Asset finance market grows by 8% in July

New figures released today by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) show that asset finance new business (primarily leasing and hire purchase) overall grew in July by 8% compared with the same month last year. New business for deals of up to £20 million increased by 7% over the same period.

The plant and machinery finance, and commercial vehicle finance sectors reported new business up in July by 12% and 13% respectively, compared with the same month in 2018, while the car finance sector saw growth of 6%.

Commenting on the figures, Geraldine Kilkelly, Head of Research and Chief Economist at the FLA, said: “The asset finance market made a solid start to the third quarter of 2019. Despite subdued levels of business investment, the industry has seen new business grow by 7% in the twelve months to July.

“The commercial vehicle finance and construction equipment finance sectors have returned strong performances in 2019 so far, with new business up in the first seven months of 2019 by 17% and 22% respectively.”

Bibby Financial Services appoints Theo Chatha as Chief Financial Officer

Global SME partner, Bibby Financial Services (BFS), has announced the appointment of Theo Chatha as Chief Financial Officer.

Prior to joining BFS, Theo spent eleven years with Close Brothers, holding a variety of executive roles across its banking, property finance, and asset finance and leasing divisions.

Most recently, he held the role of Bank Finance Director, overseeing the finance function reporting to the Banking Division Managing Director and Group Finance Director.

Reporting to Global Chief Executive, David Postings, Theo will join the BFS Global Executive Committee and Board. He will oversee operational finance, financial control, and financial planning and analysis.

Commenting on his appointment, Theo said: “BFS is an extremely forward-looking organisation with clients and colleagues at the heart of what it does. I’m delighted to join BFS at such an important time in its growth strategy and look forward to working closely with the Global Board and colleagues across the business to achieve BFS’s next stage of growth.”

Global Chief Executive, David Postings, said: “As a Sunday Times Best Companies employer, attracting leading talent is a key part of our global growth strategy. I’m delighted to welcome Theo to BFS, and look forward to working with him as we position the business for future growth.”

Joining the business at the start of September, Theo succeeds Global Finance Director, Stephen Rose, who leaves BFS on 30 September after six years.

David Postings added: “I’d like to put on record my thanks to Stephen for his dedication over the past six years. I know he will continue to take a keen interest in our ambitious growth plans over the years ahead.”

BFS supports more than 10,500 SMEs worldwide across invoice finance, foreign exchange and asset finance solutions. In January 2019, the funder announced the launch of its start-up insurance business, Coverly.

Over half of SMEs have business ambitions they cannot fund

Research from Nucleus Commercial Finance, an alternative finance provider, reveals that more than half (52%) of UK SME owners have business ambitions they feel they are unable to fund.

According to the latest research, it’s business owners in the capital who are struggling the most to match their ambitions, with over over three-fifths (61%) of London SMEs unable to access funds. Interestingly, London SME owners want to expand their business beyond the capital, but they are currently unable to do so.

Nucleus Commercial Finance found that despite SME owners reporting that revenue and profit increased by 10% and 8% over the previous year respectively, businesses are still struggling to achieve their strategic goals. These include:

  • Increasing brand, marketing or online presence – 19%
  • Expanding across the UK – 17%
  • Increasing staff – 14%
  • Launching a new product or service – 13%
  • Moving into larger premises – 12%
  • Expanding into new international markets – 9%

Chirag Shah, CEO, Nucleus Commercial Finance comments: “Although it’s great to see an increase in both profit and revenue for small businesses, it’s clear that funding challenges still remain. If business owners cannot access the funds they need to achieve their strategic goals, we could see a significant impact on the UK’s economy if SMEs are held back.

“With SMEs accounting for 99% of all UK businesses, the alternative finance industry has a significant role to play in helping businesses succeed. Particularly as high street banks become more reluctant to lend, we need to better educate small businesses on the other solutions out there. The alternative finance industry offers a more flexible and personalised approach to lending, meaning they can help business owners who otherwise thought they had no available option.”

