Brokers will play a key role in helping retail, hospitality and other businesses make the most of the opening up of the economy as restrictions ease this April, according to Close Brothers Premium Finance (CBPF). Elliott Hayes, head of corporate at CBPF, which partners over 1600 brokers in the UK and Ireland, said many businesses will need regular communication and guidance from brokers on health and safety, risk management, legal and regulatory requirements that vary from sector to sector.
“If you’re in hospitality, you’ll be preparing for the easing of restrictions by looking at your supply chain, capacity and financial resilience, as well as your own staff resourcing and health & safety.”
“Brokers need to plan ahead with their clients, especially if, for example, the business is mulling whether to go back to its original model or continuing to offer a take-out service.”
Elliott said other priorities include brokers being able to give the right advice to clients that have been invested in technology during the pandemic, because the move into the digital world brings additional cyber threats and issues around data protection.
“Their plans will impact their risk profile and brokers have a pivotal role to play. Are their business continuity plans correct, current and appropriate?”
GROWTH NEEDS FUNDING
Elliott said that brokers should also prepare their own teams for a big increase in inquiries and workload.
“Many brokers will have been upskilling and resourcing their teams during the last 12 months, to ensure they have the right skills to advise their clients. The client comes first but brokers need to look after their own houses too.”
He said the move to a new working environment has consigned traditional 100% office-based broking to history, and opened up the labour market. “Hybrid or home working opens up recruitment opportunities. As there is no need to be in the office, brokers have a much wider pool of talent to recruit from.”
Elliott noted that if the UK and Irish economies rebound as hoped, businesses will be investing again, and this created a new option for premium finance.
“Premium finance enables businesses to preserve their capital for investment if working capital is going to be important, otherwise it will be tied up in insurance expenditure.”
He said: “Corporates that spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on insurance can benefit by spreading their premium payments. Throughout the pandemic, we have maintained our focus on supporting mutual clients. Brokers should be reassured that we have not significantly changed our credit appetite.”
He added: “We have not altered our lending criteria particularly and we have not barred certain sectors from credit. Brokers need to know that their finance provider can support them through the cycle.”
Elliott concluded: “broker communications with clients have generally been excellent during the past year. Now, as the economy stands on the threshold of an exciting phase of renewed growth, broking must shift focus.”
“From staying resilient in lockdown, brokers need to change gear and do their bit to bring about a full recovery in 2021.”