Top bid consultancy launches digital learning programme

ShineBid Services, one of the UK’s leading businesses on winning government and highly regulated bids, today launched a new digital learning programme to equip businesses with its tried and tested step-by-step masterplan to winning bids.

The first module to be made available is Writing and Review, which is split into three chapters that can be completed from an introductory skill level. The module will arm users with the essential knowledge to writing compelling responses that are engaging, memorable, impactful, robust and high-scoring.

“Writing bids is more than simply answering questions; for businesses setting out to win RFPs, it is crucial to convince the buyer why you should be chosen ahead of the competition,” said ShineBid Services CEO Anne McNamara. “Bid responses must address the explicit bid requirements, respond to the buyer’s underlying needs, and ultimately showcase a strong win strategy. The launch of our digital learning course marks a new direction in bid training and we are excited to help enable users to write great bid responses whenever they want, from wherever they are in the world.”

Writing and Review is set within a scenario of a bid team working on a project that resembles a real-life bidding situation. This module– which will take approximately two hours to complete – contains nine free supplementary resources, including activities to complete offline, templates, guides and short quizzes.

The digital learning programme was developed by award-winning bid professionals and is made up of ten modules that form The ShineBid Winning Masterplan™. With a win rate of 80%, and more than $10 billion won for clients since its inception, each module encompasses ShineBid’s expert knowledge alongside a series of interactive tests, offline activities and free resources.

The ShineBid Winning Masterplan™ is a methodical guide to ShineBid’s tried and tested approach to winning bids, starting from gathering the intelligence to create a strategy, the design and branding of a bid, managing the writing process, to the final submission. The digital learning programme will enable users to expand their knowledge, put into practice ShineBid’s methodology and ultimately win more business.

Users will receive a certificate of completion upon finishing the Writing and Review module. ShineBid plans to continue to add to its digital learning resources, with a total of 10 modules set to be launched to cover every step of the bidding process.

StepChange comment on Treasury Select Committee report on household finances

StepChange Debt Charity is pleased to see the Treasury Select Committee, in its report published today following the inquiry into household finances, show a clear understanding of the debt landscape and robust calls for action from the Government.

Phil Andrew, chief executive of StepChange Debt Charity, who gave oral evidence to the Committee as part of its enquiry, said: “The Committee’s report shows a clear understanding of the debt landscape, a keen awareness of where problems lie, and a robust identification of who has the power to solve them. In many cases, it is the Government who needs to take action. We agree wholeheartedly with the conclusion that the breathing space scheme should include non-credit arrears and with the Committee’s incisive comments on how the over-zealous approach to enforcing government debt, including the routine recourse to bailiffs, should be addressed. We look forward to working constructively with policymakers to help them address the problems set out so cogently in the report.”

The Committee is urging the Government to tackle the “over-zealous” pursuit of local authority debt as a priority. As the Committee observes, “the public sector should be leading by example in their treatment of the most financially vulnerable; but the current approach risks driving them into further difficulty.”

StepChange also agrees with the Committee’s conclusions of what the final debt “breathing space” scheme should look like. The Committee argues that Government should consider the case for extending the period to be covered beyond six weeks. It also states that “Given the role of non-credit arrears in problem debt, and the aggressive collection practices used by many public sector creditors, the case to include non-credit arrears in the breathing space scheme is overwhelming. The Committee can only offer its support for the scheme if its scope is expanded accordingly.”

StepChange also supports a number of the other recommendations, including that the Government should take a more strategic approach in co-ordinating the expansion of mid-cost credit to reduce reliance on high-cost credit, that the FCA should intervene on overdraft fees “as quickly as it can” and should reconsider whether a wider cap on high-cost credit – including compulsory restrictions on unsolicited credit limit increases – should be imposed.

Encore Capital Group Completes Acquisition of Remaining Interest in Cabot Credit Management

Encore Capital Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: ECPG) today announced that it has completed its acquisition of the remaining interest in Cabot Credit Management (Cabot), one of the largest credit management services providers in Europe and the market leader in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Cabot is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Encore. The transaction is expected to be accretive to Encore earnings in 2018 and beyond, and Encore’s earnings per share growth is expected to accelerate to at least 20 percent in 2018.

“The completion of the acquisition of Cabot is a transformational event for Encore that solidifies our global leadership position in our sector, and represents a natural continuation of the path we embarked on when we first acquired a stake in Cabot in 2013,” said Ashish Masih, President and CEO of Encore. “Cabot has successfully grown and expanded over the course of the past five years, and we view it as the best platform to take advantage of the significant, attractive opportunities to deploy capital in Europe.”

