Gary Cain, Director at Reach Commercial Finance comments for the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) Commercial Broker magazine.

At the beginning of the year, the NACFB established a Members’ Advisory Group (MAG). The aim of the MAG is threefold: to strengthen Members’ voices concerning how the Association is run; to provide strategic input to ensure that the NACFB evolves in line with its mission, vision, and values; and, to support the team and Members in meeting head‐on the challenges which arise in both the commercial finance market and the wider economy.

The MAG members were chosen for their achievements within the industry; specifically, those who have been in receipt of a recent Commercial Broker Award. Personally, I was delighted to have been invited to get involved.

A recent topic for discussion at the MAG concerned the creation of NACFB regional ambassadors who will work closely with the British Business Bank, the Bank of England and the Federation of Small Business to provide direct feedback on the commercial lending landscape.

The British Business Bank is the UK’s economic development bank, which is government owned but independently managed. Its mission is to drive sustainable growth and prosperity by improving access to finance for smaller businesses. Like me, I am sure you will have noticed that the profile of the Bank has grown considerably since the start of the pandemic, particularly through its work with the government backed Covid-19 emergency loan schemes.

The Bank works with more than 180 delivery partners to deliver funding programmes that address gaps in small business finance markets either through debt or equity finance. The Bank also provides independent and impartial information to enable smaller businesses to seek the finance best suited to their needs.

With this in mind, and following the MAG’s discussion on regional ambassadors, a small group of us engaged with several senior managers in the UK network team who represent the Bank on the ground in the regions. This team is out there in the market routinely speaking to businesses and intermediaries, helping to signpost what finance options are available.

From these conversations, it became apparent that there is a need for more regular dialogue between brokers and the British Business Bank, particularly around sharing feedback on access to finance, smaller businesses awareness of intermediaries and the support they can
provide.

Consequently, the MAG is encouraging NACFB Members to contact their regional or devolved nation UK Network team member, to start a relationship and get the dialogue going. Not only will it help to serve the Bank’s purpose, but it can also be hugely beneficial to brokers. I’ll give you a personal example.

Recently, I was trying to source finance for a farming client. As many brokers will know, the agricultural industry is not awash with funding solutions but within an hour of contacting my regional UK Network team member, they were able to signpost me to their delivery partners. I subsequently engaged with two organisations, Enterprise Answers and The Growth Company, both of which take a different approach to funding. Enterprise Answers is a not‐for‐profit organisation which provides finance to businesses across the north of England and where all returns on investment go back in the fund to be reinvested in local businesses. The Growth Company is another not‐for‐profit whose aim is to drive forward business, economic, personal, and professional development within communities by boosting employment, skills, investment and enterprise.

Not only were these organisations useful for the client, but they have also broadened my knowledge of the solutions which can become available to SMEs when we are prepared to seek out new connections and develop new relationships. No doubt, there are other alternative providers up and down the country – we just have to be prepared to investigate new avenues.

NACFB Members can find the details of the Bank’s UK Network team by logging into their NACFB account or by visiting the British Business Bank’s website. The website also has a wealth of other useful information including details of regional funds, a finance hub, business and financial planning guides and training courses.

For further information on how Reach Commercial Finance can support your finance requirements get in touch on 0800 993 0193 or hello@reachcf.co.uk.

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