With 1091 visitors and 884 exhibitors, the total number of attendees reached a new record high of 1975 people under one roof – Hall 3a at the NEC.
The NACFB combined three stands, one for each of our principal offerings to brokers; our training & education arm MyNACFB, our Compliance Experts at NACFB Compliance Services, and the Association itself. We also built a Members’ Lounge, a comfortable environment for brokers to talk business, and a place for us to sign up new members too.
There were four sessions in the Conference Theatre as well as a schedule of Meet the Expert events in a separate more informal area. Our Conferences covered topics such as The Changing Face of Buy-to-Let, What’s so Special about Specialist Lending, and Does my Office meet Professional Standards, plus an overview of what the NACFB has been doing so far in 2017, and a presentation on All Things Brexit.
On what was the hottest day of the year to date, exhibitors’ stands were specified to help suit-wearing delegates keep their cool, with two ice-cream stalls, freshly prepared mojitos and cucumber water dispensers. A putting-green attracted the golf fans, and there were free branded fidget spinners winning a whole new fanbase. So there was plenty of opportunity to unwind in between the networking opportunities, the business discussions and the seminars. But at root the Expo is all about business, and part of the reason we see so many visitors return year on year is for the chance to meet with some of the most influential individuals and companies in our industry. It’s still an unbeatable opportunity to pick the brains of your industry peers and get to know some of the faces behind the big names.
A new European Payment Report reveals the spectre of late payment continues to haunt Britain’s small businesses, and unusually it does so against a backdrop of how the rest of Europe is faring. (Spoiler alert: better than us.) Over half of surveyed businesses in Britain say have been pushed into accepting longer payment terms than they are comfortable with.
Not only is this problem still with us, it is actually getting worse. That 55% figure is up from 37% this time last year. And it’s large global corporations who wield their huge spending power like a cudgel, reportedly squeezing one third of SMEs. Half of British businesses admitted to paying their own bills after the due date.
The firm Intrum Justitia, which took a survey of more than 10,000 businesses in Europe, said that in Britain late payment was preventing businesses from hiring more employees.
Mikael Ericson, chief executive and president of Intrum Justitia, commented: “Late payments are like a long-lasting virus to business.” As with the common cold, it’s a virus that’s unlikely to kill the host, but it’s debilitating and there’s no off-the-shelf fix.
Earlier figures that we quoted six months ago showed that the average SME was owed more than £40,000 from unpaid invoices, and that one quarter of SMEs claimed that late payments have put them at risk of closure.
In the NACFB’s experience it’s the smallest businesses which most need the good advice that our brokers are in a position to offer. Speaking generally, such businesses are nervous of making early missteps. They are looking for handholding and they are looking to build up understanding of the market from a low base-point. Their risk appetite tends to be very low.
This, of course, flies in the face of the theory is that small business can afford to take more risks than large ones because they can react more swiftly when things don’t go as predicted … such as when they’re not paid on time. That is one bullet that even the nimblest business cannot dodge.