Archive for May, 2014

One of the worlds largest IT suppliers is about to disappear

I cannot say who it is sadly. Tempting as it is. 

But how do i know this? It is because on behalf of one of my clients, a statutory demand has been issued. This is against one of the worlds very largest businesses. 

Ok we know full well that it is unlikely that the company will be wound up. Surely now they will settle this substantial nine month old debt to my client. Will they?

You may ask yourself why we are taking this aggressive action. I can assure you that it entirely a “last resort”. Believe me we have tried every approach available. I certainly do not advocate random and thoughtless issuing of stat demands, for a number of reasons.

They have incurred costs and interest and we will enforce them. 

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Down with CCJs

Judges gavel and law books stacked behindCounty court judgements were down to 27000 in the first quarter of 2014. Only the second time since 2000 that they have dipped below 30000 in any one quarter and 6% down on same quarter last year

Interesting to speculate the reasons why

There has been a suggestion that businesses have simply become more risk adverse during the recession and this less likely to incur difficult debts . That might makes sense. Credit control has probably never been more necessary and had such a high profile

I think that is the most likely explanation. My additional thought is that maybe there is an element of the uplift in the construction industry contributing to the improved figures. That is certainly a seor where CCj’s are routinely incurred

The other side of the coin is that corporate insolvencies were up nearly 5% , so it cannot be taken as proof that risk has lessened over the period


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Invoice financing. Cleaning up its act?

logo-webLast year ABFA announced its code of conduct for invoice finance providers. It was welcome and much needed.

Has it made any difference? Has the business world’s perception of invoice financing improved and can we be sure that some of the less savoury industry practices have disappeared?

It should be remembered that the majority of lenders behave responsibly and seek to maintain long term relationships with their clients rather than becoming overexcited about the rewards from failure. The signs are that the industry has cleaned itself up and the code has had some effect. The difficulty for us brokers is getting the message across and convincing potential borrowers

Borrowers need to be assured that their interests come first. They need to know that the broker and lender are woking to provide growth for their business and support in the bad times as well as good. The industry should still reflect that not every potential client has such faith.

And its not only borrowers. Intermediaries such as accountants have strong opinions and perceptions that are hard to shift. In just the last week, one particular lender has been referred to with venom by two experienced contacts of mine

This lender has cleaned up its act significantly but the problem is that a bad name is much harder to lose than gain.

The industry must remain vigilant. Relationships between insolvency practitioners and lenders are still unhealthy and require closer examination and perhaps regulation. Judging by some “banter” i heard between one lender and an IP at a recent event, this is overdue

The industry also needs to be fully aware that its role is to support and grow businesses. The long term view should be the driver for lenders, referrers and brokers

Sadly many businesses still do not trust “the suits” Given that my background is entirely from their side of the fence, i completely understand their point of view.

There is still a long way to go



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Checking an “unlimited company”

Interesting discussion here

And interesting question maybe?

There are in fact very few genuinely “unlimited companies” . Partnerships are more common of course and i suspect they are the main topic of the thread. 

So how do you credit check ? Naturally enough there is no requirement for filed accounts which complicates matters somewhat

Many on the thread suggest bank and trade references. Thats fair enough but they always have to be taken with a pinch of salt and not   ideal for larger transactions 

Personal credit checks on the partners is probably the way to go but it is also worth asking yourself one question? And it is a positive

Why have the partners not taken the relatively straightforward step of incorporation? Why have they decided its not essential for them to limit their liabilities?

Provided that they are clearly not transient and are probably houseowners, that can be taken as a reasonably strong positive


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Where not to meet in London

men_in_pubFor every good business venue there is a totally inappropriate one. In truth, as in one case below, alternatives were thin on the ground, but here is my list of places which are less than ideal

1. Weatherspoons pubs. Cheap and great wifi. Also spacious. So what could go wrong? Well the frankly the clientelle at some of the less salubrious branches. Old guys shaking with shaking hands downing the first heavy lager at 10 am. Not pleasant and especially if they have not seen a bath for a while

2. Harris and Hoole. Great coffee and can be a nice place to work at certain times of the day. So whats the problem? Well in their wisdom they have heavily targeted the young mothers brigade and  as well as screaming kids by the dozen being semi deliberately smashed into by a pushchair is not uncommon. The noise can be indescribable.