The Cabot transaction is part of Encore’s ongoing diversification strategy. While the U.S. market is currently strong, these investments in other geographies are expected to reduce the volatility in Encore’s overall business over time. The company’s European business, led by Cabot, has developed several recovery product specialties, including those related to credit cards, loans, mortgages, REO, SME debt, telco, utilities debt, auto and IVAs, as well as servicing and BPO capabilities.

“Since Encore’s initial investment in Cabot, we’ve been able to significantly increase our scale, improve our operational capabilities and achieve meaningful efficiency gains,” said Ken Stannard, Chief Executive Officer of Cabot. “This transaction is great news for Cabot employees, clients and customers alike, as it strengthens our ability to achieve our growth goals with a partner who deeply understands our business and shares our commitment to treating people fairly and respectfully.”

The initial agreement was announced on May 8, 2018.

Andrew Wilson & Co invests in the future of High Court Enforcement

Kelly Cookson, 34, Eric Roe, 25 and Joe Hanlon, 30, from leading recovery firm Andrew Wilson & Co, are on course to become three of the youngest High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) in the country. Together they will increase the company’s HCEO tally from two to five.

High Court Enforcement Officers are authorised by the Lord Chancellor to enforce High Court Writs to recover debt and regain control of property on behalf of legal firms, local authorities, landlords, property agents, insolvency practitioners and other instructing parties. They can delegate their powers to Enforcement Agents, also known as Bailiffs, of whom Andrew Wilson & Co has just over 20 working throughout England and Wales.

Kelly, Eric and Joe will join a select group, as currently there are only around 50 serving High Court Enforcement Officers in the industry. The trio are in the final stages of qualifying, having completed the Level 4 Diploma in High Court Enforcement and are now fulfilling the practical element of their HCEO training by going out on the road enforcing.

Sarah Roscoe, Managing Director of Andrew Wilson & Co, comments: “I am bursting with pride. To have three members of our senior management team undertake this training is yet another example of the dedicated, quality individuals we employ and the investment we put into developing our people.”

Over her 13 years at Andrew Wilson & Co, Kelly Cookson has worked her way up from Junior Administrator to Collections Manager to Operations Manager and is now a Director of the business. When she qualifies, she will be one of only a handful of female High Court Enforcement Officers in the country.

“Becoming a HCEO means the absolute world to me,” says Kelly. “I love working in the enforcement industry and with the team at Andrew Wilson & Co and I am excited at the prospect of making our industry even better. Being under the age of 35 with two young children, with not many female HCEOs in the country, also feels like a massive achievement.”

Joe Hanlon, who is also a Director, completed the CICM (Chartered Institute of Credit Management) accredited course one year earlier than his colleagues and will be awarded full HCEO status this summer, having completed the practical element of his training.

Joe says: “I’m thrilled and also very grateful for the recognition and opportunities I’ve been given to progress my career at Andrew Wilson & Co. It feels great to be part of a company that invests in training and rewards its people.”

Eric Roe followed his family into the business as a teenager before undertaking a Master Level Degree in Law at Northumbria University. After graduating he returned to work in Andrew Wilson & Co’s legal department. As well as being a trainee HCEO, Eric is also studying towards the Certificate of Proficiency in Insolvency; he says:

“Becoming a HCEO was not originally my determined route, but whilst working at Andrew Wilson & Co and pursuing this qualification, it became the obvious decision to take. I am excited to see what the future holds and how we can continue to lead the industry into its bright future.”

Kelly, Eric and Joe are helping to pave the way for the next generation of High Court Enforcement Officers. All three have had the advantage of learning from one of the best in the business, as their company’s co-founder, Andrew Wilson, is also the Chairman of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association with more than 39 years of industry experience.

Managing Director, Sarah Roscoe, who celebrates tens years at Andrew Wilson & Co in 2018, concludes: “This is an important milestone for us. Increasing our existing number of High Court Enforcement Officers to five will give us more experience at management level and allow us to grow our business and compete with the larger firms going forward.”

Scottish Insolvency Statistics: April to June 2018 (2018-19 Quarter 1)

Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) today released official statistics reporting personal and company insolvencies in Scotland for the first quarter (April to June 2018) of 2018-19 and final statistics for the 2017-18 financial year.

Scottish Insolvency Statistics for April to June 2018 (2018-19 Q1)

There were 3,208 personal insolvencies (bankruptcies and protected trust deeds (PTDs)) in Scotland in 2018-19 Q1, compared with 2,869 in 2017-18 Q1, an increase of 12%.

There were 1,236 bankruptcies awarded during this quarter, a 6.5% decrease on the same quarter in 2017-18. PTDs increased by 27% to 1,972 over the same period.

