by 0.6% in the three months to July 2018, an increase from the 0.4% growth in the previous three months, according to the latest estimates from the Office of National Statistics.
CPI (Consumer Prices Index) 12 month rate stood at 2.3% in the year to July, the same as for the years to May and June 2018.
The largest contributors to inflation over the 12 months to July have been transport (0.7%), housing and household services (0.5%) and recreation and culture (0.4%).

About The Money Charity:
The Money Charity is the UK’s financial capability (financial education) charity. Our vision is that everyone has the ability to be on top of their money as a part of everyday life. We empower people across the UK to build the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours to make the most of their money throughout their lives.

Noble Systems Announces Key Appointments & Regional Growth Plans

Noble Systems, a global leader in omnichannel contact centre technology solutions, has seen amazing growth in the USA over the last few years and is looking to replicate this success throughout the globe. To support this strategy, the organisation has heavily invested in several senior appointments in Europe, Middle East, Africa & India regions.

The initial stages of this aggressive growth plan are already in place. Noble welcomed James Riley, VP Sales & Marketing EMEA & India, who joined at the end of last year, bringing with him extensive experience in company growth and expansion. In addition, in the last few months, the company has doubled its EMEA sales force, promoting Paul Wood to manage the existing Northern UK and Scotland sales team, plus bringing in Neil Titcomb to further expand the sales team in the Southern UK, Ireland and South Africa markets. Noble has also increased its footprint by opening a new office in London at Thomas House, near to Victoria station.

“This is such a fantastic time to be at Noble Systems and I’m delighted to be part of the driving force behind such a dynamic and ambitious organisation” said James Riley, “I’m confident that with the new structure, combined with the organisation’s innovative solution portfolio, it’s going to be an exciting time in terms of regional growth”.

Chris Hodges, Senior VP Sales & Marketing, said “We are very happy to have James on board and to expand our footprint with a new office in London. This strategic move, combined with James’ wealth of sales management experience and proven track record of large, multi-layered and multi-disciplined sales teams means that he will be a huge asset to the organisation. The new sales management team will help to build on the strength of our existing and new partnerships – driving regional growth and opening up new market opportunities”.

Assetz Capital chooses Connect for Intermediaries as its first network and packager of choice

Peer-to-peer lender, Assetz Capital, has agreed a deal with Connect for Intermediaries to be the first network that it distributes its products through.

Assetz Capital will provide commercial loans, development finance, bridging and buy-to-let to brokers who are part of its specialist network or use the Connect for Intermediaries packaging arm.

It will provide both first and second charge loans with rates starting from 0.59% per month for its bridging loans, from 6.9% pa for commercial mortgages and from 6.4% on buy-to-let. It will also lend both to ex-pats and to foreign nationals.

Although only five years old, Assetz is now the largest peer-to-peer property lender in the UK. It has lent in excess of £600m to UK businesses to date and returned £47m to its investors.

Its commitment to fast turnaround times and bespoke lending will complement Connect’s proposition to brokers, as Connect offers both a high level of specialism as well as mainstream mortgages, with specialists on hand to help every broker who needs it.

Liz Syms, CEO of Connect for Intermediaries says, “We are highly flattered that Assetz has chosen Connect for Intermediaries as the first network to partner with and distribute its products through. We are always looking to add additional value for the brokers who work with us and Assetz will certainly help us to achieve this with an attitude of wanting to help every borrower and completely bespoke underwriting.”

Damien Druce, Director and Head of Intermediary Sales says, “It was a significant step for us to work with a network and the reason we chose Connect for Intermediaries is because of its in-depth understanding of the specialist market.

Connect helps brokers to put their cases together and carries out all the packaging and administration for both ARs and DAs so we know that the quality of cases that we receive from Connect will always be exceptionally high. We believe that this partnership with Connect will help us to accelerate our growth even further.”

The partnership with Assetz Capital and Connect for Intermediaries takes effect immediately.

Scottish business confidence slides as no deal concern mounts

Scottish small business confidence has fallen sharply and businesses north of the border are amongst the most concerned in the UK about a no deal Brexit, new figures from the FSB show.

In the third quarter of 2018, FSB’s Scottish Small Business Confidence Index fell from +5.1 points to -13.2 points. UK-wide, the Index, which measures business owners’ assessment of business conditions, fell from +12.9 points to -1.7 points.

A separate FSB survey shows that 56 per cent of Scottish businesses believe a no transition, no deal Brexit would impact negatively on their business, whereas only 5 per cent believe it will have a positive impact. Of the remainder, 27 per cent of Scottish businesses believe such a move would have no impact, while 12 per cent of enterprises said they didn’t know.

