Kai Pinnell is Business Development Manager for South West Business Finance (SWBF), working across the South West supporting SMEs. He joined the SWBF team in 2019 after a 10-year career in banking at HSBC. It was during Kai’s time at HSBC that he met SWBF Co-Founder Steve Barrett who also worked in commercial banking for the firm. The pair kept in touch and when there was an opening at SWBF, Kai jumped at the chance to join. We met Kai to find out more about him and how he helps businesses with their financial needs.
Tell us more about your role at SWBF
My main objective as Business Development Manager is to go out and promote our business, improve customer understanding of what we can do to help them, and then be that key link between the client, the lender and the broker. I also do a bit of marketing, budget and strategy as well!
Who is a typical SWBF client?
We’re quite proud of the fact that we don’t have a typical client. We try not to pigeonhole or only do things that we are good at or things that make us money. We’ll work with anyone that has a business finance need. That could range from a brand-new start-up business needing £25,000 through to a project we are working on currently which is a £35–£40 million property development.
The clients that naturally come to us are property developers, builders, property investors and portfolio landlords. That’s 70 – 80 per cent of our business.
What deals have you been working on recently?
We’ve just completed working on an amazing property renovation – a grade two listed, five-story townhouse on a very well-known street in Bath. We’ve also just completed a lend for the same client to do the same thing on a property in Bristol.
We’re currently working on a finance package to reopen a pub in Somerset that had to close during the pandemic. Thiss a very tough sector, so to go and get a six-figure finance package for a pub that’s been closed for 18 months is something we’re quite proud of.
In addition, we recently won an award for financing the ‘green powered’ generators that go into Tesco depots which reduced the supermarket chain’s carbon footprint by around 41 per cent in the UK.
Are there any trends in the types of deals you’re working on?
The main trend we are seeing is on our trading business side. Businesses that took Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans or bounce-back loans during the pandemic are now having to start paying them back. Many businesses didn’t use all of that money, but they realised how effective it is for them to have a surplus of cash to be able to be reactive to things in fast-moving environments. So, a lot of businesses are now coming to us looking to put in place effective cash flow solutions.
How is the landscape looking for lending as we head out of 2021 and into a new year?
It’s looking very positive, especially in the property space. During the pandemic, a lot of lenders shut their doors or restricted their loan amounts. Now we are seeing those lenders back to pre-pandemic levels of lending and even improving on this. This is one of the knock-ons of people becoming a lot shrewder and more selective during the pandemic in what they do with their borrowing. It means that the lending landscape, especially on the property side, has become a lot more competitive.
What are you looking forward to in 2022?
We are really looking forward to growing our trading business side, working with SMEs and owner-managed businesses. We love working with these businesses, but we find that they don’t necessarily know about us and know that we can be their main financial partner and consultant.
What has been your biggest success this year?
I think the fact that we’ve had our most successful year since we began, taken on three new people and retained our existing staff, despite the pandemic, is our biggest success.
If you could offer one top tip, what would it be?
I would aim this at trading businesses – preparation and engaging with us early is the key. Historically, when a business works with a broker it tends to be when they’ve been turned down elsewhere and it’s all a rush. If a business has its preparation right and engages with us early, it will be invaluable to them going forwards