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An alternative route to success

"Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) now have more potential funding options to choose from than ever before, but with numerous alternative funders, each offering something different, choosing the right funder is a crucial decision and one that can pay dividends in future,” according to Gary Guest, FW Capital’s Fund Manager in the North West.

“We encourage businesses not to make snap decisions about what funding they may need. Making the right choice could not only help smooth the growth path, but also alleviate problems raising funds in the future,” he adds.

With 3 offices in the North West, FW Capital manages The North West Fund for Loans Plus, which is financed jointly by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.

Since the fund’s launch in 2011, FW Capital has adopted a flexible, collaborative approach to ensuring that the region’s SMEs get funding packages that work for them now as well as in the long-term.

“From the outset, we’ve worked with businesses, their advisers and other funders to come up with the right finance packages,” Guest continues. “There’s no blue-print to growing a business successfully.

It takes a long-term perspective as well as a great deal of tenacity and ingenuity. That’s why FW Capital offers flexibility, with interest-only periods and variable loan terms.” Guest and his 11-strong team have so far lent over £35m to nearly 200 established SMEs in the North West and he believes that a flexible, collaborative approach has given FW Capital a greater insight

into the businesses it has backed as well as other funders’ risk appetite and credit policies.

“We’re here to back businesses, help them to create and safeguard jobs and increase their contribution to the economy of the North West,” he points out. “Flexibility is key to achieving this goal. If a business has grown successfully with our backing and is in a position to secure more traditional funding at a better price, we’ll encourage this and won’t tie it to the full loan term.”

Guest also believes that FW Capital’s alternative approach has resulted in some real success

stories: 22 of the businesses the loan fund has backed have exceeded their financial expectations and repaid early.

A number of star performers in its portfolio have also seen their turnovers double or even triple. “When we assess a loan application we’re looking for a strong management team as well as robust financials and a credible business plan,” Guest concludes.

“We’re focused on the future viability, long-term success and economic impact of the businesses we invest in and we believe that businesses can best achieve this with a well-structured finance package.”