British Business Bank programme: ENABLE Funding
Mark Crook and Howard Ross set up Propel Finance (formally Henry Howard Finance) after leaving high street banks, determined to set up a lender that served its customers’ needs rather than itself.
Now 20 years old, Propel Finance is the largest independent finance house in South Wales, forecast to lend more than £100 million this year, up from £75 million last year and £40 million in 2014.
The award-winning business was initially focused on working with vendor suppliers and re-sellers to provide access to finance and equipment for SME businesses looking to grow and expand.
In 2014 Newport-based Propel received a £25 million investment from Cabot Square Capital allowing it to increase its lending capacity and restructure into four divisions, Vendor, Asset, Cashflow and Retail Finance.
Propel now employs more than 90 people, a growth of 60 per cent over 12 months and was named Leasing World’s Vendor Specialist of the Year 2015.
It has a portfolio of more than £150 million which includes more than 20,000 different UK-based businesses.
Vendor Finance works with equipment vendors in the reprographic, telecoms, security, vending machine and health marketplaces, providing them with funding facilities and administration support so they can focus on sales and business growth.
Asset Finance provides funding direct to businesses so they can acquire or purchase equipment or business services, from IT and telecoms to van or company car leasing deals. Its team grew from one to ten people last year.
Cashflow Finance supports growing businesses with turnovers of between £100,000 and £10million, providing working capital through invoice finance. It grew from one to 14 staff in 2015.
Retail Finance concentrates on supporting existing vendor partners as well as attracting new ones in the shop-fitting and retail equipment market.
Propel aims to plug the SME funding gap and offers user-friendly and efficient alternatives to traditional bank lending to ensure clients’ businesses thrive.
In the last 12 months significant advances have been made in the technology used to run Propel, giving customers and partners access to leading financial products.
HowApp is a simple, user-friendly online credit decision and deal management tool. In just “7 clicks/20 seconds” users can get an acceptance on finance agreements. The necessary documents can then be generated, sent and e-signed online.
The biggest cost of sale to vendors is time spent on the leasing transaction. HowApp has cut transaction times for Propel vendors by more than 90%, freeing up staff time.
Chief operating officer and founder Mark Crook said:
- “This is a finance house run for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs, not bankers,”
“Our success is thanks to our commitment to provide our customers with top quality service. We take the time to get to know our client businesses so that we can tailor financial solutions to best meet their needs.
“The restructuring of Propel Finance into four specialist branches means we can offer clients a full raft of services normally only accessible through the banks but with the flexibility and speed of an independent finance provider.”