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I have written here previously about the losses suffered by peer to peer lenders Assetz Capital and Archover due to the actions of Mark Runiewicz. The article can be read here.

The peer to peer lenders provided Marks businesses, UK Exim Limited and UK Exim Finance Limited with funds that were to be used to support SME’s with trade finance facilities. In summary, it appears that Mark lent money to a business called Packaged Water Limited that was owned by his partner Mary McErlain. The lenders suffered multi million pound losses and Archover described it as a fraud.

After a petition for the bankruptcy of Mark Runiewicz put forward by Assetz Capital, Mr Runiewicz was declared bankrupt at the County Court in Birmingham on 19 January 2021. The bankruptcy order can be seen here

People within the business finance community have advised that Mark Runiewicz is still advising businesses on transactions and he seems to be still employed at Convertibill. He was operating via SC Advisors Limited where he was described as ‘Principal Consultant’

 

 

The Car and Van Specialists.

 

We are delighted to announce the opening of Just Leasing Limited. The business will focus on providing leasing solutions to businesses and individuals. The focus will be on achieving competitive pricing while providing a human touch with excellent service.

Just Leasing Limited will have an experienced sales team.

If you want to know more please visit www.just-leasing.co.uk

 

 

 

‘Bank Forged my signature then told me to pay £1.2m’

This is the headline of an article in the Sunday Times on March 14th, 2021. The article can be read here

 

In summary, a high court judge found that Aldermore Bank had tried to enforce a personal guarantee that was not genuine. The Sunday Times advise that a High Court judge found that Lynch’s signature on the guarantee was not genuine, but “signed by a person at the bank”.

 

Roderick Lynch had entered in to an invoice finance agreement with Aldermore. His business, Ruskin Private Hire, provided transport for disabled children and vulnerable adults in London.

 

Mr Lynch was made bankrupt.

 

Aldermore were ordered to pay Lynch’s court costs estimated to be £430,000. Lynch claims that this was because Aldermore pursued him under the forged personal guarantee.

 

In my opinion, this fits in with many instances of poor behavior from Aldermore and in particular their invoice finance arm. It has been written about previously on this forum and can be viewed here There seems to be a common theme of not supporting businesses, profiteering when they can and rushing in to deals that they don’t understand. In rushing in to deals that they perhaps don’t understand, the consequence for their clients can be severe. This seems to be demonstrated with the failure of Ruskin Private Hire and the bankruptcy of Roderick Lynch. Another example of this lies in the registered charges against Canute Haulage Group Limited. You can see Aldermore made an entrance with an invoice finance facility which they quickly pulled. Sadly, the disruption caused to the business likely contributed to it’s ultimate demise, in my opinion.

 

Take a look at some of their Trustpilot Reviews – click here

 

You may recall our previous story about UK Exim Limited and UK Exim Finance. The businesses owed millions to Assetz Capital and Archover respectively.

 

There was an article in the Telegraph about how Mark Runiewicz provided funding via these businesses to a business called Packaged Water Limited which was run by his partner Mary McErlain. The article can be reviewed here: https://pressreader.com/article/281642487623557

 

The administrators progress report for UK Exim Limited filed on 28th September 2020 shows a total shortfall of over £5.5m with over £2.4m of that due to Assetz Capital. You can see the report here: Administrator’s Progress Report

 

Mark Runiewicz and Mary McErlain continue to work together at SC Advisors. Given the potential fraud with UK Exim, UK Exim Finance, Packaged Water and the losses suffered by lenders it is interesting that Mark and Mary continue to work together to advise businesses. They advise that their business, “advises SME companies by arranging funding through the whole supply chain”.

 

Archover describe what happened as a fraud. In a response to an investor on a TrustPilot review, they advise, “The company you refer to is UK EXIM Finance (UEF) not EXIM. The company was not introduced by our parent company. As you are well aware this fraud has affected a number of other lenders as well as ArchOver but our monitoring team was the first to uncover it. UEF had been a legitimate borrower for a number of years until this year. As you are aware from the multiple updates from ArchOver we are pursuing a wide range of avenues for recovery with the full support of Hampden Group, who themselves are also exposed as a lender in UEF.”

 

It will be interesting to see what further action Assetz Capital and Archover take in these matters. It will also be interesting to see what the final outcome is in terms of recovery with UK Exim Finance Limited. The Administrators progress report can be viewed here: Administrator’s Progress Report

 

In summary it advises that at the date of appointment, UK Exim Finance Limited owed £4.74m to Archover. It goes on to say that Archover will “suffer a substantial shortfall”. There is a move to liquidate the business so it will be interesting to see what the final shortfall is. It would appear that Archover may have moved the debt into a separate SPV company and it would appear that they have made some progress in recovering some of the funds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are supplying staff via GRI you may struggle to find funding for your invoices. The good new is that the team at Funding Solutions can help you. Call on 0845 251 4040

 

GRI provide a great opportunity for agencies to benefit from large contracts. This means they can grow their business rapidly. However, it can present a cash flow challenge. If you are unable to access invoice discounting against those GRI invoices it may mean that you can’t take on the business. It is disappointing to walk away from such an opportunity.