Atradius Collections releases latest International Collections Handbook

The annual publication International Debt Collections Handbook of Atradius Collections covers extensive debt collections approaches in 48 countries around the world. Israel and Vietnam are the two new countries featured in the 13th edition.

International trade has been exposed to a high level of default risk due to the current complex geopolitical environment. Poor payment behaviour, intricate local legislation, and cultural differences can present a tough challenge to companies trying to recover outstanding receivables overseas.

“Having knowledge of amicable collections and country-specific legal phases surrounding collections is vital for survival in a global economy,” says Rudi de Greve, Global Operations Director at Atradius Collections.

From its first edition, the International Debt Collections Handbook has quickly gained trust from companies around the world and become the go-to source when they need information about collecting debts abroad.

From amicable settlements – recovering debts while retaining trading relationships – to legal proceedings – using local law and legislation to recover bad debts, the International Debt Collections Handbook provides valuable insights and professional expertise.

With the latest edition of the International Debt Collections Handbook, businesses can now make better decisions when it comes to collecting receivables from their customers around the world.

Small business owners turn to their pets about work problems

With many Brits facing burnouts at work and with cases of business stress on the rise, the new research suggests that most small business owners build a reliable support system to help them through the ups and downs of running a business. For the 4,966 small business owners surveyed by Hitachi Capital, the single biggest port of call at times of stress was a business owner’s partner (69%), despite the fact that the divorce rates on are on the rise in the UK. However, the research also shows that small business owners also have more unsuspecting allies that they feel they can rely on as part of their support network – including their household pets (23%).

The big question – dogs or cats?

Nationally, dogs were regarded as a greater stress-buster than cats – with 14% of small business owners saying they talked to their pooch when they were stressed. A further 20% said that the simple pleasure of taking their dog for a walk helped them to unwind.

Cats were a comfort for other business owners. Around one in ten said they would rush home to spend time with their feline friend if work was getting them down – suggesting that snuggling up to your cat does play a part in boosting moods.

Regionally, small business owners in Scotland and the North West (18% and 18%) were the most likely to talk to their dog if they had worries about work. In the East Midlands, small business owners (13%) were more likely to speak to their cats than their counsellor or family GP (1% and 5% retrospectively).

Other popular choices

  • As many as 69% of small business owners said they talked to their other half when they are stressed out – peaking amongst those that work from home (75%).
  • Small business owners in the North East and London were the most likely to look for support from their fellow colleagues (35% vs 32%), compared to a national average of 18%.
  • More than one in three small business owners (37%) said their friends were also valued sounding boards when they were stressed about work. Supportive friends were most valued by young business owners (25-34 years old) who were in the earlier stages of running a business.

Surprise flat pancakes

When push comes to shove, it was the serious professionals everyone knows they should talk to who emerged as the people few relied on as being in their support network.

  • Only 3% of small business owners said they would turn to their business partner when they needed support, many preferring to rely on people outside the workplace.
  • Only 1% of respondents said they would sit down with a counsellor and talk about their problems – and very few said they would turn to a business mentor (1%).

Gavin Wraith-Carter commented: “It is very encouraging to see that small business owners recognise the importance of having a support system to help them through the highs and lows of running a business. There is a place for professional advice but outside the workplace support from trusted friends or even a walk with the dog also matters. It’s all about balance and recognising the importance of being able to switch off.

“Whilst we can rely on our partners and family as shoulders to cry on – the positive outtake from the research is that we are getting better at voicing our stresses, not internalising them and recognising that it doesn’t matter who helps you the most – as long as you feel you are supported. Mental health is being recognised as a major issue in Britain today and, for many small business owners, having a good work-life balance and the mechanisms in place to switch off is important to the long term health of their small business.”

Together helps customer to bridge the gap with 36 hour turnaround

Specialist lender Together has helped a customer renovate his new home and pay a solicitor’s bill after he was hit with an unexpected three-month delay on the sale of his house.

