On Thursday 21st May 2020, Digital Lancashire together with one of our partners, ABGI hosted a chaired discussion with other key figures from the digital and tech community to discuss The Financial Landscape Post COVID-19.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our panel members who joined us at this event including, Sandy Findlay (Partnership Director) and Georgina Andrews (Partner Relationship Manager) from ABGI, Adam Rudd (Director) from Beech Tree Private Equity and Mark Gibbons (Senior Business Advisor) from Boost Business Lancashire.
The event saw these key industry figures outlining their activities and experiences throughout the ongoing pandemic, and seeking ways of finding clarity from the seismic impact on businesses’ finances and discussing not only what has happened but what was promised, what has been delivered and how to better improve our resilience as we emerge from lockdown.
Key Event Discussion Points Included:
- The DL roundtable event commenced with introductions from the panel and discussions started with the question from Tom Stables ( DL Chair) about the role and responsiveness of Central Government.
- Sandy (ABGi ) felt that dissemination of information had been slow and not well communicated, despite the difficult circumstances and need for swift and accurate information.
- Mike (Boost Business Lancashire) The banks could have reacted more swiftly. The panel generally agreed and issues around eligibility for funding, different credit risk structures were found unhelpful and confusing with personal guarantee requests being unacceptable in the situation. Mark cited the Rosebud Fund as being one he would recommend currently.
- The panel felt innovation and emerging trends showed responsiveness and adaptation had worked for some businesses, and Georgina (ABGi) expressed interest in how this behaviour and response would work in an unknown future.
- It was agreed that confusion in the lending marketplace, not actual fund availability, had been a major hurdle, and flexibility from businesses and their modus operandi would need self scrutiny as well as the need for the financial sector to review their practices, policies and practical application of funding schemes.
- Mark (Boost Business Lancashire) recommended that when it comes to applying for funds that ‘you need to know your numbers’ as many businesses did not prepare their funding case professionally enough to gain acceptance from borrowers.
- Lessons to be learnt from all sides. Undoubtedly, investment will change with the inability to achieve due diligence easily, although AdamRudd (Beech Tree PE) pointed out that post furlough the cash issues would be vital indicators of stability and sustainability, not simply declared revenue figures. Businesses should be focused and in control of their cash flow, with debt increasing generally payment behaviour between businesses will change. He continued by sharing the fact that 2nd round funding valuations for those seeking investment had in some cases been much more positive because of evidence of sustained progress.
- The panel moved on to some more crystal ball techniques with the question of what we should focus on next as we emerge from lockdown. Adam (Beech Tree PE) reiterated the need to access cash and weather the inevitable storm. Sandy (ABGI) felt a vital understanding of new consumer patterns and the intellectual property value of your business, were key. Georgina (ABGI) agreed and underlined the ability to work from home would now continue and access to cash also was a prerequisite.
- Adam (Birch Tree PE) emphasised the difficulties as furlough reduced, especially on project based businesses with their need to adjust resources commercially. Moreover, the recurring revenue, tech enablement and disruptive investment criteria would still stand out to potential investors.
- Mike (Boost Business Lancashire) stressed that there are good mechanisms now in place, and if SMEs are confused they should ask for help through the many available schemes and organisations.
- There were many great ‘takeaways’ provided by the expert panel and Tom Stables (DL Chair) concluded and summarised by underlining the need for access to cash and a real in depth understanding of your own finances and the financial marketplace were paramount.
For digital businesses it’s a new era of unexpected opportunity where careful consideration and review of the business model and adaption to the new economy will dictate the future.
For those who would like to watch a recording of the event click here and use password: 9k.7&2@#
And as ever, we are always keen to hear your feedback and if there are other event topics that you would benefit from us organising. Maybe you’re organising your own event and would like to share it with others – if so please get in touch! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01772 846221 or use #DigitalLancashire on your social media channels.