News & Blog

£67bn owed in unpaid invoices

21. September 2015

- Manufacturing, construction SMEs among sectors owed the most in unpaid invoices.

British SMEs* are owed £67.4bn in unpaid invoices, up 8% from £62.5bn in the last year alone, and 36% from £49.5bn in 2011 as the extent of overdue payments and extended payment times grows, shows research by the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA), the body representing the asset based finance industry in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Previous research from the ABFA recently showed that SMEs are now waiting an average of 72 days for payment of invoices, up from 61 days at the height of the recession in 2009.

However, the ABFA says businesses should view these unpaid invoices not as an unavoidable drag on their cashflow but as one of their most valuable assets which they can use to unlock funding.

The ABFA notes that, whilst the recovery is taking hold, businesses are not accessing the finance that could allow them to invest and grow.  It explains that its members, which range from high street banks to independent specialists, provide tens of thousands of British businesses with finance secured against the value of their invoices.

Members of the ABFA currently provide £9bn in finance to SMEs against the value of their invoices, and at any one time will be providing £19.3bn overall in asset based finance to businesses.

Jeff Longhurst, chief executive of the ABFA, said: “The scale of unpaid invoices to Britain’s SMEs has become enormous, but there is no reason for it to become a barrier to investment and growth.

“Businesses need to recognise that their unpaid invoices are an asset. In many cases, they are the most valuable asset an SME has, and they can be the key to unlocking critical and affordable funding.

“Invoice finance is playing a bigger role than ever in funding British and Irish businesses’ growth, and it is now an established part of the funding mix for a huge number of SMEs.  But it can also help many more businesses.”

The ABFA explains that even this £67.4bn figure in unpaid invoices is likely to be a conservative estimate of the true value of unpaid invoices, as it only reflects the invoices of 180,000 SMEs that report detailed accounts.  The true total value is likely to be significantly larger.

SMEs’ unpaid invoices grow by over a third since 2011

Manufacturing, construction among sectors with most unpaid invoices owed to SMEs

The ABFA says that manufacturing and construction are among the sectors where SMEs have the highest value of unpaid invoices.

It says that outstanding invoices from SMEs in the construction sector currently stand at £7bn, amounting to 16% of annual turnover in the sector.

Small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses are owed £13.4bn by their customers, which represents 17% of their annual turnover. Across SMEs as a whole, unpaid invoices amount to 14% of annual turnover.

Separate research by the ABFA recently showed that construction businesses wait an average of 107 days for payment of invoices, while manufacturers must wait 61 days on average.

* Private non-financial businesses with a turnover of £25m or under. Source: Analysis of Companies House data by the ABFA

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Lending up to August for P2P exceeds 2014 total

11. September 2015

4 months to go, and despite a traditionally quiet summer for lending, August saw the UK Alternative Finance industry year to date volume surpass last year’s grand total.

Zopa lent its billionth pound and Crowdcube passed the £100m mark.

Where will we end the year?

P2P Platforms

9. September 2015

The world of P2P seems to change daily, not just with new players coming into the market but also the established platforms changing the way they do business.

See the link below for some interesting information from AltFi news on how Funding Circle is already moving away from the auction based pricing model ("ebay") to fixed pricing.

Combined with more institutional funding coming in, own funds and bonds etc, is this the beginning of the end for the original P2P model already and is it something better....or not...?

What does the rest of the year hold?

16. July 2013

Excellent market comment from St James Place which I have reproduced below in its entirety, following on nicely from those ghost towns shown on Top Gear over the weekend!


Bastille Day came and went at the weekend. Business, the state and the public in France and much of Europe over the coming weeks will ease towards the long holiday month of August. And as markets also prepare to go quiet for the summer break, the world’s economies are edging into the second half of the year in mixed health.

China, along with other developing economies, is weakening before the developed markets have recovered fully from recent ills. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week cut its forecast for global growth by 0.2% for 2013 to 3.1%, reducing China’s growth by 0.6% to 7.7%. IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard, however, said there are "signs of hopes" in the eurozone, despite predicting a 0.6% contraction in 2013.