The customer had already completed on his new home when he was told about the hold up with the house he was selling.

He needed the loan to cover legal costs and carry out some essential building work at his new property.

A specialist distributor brought the case to Together and the lender looked into the customer’s financial position before agreeing a 12-month short-term loan of £54,490, in just 36 hours, to bridge the gap while his house sale completed.

Nick Jones, head of specialist distribution at Together, said: “This kind of case demonstrates how we can work closely with a broker to pull out all the stops when we are up against time. The Loan Partnership submitted the case to us at 7am on a Tuesday and it was so well packaged that we were able to complete the process and complete by 12pm on the Wednesday.

“We worked quickly and efficiently with the trusted partner to provide fast finance and deliver a positive outcome for the customer.”

The case was brought to Together by The Loan Partnership, a member of the Together+ initiative.

Andy Pelley, director at The Loan Partnership, said: “Together has a reputation as a lender that delivers an exceptional service under pressure and timescales. Our experience with the lender, developed over many years, meant we were able to package and submit the application overnight to ensure no time was lost.

“We know Together’s capability to turn applications around in a short space of time and are delighted with the seamless collaboration between ourselves and the lender.”

Norman Broadbent Group plc receives multi-million funding line from Bibby Financial Services

Bibby Financial Services (BFS) has provided a multi-million funding line to Norman Broadbent Group plc (AIM: NBB), a leading London listed Professional Services firm, to support its expansion plans.

With a 40 year track record of successfully advising clients from long-standing corporations to high-growth challenger brands, Norman Broadbent offers a diversified portfolio of integrated Leadership Acquisition & Advisory Services. Specialisations include Board & Leadership Search, Senior Interim Management, Research & Insight, Leadership Consulting & Assessment, and executive level Talent Solutions. Norman Broadbent’s Group CEO, Mike Brennan, was recently recognised as being one of Europe’s leading Chief Executives by CEO Today magazine.

BFS is providing Norman Broadbent with a funding facility to help fuel further growth. The facility will free up working capital allowing the business to increase its market share and penetrate a wider range of clients.

Mike Brennan, Group CEO, Norman Broadbent Group Plc, said: “As an ambitious business, we have recently reviewed our strategic service providers to ensure we have the best partners in place to help us drive growth. Having been through a successful transformation, we are now in growth mode so needed a strong partner, with a deep understanding of our business, who could help us unlock extra working capital.

“Having reviewed a range of potential providers, it became apparent that BFS were well positioned to help us achieve our corporate growth goals thus benefiting our clients, shareholders, colleagues, and the company as a whole.”

Chris Farnworth, Corporate Manager, Bibby Financial Services, said: “Norman Broadbent has an unrivalled history and heritage as a provider of specialist services. Having spent significant time with Mike and his team, we understood the journey ahead and business trajectory hence structured a facility to best improve cash flow.

“BFS go to great lengths to ensure our clients view us as partners, rather than just financiers. We are delighted that Norman Broadbent has bought into our ethos and we look forward to joining them on the next stage of their journey.”

Commenting on the Euro zone’s meagre GDP growth for Q2

Commenting on the Euro zone’s meagre GDP growth for Q2, Chris Towner, Director at JCRA, said: “Q2 GDP from the EU was confirmed at 0.2%. Meagre growth and half of what was achieved in the first quarter.

“Also, if you dig deeper into the data it is clear that the slowing is coming from the core of the EU with Germany posting a contraction of 0.1% in the second quarter. France on the other hand continues to grow at 0.3% which perhaps points to how sensitive the German manufacturing sector is to the trade tariffs dispute between US and China.

“The Euro weakened marginally as we go into a big week for the EU with the ECB deciding on whether to loosen policy further. Negative rates in the EU have become the norm and the question as we go into next week is how far can they go? A further cut of 10bps to the deposit rate will bring it down to -0.5%. This is expected but will it be enough? Anything more dramatic will send the Euro lower.”