Invoice discounting allows you to access up to 90% of the gross value of the invoices that you issue. This provides a flexible source of working capital that allows you to pay wages on time.

It may be that there are other types of invoice finance available that are better suited to your needs. This could be factoring where the lender undertakes credit control on your behalf. A similar solution is a CHOC’s facility where you undertake the credit control yourself.

Another option could be a full back office solution that includes finance, credit control and payroll. This is a fully outsourced solution that allows you as an agency to focus on sales and delivery.

It is interesting that the Domiciliary Care industry provide support to clients through at-home social and nursing care. This can relate to care provided for physical support, mental health, sensory impairment, learning disabilities and memory problems, as well as cognitive support. The industry primarily caters to local councils and state-funded individuals, both of which are funded by public sector tax receipts. However, demand for private provision has been growing over the past five years. Over the five years through 2019-20, industry revenue is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 2.8% to reach £4.7 billion.

 

 

There is an interesting article in the Telegraph from 2 October 2020. Their business section has an article by Rachel Millard titled, “Peer-to-peer lenders face huge losses after bet on Yorkshire coal mine”

Personally, I am not sure that the headline really does the case justice but it describes multi million pound losses for Archover and Assetz Capital. There may also be losses for other lenders to these companies. The losses are attributed to the companies of Mark Runiewicz and his business partner and co-director, Mary McErlain. What makes this more intriguing is that Mary would appear to be Mark’s wife or partner.

On the Trustpilot website Archover respond to a poor review by describing the problems that had faced with UK Exim Finance as a fraud. They said, “Thank you for reviewing ArchOver.

The company you refer to is UK EXIM Finance (UEF) not EXIM. The company was not introduced by our parent company.

As you are well aware this fraud has affected a number of other lenders as well as ArchOver but our monitoring team was the first to uncover it. UEF had been a legitimate borrower for a number of years until this year. As you are aware from the multiple updates from ArchOver we are pursuing a wide range of avenues for recovery with the full support of Hampden Group, who themselves are also exposed as a lender in UEF.”

The article in the Telegraph describes how businesses owned by Mark Runiewicz and his co director and business partner Mary McErlain failed owing millions to Peer to Peer lenders. The article in the Telegraph can be seen in the images below: (please click the image to see full size)

Convertibill are an Irish lending platform that are expanding in to the UK. They provide working capital finance against confirmed orders from credit worthy buyers and also against outstanding invoices.

As business finance brokers Funding Solutions UK Ltd have had a few dealing with Convertibill and it would be fair to say that they have not gone well. It would also be fair to say that we won’t be having any more dealings with them. I would question their honesty and integrity for a few reasons. Here is a brief description of some of our interactions:

We introduced a client who provided specialist type of marine funding. Convertibill signed an NDA as the client was worried that their product would be copied. Convertibill requested more and more information and the client was suspicious that they were merely trying to obtain information from them so they could copy their approach or learn more about how to fund this type of transaction. When the client raised this the enquiry was closed down and they refused to acknowledge the signed NDA. Patrick Reynolds CEO advised, “There is no NDA from June” and despite sending him a copy of the signed NDA he refused to acknowledge it. Our client is now taking legal advice.

We introduced another client who was looking to bridge an investment transaction that included funding from the Future Fund. Convertibill advised that they could help but that they required a £15,000 commitment fee to start the process. The client paid the £15,000 and then asked if they could change the transaction. This request was the next day. Convertibill advised that they could no longer assist and that they had spent the £15,000 on legal fees and on securing the required funding. In my opinion this is a nonsense and is pure profiteering. Again, our client is taking legal advice.

As a finance broker I earn money from setting up finance facilities for my clients. I had referred a client to Mark Runiewicz of Convertibill and specifically request that he provided a stand alone trade/purchase finance facility for the client as they were happy with their invoice finance provider. Mark entered in to talks with the client and then introduced them to 3 invoice finance providers. These 3 lenders were Skipton Business Finance, Optimum Finance and Gener8. We were never advised of this by Mark but they client alerted us to this. Strangely, Mark then claimed that Convertibill had now started to fund against debtors and that they would fund the full transaction. It is my opinion that Mark was trying to broker this invoice finance requirement for himself. With one lender I checked with the lead was logged in the name of Mark’s business SC Advisors Limited who would have received the commission had the transaction completed. Putting our situation to one side it seems strange that Mark is employed by Convertibill but is introducing an invoice finance requirement to other lenders. Even more strange when you consider that is what we do as a business!! Market Finance were the incumbent invoice finance provider and they refused to work with Mark Runiewicz and Convertibill. At the time this seemed harsh to me but having done some investigation it appears they may have been concerned with Mark’s previous involvement with other P2P lenders via his business UK Exim Finance Limited and UK Exim Limited. The information at Companies House would suggest that these relationships did not end well. Type these business names in to Google and look at the filing history at Companies House. It appears that lenders lost money and a significant amount due the activities of these businesses.

