Businesses need to know their options on finance, says former MP
By John Leech
Before joining Ashley in July I spent 10 years as the MP for Manchester Withington. During that time I was asked for help by thousands of constituents, with thousands of different problems from housing to health or from transport to tax. You never knew from one advice surgery to the next what issues would be raised. However when I went round speaking to businesses or had small business owners coming to see me, you could be fairly certain that they wanted to talk about access to finance and problems with the banks.
No two stories were exactly the same, but more often than not, the banks were saying “no”, at a time when businesses really needed them to say “yes”. Or they were taking far too long to say “yes” or “no” when a quick decision was critical for the business. Despite Government pressure to start lending again, more and more businesses, with all types of credit histories, have struggled to get the support and financial backing from their banks. In some cases that I came across there was little doubt that banks even saw profit in pulling the plug on backing some businesses.
The reasons for needing the money varied from business to business. During the crash many businesses simply wanted a helping hand to make it through a difficult time. Post recession many businesses needed that money to start growing again, after coming through a tough time and then wanting to take advantage of the improving economic conditions. However a common theme throughout the whole period was businesses waiting too long to get paid by their clients, creating cashflow problems and a lot more time needing to be spent on credit control. Not one of these businesses had considered invoice finance as a solution, and they probably had not heard of it.
I will be honest and admit that until about 12 months ago I did not know what invoice finance was. The vast majority of MPs and former MPs will be in the same boat, unless they have a background in finance or have been on the Treasury Select Committee. The extent of most politicians’ knowledge of alternative finance is the very discredited and much discussed payday lending and “log book” loans. I suspect that politicians will not be forgiven for not knowing about invoice finance – they are supposed to know everything about everything after all! – but the tragedy is the lack of knowledge amongst the business community about their options for alternative finance.
Businesses need to know that help and support is available. At Ashley we can shape our finance options to fit your business needs. Whether it’s a quick decision that is necessary, help with credit control, or money to make your business grow, just ask Ashley