 Beijing remains sanguine about further signs of a slowdown of its economic take-off this summer. Last week Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei said a 6.5% growth rate would not be a "big problem", signalling tolerance of this reduced pace. Chinese data this week revealed a 7.5% expansion of the economy in the second quarter, which amounts to the country’s weakest rate since the late 1990s.

The growth of the world’s second-largest economy has slowed now for two consecutive quarters. However, China wants to orientate the economy towards domestic consumption rather than industrial production. Official data out this week also show this economic shift is well underway, with a 13.3% year-on-year rise in retail sales as Chinese consumers start to spend rather than save their new wealth.

When Europe gets back to business in September, however, the eurozone’s economic and structural problems will remain unresolved. The recession drags on across the region. The bailout of Greece and Cyprus continues. Portugal’s crisis deepens. Ireland remains mired in bank debt. Italy and Spain are struggling.

France, once the region’s engine room with Germany, is also straining under deteriorating government debt and economic conditions, and the eurozone crisis. And, just before the pomp of its national holiday, rating agency Fitch on Friday stripped the Fifth Republic of its AAA rating. The second-largest economy in the eurozone will grow a mere 0.3% this year, while unemployment is at 10.4% and the public deficit looks closer to 4% of economic output than the 3.7% target.

September will bring two crucial events for Europe and world markets. Germany goes to the polls, offering its voters the opportunity to give their verdict on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of European policy. Meanwhile, US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to give more detail of his tapering of the $85 billion-a-month asset purchases as the US economy improves.

Investor concerns about Chinese growth and the eurozone subdued last week’s equity market gains after Bernanke reiterated that a tapering of the third quantitative easing programme (QE3) would be gradual and contingent on economic data. Equity markets had a strong week with the S&P 500 Index up 2.51%, the FTSE 100 Index registering its best run for six months with a 2.66% rise, and the FTSEurofirst 300 Index and the Nikkei 225 Stock Average Index gaining 2.75% and 1.37% respectively. This summer, markets will continue to hinge on central bank policy and the good health of the global economy.

What does it take?

It is almost a year ago that European Central Bank president Mario Draghi promised to do "whatever it takes" to preserve the euro. Last week the latest round of Europe’s prolonged financial crisis reared in Portugal and Greece. Despite the severity of these countries’ debt crises, the reaction in the eurozone seems subdued.

Greece’s position remains precarious, according to its ruling troika of the European Central Bank (ECB), European Commission (EC) and IMF. Athens, despite this diagnosis last week secured a further €4.8 billion of bailout funds. Greece has pledged more public sector cuts to secure its bailout.

Meanwhile, Portuguese borrowing costs on ten-year bonds climbed to 7.27% on Friday, a seven-month high and up from 5.15% in May. Portugal’s president Anibal Cavaco Silva wants a cross-party deal in support of the country’s €78 billion bailout programme. The opposition called for new bailout terms.

German medicine

As Germany looks on and despairs at the latest incarnations of the eurozone crisis, its politicians are studiously avoiding talk of Europe in the run-up to the 22 September election. However, Germans can be certain of one result – their taxes are needed to bail out Greece. A conspiracy of silence around this uncomfortable fact and grand questions of European destiny look set to hold until after the election.

There is little appetite among Germans of all political shades for their money to relieve other European Union member states’ economic malaise. Hostility in Germany to the bailout has only grown since the first Greek rescue of May 2010. The consensus is that the European periphery has gorged itself on cheap credit and Germans are paying for their prodigal ways.

The relative health of the German economy amid the eurozone’s economic plagues, however, is starting to look less vigorous. The German economy was robust in the early years of the euro crisis, but shrank by 0.7% in the final quarter of 2012. Europe’s largest economy grew by just 0.1% in the first quarter of 2013. China’s slowdown and the eurozone’s maladies are also hitting demand for German goods.

