Archive

Archive for December, 2013

What I would like to see in 2014

Im not one for resolutions or seeing one year as significantly different from the nexy but here are a few random developments I would like to see next year

1. Personal guarantees. There is a wide chasm between the perception of the lenders on the borrowers on this issue and frankly I know which side i come down on. The PG is demanded in invoice financing to “concentrate the directors mind on collections if the business fails”. What rubbish and i wonder how often this is effective. So why not a warranty rather than the heavy over the top approach? Its a competitive market out there, so stop complaining and make yourself competitive on this sensitive issue

2. Asset lending. Think it through. It is a reflex response from lenders that lending can only be made against “tangible assets”. Why? A brand has value and whilst the book value can be overstated treating it as zero is unrealistic. When MFI went bust, guess which asset realised the highest value?

3. Underwriters. Stop acting like a herd and think commercially. The same mantras about the same debtors are trotted out time and again and often they are a little laughable. I had a perfect example at the end of last year which tempted me to name and shame the slew of underwriters who would be kicked down the stairs if they had refused the same credit in a genuinely commercial environment

4. Banks. We need more players in the market. With the unwelcome fading of the Co-op and retreat of Clydesdale, the business banking options are still too limited. There are some new players but they are too risk adverse and the major players are frankly far too often out of touch with the requirements of SMEs

5. Penalties. For lenders who are obstructive with changing providing obligatory details for changing banks and facilities. There should be a statutory time limit and heavy fines for non compliance

6. Companies house. No more suggestions from Vince Cable that accounts filing requirements are to be considerably loosened. Aside from the difficulties it will create for credit managers, this will only lead to restrictions in lending. A dangerous idea

And in the wider world

1. The EU. Because the crisis is less prominent now and certain countries appear to be getting back in track, there is a danger that the lessons will not have been learnt and that the idealistic push to greater integration will continue apace. I believe that it will be far from just the uk that will be very uncomfortable with this agenda. I would like to see the EU scale back it’s reach and concentrate on the trade and economics rather than politics

2. American resurgence. I want to hear less about the supposed success of the chinese model from those of an authoritarian bent and witness America lead the world once again. It’s free market can be a little raw for some tastes but fundamentally the values and freedoms as well as the remarkable spirit of enterprise is only to be admired.

3. London. The worlds number one city and booming as never before. But i want to hear less rubbish about how this “drains” the rest of the country and more about how it is the Uk’s economic driver. It is an international city and competing not with Birmingham but New York and Frankfurt. Envy from the regions at the capitals success has to stop. For a whole host of reasons, you would be worse off without us

4. London again. Crossrail is 20 years too late but will be a huge success (witness the stunning development of the London overground). Stop dithering and kick off the much needed crossrail 2 now

Happy new year

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Non Bank lending “highest since 2008”

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The future of Heathrow and why Boris is wrong

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I should of first declare an interest here. I live fairly close to Heathrow and yet avoid the flightpath so effectively, I have the best of both worlds. I would also add that it is or at least has been, a pretty horrible airport. But should it go?

The whole of London  is aware of the ongoing debate and most prominently we have had Boris Johnson promoting his plans for a new airport in north Kent. You can see the attraction on some practical levels and certainly you can see why any politician hanging his hat on this will be expecting to be viewed as a “clear eyed visionary” rather than a purveyor of supposedly muddled solutions. 

A new airport does look very straightforward on paper but there are a couple of very important points that are seemingly often overlooked and yet i believe to be crucial

Firstly a wide range of businesses have located their international head offices around the Bath Road and M4 Corridor. The Heathrow effect stretches right out to Reading and beyond. There is a huge commitment to location for any number of firms, most especially in the vital technology sector. If Heathrow were to close, the assumption would be that they would relocate to Kent or south east london. Fine if they do, but equally Amsterdam, Geneva and Dublin would be on the agenda. That would not be welcome

Secondly there is the simple issue of location. Just because Heathrow is a “London airport” its reach obviously stretches a lot further and it is glaringly obvious that the west of London is a lot more accessible to the rest of the country than the distant south east. This not only applies to those travelling out but also those travelling in and that can include those that are vital to the wider economy

There is more of course but lets address these points first?

 

 

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Blockbuster to close completely

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25345257

Inevitable and it was pretty surprising that anyone thought they had a future. There are certain businesses which simply cannot turn back the tide of progress regardless of how well managed and well branded they are

Many outside of credit management believe that analysis simply revolves around balance sheets. Completely wrong. A strong credit manager will always look at possible trends and the debtors place in the market

It has also been remarked that Blockbuster became a little complacent and perhaps lazy minded (they turned down a chance to Netflix in its early days). Although that is not a factor that is easily defined it is perhaps a case of you know it when you see it

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Lloyds bank fine

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25330366

I have good contacts at Lloyds and I am sure that there is a genuine commitment to customer service amongst many of their staff but this massive fine and the appalling details of the case will only reinforce the view that the big banks have entirely lost the plot

Not only were their staff disgracefully pressurised but clearly customers were being pushed towards totally inappropriate products

In the past week, I have experienced on behalf of one of my clients, service from a another clearing bank which was complacent, lazy and frankly disgusting

These fines will perhaps go some way towards addressing the abuses but competition will be key and we need more of it frankly

 

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More sloppy journalism.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/09/britain-now-developing-country-foodbanks-growth

It is difficult to believe that the writer of this sloppy and frankly stupid article is an “economics writer” Using desperately selective statistics (“roads in Chile” I kid you not), he appears to be desperate to portray the UK as a failed economic state

Now i’m no cheerleader for either side on the political front and I keep politics out of this blog, but perhaps some reference to the UK’s growth firing ahead or the fact that we top the “ease of business” tables might have been produced as a counterpoint to “investment in Mali” (surely a skewed statistic given the recent history there?)

And to think he was paid for this drivel

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The slowest payers in the UK are… the Scots

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Tempting as it is to portray a stereotype, the regional variances in this report were frankly pretty limited. I am not sure they mean an awful lot

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/10481527/The-worst-payers-in-the-UK-are…-Bars-in-Scotland.html

But more significant is this quote for a business owner

Mr Jones spends a day a month chasing invoices alongside a fellow staff member. “A lot of MPs don’t realise that business owners like me are forced to use our valuable time to chase invoices,” he said. “This takes time and stunts growth; you can’t invest because you’re not sure of cashflow.”

More fool you. Aside from the fact that this is inadequate chasing (half an hour a day would make more sense) this task is easily outsourced at would be a cheaper rate than his “valuable” time

 

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