It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with Business Durham on their Finance Intermediary Project. I have had the opportunity to meet many key representatives from the Accounting and Legal professional firms in the region and to see the beginnings of a collaborative network taking root.
The Business Durham leadership team recognises that the achievement of long term economic growth within Durham County, depends on fostering more business start-ups, nurturing more start-ups to the stage of becoming sustainable businesses and supporting ambitious entrepreneurs to achieve realistic high-growth potential.
Successful businesses thrive where they operate within an “enabling” environment that facilitates links to strong networks and efficient access to finance, skills and other resources.
Business Durham has already established numerous successful networks and regular well attended networking events across the County. Its broader support functions are able to offer front line assistance as well as being able to “signpost” businesses to a wide range of services.
The Finance Intermediary Project, as it name suggests, was specifically focused on the regional, professional finance, accounting and legal firms, working with local businesses. The core aim being to encourage wider discussion about business growth and access to finance and to develop professional links to facilitate and develop these discussions.
The project objectives included gaining a better understanding of
- the level of corporate finance activity carried out by regional firms
- the extent of knowledge of available regional and national finance products
- the personal links with regional finance providers
- the views held by these professionals regarding the issues around “access to finance”.
Why are these issues relevant to Business Durham in particular?
…. Because……. there is a significant amount of finance available for investment – specifically earmarked for businesses operating in Durham County - in addition to an extensive and everchanging array of finance products in the wider market.
Business Durham has supported the creation of a £20million pound “ever green” fund for investment into Durham based businesses. This fund is already launched and is open for applications.
The NorthEast LEP will also shortly be launching a new set of investment funds and looking to place a large % of these funds into Durham based businesses.
In order to apply for these funds and successfully secure investment through these funds, both businesses and their advisors, need to understand the broad investment criteria of the funds and how best to prepare a persuasive investment proposition to the fund managers.
There is no shortage of finance or funding products available to businesses - the complexity arises from the fact that there are numerous products and finance providers in the market.
Raising finance takes time and the more desperately a business needs finance, the more difficult it is to secure an optimal finance solution. The accounting community is ideally placed as “trusted advisors” to their clients – to identify growth potential and cashflow deficits - to provide strategic financial support at the right time and to assist their clients select the finance products that are best for their business.
During the Finance Intermediary Project, I organised a number of events around County Durham. They were aimed at the professional community and aimed at introducing them to each other and to some of the funding sources available. The first event looked at Corporate Finance as a specific service offer within a professional accounting firm. This was supported by the Corporate Finance Faculty within the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales. The later events included discussions around different types of debt products and their providers, followed by presentations regional fund managers, introducing a range of both debt and equity products.
We would like to keep the momentum going and continue to develop the conversations that have started.
Business Durham is perfectly positioned to take a leading role in facilitating the dialogue but would like to work in partnership with the professional advisory community and businesses.
We will be keeping in touch with all who have participated in the events and would be delighted to hear your opinions and ideas for taking forward this initiative.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Any professional finance, accounting and legal firms in County Durham that would like to be involved in the partnership and further discussions around finance can contact Joan at: firstname.lastname@example.org