Last Thursday HM Treasury, acting on the advice of the British Business Bank, announced its intention to appoint our longstanding client, Alternative Business Funding (ABF) as one of the Government’s designated finance platforms for the Bank Referral Scheme.
This was the conclusion of a huge amount of work by the ABF team that started in late 2014, when Adam Tavener, Chairman of Clifton Asset Management Plc (founder of ABF) was invited to an Innovators in Finance Summit at No 10. That day he proposed a radical shake-up of how banks dealt with their rejected SME credit applicants and how the alternative finance industry should respond to this to ensure best outcomes for Britain’s SMEs.
Rather rapidly, Adam’s proposal led to a government consultation (announced by the then Chancellor, George Osborne), and within a matter of months, it formed the basis of the bank referrals legislation contained in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.
We’ve worked closed with the ABF marketing team and supported from the sidelines with ensuring that ABF’s views, recommendations and developments were taken to a wider business and political audience. As a result, we made the finals of the CIPR PRide 2014 awards for the PR campaign leading up to the consultation. Following the news last Thursday, we had a quick look back at our award entry. Now three years old, it reminded us what can be achieved in such a short space of time. Here are just a few highlights:
- On ABF’s launch day, the then Business Secretary Vince Cable told a prestigious finance industry audience: “the launch of a portal (ABF) that redirects people who are turned down by one lender is an advance.”
- Within three weeks, media coverage about the portal and the issue of alternative funding referrals reached a combined circulation of 145million. The most prominent national SME pages/portals featured the story. The Times featured it three times in the first week.
- The portal gained widespread recognition from key influencer groups like the CBI, BIS (Vince Cable) etc.
As a result of the above, the portal received over 10,000 unique visitors in its first month.
Fast forward back to August 2017, and it really is great news that as a designated finance platform, ABF will soon be referred small businesses struggling to access finance from nine of the UK’s biggest banks alongside three other designated finance platforms.
As Adam (Tavener) concluded in the official press announcement last week: “designation seems like the end of a chapter in this journey, and the start of a new one.”
We can’t help thinking that this is also the end of a PR chapter, and we’re also about to start a new one…