A good time to look at commercial finance
SME’s, now more than ever, are looking beyond their banking partners for finance. As we are now 10 years on from the time that there were very few lenders to business in the market and a negative mindset prevailed at many existing sources, time and a growth in awareness has made SME owners more likely to look further afield for the finance they need.
At the same time, the increasing numbers of new commercial funders, distributing their products through the intermediary channel, has ensured that commercial finance is as dependant on the adviser channel as it has ever been.
Apart from doing the necessary research of their own, advisers have access to great resources to enable them to learn about the sector and grow their business in this lucrative market. However, t is surprising how few advisers put trade bodies, like FIBA, at the top of the list of potential helpmates and yet they are there precisely to help members to develop their knowledge and their businesses.
Trade bodies exist to bring the power of the collective to bear on a number of different levels. In the same way that a trades union brings together workers to collectively safeguard working conditions, terms of employment and wages, as well as providing representation to government through political activity. A trade association gives individual firms the same sense of belonging to a body which is dedicated to enhancing opportunities to help its members improve new business prospects and give them a powerful voice with government and industry organisations such as regulators.
Membership of a trade body can provide a menu of services from compliance, GDPR guidance, legal advice as well as the all important training and professional skills enhancement for you to make the most of the opportunities that commercial finance can offer.
As individual brokers we have very little say in the direction our industry takes. Regulation, European legislation – for as long as that lasts, and of course, our own government’s plans for the future, all impact us. But we do not have to be mere spectators, powerless to affect outcomes or initiate change. As part of a trade body, we are part of something much bigger, capable, because of its size, of making a difference in arguing for more positive outcomes and therefore be of value to your business.
The importance of a whole of market offering is becoming more important to SME clients seeking finance and many practitioners, particularly smaller firms, are finding that access to some lenders is restricted. Being part of a trade body, like FIBA, means that lender access is not an issue. A valuable benefit.
With the high percentage of broker firms being SME’s themselves and many being one man bands, the ability to obtain discounts on products and services and strike deals with providers is limited. A trade body, because of the concentration of members, can negotiate discounts and more attractive terms on a range of products and services.
At FIBA, we believe there is an imperative to ensure that potential members feel that they are getting value and that is why in all the roadshows, expos and focus groups we have hosted this year, we have spent time listening to advisers, what they are looking for and acting on what they are telling us.
For example, one of the continuing frustrations that advisers continue to face is not being able to introduce a customer to legal firms, which actually have the relevant experience and expertise to deal effectively with the requirements for commercial or specialist property transactions. In meetings with FIBA members, lenders, the wider adviser community and those lawyers who act for the lenders again and again, we are hearing about cases where the law firm in question just does not have the necessary sector knowledge to provide an efficient and timely service.
Therefore, FIBA took the decision to establish its Professional Partners Panel of legal firms that can demonstrate their competency in the area of commercial transactions and provide FIBA members with an increasingly valuable resource to match their choice of customer lending solution.
Our primary goal through all of this, is to make sure that advisers and their firms feel that they have access to what they need, supported by over 400 staff, with the membership at the heart of what we do and assistance and advice on hand to assist you and your business become the best that it can be.
So, if you are looking to expand your knowledge of commercial finance you will find that trade bodies like FIBA can provide the tools and resources you need to succeed.
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