Tell me a bit about who you are, your business and your background
I'm Russell Green, business alchemist and co-owner of Amplify, my partner in crime is Steve Moore. An interesting fact about me to get started; I was born at 25 weeks and weighed less than a bag of sugar. I would have fit in the palm of your hand, literally!
My background is a little different to a lot of the broking community, having come from a risk management perspective. I worked at Growth Street, where I built the risk team and was responsible for the borrower lifecycle. Before Growth Street, I ran the SME credit team for the world's largest merchant acquirer, Worldpay. So, I know a thing or two about what a lender wants to see and the questions underwriters are really asking. Steve is the perfect foil as he has an esteemed financial services sales history (we met at Worldpay).
Amplify exists to help business owners reach their goals and have more money in their pockets. I'm yet to meet a business owner who got into business to manage their cashflow, so we help them do that, building on their goals and aspirations to help them succeed alongside their existing advisers. In the SME market, a listening ear goes a long way, and we provide that. It's amazing what you learn about people this way!
What’s the secret to your success?
I'm not ready to call Amplify a success just yet! We've had some great successes with clients including one who has saved over £200,000 since working with us in late 2019.
2020 has been a challenge for the whole business community, as well as 2021. Ask me again next year if we are a success.
What are your views on the government support schemes and where do you see the business finance landscape moving as these draw to a close and looking towards 2021?
The Government support schemes are a success in terms of the speed at which they were pulled together. The Bounce Back Loan will save thousands of businesses. After the first extension, the Chancellor should have reviewed the effectiveness of the scheme and then changed it. This second extension is (almost) worthless as most businesses, both CBILS or BBL, have received as much support as they will get.
I am concerned about the collections process as these loans fall into arrears and implore the industry to set up a separate task force to focus on the can't pays vs the won't pays.
2021 will hopefully see the landscape return to a more commercial focus, but it will be hard going as businesses get to grips with the new debt repayments, a post-Covid era and Brexit. Lots to deal with.
What are the biggest challenges you see for business owners given the continuing Covid crisis and what advice would you offer them in regards to finance?
My advice to business owners post-Covid mirrors the pre-Covid era. Get great people around you and your business and focus on what you enjoy. Remote working and part-time support are more accepted, use that to grow your business.
Specifically relating to finance, know your numbers, know your people, and keep talking. If things get tough, talk more and be open. Most people will help you where they can.
What challenges do you anticipate in the business finance market in the coming months and what products will be the most important?
Liquidity will be the biggest challenge of the finance market in 2021. The alternative finance market has taken market share but is only working through its first credit event. How those players deal with late payments will be crucial for recoveries and the recovery of the economy. I would encourage those lenders to find the right external experts to help their customers survive.
I believe the products with the most flexibility are key. Having a mix of funding options will give businesses the best chance of survival as long as they know their numbers and their people.
What are the most important characteristics you look for in an invoice finance provider?
The most important characteristic of an invoice finance provider is the people. Getting to know the client's needs whilst understanding how this meets your appetite is crucial for effective use of a client's time and ultimately helping them grow.
What do you like about Satago?
Satago has a great platform which gives the client more than just cash. The team behind the software are pretty good too!
When you’re not helping businesses out with their finance, how do you like to spend your free time?
When I'm not Amplifying my clients, I'm being Batman or with the family. Having 3 children makes the weekends a bit hectic, but having the lovely Cheshire countryside on our doorstep makes it better. When we aren't confined, I like to get out to F1 races or head to the pub to watch the rugby.
And, finally, how will you be spending Christmas this year?
Christmas this year will be our first at home as a family. We typically head back to my wife or I's parents, but this year I'm in charge of cooking the turkey!