With the success of the vaccine rollout, the UK economy is on track to recovery, with SMEs now fully reopening.
Since the reopening of businesses, 365 Business Finance's merchant cash advance enquiries have tripled, resulting in a 119% increase in the number of funded deals over the summer period.
In particular, the 365 Business Finance's Partnerships Team reached record-breaking months in July and August, due to strategic partnerships formed with financial brokers, ISOs, and payment and credit solution providers. Through these strategic partnerships, 365 Business Finance has been able to provide fast, flexible funding to many UK businesses in need of immediate capital.
To celebrate this success, we sat down with Chris Thorne and Amy Jones from the Partnerships Team for a Q&A session, to get to know them on a more personal level, and delve into all things merchant cash advance and partnerships related.
Tell us about yourself and your role at 365 Business Finance
Chris Thorne: Well, I’m coming up on nearly 35 years married to both the financial services industry and my wife! We have three children, and we recently welcomed twin grandsons to the family.
I started out in the financial services industry working in personal and business banking at RBS and NatWest, and then within the last 15 years progressed to executive positions at Worldpay and Cardnet.
I’ve always enjoyed building and developing commercial relationships towards mutual success, which is essentially my role here at 365 Business Finance as Strategic Partnerships Director.
Amy Jones: I was brought up by the coast in Anglesey, to now living in London with my husband and our labradoodle, Frank. We love the city, but relish our trips to the coast for sea swimming and dog walks.
My career to date has always been focused on partner relationships, with a particular focus on the SME and unsecured lending market.
As Senior Partnerships Manager at 365 Business Finance, I set-up new partnerships, oversee a smooth on-boarding, and manage the ongoing relationship. I have a particular interest in exploring new routes to market via new strategic introducers.
What’s your personal hobbies and passions – that is, how do you like to spend your time outside of work?
Chris Thorne: My hobbies are golf and rugby union – although, whereas the former I can still play well (on occasion), the latter becomes more about the great player I used to be, the older I get!
My main passion includes touring the UK in a motorhome with my wife – something we will be doing again soon with our twin grandchildren.
Amy Jones: I enjoy being active, including hikes with my dog or doing Pilates, HIIT or yoga. Fun fact: I’m also a qualified Pilates instructor.
I’m a huge animal and travel lover, two things I tend to combine – travel tends to be booked based on the local wildlife! Adventure highlights include whale watching in the Arctic Circle, in temperatures of -20 degrees.
What is a Merchant Cash Advance (MCA)?
Chris Thorne: A simple and efficient way for UK SMEs to raise vital funding from their monthly card transactions and, by doing so, generate a strong revenue stream for referral partners.
Amy Jones: 365 Business Finance advance up to 100% of a client’s average monthly card takings. We take a small percentage of future sales for our repayment, and have the lowest repayment split in the market, offering a settlement model that fits with our clients' cash flow. 365 Business Finance are quick and transparent, agreeing to a one-time fixed fee with our clients, and ensuring funds are transferred promptly.
What are the advantages of a partnership with 365 Business Finance?
Chris Thorne: Apart from working closely with Amy and me, you get one of the UK’s most well-regarded merchant cash advance providers as a partner, and a joint say in shaping the product proposition. We also provide marketing and operational support, plus the most competitive pricing and commercials.
Amy Jones: The Sales Team at 365 Business Finance can be as hands-on as required by our partners. We have the capacity to liaise directly with your clients, without reducing the commission.
For lead submission, we’re aware that not one approach fits all. Partners can upload leads via the following methods:
- Our partner portal;
- Through a designated inbox;
- Landing page; or
- Via an integrated API.
At 365 Business Finance, we can fund clients before the split is set-up. With speed being an important factor to business owners, this is a huge selling point for your clients.
What questions does the Partnerships Team get asked the most?
Chris Thorne: “So, why 365 Business Finance?”
The answer to that question is simple – because of 365 Business Finance’s dedicated team, flexible funding product, and quick processes, all of which makes us one of the most trusted strategic partners in the UK.
Also, our primary driver is the customer, not commercials – that is, we ensure we give the best deals to our customers, which is why they’ll come back again and again; it’s not about the highest factor rate equals highest commission.
Amy Jones: “365 Business Finance really don’t stipulate a monthly minimum repayment amount?”
We never do! The beauty of a merchant cash advance with 365 Business Finance is that repayments truly align with the client’s performance and cash flow. We’re one of the only merchant cash advance providers that don’t apply a monthly minimum repayment.
What’s your thoughts on the future of fintech and the alternative finance market?
Chris Thorne: Without a doubt, the alternative finance market in the UK is growing rapidly, and recent signs suggest record levels are here for the next few years.
I believe traditional banks are starting to revert to their pre-pandemic policy of not funding UK SMEs with working capital, which presents an even greater opportunity for 365 Business Finance, as we are willing to help these SMEs by providing immediate capital.
Continued development of digital products and processes will drive faster funding, although demand to speak to a person, and not a computer, remains. Also, given the disruptions caused by the pandemic, providing businesses with a fair deal and flexible repayment model is very important. The great news is that 365 Business Finance is equipped to support all of this!
Amy Jones: The alternative finance market has really highlighted the funding gap experienced by SMEs, mostly due to the banks not lending.
The alternative finance market has created more choice for business owners, offering different methods to raise the capital they need. I feel the demand for alternative finance will increase following the pandemic, as businesses are requiring flexible repayment methods. 365 Business Finance offer this flexibility, by taking repayments from a business only when a customer pays, which is a comfort to business owners during these uncertain times.
365 Business Finance have seen two record-breaking months following the pandemic, however this isn’t a surprise following the recent research conducted by Barclaycard, which stated ‘64% of SMEs are planning to invest in their business over the next 12 months’.
And, lastly, how did you personally overcome the challenges of the pandemic and extended lockdowns?
Chris Thorne: Simply by trying to keep busy – whether it be working my way through the outstanding list of DIY jobs my wife had been building for the last 5-10 years, or keeping abreast of any new developments within the cards and payments industry. Thankfully, I am a fairly positive person so thinking about ‘The New Norm’, and how best to maximise myself within it kept me busy – although, the lockdown over the winter had some tough days for sure.
Amy Jones: I kept very active during lockdown and joined a few of my Pilates instructor friends for virtual classes. When we were allowed to venture out, we did a few staycations with our dog Frank and started to really appreciate the beauty of the UK coast line and countryside.