NACFB dinner and awards 2011

It was only a few months ago that I was at the Metropole Hotel near Birmingham for the Business Money dinner and last night I was back again, this time for the NACFB annual awards dinner.

There were a few similarities between the two dinners as the food was again naff, Bibby again won the factoring company of the year award and my name was again misspelled. However, unlike in June when the “comedian” had us all groaning the NACFB had spent a little more and Simon Evans had most of us in stitches.

I had to wait until this morning to see who else was there that I might have missed as NACFB in their infinite wisdom had printed the list of attendees in black on a dark blue background and judging by the number of people staring intently at the list I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t read it.

The evening was sponsored by Aldermore who had also been nominated for six of the first seven awards categories and it was somewhat embarrassing when they were overlooked for commercial mortgage provider of the year, lessor of the year, factoring company of the year, buy to let mortgage provider of the year and short term funder of the year but at long last their investment was rewarded when they won the specialist lender of the year category.

I’m intrigued to know what that covers though as it obviously doesn’t include commercial or buy to let mortgages, leasing, factoring or short term funding.

The grand prize draw had tickets to the Olympic rowing finals and signed Mancheter United shirts on offer but Aldermore got their own back with the bulk of the “winners” coming away with Aldermore Goody Bags and fixed smiles.

Once again many thanks to mine hosts for an entertaining evening.

Factoring brokers and the internet

More and more supposed factoring brokers are using the internet to attract customers. Unfortunately this means that anyone with some web design skills can throw together a site and try and generate some factoring leads but it can’t be in the customers best interests if the person behind the website doesn’t know the first thing about factoring.

Anyone who keeps an eye on Google will have noticed a new website has recently appeared on page one with what on the surface appears to be a decent website containing a few fairly standard articles about factoring.

The website contains logos from Venture, Bibby, Lloyds TSB, Aldermore, Close and Hitachi which purports to give the impression that the company has a relationship with each of them, but does it?

There is an invitation to submit details on a contact form but nowhere on the site does it have an address or telephone number and having looked up ownership of the domain in Nominet I have never heard of the owner and neither has anyone that I have asked although a quick Google check shows that as well as articles about factoring he has also published articles about getting rid of spots and how to cook a pizza.

Most internet savvy people would never deal with a website that doesn’t have either an address or telephone number but unfortunately many of the potential customers won’t be as wary.

This isn’t the only one as I came up with another last week that have a highly professional and expensive looking website with branches in Glasgow, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham which makes it look like a pretty sizeable outfit.

It even has testimonials including one saying “We found ****** to be absolutely terrific. They arranged an invoice factoring deal for us quickly and efficiently. Would certainly recommend them” and this was signed by DL, Operations Manager of ABC Ltd

Intrigued to find out more about this high profile outfit I looked up the ownership of the website to see that it registered to the very same ABC Ltd who gave it such a glowing testimonial and a bit more research shows the website owner is a actually a contract cleaning company.

I have often said that factoring companies should be regulated and I also think that it would be in the customers’ best interests if brokers were also regulated as I’m sure that you can’t get best advice from a broker unless he knows the industry, but unfortunately the poor old customer has no idea if his broker knows what he’s talking about or not and it seems that there are a lot around who don’t.

Davenham to be taken over by Bibby Factors ?

A whisper has reached my ears that Bibby Factors are deep in negotiations with Davenham which could result very shortly in a take-over of the fledgling factoring operation which has struggled to get away due to Davenham’s well chronicled lack of money.

I’m not sure whether the deal will also include the trade finance division which is probably attractive from Bibby’s point of view but as there isn’t enough competition in this sector from the market’s point of view I hope that it doesn’t.

End of 2009 – a difficult year for factoring

It’s been quite a busy year with several small factoring companies either going bust or being taken over or both and with all existing factors finding it tough going.

I would imagine 2010 to see much of the same with one factoring company about to be taken over which I guess will be the first of several in the coming year.

However tough the market there never seems to be a shortage of people clamouring to get into it. Whilst some do it as they need to provide themselves with an income and they see the setting up and running a factoring company as the route to do that others have a genuine desire to be in the business. Santander comes into the latter category and with many of the country’s best loved names now part of the group one can hardly blame them even if they chose a most unusual way of doing so. There is also another new factoring company to be launched shortly which I have no doubt should be successful as there are no pressures there to take on business at all costs as seems to be the case with several of the more recent newcomers.

One of my hobby horses over the year has been the plethora of awards handed out to all and sundry with almost everyone being able to claim some sort of award for being the best factoring and discounting company of the year and as if to round off the year nicely a press release landed on the blog’s desk from Business Moneyfacts announcing a forthcoming event to “celebrate the best products and service in the business and commercial finance world”

The nominations for “Best Factoring & Invoice Discounting Provider” are:-

Absolute Invoice Finance
Bibby Financial Services
Close Invoice Finance Limited
Credit Agricole Commercial Finance
IGF Invoice Finance Limited
Venture Finance PLC

I have no idea who decides on the nominations or even how much they know about the marketplace but it always seems to be the same old companies that are nominated and the one thing that most have in common is their love of self promotion.

Of this year’s nominations Absolute Invoice Finance and their clients must have wondered if they would see out the end of the year as the previous parent Cattles were in such a parlous state whilst Close and Venture seem between them to be responsible for a disproportionate amount of the complaints that one regularly reads about on forums and blogs around the country.

IGF Invoice Finance is a company that has been top of many people’s lists of “who won’t be around this time next year” for the last two years and there are still mutterings in the marketplace about them.

That leaves just Bibby and what was Eurofactor and I freely admit that I don’t know much about the latter.

I wonder why these companies don’t approach me for a list of nominations 🙂