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Expert judgement – a blog by Philip King

16 January 2014

I’m an avid weekday listener to radio news and current affairs programmes but my addiction rarely spills over to the weekend. Unusually then I listened to Sunday’s BBC 5Live ‘On the Money’ with Declan Curry. Even then, I have to confess that I listened to it early on Monday morning using iPlayer rather than live on Sunday evening. How did we ever manage without catch-up TV and radio I wonder?

To be frank, I made a point of listening to the programme because I knew two of the participants and therefore had a particular interest. Peter Ibbetson, Chairman of Small Businesses, Nat West Group has been on several government forums I’ve attended, and was a fellow director of Start-Up Loans when I was a board member;  Lesley Batchelor is my counterpart at the Institute of Export and we often meet and speak. Three thoughts struck me as I listened.

First, Lesley made some common sense points about the benefits of exporting and the reasons why more businesses should expand their horizons while pointing out the dangers of failing to “walk a mile in the buyer’s moccasins!” Her encouragement to businesses to look to experts for advice on markets and the technical aspects of international trade was well placed.

Peter talked about the banks’ appetite to lend for business growth and referred to the Bank of England’s most recent Credit Conditions Survey published last week that, for the first time in a while, reports an increase in demand for bank funding. A welcome further sign of returning optimism. He made one further comment that resonated strongly with me. In answering a question about how to persuade banks to provide funding he mentioned the importance of businesses giving thought to how they were going to be paid. In effect what he was saying was that credit management should not be an after-thought; rather, it should be integral to the whole business plan and strategy. A vital message for all businesses.

My third thought, though a bit incidental, was that I wouldn’t even have known Peter and Lesley were going to be on the programme if Lesley hadn’t tweeted about it earlier in the week. The power of social networking in evidence!


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