When flattery goes too far it can be a danger to us all

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case then we have just been handed one enormous compliment.
We are aware that there are various businesses offering versions of Pension-led funding, and we don’t have a problem with that. Quite the opposite actually, as more players in the space tend to grow the profile of this hugely useful yet poorly understood proposition.
And, as the overwhelmingly senior provider of this product we are even pretty relaxed when commercial rivals pinch a bit of wording here, a phrase there, and so forth. No harm done, the potential for the growth of Pension-led funding is so vast that there is plenty there for everyone to go at.
We do draw the line eventually, however, and a site we came across the other day doesn’t just cross this particular line, it crossed it, and kept going until that line was just a very small dot in the rear view mirror, rapidly fading to vanishing point.
You see, this (completely unregulated, obviously) site has taken a sizeable chunk of content from our own sites and rebadged it as their own. Hilariously, they have even taken the script of an interview I did to camera and refilmed it using my words and their guy! They even have the video of Vince Cable launching the Alternative Business Funding collaboration with a banner running over it claiming that they were founders of that particular initiative.
Founders? They are not even in it, let alone founders of it!
And much, much more. Needless to say we have real concerns.
Our problem with this has nothing, or certainly very little, to do with protecting our own intellectual property. We are grown up enough to look after ourselves. The real worry for us is that clients, and possibly also introducers, will be duped into believing that these guys are the real thing, and worth dealing with.
Now I don’t wish to sound harsh here, but a business whose entire marketing strategy is based on theft and deception is hardly likely to subsequently put the interests of its customers first once they have snared them. Most probably the customer/introducer experience will be a deeply unhappy and expensive one that would end up in complaints being made. However, as they are not regulated there will be no recourse.
In those circumstances it’s not just the customer who loses, its all of us. Introducers who may have been duped into recommending them, and Pension-led funding itself, could be tarred with the same brush. Indeed this kind of behaviour is a danger to the whole Alternative Finance community.
When you innovate, as we do, I suppose that fact inevitably attracts the short-term, get rich quick brigade. For all our sakes, and the reputation of the sector as a whole, all of us need to be alert to this stuff and stop it in its tracks when we uncover this kind of sharp practice.
It’s fair to say that in this case, we most definitely will.

Gold medal effort

Readers of my regular blog articles might recognise several themes that I tend to re-visit fairly regularly.

Transparency, choice and collaboration are the most important of these themes and all carry more importance as the SME finance market changes with the triple effects of attitudinal shifts, government intervention and technology advances.

As a result of our ground-breaking initiative to promote alternative business funding through the web portal, alternativebusinessfunding.co.uk, I have come to understand that the positive effects of collaboration cannot be ignored.

There are plenty of corny motivational slogans extolling the virtues of “pulling together” and informing us that we are “stronger together”, but the conversation needn’t be hi-jacked by the fluffy, feel-good connotations of collaboration.

No, this is really about sound business logic and good commercial outcomes.

Distributing risk and reward, sharing due-diligence and providing creative choices to clients are not promises for the future. This is happening now.

The hegemony of the late 20th century banking system is being dismantled by regulation and commercial necessity. Such has been the dominance of this model that an inevitable vacuum has been created.

Nature abhors a vacuum.

It is my opinion that this vacuum will be filled by an array of options, some not even developed yet, and initiatives such as the alternativebusinessfinding.co.uk portal will enable the transparency and choice I believe business owners crave.