The good news for Germany is it has a low unemployment rate and is untroubled by austerity programmes. Credit conditions may remain challenging for business in Italy, Portugal and Spain. But German business faces no difficulties securing finance, although its banks are reluctant to lend beyond its national border.

There is opposition in Germany to banking union. However, this is one remedy that could get the eurozone working. Berlin believes Brussels has overstepped its legal powers with its €60 billion rescue fund scheme, the Single Resolution Mechanism, which would give the EC authority over the eurozone’s 6,400 banks. More bank lending and a healthy German economy would be more than a palliative for the eurozone.

 Confidence in the UK?

The IMF’s world economic forecasts last week harboured good news for the British economy. Along with Canada and Japan, the UK had its GDP growth figures revised upwards to 0.9% from its 0.7% estimate in April. The IMF said that GDP rose more than expected in the first quarter with business surveys suggesting strong recent activity.

Business confidence in the UK is at its highest point since May last year, according to accountancy firm BDO’s Optimism Index. However, BDO noted that figures remained fractionally below the level which would indicate the economy was expected to grow. An Institute of Directors’ survey of business leaders also found the outlook for the economy brighter than at any point since the financial crisis.

Official data last week, however, suggested that parts of the UK economy are still struggling to stir. UK manufacturers in May produced 0.8% less than the previous month, despite the fillip of a falling pound. The overall trade deficit widened to £2.4 billion from £2.1 billion as export values fell for the second consecutive month. Industry and trade will need to revive for a healthy recovery.

Consumer confidence in the UK in June rose to a two-year high, according to London-based researchers GfK NOP. However, households in the UK have more debt than their counterparts in the US, and have not used low interest rates to repay loans. The think tank Resolution Foundation has warned that 650,000 households could face debt repayments of at least half their income if mortgage rates rise higher than expected.

Last week brought sharp increases in US Treasury yields after Bernanke’s statement on reducing QE3. Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s first Monetary Policy Committee statement also asserted that market expectations had risen too far on the Fed’s comments. Households are leading the recovery in the UK. Carney will need to deliver on his hint to keep interest rates at their historic 0.5% low if he is to keep consumer spirits buoyant.

Tight rope

Bernanke’s subtle distinction between tapering and tightening exercised markets last week. The Fed chairman said in Boston that "highly accommodative" monetary policy was needed for the "foreseeable future". And he said he would "push back" against tightening conditions, referring to the rise in US government bond yields.

The QE programme that has fuelled the equity market rally will be in place for some time. Bernanke’s overall dovish stance will help drive equity markets. Bernanke will appear mid-week before the House Financial Services Committee to discuss monetary policy, which given the market reaction to last week’s moderate stance is likely to again move markets.

Meanwhile, markets are also looking at the onset of the second-quarter earnings period in the US. Investors in emerging markets will also be monitoring higher dollar exchange rates and whether this will reverse capital flows and cause steep losses. Asia has been a beneficiary of QE as low US yields drove investors to look for better returns. The prospect of the Fed tapering the policy has changed this mood.

The US economy is likely to regain momentum. There is concern that Fed support will encourage the bond market to price in rates before business and homebuyers can shoulder the interest rates. But, as we have argued, the signs of recovery are evident. Fed policy will reflect the strength of this economic turnaround.

Funding for (not) lending

3. June 2013

A failure to take risk (by businesses as well as Banks’ or just a genuine lack of demand?!), has led to a further fall in bank lending to UK companies suggesting, some might say, that a real recovery is still some way off for the UK.

After six weeks of mostly positive economic data, a third consecutive monthly fall in lending to companies rained on the parade somewhat, just as the sun came out in the real world.

Figures from the Bank of England confirm that net lending to business fell by £3 billion in April, not much of an endorsement for the government’s plan to encourage economic recovery by pumping cheap money into British companies through its Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS).

