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Investment & Support for the Liverpool City Region and the North West

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Paul Humphray is an Investment Director at MSIF. He is an experienced business lender previously working for a national bank within the North West Region and having now worked at MSIF for 15 years.

Paul works on MSIF's larger Loan Funds (lending from £100k to £1m) to SMEs across the North West. Let’s find out a little more about him…

What sort of businesses are you working with at the moment?

At MSIF we support a wide range of SME businesses of all sizes, across all sectors, and across the North West. At present I am dealing with…

  • Expansion of an outdoor advertising business into digital screens
  • An early stage business involved in producing elements for the food, cosmetics and medical sectors
  • A management buyout of a removals business
  • An acquisition of an electrical contractors business
  • An expansion of a wedding events business
  • A buyout of one shareholder in a care home that we have supported previously.

A varied group that keeps life interesting!

Which businesses have you recently backed and what did they need funding for?

My latest loan was to support the acquisition of a printing business by an existing customer of ours, which had received similar support towards the buyout cost of a previous business. Using funds provided by the directors and an element of deferred consideration a deal was reached that suited all parties.

Are you seeing any particular trends at the moment?

We have seen some larger debt deals come to the fore of late, after a spell when business owners appeared wary of taking on debt due to the uncertainties around Brexit and the economy in general. We are seeing a growing number of enquiries for our mezzanine loans from businesses in the North West and North Wales.

What advice would you give to a business seeking funding to help speed up the investment process?

Speak to us at an early stage so we can work with you to put together a suitable and personalised funding package that meets the needs and requirements of the business.

We will require a business plan accompanied by financial projections so be prepared to produce the documents or work with a professional adviser. Our independent Finance Hub can also provide guidance and support within your application stage. This sometimes seems like a lot of work but to run a successful business monthly accounts and plan/forecast helps to keep you focussed and help measure where you are against your original projections.

How did the businesses you are currently working with get introduced to you?

We have a great network of introducers from corporate financiers, accountants, bankers and other intermediaries, and from existing or previous happy clients but as we have a high profile presence on social media, the internet and business media we also receive a lot of direct approaches.

It is also pleasing that we see a lot of satisfied businesses we have supported previously not only recommend us to their associates but also comeback to us for further funding – we must be doing something right!

What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a business?

Be realistic in what you can achieve, you will have to be 100% committed to the business to ride out the early highs and lows but above all remember that cash is king.

What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking of expanding a business?

Make sure you have factored in the cash consumption of expanding your business. Growing sales will mean an increase in the level of debts owed to you and if you require stock of materials then increased stock levels will also feature. You may need to take on additional staff whose wages will likely need to be paid before the extra sales they generate come through in cash. If you are lucky then your suppliers might provide extra credit terms, but the likelihood is that you may need an increased overdraft or working capital loan – don’t leave it too late and come and talk to us early in the process so we can help you.

What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to sell a business?

Be realistic with your asking price. Look around at what other businesses in your sector have been sold for recently. Decide whether you want a complete exit or whether you are prepared to stick around and help the buyer for a few months – possibly in a consultancy capacity. Be prepared to be asked to defer part of the asking price, which could help from a tax perspective – in this respect it is always useful to obtain relevant professional advice on the whole sale process.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Visiting a wide variety of businesses in different sectors and in different stages of their growth cycle, especially where we help them achieve their business goals. I have a great admiration for business people who have made the jump into running their own business, with all the responsibility that entails.

What networking events have you recently attended?

Despite not being the greatest golfer, I enjoy time out in the fresh air with other professionals and clients where there is plenty of time to establish or further develop relationships. The Professional Liverpool Golf Day at Royal Liverpool was an ideal networking event I recently attended, giving me 4 hours with a captive audience….

Are there any networking events you would recommend to growing SMEs?

The local Chambers of Commerce run a number of events each month, as does Professional Liverpool. There are also regular monthly events operated by groups of businesses such as the Quay Business Forum on the Wirral and Mersey Maritime events for those associated with the maritime sector.

Where would you recommend for a nice business breakfast/lunch/dinner?

Breakfast – I usually have my porridge at home, but Esquire do a nice round of toast. Lunch – Restaurant Bar & Grill proves a popular destination for the MSIF team. Dinner – My favourite has to be Mowgli, the range of flavours from the spices used is the nearest to true Indian food that I’ve ever tasted in the UK. Who was your last business lunch with? Ben Day and Jason Elliott of Cowgill Holloway.

What do you get up to outside of work?

I usually try to play golf at least once a week and I am a keen football supporter with season tickets at both Anfield and Wigan Athletic. The grandkids otherwise take up a lot of time!

What’s your poison?

I always go for a cask beer if available with the lighter IPAs a favourite. I’m also rather partial to the current gin craze – rhubarb and ginger mmmmmm!

Where’s your favourite holiday destination and why?

For those who know me it will be no surprise to hear that Goa is my favourite place. We’ve been going each year for the past 17 years in the middle of our winter which is a nice break from the cold weather. The people are very friendly, there are some beautiful beaches and it’s still cheap once there. Just perfect for a chill out break.

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