Beat your managers’ “back to work blues” by giving them a tough project, hard work… and a bit more respect

While there is a strong and overdue focus on improving the work-life balance in many organisations, new research shows most managers are still at their happiest when they can get stuck into a challenging project… and get a bit of respect from their boss for it.

Ms Kedge Martin, the CEO of executive mentors Rutbusters, which commissioned the research, says: “In this era of work-life balance it may sound counterintuitive that many managers will be happier working long hours on a demanding project for nothing more than a bit of recognition. But it reaffirms the adage that if you want something done well, give it to a busy person.”

The new research* looked into what Britain’s 10 million executives and managers want to improve their satisfaction at work, and highlights that challenge and respect are at least as powerful causes of happiness as improving work/life balance.

The research into 1,000 senior managers, business owners, professionals and executives, was conducted for Rutbusters by accredited research agency Censuswide (full details about the research on page 4). Findings include:

  • A challenging project – 64% of executives, business owners and managers say it will make them happier, while only 5% of managers say it will make them unhappier
  • More respect for their experience – 72% say this will make them happier (only 26% say it will have no effect on their happiness)
  • Greater management responsibilities – 54% said it would make them happier (although 37% of managers said it would have no impact on them)
  • More flexibility to work from home – While two-thirds want this, the other third said this will have little impact on their job satisfaction or will actually make them unhappier
  • Shorter commute – 58% say it will make them happier, but 40% say this would have no impact on their happiness
  • 84% of senior managers want more pay and status, although 15% say it will have little impact on their happiness
  • Around 14% of senior managers are burnt out, deeply dislike their job and only turn up because they feel they have no other options. Definitely don’t give these ones important projects!

Kedge Martin added: “The big finding is that senior managers worried that their best people will go elsewhere because of a dose of back-to-work-blues after the summer holidays should use September to give them a challenging project.

“Of course, people need the right training, resources and support to succeed, and the role of an effective boss is to give them these, rather than simply give them all the blame but none of the tools.

“Elaborate schemes to give more home working and a better work-life balance are great, but actually these aren’t always motivational for many people, especially ambitious and talented managers. These people want demanding projects and recognition, not necessarily more time nappy-changing or chatting at the school gate.”

“It’s not surprising that so many people in our research said they wanted more pay and status, don’t we all! However, all the research over the years shows that as long as people don’t feel underpaid, money is actually a poor motivator for all but money-orientated people, such as top salespeople and financial traders.

“While 26% of managers said having a new boss would make them unhappier, a third of managers would instead be pleased. That’s quite sad really. We will all have had great bosses and bad bosses in our career, and about three quarters of managers don’t feel their current boss helps or inspires them. Managers should reflect on this too.”

Business organisation launches simple checklist to helps firms keep the cash flowing through Brexit

A simple checklist for businesses to help keep the cash flowing regardless of the Brexit outcome has been published by The Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM), the world’s largest recognised membership body for the credit management community.

The guide challenges businesses to question how well they know their respective customers under four key headings: goods and the supply chain; processes and contracts; people and organisation; and cashflow.

It advises, for example, that businesses consider whether their customers are dependent on raw materials from organisations in the EU, whether they will have to re-issue or re-negotiate contracts, or whether they are dependent on staff or skills that might become in short supply in a post-Brexit Europe.

It also advises businesses to assess how their customers might be impacted by exchange rate fluctuations, whether they will have to pay more to source existing supplies, and whether they operate with profit margins that are so small that even a slight increase in cost will have a disproportionate effect on their future well-being.

Philip King, the CICM’s Chief Executive, advises that businesses can mitigate the risks they face by asking some simple questions: “The credit manager’s mantra of ‘know your customer’ will be more important than ever as we head towards a Brexit conclusion,” he says. “Asking the right questions early will enable you to put plans in place that will help you be better prepared for whatever outcome.”