Corporate Vision Issue 12 2018

60 CORPORATE VISION / Issue 12 2018 , Henry Howard Finance is one of the UK’s leading business finance providers for the SME marketplace. Delighted to win our Outstanding Finance Provider of the Year 2018 Award, we caught up with AnneWilliams, Chief Operating Officer at Henry Howard Finance who provided us with a detailed insight into the innerworkings of the award-winning firm. The Funder of Choice for Ambitious Companies Please give us a brief overview of your company, cli- ents and services. Established in 1996, Henry Howard Finance (HHF) is a specialist finance provider help- ing SMEs secure funding quickly and easily. With two decades of experience, we know every com- pany’s need are different, which why our adaptable and flexible finance has helped over 30,000 UK businesses. Our Asset Finance channel allows SMEs of all sizes access competi- tive finance rates for the purchase of vehicles, industrial machinery, printers, civil engineering, con- struction equipment and more. Our Vendor Finance channel offers business equipment suppliers’ fi- nance on demand for their custom- ers, with our online tool, HowApp, which quickly provides suppliers with a credit decision and a finance agreement for their customers. Also, we offer Retail Finance for shop owners, big or small, to finance shop refits and new assets and are one of the largest independent finance providers for the convenience store sector. When undertaking a new project, how does your firm ensure clients receive the best possible outcome? We’ve dealt with thousands of SME funding challenges and many ups and downs in the UK economy over the years. Our customer-led approach means every client receives a service as personal as it is be- spoke. Bigger banks often offer a less personal service experience, plus stricter lending criteria. Considering the full range of funding options is a major focus for HHF, as is working closely with SMEs to ensure all needs are met. What is your firm’s overall mission and what steps do you take to achieve this? We help SMEs secure flexible finance deals which are right for them. Expert knowledge of the SME finance market, strong customer relationships and continually challenging traditional funding models helps us support businesses UK wide. Many HHF customers have grown from start-ups into major employers, making us the funder of choice for ambitious companies. What differentiates your firm from your competitors and make you the best possible option for clients? Recently, we received a second £51m tranche of funding from the British Business Bank, the UK government-owned economic development bank, under the Bank’s ENABLE programme. The facility comes on top of an existing £51m asset finance fa- cility granted in 2016 to allow us to extend our leasing and asset finance offering to an even larger portfolio of UK SMEs. In addition to this, a £25m deal with Cabot Square Capital in 2014 also enabled us to fast- track our own-book lending. The ability to lend against our own balance sheet means we can provide capital quickly and easily compared to traditional lenders and finance a wider port- folio of businesses in a growing number of sectors. Also, we are leading the way with our vendor technology. Currently, we are investing a further £1m into ‘HowApp’ – our vendor finance app, allowing vendors to set up tailor-made customer finance packages, simplifying credit approval and cutting trans- action times. Please give a brief overview of your industry. Are there any specific challenges or outside influences? HHF is constantly in conversation with the SME market. Economic uncertainty around Brexit and a lack of consumer confidence has created high street instabil- ity. The closure of longstanding retailers has unsettled smaller retail businesses. Traditional lenders offering strict lending criteria in response are discouraging SMEs from pursu- ing growth plans, many of whom depend on funding to expand. A flourishing SME market is pivotal to the success of UK Plc and will be critical in bolstering Oct18129 the economy post-Brexit, making access to financial support essential. What is the internal culture in your firm? How do you ensure all staff are equipped to pro- vide the best possible service? HHF has a 130-strong team with a ‘can-do’ attitude and a drive to de- liver the best. Investing in training and ensuring that knowledge is consistently shared creates a pos- itive internal culture where team members can develop and grow. What is your approach to hir- ing staff? How do you attract the very best talent in the industry? Employing driven and confident people keen to succeed is key to success. Our company ethos revolves around teamwork - we have a robust recruitment process to ensure staff have the qualities, mind-set and attitude required to achieve our shared goals. With regards to your industry, what developments do you foresee and how will you adapt around these? SMEs are increasingly sourcing alternative finance providers like ourselves. We need to ensure that we continue to listen to customers and anticipate their finance re- quirements despite changes in the economic and political landscape. Technology continues to play an important role and we are commit- ted to keeping pace with the latest advancements in support of our customers.