Perhaps not unsurprisingly there are two sides to the story; banks are blaming a lack of demand and confidence among companies, whilst business leaders suggest lenders are only offering credit to safe bets rather than small, growing companies (the " I will give you an umberella when its not raining" accusation).

So far,whatever the reason(s), rather than providing funding for lending, the FLS still seems to be providing funding for not lending.

In contrast, figures showed the housing market has benefited more from FLS.  It must be said however that even here the rise in mortgage approvals in April was less than expected and lower than in each month in the final quarter of last year, leading to suggestions that FLS might merely be preventing a fall in mortgage lending, rather than provide a significant boost.

The Bank of England has said it is too early to determine whether FLS and its recent extension (skewing incentives towards business lending) are working, but in the nine months after the scheme was introduced net lending to households and businesses fell £6.4 billion compared with only £3.7 billion in the nine months before its introduction!


Late Paying- the consequences?!

1. May 2013

Fortunately there are some funders out there who will assist in financing these slow payers , but doesnt make this any less worrying and highlights the real impact on others that poor cashflow can bring


Is Crowdfunding the next big misselling scandal?

19. April 2013
  • Those that know me will be aware I have had my concerns over some of the "new" funders coming onto the block and the potential for fraud/misselling.

The article below highlights some others thoughts on this.


Is Crowdfunding the next big misselling scandal?

Crowdfunding is being promised as a wonderfully disruptive and democratic development in seed funding, however experts are warning that is poses the potential to become another financial misselling scandal.

Is Crowdfunding the next big misselling scandal?


According to Mark Hollingworth, director at Integral Finance, the information required to pitch a project to investors simply isn’t detailed enough. He says: “Currently, very few of the business cases on the main platforms are providing a competitive analysis of their proposition versus existing companies or potential competitors. Many of the pitches are also unclear in terms of their USPs and how they will distinguish themselves against the competition and only a handful describe a possible exit.”

There is also a significant lack of detail surrounding the issue of the long term funding requirements for each venture, which will impact on the total investment required to produce a positive trading cash-flow.

Hollingworth continues: “Unless investors understand clearly how much funding is needed and for how long, there is a serious risk that they will not fully understand how much of the company they have actually bought. Amidst all the hype, there is a genuine risk that a wave of naïve investors will part with their money, only to come forward at a later date complaining that they thought they did not understand what – or how much – they were actually buying.”

“These platforms need to insist on better information for potential investors from the projects they allow on their platforms. They need to recognise the risks that come with providing incomplete information and systematically ensure that the projects using their platforms answer the key questions required to make an informed decision about where to invest.

“The main platforms seem to be deliberately hiding behind generic warnings, self certifications and cursory due diligence on factual claims and investors will almost certainly lose their money as a consequence of the poor information being provided.”

Selling By Email – 5 Mistakes Most Salespeople Make

19. April 2013

Some interesting points made here by Andy Preston- no 5 on occassion/in context I would disagree with but excellent observations.

Andy is recognised worldwide as the leading authority on cold calling and new business sales tecchniques

Selling By Email – 5 Mistakes Most Salespeople Make

After reading this you’ll be able to utilise email to add value to your sales efforts – instead of hampering them – and get your sales figures back where they belong.

Selling By Email – 5 Mistakes Most Salespeople Make


When I working with sales teams all over the world, Sales Managers and Directors often tell me that they believe all salespeople are inherently lazy. I’m not sure I agree with that hugely sweeping statement, but I do think salespeople often look for the quickest way to do something.

I think this is partly down to the fact that a lot of salespeople only start earning real money when their commission kicks in, so any task that isn’t directly related to bringing in new customers, orders or money, they tend to try and find the quickest way to do. Hence why the managers think they’re lazy.

As salespeople though, this quickest route habit can often cause us problems. Particularly as technology has advanced and email is a popular communication method for many. However, this often results in salespeople resorting to email communication – at the expense of their own sales figures! Have a look at the examples of common email sales mistakes below, and see if any ring true for you.

