Joanna Cashmore of Bibby Financial Services

Quick Questions with

We chat with Joanna Cashmore, Business Development Manager Bibby Financial Services, the UK’s leading independent invoice finance specialist and a trusted provider of funding solutions to over 7,000 businesses.

How long have you worked in the SME finance sector?
I’ve worked in asset based finance for ten years and invoice finance for the last six.

When did you join Bibby Financial Services and where did you work before?
I joined Bibby in 2010 and prior to this I was at Lloyds Commercial Finance where I worked in the asset finance team, providing hire purchase and leasing against assets like vehicles, machinery and plant. Prior to this I worked in personal lending at HSBC, so I’ve had a range of jobs in financial services since starting my career.

What’s your role at Bibby and what does it entail?
As Business Development Manager, my job is to get out into the field to build relationships with both potential clients and the intermediary community. First and foremost, Bibby is a relationship-based business and it’s really important that we get to know our clients’ businesses to understand how we can help, so this is a big part of my role.

What do you most enjoy about the role?
Bibby’s a fantastic place to work so the people contribute massively to making the role enjoyable! I really like learning about new businesses to find out how we can support them so the most enjoyable part of my job is meeting SME clients who have a requirement for one of our solutions. This support ranges from businesses who need cashflow support, those with a working capital requirement to support investment, right up to larger transactions, such as mergers, acquisitions and management buy-ins and buy-outs.

What’s the most challenging aspect of the role?
At Bibby, we really take pride in going the extra mile to find a way to support our clients and this often means that we have to work to tight timescales, which can be challenging. Awareness of alternative forms of finance has grown significantly in recent years, which means that there’s a growing number of SMEs turning to us for help, so it can also be difficult to fit everything into one week!

What was it that first attracted you to SME finance?
The opportunity to make a difference is what attracted me to this sector. The flexibility and adaptability of the teams at Bibby means that we can make a hugely positive impact on a business’s trading and growth. Our products and services provide tangible benefits to our clients, helping them to thrive and grow and this – in turn – has a positive multiplier effect on local and national economies. It’s this contribution that makes the sector so important and why it’s an attractive industry to work in.

What is the biggest challenge for SMEs in 2016?
At the moment, SMEs are facing uncertainty and an ever changing environment, and these two factors are putting a huge strain on cashflow. We’re not yet at the mid-point in the year and SMEs have already had to contend with an unprecedented amount of change including the introduction of pensions auto-enrolment for smaller businesses, changes to the way in which dividends are taxed and the new National Living Wage, which was introduced on 1 April. Add to these changes uncertainty over the EU Referendum, it’s clear that SMEs need to make sure they’re prepared for the future and this includes having their finances in order, which is where we can help.

How has the business lending landscape changed over recent years?
Following the recession in 2008, traditional lending contracted while debtors stretched credit terms and creditors chased payment faster than ever. On top of a shrinking economy, access to finance became a critical consideration for SMEs, but many traditional lenders retreated from the market around this time. Since then, these lenders don’t seem to have the same appetite for SME financing as before and this has presented established alternative-funders, such as Bibby, with a fantastic opportunity to step-in and plug the gap. With growing awareness of alternative funding options available, invoice finance is now widely accepted as – not only an option – but a more suitable form of finance due to the additional services and security such specialist funding can provide.

What are the benefits of invoice finance over other forms of alternative finance?
The ability to boost a business’s cashflow immediately is clearly an advantage but another key benefit of invoice finance is that funding grows in line with a business’s sales ledger, so it’s a really sustainable way to finance a business. Furthermore, credit control support, sales ledger management and bad debt protection – offered by some invoice financiers – all provide additional security and protection, helping SMEs to not only grow, but also to safeguard their businesses for the future.

What sets Bibby apart from other funders in the market-place?
I’ve said it before but fundamentally, we’re a relationship-based business and this means that there’s never a ‘computer says no’ answer. We believe in our clients’ businesses and this really comes across in the way we work with them. In terms of our approach to working with new clients, we’re both commercial and flexible, which is really unique in this market. Many of our products are highly bespoke and this ensures that we provide the right funding support for the businesses we work with. As 31st place in the Sunday Times 2016 Best Companies to Work For would indicate, Bibby is really committed to its employees and this is reflected in the service that our teams provide to our clients. Our clients tell us that it’s this service sets us apart and many of them see us more as a partner to their business, rather than simply a financier. It’s for this reason that our longest standing client has been with us for 27 years!

To find out more about Bibby Financial Service, visit: www.bibbyfinancialservices.com or contact Joanna using the details opposite.

At the time of going to press, Joanna had just been promoted to Head of Sales for Scotland.

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