Archive

Archive for September, 2013

EE. Britain’s worst business

EE_Logo-new-webIf ever a business was seemingly on a suicide mission then it has to be EE. Without doubt they are the worst business in Britain.

Where do we start? Perhaps first of all they claim to be a mobile phone operator. This is a lie under the trade descriptions act. A phone call is only a phone call when it is completed without the almost inevitable “call failed” breaking into the conversation. Every bloody time

And this doesn’t happen in the depths of Wales or Lake District. It happens in the centre of London

Two tin cans and a piece of string would be better

So what do we do? Go to their shops with clueless school leaver staff? Not a chance. Call their customer services. Now this is where it gets even worse

Guess where the call centre is. Yes. Useless

My contract to this dreadful business was transferred from t mobile. I had cause to ring t mobile about once every five years and the nice Scottish lady at the other end was always absolutely terrific

When will these stupid businesses understand that customer service is VITAL

With luck EE will go bust. I am out of their contract at the end of the year and simply counting down the days. Thinks it just me? Then read this

http://www.reviewcentre.com/Mobile-Phone-Networks/EE-Everything-Everywhere-www-ee-co-uk-reviews_1687677

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Blackberry. The end?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24182038

Huge job losses at RIM and dreadful results. Not unexpected but a question…

The first uncharitable thought i have when a business cuts 40% of their workforce in one go is what on earth were they all doing then? Now that might sound harsh but a business on top of its place in the market would surely have adapted quicker? 

 

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Directors personal guarantees. An unwelcome trend

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You will all be aware of the nature of directors personal guarantees (DPG) and their consequences. Naturally enough any director signing one of these has to think long and hard about the possible consequences

Generally speaking these are not used in trade unless there are significant doubts about the creditworthiness of the buyer but there is one sector where the DPG is now very much part of the standard credit agreement. Builders merchants

When signing the agreement you are making yourself liable for all debts in the event of business failure. Naturally enough the clause is buried deep within the agreement and that in itself has proved to be very contentious

Unfortunately defendants have proved this very hard to fight against. I say unfortunately because frankly i find this a disturbing trend which i certainly do not wish to see become prevalent in other sectors

That might seem a strange comment from a credit manager but i am a believer in limited liability and taking stock of the business alone. Many bankruptcies are sheer bad luck although many of course are also abuses

My problem with this is that it will serve to stifle enterprise. I have no problem if the DPG is used selectively but if it becomes more standardise with bullying suppliers calling the tune, then who is going to want to set up a business?

I believe the terms should be highlighted and a few press stories would not go amiss. Businesses only have themselves to blame if they stumble into this but at the same time, suppliers offering standard terms should be seem as having a strong competitive advantage

An alternative view is here

http://www.buildersmerchantsnews.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/6521/How_to_review_restricted_liability.html

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How to celebrate a birthday

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Tomorrow is my birthday and to celebrate I will be presenting to a group of accountants from various well regarded firms on the subject of invoice discounting and factoring

I tend not to celebrate the passing years in style.
There will not be any dreaded powerpoint and the format will be largely q&a with some interesting case studies. Also there will be an overview of the whole lending market

Half an hour maximum

Why am i telling you this? Because it may just be something you or your firm would be interested in.

Drop me a line if so

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The Spanish economy.

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The european economic “crisis” has slipped out of the news a little during the past year. Maybe there is just a sense of ennui. News stories can become overfamiliar especially if their bearing on your immediate experience is at least one step removed. Unfortunately that does not mean that the problems have been resolved and data from Spain would indicate that that is far from the case

I am certainly not one of those that is a  pessimist by nature but when you look closer at some of the actual data (see second link below) then it it is difficult to see where the turnaround is going to come from. I thought the most significant statistic was the continuing alarming collapse in consumer confidence (down 30% each of last two year on years). Without that vital element it is difficult to see how the economy will recover

http://www.thespanisheconomy.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/en-gb/Weekly%20Data%20Centre/20130913_Weekly_Indicators.pdf

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24077728

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Chuka Umunna Right or wrong?

http://www.fsb.org.uk/conference2013/chuka-umunna-mp

Some well reported comments from labours business secretary. In fairness he does highlight some crucial points although there is a part of me that would rather a business secretary who had actually run a business rather than act as a lawyer but there is one issue which is oft repeated and yet doesn’t really stack up

He complains about the lack of credit available in the market and the lack of competition in lending. Frankly I cannot agree. Credit to business is primarily asset based and there are up to 50 active lenders in the market, albeit at varying levels

He sees this as a uk problem. The world bank would disagree. Their annual survey on “ease of credit” covers every country

Guess which is rated the very best country in which to obtain credit?

Yes. You guessed right

He also states that we are the only country in the g20 without state intervention to ensure “credit gets to businesses”. Given the above, it would be very easy to make a very sarcastic comment here

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/09/tsb-banking-small-businesses-british-investment?commentpage=1

Now I steer clear of politics on this blog but “state intervention” is never far a away from the thoughts of one particular party.

But does it work?

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Invoice finance fraud. My experience

September 10, 2013 1 comment

Fraudster

Earlier this week  I met a new lead who was apparently interested in invoice financing. He had a good story to tell.

With a reasonably well detailed business plan, terms and conditions as well as a list of clients and their turnover, his business of selling pre paid sim cards through wholesalers to retailers seem to be well organised and if the figures were to be believed, very successful

With no existing financier in place and with seemingly fantastic growth this is precisely the lead most brokers crave for. And no wonder a couple of brokers had already passed his details to invoice financiers

But they should have done their homework. In fact, if they had been professional enough to have analysed the clients debtors before passing the lead, then they would have found some interesting results

I will come onto that, but firstly why analyse the debtors anyway? The reasons are simply that each lender takes a differing view of the debtors book risk and to find the best deal the broker should have answers to the inevitable questions which in themselves  can lead to the requirement for credit insurance. 

So what did i find?

He had ten customers. Seven of these had very nominal accounts filed or none at all. They also had one director and yes, the very same director

He was looking for up to £30k credit on each of these businesses. Now a pattern emerges.

Far be it for me to say that invoices would be raised, borrowed against and then verified by a number of “clients” who had no assets and no intention to pay. That would be a fraudulent scenario

I asked my lead for bank statements verifying previous transactions. I am still waiting

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