There were 648 DPPs approved under DAS compared with 597 in the same quarter of the previous year.

A total of £9.5 million was repaid through DAS during this quarter, compared with £9.4 million in 2017-18 Q1.

The number of Scottish registered companies becoming insolvent or entering receivership increased in the first quarter of 2018-19, with 245 companies becoming insolvent compared with 200 in 2017-18 Q1 There were 141 members’ voluntary liquidations (solvent liquidations), down on the 151 in 2017-18 Q1.

Scottish insolvency statistics in 2017-18

Final statistics show that in 2017-18 personal insolvencies in Scotland increased by 5.7% to 10,602 from 10,032 in 2016-17.

Personal insolvencies rose for the second consecutive year but remain below levels seen between 2005-06 and 2014-15.

The increase in personal insolvencies in 2017-18 was mainly due to PTDs, which increased by 8.9% on the previous year to 5,958. Bankruptcies increased by 1.8% to 4,644.

In 2017-18, there were 2,318 debt payment programmes (DPPs) approved under the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS), 85 more than a year earlier. In 2017-18, £37.6 million was repaid from debtors under DAS compared with £37.3 million in 2016-17.

Corporate insolvencies increased from 846 in 2016-17 to 884 in 2017-18.

Just one hour of financial education works

The Money Charity’s Money Workshops have a significant positive effect on the financial capability of young people, in terms of confidence and perception of knowledge, even when the majority of students experience only one one-hour workshop.

This is one of the findings of a new school-level randomised controlled trial (RCT) exploring the impact of The Money Charity’s ‘Money Workshops’ on students’ financial capability that has been published today.

The RCT study found that the Money Workshops were effective at improving students’ self-reported confidence in managing money, how much students feel they know about savings and credit, and how much students feel they know about planning and budgeting. It was also found that teacher capability to deliver financial education themselves was improved by attending the workshops, an unintended but welcomed consequence.

The Money Charity commissioned The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), an independent evaluator, to provide an independent evaluation of their Money Workshops in Schools and Colleges for Key Stage 4 and post-16 students, as part of the Money Advice Service financial capability ‘What Works Fund’. The Money Workshops make money and finance engaging and relevant and aim to increase students’ confidence, knowledge and skills relating to money matters. They are delivered in hour-long interactive sessions to classroom-sized groups by trained consultants.

Michelle Highman, Chief Executive at The Money Charity said: “We are delighted that the results show that our Money Workshops work. Our Money Workshops have a significant positive impact on students’ confidence and perceptions of knowledge around money months later. In addition, teachers felt that their ability to deliver financial education themselves had been enhanced”.

Dr Ben Styles, Head of NFER’s Education Trials Unit said: “Young people have limited opportunities to learn about managing money and finances and our findings from this evaluation emphasise the importance and relevance of financial education to equip young people with the confidence they need to manage their money. Studies of this type use self-reported proxies for behaviour change so are always limited but given that most students received just one workshop, the effects seen are impressive. The Money Charity and financial capability stakeholders will be using these findings to inform financial capability policy and practice more widely.”

Sarah Porretta, UK Financial Capability Director at the Money Advice Service said: “We’re pleased to be able to support projects like this through our What Works Fund. These encouraging results highlight exactly what we set out to do with the fund: helping organisations understand which interventions work so that every penny spent makes a real difference to people’s lives. Going forward, the findings from this study will prove invaluable in the practice and delivery of young people’s financial education.”

Hometrack UK Cities House Price Index for June

London City house price growth has picked up over the last quarter as the capital’s housing market starts to stabilise, according to the latest Hometrack UK Cities House Price Index. In the three months to June, house prices rose by 1.8%, having fallen by 1% over the previous 6 months.

After two years of weak demand and falling sales, there are signs that London’s housing market is beginning to steady, although the annual rate of growth remains low at +0.7%. The recent trend is supported by the fact that 61% of postcodes in London are currently registering month-on-month price rises according to Hometrack’s most granular indices.

This modest improvement in market conditions reflects greater realism on the part of sellers in the wake of a two-year re-pricing process. The discounts sellers must give buyers to achieve a sale has started to narrow across London, reversing a 2 year upward trend where the discount grew from 1% in 2016Q2 to 5% in 2018Q1. It has fallen back to 4.8% (see Figure 2 below).

London is in a group of six cities where house prices are failing to keep pace with the rate of goods inflation (CPI) and where house prices are falling in real terms – Southampton (2.1%), Oxford (1.9%), Belfast (1.4%), London (0.7%), Cambridge (-0.2%) and Aberdeen (-2.8%).

