2014 Overview: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

So, 2014 is drawing to a close and what a year it’s been for our whole organisation. We’ve achieved more than we thought possible; but that’s not without having to overcome one or two hurdles along the way.

Going into the New Year, we’re extremely optimistic about what the next 12 months have in store for us. But, before we make our predictions for 2015, let’s take a look back on 2014 – the good, the bad and the ugly…

Broadly speaking, the UK economy demonstrated strong signs of growth this year; most economic indicators are positive, confidence is growing and IT spend, in particular, is on the up. This optimistic business outlook has led to an improved investment sentiment, which is good news for businesses such as ours.

The Government pledged a commitment to a more competitive banking sector this year and was explicit in providing support to alternative finance providers like ourselves. It also recognised that SMEs are under-served by finance options and so is taking actions to ensure they have sufficient access to credit.

During this year’s Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne unveiled plans to support alternative finance providers by naming the large banks that will be required to allow access to credit data and refer on any SMEs they have refused finance. These provisions will help secondary funders, like us, to gain access to information on businesses the banks rejected. Positive news all round.

But what’s been challenging for us this year?

Though confidence is returning it is still fragile, and anything fragile needs to be handled with caution. For us, this has been one of our main challenges: we needed to ensure that we were empathetic towards all our clients’ needs so they felt 100% confident working with us.

Another, more internal challenge we faced in 2014 related to staffing. Highly-skilled employees help to facilitate growth, yet hiring and retaining them often proves a challenge for businesses.  To tackle this head-on, we’ve ensured that staff retention, training and development are all main focuses.

Market competition is always a challenge for businesses. Having plenty of competition is good as it demonstrates that our industry is healthy. Nevertheless, the landscape is constantly adapting, so it’s important that our company keeps up. We have an established position in its chosen sectors but we must continue to develop our personality, products and services in order to maintain that position. With this in mind, next year we will be working hard to continue our track record of innovation and product development, whilst establishing new routes to market.

Looking ahead, our company is prepared for growth again post-2008 crash and an enforced period of stabilisation. We ‘trod water’ for a while, so to speak, but now we’re gearing up for growth again and are re-investing across the business to ensure we’re well-placed to take advantages of new opportunities.

A significant re-investment for us will be the re-launch of our Partner Programme for the IT channel, which provides vendors and resellers access to online training, marketing support and point-of-sale finance solutions to make products easier to sell. Our focus on the programme eased during the recession, but we’re now refocusing on it and are actively seeking to recruit new channel partners.

Among other system upgrades, in 2015 Q1 we will go live with an updated version of ‘QUoting Portal’ – our new trading platform used both in-house and by our partners to propose deals. Anticipating new players in the marketplace, we aim to stay competitive by remaining at the forefront of technological service and are committed to providing a market-leading service via various engagement channels.

Elsewhere, we will continue to develop our long-standing affinity partnership with The Law Society and our younger partnership with the ICAEW. We will continue to focus on new product lines and will bring new finance applications to the market in the coming year.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2015!