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It is interesting looking back at 2010. Late in 2009 a lot of people were hoping that we see a return to normality, not just in the invoice finance market but also in the world at large. I think that I was one of those people and possibly more in blind optimism I thought that we would start the year and be very busy.

The year got off to a very slowly start as the snow only served to compound the hangover from Christmas and the doom and gloom from 2009. From there I heard various excuses as I spoke to people through the year including pre budget and post budget caution, pre-election and post election caution, let’s not forget the volcanic dust cloud, the build up to the world cup, the world cup (I was there and wish I could forget it) and the post world cup blues. However, we saw a big increase in inquiries after August – maybe it is the pre Ashes optimism!! Who knows.

Looking more specifically at the invoice finance market I think we have seen a fairly interesting year. We have seen acquisitions and possibly some unexpected ones – the Ultimate takeover of Ashley is one that springs to mind. On top of that we have seen the launch of some new players such as Innovation Finance and Team Factors who will hopefully prosper. I also think we have seen a new look Hitachi in the market place who are fairly vanilla in terms of appetite but their pricing is aggressive enough for the banks to worry and they have deep pockets and good service levels to go with it which can only be good for the end customer. We have seen the rebranding of Cattles to Absolute Invoice Finance and then rebrand again as Aldermore Invoice Finance – part of the UK’s newest bank. Importantly we have seen lenders return to the market and genuinely compete on price which again is good for clients.

From a personal perspective as a broker the year has been a good one and we have strengthened some relationships, initiated others and it would be fair to say we have cooled some off. Good relationships with invoice factoring companies is important to our businesses for a number of reasons. It allows us to understand the criteria and capabilities of those lenders which means we can place clients with them safe in the knowledge the client will be happy. This is our ultimate goal. We have lenders who share this mindset and as such we have developed longstanding relationships with them. Some new lenders have been a real revelation and we have been delighted to form working relationships with them – these would include IGF Invoice Finance, Hitachi and Partnership Finance. The flip side to this unfortunately are the lenders where we have cooled things off or in some instances cut ties altogether. We have discovered some fairly unsavoury practices by one lender this year and as such have chosen not to deal with them going forward. Another lender has caused a huge amount of e-mail traffic in complaints as they simply refuse to communicate with clients and as such we have cooled things down.

We remain focused on developing long term relationships with clients and our aim is to find them the best possible invoice finance provider to meet their circumstances. We help to structure the best possible facility and explain all costs and obligations so an informed decision can be made.

I was thinking of writing some predictions for 2011 but I fear more uncertainty ahead so I will save my blushes!!

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