Nick Smith, group sales and marketing director at Reward Finance, speaks to Saad Ahmed about his equity stake, Reward Finance’s plans and projections, and how the company intends to develop
There is more growth coming in the alternative finance sector. What we are doing here is short and medium-term funding solutions,” Reward Finance’s Nick Smith tells Leasing Life. “You can not walk into a bank any more and get a facility, or an overdraft, or any kind of borrowing in the short term and get a decision quickly.”
Smith joined Reward Finance from Ultimate Finance in 2016, and was appointed group sales and marketing director. He says the withdrawal of mainstream banks from some aspects of lending opened up significant opportunities in the alternative finance space where Reward operates.
“The opportunity in our sector of the market is huge because the mainstream banks left it seven or eight years ago, and they have never come back,” he says. “And I do not think they will come back.”
Smith recently gained a stake in Reward Finance as part of a partial management buy-in, which saw him draw equal with Tom Flannery and David Jones, its joint managing directors, in terms of equity.
“The incumbent management at the time were keen to get another shareholder involved as part of the development of the business long term,” he says.
In Reward Finance’s annual results, the provider reported income growth of 14% to £7.56m, and a 25% increase in loan growth, both over the year to February 2017. Smith says a greater sales presence was a key reason for Reward’s growth.
“A greater sales presence and a proactive sales presence in our traditional market, which has been primarily Yorkshire and the North East, and our Manchester office coming on board more,” he says. “The Manchester office’s contribution has been more considerable the last 12 months than it has been previously.”
Smith also says recruitment helped to drive the growth, and he was able to bring some business and recruiters with him when he joined Reward Finance.
He explains that Reward has also changed its strategy, adding: “We’re trying to raise awareness of what we do because there is a genuine need, identified through our results, for our product.”
Reward Finance has many plans for the rest of 2017, says Smith, including driving more business from its Manchester office.
“We have just recruited another person to work in our North West office in Manchester, so that will enable us to start managing clients out of that office as well,” he says. “We have historically run all the clients out of Leeds, so we are starting to spread, geographically.”
Reward is also seeking to further increase its staff numbers in Manchester, and overall increase its focus on sales. Smith adds that widening its network of intermediaries is another main focus for Reward Finance.
Smith notes that Reward Finance is also looking to the future. “We need to bring the next generation of people through.
“How do we keep on our game? Doing what we do well and continue to do that, but at the same time, try and bring in new intermediaries, bring in new channels such as social media, and more direct marketing.”