Across the UK, 48 per cent of firms stated that they believe a no deal Brexit would impact their operations negatively. Only businesses in London have more significant concerns about a no deal Brexit than Scottish traders.

FSB Scotland Policy Chair Andrew McRae said: “The slide in business optimism over the last three months is perhaps unsurprising given the very public debate about the future of the UK outside of the EU.

“If you sell your products to the EU, buy goods from the EU or if your business relies on staff from the EU, you’ll likely to see a no deal Brexit as a significant threat to your business.

“Businesses in Scotland are more likely to have concerns about this outcome.”

Only one in seven (14%) Scottish and UK small businesses have starting planning for a no-deal Brexit, the research shows. Almost a third (31%) of Scottish businesses say they plan to decrease investment ahead of March 2019. Further, the Index also shows Scottish businesses reporting pressure on revenues and profits, alongside a spike in overheads – with the cost of fuel cited by many.

The Index states: “While it is unclear exactly what role the Brexit negotiations is having on confidence levels, it would be surprising if the uncertainty around markets, supply chains and staffing was not feeding through to consumer and business sentiment.”

Andrew McRae said: “Given the lack of clarity around future trading arrangements, it’s understandable that most Scottish small businesses haven’t yet starting preparing for a UK outside the EU.

“What’s more worrying to see is the number of firms planning to postpone investment because of the associated uncertainty. We also see falling revenues and profits, compounded by rising utility and fuel costs.

“The last three months of 2018 provide an opportunity for key decision makers to put our smaller business on a steadier footing. We must prepare our smaller firms for any change in trading conditions. They must do what they can to tackle spiralling overheads. We can’t crash out of the EU into a high-cost, low margin trading environment.”

CSA hails success of UKCCC

The Credit Services Association (CSA), the voice of the UK debt collection and debt purchase sectors, has hailed the success of this year’s UK Credit and Collections Conference Gala Dinner.

This year’s event took place at the newly refurbished four-star Crowne Plaza in Stratford-Upon-Avon on 13 September. The conference was divided into morning and afternoon plenary sessions, including a rousing address from CSA President John Ricketts, a panel debate on the potential opportunity and threat posed by Open Banking, and a keynote address by Nathalie Nahai on the psychological drivers required to effect change that ultimately lead to action.

The Gala Dinner, which included the Credit and Collection Technology Awards 2018 powered by Credit Connect, took centre stage in the evening session, hosted by ex-political adviser turned comedian Matt Forde.

A record number of entries were reported, with a shortlist of 110 finalists from nearly 80 companies across 18 categories, which are covered by four main headings of Credit, Collections, Credit & Collections services and Innovation. The awards recognise best-in-class business solutions across complex issues such as affordability, customer engagement and compliance, as well as teams and individuals.

Colleen Peel, Head of Marketing and Events at the CSA, says it was a memorable event: “A good conference will always deliver a surprise or two to keep delegates engaged, and this year’s gala dinner and awards was no exception.

“The Credit and Collection Technology Awards featured entries from some familiar names as well as relative newcomers to the industry, making them particularly diverse and exciting this year. We would like to extend our congratulations to all of the winners on the night.”

Two in three SMEs make growth plans to battle economic uncertainty

More than two thirds of small business owners (67%) are working on plans to deliver growth in the next three months. This represents a rise from this time last year (61%) and in every English region, there is an increase in the proportion of small businesses now working on an action plan for growth.

The new quarterly research from Hitachi Capital’s British Business Barometer recently indicated a fall in the proportion of small businesses predicting growth for the next three months – and a sharp rise in the percentage of respondents fearful that their business would not survive (up from 5% in April to 10% in July). The context of small businesses entering a challenging economic period has given many the added impetus to try to take control of their own fortunes.

The new Hitachi poll asked 1,201 small businesses decision makers what if anything they were planning to do to achieve growth over the next three months.

For many, getting their ventures in good financial shape was the top priority for the months ahead. With a weak pound and the first of what is expected to be a series of interest rate rises, many small business owners are focusing on cutting costs, improving cash flow and getting better finance deals:
Keeping fixed costs down (37%)
Improving cash flow (20%
Being stricter on getting paid on time (16%)
Reassessing financial commitments (10%)
Find new funding solutions (7%)
Beyond financial matters, the three main strategies that small businesses were looking at involved hiring staff, expanding into new geographical markets and investing in equipment and infrastructure to power this. In fact, those businesses most likely to predict significant expansion over-indexed in all of these three areas.


