Do we deserve bad presentations?


I hae not and never will see Steve Jobs as a guru but this comment is spot on.

Earlier this week i had to suffer an awful presentation riddled with inaccuracies which was simply read from a powerpoint for the longest 25 minutes I can recall. As an organiser of networking events im very concious that such presentations take up peoples time and that should be minimised but im also concious that attendees will not feed back honestly.

It was once commented to me (by someone I dont respect) that I looked bored during one  gratingly dull powerpoint torture. I replied quite straightfowardly that that was because I was bored, thank you very much

The trouble is that too many of us are afraid to show what we think. Its a pecularly English habit. A round of applause and smiles after listening to total rubbish for half an hour rather than a forthright honest appraisal.

Im not suggesting that the audience tap their watches meaningfully or start a slow hand clap but if you do not say what you think then you will simply get more of the same






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Gloomy news on SMEs. Or is it?


For a few years now we have had regular reports from insolvency practioners that the business world is over populated with “zombie companies” who will collapse at the slightest hint of an interest rate rise.

In fairness the article does post some salient facts although perhaps but there are a couple of issues that i have with the following statement

The research showed that 448,011 businesses were experiencing ‘significant’ levels of financial distress at the end of the third quarter, up 27% on a year ago.

It said almost 250,000 of these companies (Q3 2107: 248,619) ended the period with negative net worth, representing a sizeable population of so called “zombie” companies that had managed to survive thanks to the prolonged low interest rate environment and flexible labour market, but which did not have adequate working capital to fund any growth or absorb rising input prices.

The most worrying issue is that the trend is upwards but it should also be remembered that in todays economy with its emphasis on tech start ups, a negative net worth is far from always being an indicator of potential failure. The reason being that most tech companies will be developing and owing debt to investors for many years before they reach the criteria required to satisfy the grey accountants of Begbies. I believe that this criteria would still apply to Amazon today.

Secondly there almost appears to be a lack of quantification of the impact of the rate rise (announced today). Its 0.25%. Most loans and borrowing will barely be affected. To put in perspective I will give an example

A small SME would perhaps have an invoice financing facilty of say £200k (typical for a £1m turnover business). Assuming they borrowed this to the limit all year (unlikely) a 0.25% interest rate rise would amount to £500 per annum. Thats around £40 per month

A business turning over £1m a year will not go into liquidation over £40 per week




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No funds for SMEs?


A fairly strong opinion piece from the always readable City AM paper. I think many would agree with the sentiments although this could also appear to be something of a puff piece for “alternative providers”.

My concerns are two fold. It has become very clear that the larger banks are becoming less and less interested in SME’s. One in particular has more or less publicly withdrawn from much of that market whereas another is rather more subtly freezing clients out.  Now it could be argued that this is very good news for brokers like myself and I will not deny that it has sent some business my way.  More importantly though,  its not great for the overall economy, which is a little more important than my commissions

The second concern is that whilst the PTP lenders are quick and responsive, the rates are many multiples of the standard bank or EFG loan. What isnt mentioned in this article is that many simply will not take this route because of the cost.

SME’s need the best of both worlds and at present thats not clearly available. Quick responsive personal service allied to a rate which is manageable.

This is the real gap in the market

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Algorithms? A step too far?


Today a very decent peer to peer lender was asked by a client of mine (via myself) to give an approximate indication of the likely terms before they went through the process of application (always a drag). The band width of the monthly interest rates quoted vared between 1% and 2.4%. That is huge.

The response was that they would only quote the rate once the application was submitted and approved. That might not bother a lot of borrowers but it does have an element of chicken and egg for others. I can understand that

That in some ways wasnt the greatest concern I had because this lender had made a firm offer to another very similar client of mine with a much shorter track record and less strong balance sheet,  of 1.6%. My question was, why couldnt that be used as a benchmark ?

I got the answer that it was all down to “algorithms”. This isnt good enough.

Firstly an underwriter should be able to get out from under the spreadsheet and give a considered view. If all he does is number crunch then he or she is redundant. Or should be made so

Secondly it was clear that the underwriter was not taking any time to explore my clients business and taking factors other than pure numbers into the equation. This is an increasing trend and a naive one. Without going into details my client had some excpetional positives which are clearly verifiable but were not illustrated by bank statements and the past balance sheet

The lender is now likely to lose the business.



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Steve Jobs. How true is this?


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Brokers and lenders. How is this acceptable?


Aldermore, the specialist bank, has announced the acquisition of a 48% minority equity stake in AFS Group Holdings Limited (AFS), one of the largest introducers to asset and commercial finance funders in the UK.

I have no problems at all with Aldermore as a lender and have some very good contacts there. They are reputable.

So why are they involved in aquiring stakes in brokers? We have seen these relationships before and they clearly raise questions the most obvious of which is how on earth can a broker be “independent” when its nearly 50% owned by a lender?

The simple fact is that they cannot. And if they are not then they are certainly not acting in the borrowers best interest. That can only work when the broker can demonstrate absolutely no favouritism or direct connection with any particular lender.

The problem with arrangements such as these is that it is simply inviting scrutiny from bodies such as the FSA.

My view on this is that “brokers” should be obliged to clearly state their ownership structure and put an end to this nonsense


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The top “cashless” countries. And where does the UK stand?


Here is the list

The results may or may not surprise?

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