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Maximising the opportunities offered by the Commercial Finance Expo

The Commercial Finance Expo is a headline event in the NACFB’s calendar and is always important to me both as the Association’s Chair and as a broker. This year it also took on an extra personal dimension as I put to bed the demons of falling seriously ill on the morning of last year’s Expo, so it was great to deliver an updated version of the Chair’s speech that I had intended to give the year before. To say that I was nervous would be an understatement, but hopefully I have closed that chapter in my life now.

With my professional hat on, it was exciting to see first-hand the culmination of all that had been done behind the scenes over the last year at the NACFB, not just preparing for the Expo, but in further developing and growing the association as a whole. I am proud of the team’s work and am honoured to be at the helm during this time.

Future-proofing is at the forefront of people’s minds

During the Expo I spoke at a panel session on the changing dynamics of the lender/broker relationship, and it was clear from the discussions that brokers are among the many finance professionals who are concerned about the future – what Brexit will bring, how technological developments such as the march of artificial intelligence will affect us and so on.

The conversations have inspired me to start thinking long and hard about the sustainability and ‘future-proofing’ of my own business. I mentioned on stage that my concern about the future is how I and the team will be able to sell our services to my now 13-year-old son in 10 years’ time. Thankfully we are in a market where people still ‘buy’ people, appreciating the value of a specialist broker who works hard to understand and deliver on individual needs – but I suspect this will not be the same for my son.

Increasing the size of the ‘lending pie’

There is a sentiment amongst mainstream press that banks are not lending to SMEs, but in reality eight out of 10 who approach a bank will secure the funding they need. Supporting the banks are several hundred lenders who can offer SMEs a diverse range of mainstream and specialist ‘out of the box’ funding. The Expo showed me that the NACFB, its members and patrons can work together to increase the size of the ‘lending pie’ instead of merely fighting over the same slice. Collaboration across the industry was clear for all to see.

Your ideas for next year

Plans are already underway for the 2019 Expo. Personally, I’d like to see more of the same, but I’d also welcome anything that makes for more engagement throughout the day. If you were at this year’s event, have visited in previous years or are considering attending for the first time next year, please let me know how we can best make this free event work hard for us all – while it’s free to attend, it’s still an investment in time, so how can we maximise this opportunity? Drop me a note with your thoughts.

The NACFB’s video from this year’s Expo is below, please take a look