House price growth is strongest in cities in the Midlands and North West of England. Manchester is registering the highest annual growth rate (7.4%), followed by Liverpool (7.2%), Birmingham (6.8%) and Leicester (6.5%).

The level of discounting from the asking price to achieve a sale is lowest in Manchester (2.2%) where market conditions have remained strong for the last 2 years. Discounts have fallen in Liverpool, where prices are rising off a low base, but remain above average at 4.8%.

Richard Donnell, Insight Director at Hometrack, says: “After 2 years of falling sales volumes and rising discounts to achieve a sale there are some signs of life returning to the London housing market. Discounts are finally starting to narrow as sellers become more realistic over pricing.”

Donnell adds: “While prices in London have picked up over the last quarter, we expect the annual rate of growth to remain weak for the foreseeable future. The positive news is that greater realism on the past of sellers will support transactions, which have fallen by 20% since 2014.”

Donnell adds: “The UK market is operating at two-speeds at the moment, with growth in regional cities in the Midlands and North West far outstripping those in the South. However, affordability pressures in the South East in particular are having a slowing effect on house prices as borrowers are priced out of the market.”

CICM launches new resource for knowledge and learning

The Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM) has launched the CICM Knowledge Hub, a new initiative to provide CICM members and subscribers with access to more than 1,000 knowledge resources covering the entire credit management life cycle.

The CICM Knowledge Hub includes key articles, research papers from industry experts, webinars, and best practice guidance in an easy to search format, enabling visitors to keep up to date with past and future thinking, with new and topical resources added each month. Almost every facet of the profession is included, from collections and debt recovery through to the law and recent regulatory developments.

The Hub also has a ‘My Learning’ area where users’ activity on the hub is automatically recorded and where their other Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activity can be added. This section allows them to plan their personal development, monitor progress and record activity in a user-friendly and visual format.

Ultimate Finance reaches lending milestone

Leading SME funding partner, Ultimate Finance has announced it has reached a new lending milestone, as it makes available almost £200 million to small and medium-sized businesses across the UK.

The figures from the first half of 2018 show a 42.3% increase in cash to customers for the alternative finance specialist, which has recorded growth of 150% since it was acquired by independent investment firm Tavistock Group, in July 2015.

Ultimate Finance has seen particularly strong developments across a number of its specialist products:
Bridging Finance has increased by 260%, now sitting at almost £30m funds in use
Asset Finance has increased 61%, surpassing the £40 million mark for the first time;
Invoice Finance has increased 27.5%;

The company also reported growth in its client base, with a 26% overall increase since the start of the year. The number of Bridging Finance clients receiving funds from Ultimate Finance increased by 86%, while its Asset Finance client numbers grew by 42%.

Ron Robson, CEO at Ultimate Finance, commented: “We have a very simple mantra at Ultimate Finance; businesses need cash in a fast, flexible and fair way. In a market that is often made overly complex with unnecessary jargon and confusing fee structures, our continued growth is testament to our uncomplicated approach to supporting SMEs.

“As a company we are focussed on making the customer journey as easy as it can be, by investing in customer service and technology to provide more access to cash than ever before to thriving businesses across the country. As we enter the next phase of our own journey, we look forward to a strong second half of the year.”

The growth news comes at the same time as the company announces it has brought NatWest into its back-to-back syndicated invoice finance facility, alongside renewed commitments from Lloyds Bank and British Business Investments, a wholly-owned commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank. This provides an additional £40m in funding taking the total facility to £125m, which complements Tavistock’s investment of over £100m to date.

Henry Howard Finance Group reveals exceptional half year figures

Independent lender Henry Howard Finance (HHF) has continued its record portfolio growth during the first half of 2018, reinforcing its position as a leading funder for SMEs within the UK.

HHF, which recently reached the milestone of supporting more than 30,000 companies across the UK, has seen a year-on-year increase of 50 per cent in own book lending. Own book receivables currently stand at £77m.

The combined asset-based lending divisions within HHF paid out more than £57m funding during the last six months. HHF has recently reconfigured its business, including the recent sale of the HHF Cashflow Division, to enable further growth and investment within its Asset Finance, Retail Finance and Vendor Finance businesses.

Mark Catton, CEO of the Henry Howard Finance Group, says: “We enjoyed a strong first half of the year. We have a great customer franchise, assisting SMEs of all sizes to fund business critical equipment. We also enjoy fantastic relationships with our many hundred vendor partners.

“We continue to invest in our technology platform, which is highly rated by our vendors and allows credit decisions and documentation in minutes. We are also investing heavily in our funder platform and capabilities, backed and supported by the British Business Bank.”