- 19 Aug
What's Happening At Optimum Finance? We Spoke To Richard Pepler, CEO.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Richard Pepler, the CEO of Optimum Finance, to discuss developments within the invoice finance sector, and the record results that their business has achieved recently.
Interview With Richard Pepler CEO Of Optimum Finance
Glenn: What is the new technology that you have just launched at Optimum Finance?
Richard: The biggest product innovation that we have recently developed is an app that will approve new prospective invoice finance customers facilities, automatically within a few minutes.
We also remain the only invoice finance company to allow customers to digitally sign the documents when they take out a facility - removing the need for additional meetings.
Glenn: What future innovation do you have planned?
Richard: Our plan is to develop our onboarding process further, so that new clients can be taken on using a fully automated process.
The app was in part a test to prove that the process would work. It has proven successful, and confirmed that customer see a benefit from this kind of rapid decision-making.
Several of the intermediaries that we work with, are working on embedding our app into their own systems, so that customers can access this rapid decision-making via our intermediaries platforms.
Glenn: Where else are Optimum winning at the moment?
Richard: We are ahead of our new business budget which is largely due to the strength of the team that we have.
Many of the staff that I have, worked with me at previous factoring companies, so they have a great deal of experience within the sector and they understand our clients. We all speak the same language as the clients, we are entrepreneurs rather than just finance people, so we can empathise with our clients.
We have built up a portfolio of 150 clients now, which we retain due to the strength of the relationship with them. We have cut away all the red tape that clients may have experienced with our competitors so that we tend to convert all of the leads that we come across.
Glenn: Are you acquiring new business from your competitors?
Richard: One of the biggest issues that we see is customers looking to switch providers, often due to the amount of red tape that they are experiencing with their existing funder. We have tended to acquire customers where their previous provider has had a lack of understanding of their business, which can often lead to knee-jerk reactions when a customer experiences trading problems.
Typically other providers see a client having a poor time trading, and they will haul in the reins, further restricting the client's cash flow - making the problem worse. If our customers have an issue we help them through it. It's a hand holding process where we can guide our clients, as we are business people.
The advantage is that we get our customers through such problems, rather than reduce their prepayments and ask them to leave! We stay close to our clients, we might provide more funding, and we help them develop by working in partnership. This has been our philosophy for a long time .
Customers have trading problems, for example a death in the family or the loss of a big customer. It is to easy for a funder to blame the client, register a breach of the facility, and look to exit.
We take a more affable approach, appreciating the fact that life as an SME can be difficult, and working in partnership with them will add value.
Glenn: How do you see the future developing for Optimum Finance?
Richard: The future is about embracing technology. Any invoice finance provider that is not embracing the developments in technology, will not survive. Leading edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, and machine learning, will be key to automating the processes of underwriting and on-boarding invoice finance customers. Invoice financiers that have not leveraged technology will simply end up going out of business.
Our approach is not to ignore the requirement for due diligence in the funding process, as we have seen with some selective invoice finance companies. Instead we are looking to use technology to make those robust due diligence processes run as smoothly as possible.
We have taken on a chief technology officer to develop the implementation of such technology within our company. Whilst we are one of the youngest companies within the market, we are doing as much, if not more than anyone else.
Glenn: Lastly, what impact are you seeing from Brexit?
Richard: Whilst I'm not sure it is solely as a result of Brexit, we have seen decision-making amongst SMEs becoming slower. There seems to be a general feeling of people being demoralised and demotivated, which is in part due to politicians fighting over Brexit.
We are working hard at Optimum Finance to provide the liquidity to our clients that will help them continue to grow, and cope with any uncertainty.
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