A question of driving business growth for Gary Trott from Credit4

Pensionledfunding.com values its partnerships and being able to work with others in the sector to find the financing solution to help SMEs grow their businesses.
Mark Johnson, Associate Director Business Development, speaks to Credit4 Chief Executive, Gary Trott, about short-term funding, product development, personal guarantees and business growth.
Q: We have been working together since the inception of Credit4 so I know your product well. However, for all of our other intermediaries could you please give us an overview of your business growth to date?
A: The business has grown in excess of our expectations. This has been driven by the intermediaries having a better understanding of us and our product. It’s always challenging entering a new market with a product that is new, but the majority of intermediaries we work with get what we do, how we do it and why we’re different. Hitting the £1 million of facilities issued was a big milestone for us. We’re now at almost £1.5 million and are busier than ever. It’s a great stepping stone to move the business on from.
Q: What do you see as the pros/cons of using a short-term funding product to bridge the funding gap while Pension-led funding (PLF) is being processed?
A: The main pro is for clients who want to use PLF for the funding for their business, but cannot afford to wait potentially months for the money to come through. PLF is a niche and unique product that has an obvious place in the market. Unlocking the right financing for serious growing businesses is what we are all here for and a tailored short-term funding product should make more PLF funding available for SMEs.
Q: Do you think a product like your flexible funding facility could help SMEs cover off the initial funding requirements while a PLF funding facility is being processed?
A: Our existing Flexible Facility does lend itself easily to initial funding whilst PLF is being processed. However, I can certainly see an easily developed product that would fit very well. Maybe we should talk?
Q: Given the acceptance of your product in the market, the consultants at Clifton have asked me if you plan to extend your lending facility beyond £50,000.
A: We aren’t planning to extend our existing facility beyond £50,000, but we have been listening to the markets’ needs and have a number of products in the pipeline. Our second product is very close to launch and whilst I don’t want to say too much about it at the moment, it will extend our lending level above £50,000.
Q: That is good news but why not just increase your existing product to more than £50,000 without changing the format? What benefit does the new product offer an SME?
A: Quite simply, bullet repayments above £50,000 puts us into a different risk bracket. Our new product is innovative and has been designed around trying to meet the different financing needs an SME will have.
Q: Will this be the end of your product development for now?
A: No, we have a number of products in development as there are plenty of areas within this market that are not being serviced properly. We believe in making the RIGHT financing available to SMEs, not just simply making money available. Bigger businesses have real choice in the way they structure their financing and the types of financing they have at their disposal. SMEs should have that choice too.
Q: Will you ever consider entering the traditional secured lending sector?
A: Maybe in the future, but it’s a crowded place at the moment.
Q: Given you only rely on the Personal Guarantee (PG) of the SME do you think your product could be affected by high incidences of default in the future?
A: We rely firstly on the SME being able to service and repay and we spend time reviewing this aspect, with our backstop on recovery a PG from the Directors of the business. As with any new product, in any new market, it is constantly under review and if we need to change it slightly then we will make that decision at the time. The key to our lending is to try to lend to serious businesses, our underwriting processes are comprehensive and we have to understand our risk.
Q: Do you think other funders take a cavalier attitude to PGs?
A: I hope not, and don’t think so. It’s very important that clients understand what they are entering into and what it means. It’s a fundamental tenet of what we do.
Q: Given your answers above what thoughts do you have about the newly formed ‘mezzanine finance’ providers that have emerged over the past five years?
A: They’ve filled a gap, and that’s good for the market.
Q: Do you think this mezzanine market has any longevity?
A: Yes, but in a consolidated form, markets evolve and how you compete evolves too, some will make the necessary changes and some won’t.
Q: Will Credit4 ever go down the crowd funding route?
A: You can never say never, but I can’t see it at the moment.
Q: What risks do you see for the crowd funders in the future?
A: Regulation, interest rate movements, perception, the effect defaults will have. These are risks that affect all of us but I think that crowd funders might be affected more by some of them.
Q: If anyone wants to find out more about Credit4 who should they contact?
A: Visit our website at www.credit4.co.uk to find out more about our flexible financing, or alternatively call the office on 020 3637 0570 and ask to speak to David Culverhouse or me.
Thanks Gary . . .
Profile:
Gary is a qualified accountant and Corporate Treasurer with many years’ experience in finance. In 2013 he co-founded Credit4, a lending business offering a unique type of funding to growing UK SMEs.
In under two years, Credit4’s small and focused team has made more than £1.25m of flexible funding available to UK small businesses and will continue to develop innovative ways to give UK SMEs the financing tools they need to grow.
Gary and his team are passionate in their belief that UK SMEs don’t just require funding but should have choice in order to secure the right type of funding for their business.