ALTHOUGH the days of turning to your local bank manager when your business needs additional financial support are pretty much a thing of the past - the alternative means of raising funds is more varied and creative than ever.
But changing approaches to finance mean that the services of an experienced and knowledgeable broker are more important than ever and a whole-of-market approach ensures that business looking to fund growth, consolidate or develop new projects have access to all avenues in terms of the potential funding available.
After a successful career in the financial sector, including for HBOS, Lloyds and HSBC, Matt Mander has moved away from the corporate world and into brokerage - working with businesses to meet their needs, whether that's via property investment or development, working capital or assets, and ensuring every client gets his individual attention.
Matt said: "Working as a broker means that you can focus on clients' needs in a way that you can't always do when you're working for a large corporate, and I find there are very few people who come to me that I can't help in some way.
"There are around 450 funders out there, not just banks but pension funds and private investors and of those, I deal directly with some 60 or 70 that I've got to know and built good relationships with, and who I believe offer the right approach for my clients. They cover a wide catchment, from high street lenders to more expensive funders, but it is a good selection across the whole of the market.
"It's impossible to deal with the complete range of lenders, but having that selection that I work closely with means that if I can't find the solution my client is looking for and do need to widen the search, the network is in place to advise on where to look and who to approach."
For businesses looking for finance, calling on the services of a broker is a must. Direct contact with a lot of less mainstream lenders is virtually impossible, and the advice and experience a broker is able to provide is invaluable.
The input of someone like Matt provides not on a conduit through which finance can be sourced and arranged, but it also gives the client a single point of contact rather than trying to deal with call centres or branch staff at high street banks, which often take a very different view on lending these days.
"It used to be the case that business owners would meet and build a relationship with their bank manager," said Matt. "The bank manager would know about the business and how it operated and be able to advise and make decisions based on that relationship. That is increasingly rare these days and for a smaller business looking for finance it can mean a long and frustrating process trying to work out where to go and who best to speak to.
"Funders' appetites change and my role is to keep up with that and know which ones to select that are likely to agree to a deal."
Matt spends on average around an hour in discussion with clients, getting to know about their business and their funding needs. From there, he will approach lenders to get some agreement in principle before taking the offer back to the client.
"When sourcing finance a lot of businesspeople find they don't know what to say, they're maybe afraid of saying the wrong thing and putting a lender off, and so an intermediary with a good working knowledge of funding is invaluable," said Matt. "Once a lender is on board the client then knows roughly what they are going to get in terms of funding, although that can change as the specifics of the deal are worked out. I'll be their point of contact throughout that process, so they can leave it in my hands and, in most cases, get the finance they need to take their business forward."