Email Sales Mistake Number 1 – Using It To Follow Up

Let’s look at this from a new business perspective. You’ve spoken with or met with a client previously, you’ve started to develop rapport, but they’ve probably got an existing supplier, or existing way of doing things. So you didn’t pick up their business from your initial call or appointment.

Your boss has probably been putting pressure on you about your sales figures or your sales pipeline. So you decide you need to follow up with a few people, this particular prospect included. So what do you do next? Pick up the phone and call them, establish their current situation and needs and potentially see how you may be able to add value to what they’re trying to achieve over the next few months? Close for another appointment, attempt to dislodge the existing supplier or existing process and pick up their business? Or send an email?

If you’re in the email category, stop it! Right now!

Email Sales Mistake Number 2 – Just Adding People To A Mailing List

Another great idea from the marketing department. Sending an email newsletter or similar to keep people informed of your products and services. The funny thing is, how many newsletters do you get that you don’t read, or you don’t read in full? I bet it’s quite a few. If you don’t know the sender well, you probably don’t read it at all. Sometimes even when you know the sender well you still don’t read it.

Don’t sit back and think that just because someone is on your generic email list that that’s helping you ‘sell’ to that person. In most cases it isn’t. The responsibility to move that person through your sales pipeline is still yours.

Email Sales Mistake Number 3 – Sending Mainly Flyers By Email

Please tell me you don’t do this? Even worse if the email is titled ‘offer of the month’ or similar. If the person hasn’t used you before, you’re relying on luck for the person to buy from you. And the more competitive your marketplace and the higher the price of what you sell, the less likely people are to buy.

Plus as mentioned in my last point above, it’s hardly personal communication to that prospect, is it? Is this really the professional sales job you were employed to do? If this is the best you can do in terms of sales persuasion, you’re in trouble!

Email Sales Mistake Number 4 – Responding To New Sales Enquiries Via Email

Let’s think about this one. You or your company has expended time, money and effort in producing the incoming sales lead. Whether it’s come from a previous phone call by you or a colleague, networking, advertising or over the internet, you’ve managed to get a precious incoming sales lead.

The next question is, what are you going to do about it? Pick up the phone and find an excuse to start a dialogue to understand their needs in more detail, position a next step in the sales process and look for some commitment from that person. Or just send a quick email giving some information and leaving them to wander on their own, with no idea how motivated they are to purchase, their timescales, or what other options they’re considering?

Looks like you’ve missed your chance again, doesn’t it? In most cases if they come back to you, it’s because when they enquired with your competition, they did a worse job than you did. Is this really the best way of dealing with that precious incoming sales lead do you think?

Email Sales Mistake Number 5 – Sending Proposals Or Quotes By Email

Now it’s time for my personal favourite! Sending proposals or quotes by email. You’re in field sales and you’ve had the meeting with a potential client, the prospect then asks you to send a proposal and you put it in an email. Now you’re in trouble.

Why on earth didn’t you position your offering when you were face to face with the client? When you could read their body language and reactions to your offering and your price best, when you could judge whether you had got the proposal right or not, when you had the best chance of getting them to say ‘yes’?

Even if you needed time to put the details together, why on earth didn’t you organise a second meeting to discuss it in more detail? You’re giving other salespeople a better chance to win that business over you.

Note – if you’re in internal sales or do most of your selling over the phone, it may not be practical to go out and see the prospect face-to-face, and if you can’t get them to come and see you, you’re almost forced to send the proposal via email – however, you know when you do this it’s less persuasive.

So Why Do Field Salespeople Send Quotes Or Proposals Via Email?

Normally field salespeople send quotes or proposals by email for a few reasons. The first reason is fear of rejection. It hurts less to send it by email as at worst, they just send an email back saying ‘no thanks’ – much easier to deal with than them saying it to your face, isn’t it?

Or if they don’t reply to you or send an email back saying they’re thinking about it they haven’t really rejected you at all, have they? Can you see how that kind of thinking is holding you back from making more sales?

