SME Column: Lucy Roue
Date: August 3, 2015
Originally featured in Manchester Evening News
Speaking to Phillip Monks recently was a fascinating and encouraging insight into the landscape of lending for SMEs.
The founder of Aldermore was in town to visit the Manchester-based invoice finance hub of the business, based on Charlotte Street, but more importantly to meet with the business owners and entrepreneurs Aldermore has helped to support since launching in 2009.
And it was this second goal which seemed to energise the CEO the most.
“I absolutely believe that SMEs are the lifeblood of the economy and are all too often ignored”, he told me with passion.
Adding: “We are an SME ourselves in the banking market, so I know how they feel with the enthusiasm they have and the expansion plans to grow their businesses.”
To be fair, Aldermore have done both with zeal in just over six years.
With an IPO under its belt and a balance sheet worth more than £5bn, this former challenger bank is providing much needed funds to the small and medium enterprises across the region, hitting the £2.4bn mark for lending to SMEs.
It was also great to hear that smaller firms are starting to trade with confidence again and are now pushing ahead with expansion plans.
“I think you are seeing a greater degree of confidence coming through the SME market now. People are looking at that replacement programme they may have put off during the financial crisis.”
The most notable part of the interview was that affiliation with SMEs which I wasn’t expecting to feel so genuine.
Especially with research like that of the recent 2015 Banking report which concluded that small businesses are still being manipulated by banks.
The data was produced by independent law-firm, Berg, which is based in Manchester and represents more than 300 SMEs.
The firm exposed a mixture of ‘consensual’ exits from loans and the selling-off of debt, to remove risk from balance sheets at the expense of the stability of small businesses.
Alison Loveday, managing partner at Berg, said: “We’re advocating a sensible and truly independent review orchestrated by the Government and not a third party, and for an end to the spin and blame culture which will do more harm to both businesses and our banks unless transparency is restored to the sector.”
However, despite the negative press around big high street banks, it seems the alternative lending market is thriving and that can only be a good thing to propel more Greater Manchester SMEs to succeed.
On another note, this will be my final week at GMBW after a fantastic 10 months on the team – as I leave to join the world of PR.
This being my first foray into business journalism, it has been a fantastic experience, if not a bit of a learning curve.
Although that said, the business community has been very welcoming and helpful towards me.
Part of the experience has been meeting with a whole array of SMEs and entrepreneurs brimming with ideas and intentions.
From melon flavoured juice drinks, African-inspired baby carriers, clothes lines started in a warehouse to lifelong friends taking the plunge into business together, it is a rich tapestry out there.
Some of the success stories have blown me away as you realise how taking a chance can make such an impact on your life.
So, I want to take this opportunity to wish you all the best with whatever business venture you are contributing to the Greater Manchester tapestry.