Gareth Pritchard
Gareth Pritchard
Head of Invoice Finance
Broker Interview

Broker interview: Samantha Thorpe, Premier SME Funding Ltd

May 4, 2021 | 6 minutes

This month we spoke to Samantha Thorpe, Managing Director at Premier SME Funding Ltd, about the challenges business owners might face in paying back Government loans, the developments she anticipates in the finance market and why she enjoys being a commercial finance broker.

Tell me a bit about who you are, your business and your background.

I started Premier SME Funding Ltd just over four years ago — that has flown by so fast! I work with businesses all over the UK, arranging all types of commercial finance.

I’ve worked in financial services since I was 18 (way too many years ago for my liking!) and was a Business Manager at one of the high street banks. I was also an underwriter at an alternative commercial finance provider before starting Premier SME Funding in February 2017. I believe my underwriting experience helps me put together the strongest possible applications for my clients and really understand their business and financials.

What do you enjoy most about being a commercial finance broker?

I am a naturally nosy person, so I love finding out more about my clients and their businesses.  I also do my own manual underwrite on every application and, as sad as it is, I really enjoy going through financial accounts and bank statements to help me build a picture of the business.

I find it so rewarding when I can find a solution that saves a business a huge amount of money in interest and fees. Or when I arrange a facility that enables a business that is being held back by a lack of working capital to grow.

What are your views on the Government support schemes (BBLs, CBILs and their replacement the RLs) and where do you see the business finance landscape moving as we progress through 2021?

Good question. I have mixed views. Although BBLs provided a huge amount of support, I did feel that it was too easily accessible. I think that there will be a huge amount of bad debt for the banks and the taxpayer to pick up. CBILs less so, with the banks this often went the other way with some very deserving businesses getting declined.

So far, the RLs seems extremely similar to the old EFG scheme. I’ve spoken with contacts at the High Street banks and most of them are still not ready to accept applications. Once alternative lenders become accredited, I think it will be interesting to see what they do with it and whether this will make it more accessible.

Overall, the RLs does not offer the same type of support (with no repayment holidays) so I feel that more traditional lending products will be required as we move through 2021. I’ve already started to see an uplift in enquiries for asset finance and working capital for growth.

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?

I think this varies so much from industry to industry.  Certainly, BBLs and CBILs repayments over the next two to three months will affect some business owners who no doubt believed they would be back to normal by now.  My advice would be not to put your head in the sand. Speak with existing finance providers in good time if repayments are proving difficult.

For businesses that are operating but struggling with working capital, I’d recommend speaking with a commercial finance broker to find out your options, and to check whether adding more finance is the most suitable way of moving forward.

What developments do you anticipate in the business finance market in the coming months and what products will be the most important?

It feels like the market is a little bit quiet in terms of products at the moment, whilst lenders wait to become accredited for the RLs. Many are also still working through CBILs applications.

I do think that the RLs will be important, but all working capital facilities (unsecured and invoice finance) are likely to be important products for businesses who may be forced to change their existing payment terms due to Covid and Brexit, or that simply don’t have the cash reserves that they once had as a result of the pandemic.

What are the most important characteristics you look for in an invoice finance provider? Why would you recommend it over other forms of finance?

The most important characteristic really changes depending on the client’s requirement! For me personally, it is a good relationship and an honest point of contact. However, it would be untrue to say that pricing is not often one of the most important factors.

Invoice finance is often a more flexible and cost-effective way for businesses to raise working capital. I always recommend reviewing invoice finance options for B2B businesses that are struggling with cash flow or are being held back in their growth due to payment terms.

What do you like about Satago?

I always get such a quick response to any queries that I ask and am kept up to date with any product changes.  As a broker this is invaluable.

When you’re not helping businesses out with their finance, how do you like to spend your free time?

Running, travelling, eating and drinking cocktails!

And finally, what are you most looking forward to being able to do again as we move out of lockdown?

Travelling, eating out and drinking somewhere other than my lounge. I miss going out and socialising so much and I can’t wait to go for cocktails with my friends and to get some nice hotels and restaurants booked with my husband.

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