The Leave bus is going places

Now that we are all trading under full or limited permissions, we’re all on the same bus, writes Adam Tyler, chief executive at the NACFB

When a bus pulls up at the roadside, you do not expect the driver to explain to you why he selected that particular bus. Perhaps his bosses running the transport company had been wined and dined by Volvo, taken to a golfing day by Plaxton in Scarborough, or given a helicopter ride by Dennis.

Who knows? Does it actually make any difference to the end consumer? The end consumer simply wants to reach his destination in comfort, for a price he is willing to pay. It helps if the interaction with the driver is friendly, but it is far from essential.

This hardnosed approach to the effectiveness of getting the right funding is squarely at odds with the FCA’s consumer-driven thinking. The FCA would insist that the customer experience should be analysed and the bus company held accountable for choices it has made, right down to golfing days and wine-tasting evenings.

There are flaws in the analogy, as there always are, but it rarely stops me. The bus driver has one route and one bus, and he is the face of the company, a face often displayed in side profile, like royalty on a coin. The commercial finance broker faces dozens of choices when looking for lenders. Nonetheless, the end result for the consumer is what the broker should be judged by, if after all the consumer is the one the FCA is looking after.

Is part of the reason the onus is on the broker to ‘show their working’ is that the FCA admits it cannot keep up with the vast range of 200+ commercial finance lenders in the UK and their constantly refined product ranges?

The broker is expected to give them a helping hand in assessing the consumer journey; less bus driver, more satnav!
Less than a week after the referendum vote sent shockwaves through Westminster, I was invited to a breakfast meeting to discuss the Genesis 2014 Manifesto alongside a confident-looking Michael Gove, who at the time appeared to have a good claim to leadership.

The manifesto’s original editor had enunciated the need to support small business, and the initiative’s patron, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, said at the end of 2014: “The launch of the manifesto is timely, given that the general election will be held in May 2015.

“Our SME and micro-businesses have played a major part in taking our country out of the recession.”

I revisit these quotes 18 months later because if the Genesis Initiative was worth standing behind then, it is doubly so now.

It was a very well-timed meeting and though it told me ultimately nothing about who would lead the government for the next few years, or how it would be led, it did reveal something rather more inspiring: the more I talked to people and listened to the conversations, the more I heard support for leaving the EU, which were not necessarily the loudest voices during (and since) the campaign.

It was a brilliant four hours, and just what we needed to hear in those early days – a sense not just of optimism, but of being able to pick up that optimism and run with it.

We heard from a representative from Finland, for example, who reminded us that the EU vote changes nothing as far as they are concerned.

Finland might not be the biggest player out there, but its voice is representative of what we are hearing from outside the EU, including the Indian subcontinent. I have also sat down for a meeting with one of our brokers whose speciality is overseas finance.

There is work to be done, but I think we’ve got the right people in the right places to do it.