Interview: Ciaran McAreavey, Close Brothers

12 Feb 2018 | 12.16 pm

Interview: Ciaran McAreavey, Close Brothers

Alternative finance from Close Brothers

12 Feb 2018 | 12.16 pm

Close Brothers Commercial Finance specialises in providing alternative funding solutions – specifically, asset finance, invoice finance and asset-based lending. All are popular, says Ciaran McAreavey, Managing Director of Close Brothers Commercial Finance.

“Asset finance includes products such as hire purchase, leasing and refinancing, which are generally used to provide funding to a business for the purchase or refinancing of capital equipment.

“Invoice finance provides a steady cashflow injection by releasing the capital tied up in unpaid invoices. Asset-based lending allows larger businesses to raise higher levels of funding by blending invoice finance with funds released against other assets such as stock, property or plant and machinery.”

Demand for asset-based lending and invoice finance depends on SMEs’ borrowing requirements. “Invoice finance releases cash quickly, while asset-based lending can increase the amount of capital available. Alternative lending is growing in popularity with more businesses looking to extend their funding options in this way,” adds McAreavey.

Close Brothers recorded another positive year of trading in 2017, during which the firm also celebrated 10 years of lending in Ireland. The UK-headquartered group has a history dating back to 1878. Last year also saw Close Brothers open new offices in Cork and Belfast. “The market in Ireland is seen as a key growth area for Close Brothers, and we anticipate that this will continue into 2018,” McAreavey explains.

“The majority of industries are increasing their demand for alternative finance in line with the improvements in economic growth experienced over the last few years. We are a proud member of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) and look to support all sectors with improved access to funding for growth.”

According to McAreavey, the feedback to Close Brothers from SMEs has been that traditional forms of funding such as overdrafts and bank loans are less available following the recession. “The Close Brothers Business Barometer, a survey of over 900 SMEs across the UK and Ireland, has shown that over one in ten companies in Ireland have been declined finance by a bank in the last six months.

“However, increasing numbers are becoming aware of other sources of alternative finance. As our products are tailored specifically to the borrower’s needs and are scalable, SMEs often regard them as preferable to traditional bank funding.”

With offices in Belfast, Dublin, Galway and Cork, Close Brothers can offer its services across the island. Having a local presence in the four provinces is essential, says McAreavey. “Local decision-making and forming close relationships with our clients is what sets Close Brothers apart.

“Expanding our team in Cork has allowed us to develop a broad customer base, and enabled us to support more SMEs across Munster and Connaught by offering direct access to experienced relationship managers and fast funding decisions.”

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