How to keep the cash flowing in tough times
Belfast Telegraph Young Businessperson award sponsor Bibby Financial Services is blooming in Belfast, says regional manager Nick McCafferty
Tell us about Bibby Financial Services’ (BFS) presence in Northern Ireland.
Bibby Financial Services is a market-leading specialist in the provision of a range of business cash-flow solutions to small and medium-sized enterprises.
We support the cash flow position and growth of our clients in both Northern Ireland and overseas, something we have been doing now for over 25 years
We set up the Belfast office over three years ago. This followed the opening of the Dublin office almost five years ago and we currently employ over 20 people on an all-island basis.
Have you any plans for expansion?
Since setting up our Belfast office we’ve expanded rapidly in what is undoubtedly a turbulent trading environment. In this time we have witnessed a substantial growth in demand for our invoice finance facilities across many Northern Ireland sectors and will continue to build the business to meet this demand.
With a dedicated and highly skilled team, Bibby Financial Services have the appetite, funds and experience to support Northern Ireland businesses.
Has the difficult business climate impacted upon your operation? How is the firm coping with the downturn?
Yes, the downturn has impacted on our business in so much as it has led to more recognition and opportunity for invoice finance.
With tougher lending conditions Northern Ireland companies are seeking more flexible options to meet their business needs and now see invoice finance as a more viable way to fund, and in many cases grow, their businesses.
How do you compare with other financial services firms?
In the current environment, where lending to Northern Ireland businesses from traditional lenders is at an all time low, we are differentiating ourselves through the flexible funding we are offering. Unlike traditional finance providers, we are open for business and have the funds and appetite to fund and support Northern Ireland business activity. We offer funding without the restrictive lending conditions that other finance providers are known to apply.
What are the biggest financing challenges facing Northern Ireland companies?
Funding for small to medium-sized enterprises remains a key obstacle. Customer late payment is also a real issue for Northern Ireland SMEs who are contending with lengthier periods for payment — up to 90 days in many incidences, which can have a devastating effect on the cash flow of any business and its survival.
Invoice finance is now playing a crucial role in addressing both issues through access to flexible funding and in the provision of a dedicated credit management function and if required bad debt protection facilities to safeguard Northern Ireland businesses against customer insolvency.
What are the best solutions BFS recommends for the trickiest financing problems?
Cash flow is king — ensure that you have access to the finance required to meet your overheads. Look to alternative finance solutions that effectively meet your requirements such as invoice finance.
To get on top of your cash-flow management it’s important to credit check your customers from the outset, be clear on terms and conditions and don’t put off sending off that invoice.
What has been the biggest growth area since the economic downturn began?
Northern Ireland businesses have responded to the downturn with innovative business practices and are looking to overseas activity to build their business.
We have found an increased demand for our export invoice finance facilities which, as well as providing access to much-needed cash to fund overseas trading activity, supports businesses in dealing with the common issues faced when exporting overseas such as language and cultural differences, chasing overseas debt and local customs.
What percentage of your clients are those who have been coming to you for some time?
We work in partnership with our clients to support their on going cash-flow requirements and assist them in realising business plans.
How does sponsorship of the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards fit in with your business?
We are committed to supporting the region’s business community through the provision of our invoice finance facilities.
The Belfast Telegraph Business Awards offers a great platform to support local business practices across all sectors.
Why have you chosen to sponsor the young businessperson of the year category? What do you think it takes to be successful in business at a young age?
Young entrepreneurs represent the future for the Northern Ireland economy. Entrepreneurs play a vital role in both generating jobs and in attracting local investment. It is important that the contribution of entrepreneurs is recognised and we are delighted to be sponsoring the award. To be successful in business at any age you must be open to change.
1. Outstanding Business Team of the Year, sponsored by Moy Park
2. Excellence in Marketing, sponsored by Progressive Building Society
3. Excellence in Exporting: sponsored by Northern Bank
4. Excellence in the Development of Management and Leadership, sponsored by Made Not Born
5. Excellence in Innovation, sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland
6. Outstanding Service to Business
7. Young Business Person of the Year, sponsored by Bibby Financial Services
8. Excellence in Technology
9. Best Small/Medium Business, sponsored by Yell
10. Business Person of the Year — a non-entry category which will be awarded by the judging panel based on an individual’s contribution to the Northern Ireland economy
11. Outstanding business of the Year — the overall winner will be selected by the judges from the winners of all the individual categories.
For sponsorship opportunities, to buy tickets for the event or for more information telephone JPR on 90 760066 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org.