We visit and talk to lots of local business owners who often say they find it difficult to spend time on sourcing the most appropriate finance for their needs. This can result in growth being stifled and projects delayed, or worse, the wrong form of finance burdening the future cash flows of the business.
Relationship brokers are an important component for any business seeking finance for growth. At Whiterock Finance, we have identified a gap in the local market and recently set up a Property & Commercial Finance service.
The role of a relationship broker is to invest the time to source the most appropriate funding solutions to take forward to funders on behalf of the client, freeing them up to work on their businesses, rather than working in them. Whether it is new, existing or top-up funding, it’s important for a relationship broker to be able to assist clients in conjunction with arranging full refinances.
Our two funds, the Growth Loan Fund and Growth Finance Fund, are reserved for trading businesses with an export focus along with other key criteria. However, not all businesses need or meet the criteria for these funds. Therefore, as responsible brokers, it is our duty to be able to signpost clients to alternate sources of finance that can support their growth strategies.
Having a good network and a wide range of partnerships with lenders and funders who all offer something different to local businesses is important. From local banks, alternative financiers and bespoke financiers, there are a wealth of funds available to businesses in Northern Ireland, supporting SMEs right up to large organisations.
A good relationship broker will be involved from the initial concept through to drawdown of funds, which enables them to fully understand the funding requirement and develop the most appropriate funding structure.
By being involved at the initial concept, this will allow brokers to quickly identify the most appropriate funder to deliver tangible funding solutions in an efficient timeframe. Beyond financial support, the funder must believe in the team and get on with them (that works both ways) because some investments can be long term.
An experienced broker should be able to fully assess all funding proposals before formally submitting to a funder. With every business opportunity comes risk and it is important key risk factors are presented to funders before a decision is made. A good broker will deliver a fast and stress-free approach to securing offers of finance by fully understanding the funding requirement from the outset.
Every business is different and each requires funding support for various reasons. Whether it is asset finance on a fleet of vehicles, stock finance or indeed having a spade ready to break ground on new land, I believe Northern Ireland funders are open to proposals that, in the long term, stimulate business growth.
The decision to invest in a business is never an easy one. It’s a big step for companies to partner with an external investor to grow their company. But one thing all our portfolio companies have in common is ambitious owners and management teams at the helm.
While some businesses have put a hold on investment decisions due to political uncertainty at a local and national level, we have met a lot of businesses who are more determined than ever to grow their business to its maximum potential.