The second reason is laziness. You probably would say it’s because you’re busy, but it’s laziness. This is one of the most important parts of the sales process, and you’ve decided to email it because it’s easier.

The third reason is because is normally do it that way. Does that mean it’s the best way? Let’s think about this – it could be the most important part of the sales process, and you’re just sending it off into the ether and hoping they’ll give you a positive response. Again – the more competitive the marketplace, the higher the price of your product/service and the longer the time elapsed from your initial conversation/meeting the less likely you are to get the business.


Working the Relationship, Grow Sales & Share the Love or How to increase your sales by 50%.

5. March 2013

If I could show you , as an established business, how to increase your sales by 50% without increasing your marketing budget, would you be interested?


Well then take a few moments and think of all the inactive customer records you have, either one off sales or sales/enquires that never quite went ahead.

Business owners often make the costly mistake of servicing a customer or enquiry once, then assuming they will stay as a customer and always come back to you for more, without you maintaining and growing that relationship.

 A year later you’re staring aggressively at the phone willing it to ring, wondering what happened to that repeat business you never got- after all you gave them what they wanted………..didn’t you?

There are many reasons a customer or client may leave you, but the ones you will hear most often (or rather you won’t, just the silence of a lost client) are:

They felt you didn't care.

•They took a competitors offer- WHY?

 • Your pricing was too high or unfair.

•They had an unresolved complaint. 

The majority will no longer use your service or buy your products for the first two reason although perhaps these are really just one reason- a hard pill to swallow- did you really not care about them and yet your competitor did? Perhaps you have won the lottery and are just keeping the business going as a tax loss and so you really don’t want their money?

But once you appreciate the essential truth that people want to have a relationship with their suppliers it can work for you, after all it makes sense when you consider that customers often purchase your service or product because they have developed a relationship with you, they have owned another product or yours, or they were referred to you by a friend or associate.

 So why then do businesses spend 80% of their marketing spend going after new customers and clients rather than nurturing, retaining, and maintaining the customer relationships they already have?

Before you spend your time and money going after new non relationship customers consider the following well-worn statistics:

•Repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers.

•Referrals among repeat customers are 100% greater than non-customers.

•It costs six times more to sell something to a prospect than to sell that same thing to a customer.

 So your marketing spend will go further and have more success if you use it to build, nurture, and develop your customer relationships.

This isn't as difficult as you think. Building these relationships just means treating your customers and clients as if they truly are your strategic partners and showing them that you truly care about them…….and do you know what, soon they will be and you will!

It is also vital to satisfy them with the right products and services, supported by the right promotion and making it available at the right time and location- Here’s a radical idea, you could ask your clients what they want!

Customers can easily detect indifference and insincerity and they simply will not tolerate it. Long-term client and customer loyalty is just that, long-term, and a real challenge, a reach for excellence that you must strive for every day and with every transaction no matter its value……….and isn’t it much nicer to deal with people you like, have a relationship with and who you have helped before, who appreciate the extra you are providing and don’t look at the price as the very start of the conversation, people you don’t sell to, but who buy from you.

While a growing business needs to constantly capture new customers, the focus and priority should be on pleasing your existing customer base. Companies that fail to nurture and retain their customer base ultimately fail. You will spend twice as much (££££ and time) to get new clients as you will in maintaining your existing customer base. You will also be limited in your ability to attract new clients if you can't hold onto and satisfy your existing customers and clients.

The bottom line is that one of the key components in marketing and business growth is to spend the majority of your time and effort nurturing customer relationships, then you will get more, good quality business from existing clients.

This is a strategy that will move you forward in increasing your sales by 50%* all without increasing your budget.




*Actual increases may vary- but it cant hurt can it?!!!!!!


When Excellence is good enough

27. February 2013

Nice article from Marc on the link below and as someone who too often tries to make it all perfect, in future excellence will do!!/2013/02/perfectionism-vs-excellence.html