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Colin Aubrey

Colin Aubrey on lending acumen to be banked on

By Colin Aubrey

Founder, Money 4 Business

In a career that has cultivated three decades of experience in the industry; the business finance merits of Colin Aubrey include working capital, term finance and equity funding.

After over 20 years working with Barclays, and inspired by his entrepreneurial business clients, Colin established Money 4 Business from his extensive knowledge of banking. Today, alongside affiliated company Main Finance he has a wealth of experience and access to tier one and secondary lenders.

Here, the respected commercial finance broker, extolls the virtues of the banks whilst also advocating the place in the market for new lenders in a current climate unfamiliar to both traditional and modern lenders.

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How do you stay ahead of the game and maintain your high level of insight into the financial industry?

I talk to broker managers constantly and just find out what's going on. What's most important for me is knowing who is actually wanting to lend and what their policies are. I absolutely have to know what's going on for my clients benefit.

I deal mainly with banks because that's my background, but I also have many contacts with secondary, specialist and private lenders. I also deal with invoice finance and asset finance, so there's a whole myriad of different funding options. As I say, I have to know what lenders’ policies are and what their appetite is all the time.

I also network a lot and the Old Bond Store plays a part in that; it has definitely helped with new business contacts - the whole concept is just fantastic.

How has the world of banking evolved throughout your career?

When I left Barclays in January 2000, it was really only banks lending money. Since then, secondary lenders have come into play as well as peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding. This whole new wave of potential lenders has hit the market and so the banks have really got to fight for their business.

More recently, of course, coronavirus has affected the industry and prompted the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (helping businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £5 million) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (enabling smaller businesses to access up to £50,000). The repayments on those loans don’t start until next year after an interest free period, so in 2021 we’re likely to see people wanting to refinance and maybe borrow further to accelerate their business plans.

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"People who take a project, believe in it, put their heart and soul into it and get the reward of seeing what they’ve built come into fruition: that's what I find inspiring."

How has this emergence of new avenues for funding had an impact on the market?

It’s great that the banks have been challenged. I’m an advocate of banks, they’re very important for the whole economy and keeping everything going. They are often cheaper, their interest rates are slightly lower, and they can be more flexible. But they take quite a while to assess an application and it can be a bit cumbersome for the client. Secondary lenders can move much faster. With the right management they can complement each other, e.g. bridging finance to quickly secure a purchase, then ‘replace’ that with structured finance for the longer term.

Given the current climate of 2020, how do you feel about the future of lending for businesses?

I remain very optimistic. The banks are developing. They’ve stepped up and the bounce back loans are supporting many small businesses. In 2021, as businesses come out of this present predicament, they’re potentially going to struggle and I think the banks and other lenders will be there to support them.

Is there someone who inspires you?

It’s not really one person, it’s business owners in general. People who take a project, believe in it, put their heart and soul into it and get the reward of seeing what they’ve built come into fruition. That’s what gave me the impetus to leave the bank, that’s what I find inspiring.

"This whole new wave of potential lenders has hit the market and so the banks have really got to fight for their business."

Founder, Money 4 Business

When working in what can be quite a challenging sector, how do you achieve a work-life balance?

I meet up with friends frequently. I’m passionate about golf and play regularly.

I have three children and four grandchildren. Two of my daughters are accountants and the third has just started her own dog grooming business, which will be a huge success as she is so passionate about animals and has a great business head on her shoulders – they keep me grounded.

What is your most pleasing achievement in Money 4 Business to date?

There are two main ones:

I helped a client secure a much sought-after part commercial, part residential property purchase by coming up with a creative funding solution, necessitating a three-way title split and two different lenders.

I was instrumental in saving a client £56k with a high-street bank; I helped him with court action the bank took against him and subsequent negotiations for a full and final settlement (as this demonstrates, I have experience of the legal aspects of finance and industry knowledge to help all parties achieve mutually beneficial outcomes).