Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Simon Lenney from Yorkshire Bank on creating cohesion

Yorkshire Bank is “open for business” according to Simon Lenney, managing partner of the banks Financial Solutions Centre in Newcastle.

This news may come as a surprise to many, especially after recent reports that the Merlin scheme was failing to meet its targets for SME lending. However,Yorkshire Bank decided to go their own way, and a subsidiary of National Australia Bank, they decided to set up the Business for Growth Initiative.

This scheme allows businesses to take loan repayment holidays, interest only repayment and extended loan and credit terms, all to boost their business – and eventually the wider economy. Simon is undoubtedly very proud of the scheme:

“We recently ffulfilled our two-year promise to make £10bn of new lending to business and mortgage customers in advance of our deadline,” he explains.

Indeed, the bank is keen to market itself as the bank for small business, and have developed practices to support those who have their desired clientele.

“We have also integrated our small business banking team into our mid-corporate team to create one area within the bank which looks after all sizes of business.”

“On a local level, this means we can support micro new-starts through to corporate SMEs with a £50m turnover. And we have grown the team to help with this process.”

As well as providing the right type of support, Simon hopes that these practices will restore transparency and trust to the banking system, and will allow Yorkshire Bank to build strong relations with its clients.

“In order to make the most of the banking relationship, customers need to be honest about what’s going on and vice versa,” he continued. “Preparation is the key to getting support. If the Banks are presented with well-thought out, detailed business plans, it makes the process much simpler for everyone involved.”

“Equally if a business tells us early that there is going to be an issue, we can provide help and support.”

As well as working with their clients, Yorkshire Bank is also looking to culture a united front with other professional services in order to improve the business support they provide.

“Yorkshire Bank takes a cohesive approach and, ultimately, the banks need advocates to spread that message, like accountants or solicitors,” Simon stresses.

As well as professional services, he is also calling on those managing funds and holding years of experience in business to come forward and share their knowledge with those who are just starting out.

He continued: “At the smaller end of the market, investors, business angels and equity providers are not playing as big a part as we would like them to but increasing numbers are coming from London and the North East.”

“It would also be good to see more non-executive directors coming forward as their expertise can have a massive impact.

“They are also generally free of charge for the first few months and, after that there is the possibility that they will become an investor.”

Simon hails from the region himself, and through witnessing the strong ideas of the businesses he works with and the regions desire to succeed, he has a strong belief that the North East will successfully come through this difficult economic time.

“The bank is trying to be supportive of the businesses they’ve got – we’ve taken on 30 good-quality SME connections during the last 12 months, and are providing good-packaged lending to them,” he concluded.

“I’m North East born and bred and, if you go back 25 years, we’ve seen it all – the demise of coal mining and ship building, but the resilience and adaptability of the workforce has helped us to bounce back time and time again.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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