3. Early morning networking clubs. What is it about 7am or even 6am starts that appeals ? I loathe early starts and frankly i am more likely to chew someones head off at the ridiculous hour than conduct friendly business. And as we all know, some of these “clubs” are simply jaw droppingly ridiculous

4. City of London. Always too crowded and too rushed. To my mind its worth just taking a few steps out to the fringes where at least there will be a more relaxed independent venue where you can hear yourself think and not feel that you have to move on after 20 minutes.

5. Balls Brothers, Coney and barrow etc.  I cant quite say why but these supposedly smart “wine bars” always come across as completely tacky to me. And full of….



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Where to meet in London?

imageA perennial question. Not that there is any shortage of choice and any number of Starbucks, Costas and Neros will suffice. At the other end of the scale, hotels like the Grosvenor and Browns are fine if you want a conventional atmosphere and can bear the bill

But what about alternatives? Where the food and coffee is much more appealing and the venue is a little more memorable for a a variety of reasons?

Here are some suggestions

1. Notes (pictured above)

Opposite the National Portrait Gallery just off Trafalgar Square, Notes could hardly be easier to find. Great coffee and food, its a venue that has always been commented on by contacts. Why? Atmosphere is relaxed and yet there is a nice buzz. Just have to see for yourself. Its my favourite but do not that it doesnt have Wifi

2. Nordic Bakery

Tucked away off Marylebone High street, this is a quiet but really excellent venue. Coffee is high quality and the Swedish pastries make a nice change from the usual.

3. Artigiano

The city is all a bit rushed in too many venues and the usual chains dominate. Walk down to the shadow of St Pauls and this independent has great coffee again and is an easy venue to find the space for an informal meet

4. John Lewis Oxford Street

No need to link the website and this might seem a surprising choice, but the top floor cafe is spacious and very comfortable. Before lunch it is also very quiet and the wifi is first class

Feel free to make your own suggestions






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The trouble with europe


A fine new book by Roger Bootle is a welcome addition to ever increasing debate over the future of the EU and the UK’s role (or not) within the big “project”

And it is timely too. With the elections tomorrow and the likely level of success for UKIP. 

UKIP will not be getting my vote but their impact will be clear. However what may well be overlooked is that anti eu parties right across europe will be picking very similar levels of support. This is no longer a “uk problem”

My feeling on europe is straightforward. Briefly summarised as follows

1. The euro has been a disaster and will fail again unless fiscal conformity is entrenched across the varying economies. That is not going to be easy to achieve

2. It is not so much the concept of the euro that was the issue. The most disturbing aspect was the absolute failure of the eurocrats to identify the clear and obvious on going failures in various economies.

3. How can you trust the same people with further “integration”. The feeling across the continent is that they are highly paid, lazy and simply “don’t know what they are doing”

4. Further political integration is not welcome for a whole range of reasons, not least the lack of political accountability. 

I do not subscribe to the obsessions regarding immigration or a particularly emotional viewpoint and i believe EU membership has certain benefits

Personally I believe the reach of the EU should be scaled back. Certainly the expensive administration should be tackled strongly and their should only be one seat of parliament, but more importantly the grouping should concentrate on trade and the areas where they have succeeded They should forget trying to forge a “political union”

The problem is that “scaling back” is not appealing to the egos and power-bases of the eurocrats, but pushing ahead with “integration” under the misnomer of “progress” seriously risks a major backlash from voters right across the continent

In fact it is happening now

Roger Bootle’s fine book is certainly sceptical but rationally so and on taken from a largely economic outlook. 

His view is similar to Nigel Lawson’s whereby withdrawal from europe is a virtual necessity unless certain aspects are “rolled back” and further integration is suspended. 

A view I agree with and frankly I can see only one outcome



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