Something really doesn’t feel right about Convertibill. My advice would be to proceed with extreme caution. Arguably, there are other options out there so maybe explore those.

If you are reading this as a fellow business finance broker I would also proceed with extreme caution. There are questions about how client introductions are handled but I also have reason to believe that they work hard to find ways not to pay broker commissions and may indeed pride themselves on their ability not to pay brokers. At a senior level within the business there seems to be a dislike for brokers and a willingness to find ways not to pay brokers the agreed fees.

Updated 5 October 2020.

 

I was approached by Convertibill and asked to take the post down. The initial conversation included a threat of legal action for libel if I did not take it down within 24 hours. With a view to learning more about their side of the story and as a gesture of goodwill I took the post down. However, whilst explanations were offered they did not change my opinion of what occurred. What I have posted is based on my honest opinion.

 

In addition, there has been an article published in the Telegraph on 2nd October 2020 about the businesses that Mark Runiewicz has run and the potential losses they have caused in the P2P lending sector. The articles are in the images below:

 

 

Aldermore Invoice Finance is the 2nd incarnation of Cattles Invoice Finance. Initially they rebranded as Absolute Invoice Finance and now as the invoice finance arm of Aldermore Bank.

The most startling observation of Aldermore has to be the staff turnover. It is simply astonishing. In speaking with a previous managing director prior to the IPO we were told that the executive team were targeted on recruitment and on expanding the sales team in certain areas. This focus on expansion seemed to override the focus on looking after existing staff and they were leaving in droves. Good people from the invoice finance industry were joining and leaving very quickly. Some were even resigning without having jobs to go to.

Another worrying observation was the number of recruits they took from RBS Invoice Finance. A large proportion were from RBS and this was a team that had arguably caused some real issues there. The extent of the problems were somewhat overshadowed by the near collapse of the overall banking organisation but there were specific issues within the invoice finance arm that caused the then MD to lose his job despite his recent arrival.

Having had dealing with Aldermore Invoice Finance I would question their honesty and customer service. I have seen a client that they refused to assist with an increased funding request try to exit the relationship. The relationship manager involved was very aggressive and this resulted in a formal complaint to both Aldermore Invoice Finance and Aldermore Bank including their CEO Philip Monk. Astonishingly the individual involved was named on the formal complaint acknowledgement letter as the individual that would be investigating the complaint. Unsurprisingly he concluded his investigation and advised he had not found any wrong doing. The client wanted to leave to go to another lender that would provide unrestricted funding of their debtor book. Aldermore charged a hefty termination fee which goes against what is advised by the ABFA Code of Conduct. The ‘Guidance to the ABFA Code’ it states:

“3.2.3 Where a client requests termination of a facility without the required or any period of notice, even though Members may not have any legal obligation to agree, they are encouraged to give reasonable consideration to such request, particularly where continuation of the facility may cause hardship to the client.”

The relationship manager advised verbally that he did not care about the ABFA Code of Conduct and they would do as they pleased. This seems to be common practice and I have one client who was arguably forced out of business by Aldermore’s termination fees.

In terms of honesty I have personally had issues with senior members of the Aldermore team in terms of how they have handled enquiries. It would appear that honesty is optional.

There was a case of a large haulage company that was with HSBC and needed a new funder. There were several large players involved and all looked at supporting the business to some degree. However, the Aldermore offer was far more aggressive. One lender had been there doing due diligence for 3 days and was advised that Aldermore had only taken 1 day on their due dilligence. Aldermore funded the deal in January and almost immediately withheld funding. They were aggressive with the management team of the business and ultimately forced them to leave in March. Sadly, arguably due the restricted funding implemented by Aldermore, the business went into administration in the May.

I think you would need to question the competence of Aldermore.

One of the biggest issues Aldermore Invoice Finance has is defining what deals or transactions they can support. They don’t seem to command a particular position in the market. You could argue that they are not particularly good at anything and are more of a generalist. This seems to impact on their ability to win deals in the market and also on their ability to service clients once they are on board.

They also took on board a team from another lender that specialises in construction finance. One of the senior team members, who still works there, is a convicted shoplifter.

If you have a requirement for invoice finance it is safe to say there will be better options in the market than Aldermore. Do your research, look at reviews and take advice.

If you would like to share your experience with Aldermore please feel free to comment.