Which businesses are driving growth?
Hiring staff: The youngest businesses, trading for five years or less, were most likely to be looking to increase headcount in the next three months (19% compared to a national average of 16%): The industry sectors most likely to be hiring were IT and Telecoms (27%) and Legal Services (21%).

Expanding into new markets: With Brexit negotiations underway, Hitachi’s research over the last year has already indicated that a growing number of small businesses are looking to open up markets beyond the EU. Small businesses in the media sector (29%) and the manufacturing sector (24%) were those most likely to be looking to expand in to new markets. On a regional level, business owners in London (21%), the North East (16%) and the South West (16%) were most likely to be working on strategies to take their ventures into new overseas markets.

Investing in new equipment: Out of all the industry sectors, small businesses in agriculture were those most likely to be investing in new equipment (20%). This was closely followed by construction (19%) and media (19%). Small businesses in the East of England were leading the charge on investing new new machinery and infrastructure (18%).

Gavin Wraith-Carter, Managing Director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, added: “There is no question, the economy is going through a challenging phase and this will impact consumers and the business community at large. What is so encouraging from our new study is that the small business community is not sitting back and waiting for a Brexit outcome to be known. They have told us they have concerns, but they are acting on them. Across the UK there has been a notable rise in the proportion of small business owners that have adopted strategies to help them seize opportunities and try to secure growth at a time of uncertainty.

“Access to finance is becoming a bigger issue, along with late payment and cutting costs. The businesses that predict the most significant growth are those that are investing in their businesses – bringing people in, looking at new markets and looking at the equipment they need to power growth. Hitachi Capital Business Finance has a wide range of financial products available to help small businesses get the arrangement and the deal that is right for their business. At a time of uncertainty, small businesses are standing tall – and we stand shoulder to shoulder with them because, after all, the are the engine room of the UK’s post-Brexit economy.”

Henry Howard Finance approves six-figure package for Wales’ largest privately-owned gym

A £450,000 funding package from Henry Howard Finance has helped an independent Welsh gym become one of the largest privately-owned gyms, and the first official Nautilus strength & conditioning site in the country.

Planet Fitness in Tredegar, which covers 53,000 square feet, needed the six-figure asset finance sum to purchase state-of-the-art core health and fitness equipment for the site, along with air conditioning and other fixtures and fittings.

Owner David Jones, who also owns Planet Fitness in Aberbargoed, has used asset finance several times before and said the funding was key to getting his second gym open.

“Securing the funding has allowed us to open a second site in Tredegar, fill the gym with the latest equipment and create 10 more jobs,” he said. “We decided to use Henry Howard Finance as they have a strong relationship with the equipment suppliers and were more competitive than several other quotes we received.

“The application process was straightforward and, in addition to the investment, we also received valuable business advice from our account manager at Henry Howard Finance. He made several site visits and talked us through our requirements and the funding options available. We now have a strong relationship and I know we can rely on Henry Howard Finance for further investment.”

The Planet Fitness facility opened in January 2018 with areas dedicated to cardio, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength, group exercise and indoor cycling. Equipment acquired with the Henry Howard Finance package includes Nautilus strength machines and StairMaster HIIT machines. Since opening its second site, Planet Fitness has grown its membership to 5,700 over the two facilities.

“We are delighted to be able to provide a flexible funding solution to Planet Fitness as it continues to achieve its business goals,” said Mark Catton, group chief executive officer of Henry Howard Finance.

“We strive to ensure our alternative finance solutions are the most competitive in the market and are proud Planet Fitness chose us for the next exciting chapter in their business’ success story. It is wonderful to see a business doing so well with a venture that can make a positive difference to the health of the local community.”

Arrow Global Appoints UK Head of Client Development

Arrow Global Group PLC, a leading European investor and asset manager in non-performing and non-core assets, is pleased to announce the appointment of Tim Tomlinson as UK Head of Client Development.

At Arrow Global, Tim’s focus will be on cultivating relationships with key UK creditor clients, collaborating closely with the business’ pan-European Origination team regarding on-going client developments and forthcoming transactions.

Tim has a successful track record of managing nationwide teams of business development professionals responsible for securing new clients, generating new revenue streams and launching new propositions into the market. Tim’s most recent role was Head of New Business at PwC, where he spent over 10 years in leadership roles in Sales & Marketing across the UK, and prior to that he worked in recruitment, during which time he built up a strong knowledge of the financial services industry.

Commenting on the appointment, Oliver Stratton, UK Country Manager, said: “Tim joins Arrow Global at an exciting time for the business. His experience in leadership roles in Sales, Marketing and Product Development is a welcome addition to our UK business. Tim’s track record of success will help ensure Arrow Global continues to be the industry leader, delivering positive outcomes for our UK clients.”