Recently we had the opportunity to sit down with Andrew Burley, UK Country Manager, responsible for UK client activity. Previously, Andrew was Managing Director of Bank of Tokyo, Mitsubishi Global Markets Division in London. Andrew is an Economics Graduate and has held director and sales leadership roles at a number of Tier 1 Financial Institutions.

With a career spanning more than 20 years in commercial and investment banking, Andrew offers a wealth of experience to Ebury’s clients. Here is what Andrew had to say!

How was 2015 for Ebury and for the alternative lending industry?
2015 was a great year for Ebury. Not only did we announce a funding round of $83 million led by Vitruvian Partners and existing investor 83North, one of the largest single FinTech investments in Europe this year, we also passed the threshold of 10,000 businesses using our flexible funding and tailored currency services. This is a huge achievement and something of which we’re very proud.

Both milestones mark an increasing interest in and reliance on the alternative lending industry by UK businesses.

What are some tips you can give to an SME looking for funding?

  • Look beyond traditional sources of finance – Your bank, while holding your accounts and allowing day-to-day transactions, may not offer the flexibility and responsiveness you need to pursue global growth.
  • Consider how convenient it will be to access the finance after approval – Having a large credit facility is only valuable so long as it is accessible to your business as and when you need it.
  • If funding is provided for business overseas, consider how the finance provider deals with currency fluctuations – Ask how fluctuations in the currency markets may affect your costs and how that risk is managed.
  • Consider not only how long you have to repay but also if they can be flexible for quicker than expected repayments – Make sure to avoid extra charges for changes to the payment schedule.

What is the biggest misconception small business owners have when it comes to alternative funding?
The biggest misconception is that alternative funding is a second-rate option, simply picking up the slack from the banks and only necessary as a last resort. This is partially due to the term ‘alternative’ but the ‘secondary’ nature significantly undermines the innovative and disruptive role these financiers are playing in the SME lending landscape. Instead of being ‘secondary’ to the banks, these financiers are substantial and serious rivals, providing SMEs with an increased level of choice.

What makes Ebury stand out from other competitors in the market?
We make it easy for SMEs by having an online application process, online trading platform and fast decision-making. What banks do in months; we do in days. Simply put, we offer a very streamlined, easy and transparent international trade service.

When combined, our services tackle all the financial challenges SMEs face when growing internationally:

  • Access to 140+ currencies.
  • Tailored risk management solutions, typically not on offer to SMEs via their banks.
  • Business funding of up to £1m for up to 150 days.
  • Fund distribution, for effective cash management through multi-payment and pre-paid card solutions.

We also invest heavily in technology to provide digital financial services. Our entire operation is cloud based and location-agnostic, which is a key differentiator and enables us to sustain our rapid growth.

 What is your vision when it comes to alternative finance?
Our vision is for alternative finance to no longer be considered secondary to the traditional banking model, but to increasingly see businesses coming direct to these sources of finance. We’re already seeing it happen, the value of FinTech funding solutions is being noticed by the business community and we’re on the brink of making real change, as a business and as part of the alternative finance sector.

What do you think 2016 holds for Ebury and the alternative lending space?
In 2016 we will be consolidating our business lending offering, reaching out to more UK businesses in need of our services. We will also be expanding our scope as we work with businesses across Europe and the world.