SMEs are increasingly using the services of commercial finance brokers to secure a business loan.
While there are fewer female commercial finance brokers than male ones, many of the women have years of experience in the industry, and in working with hundreds of SME clients. However, they have sometimes flown under the radar in terms of their profile. That is now changing.
Yasmine Shah, Relationship Executive at Tradeplus 24, founded The Women's Commercial Finance Forum (WCFF) in February 2020 to address this. Yasmine wanted to provide a community for women brokers to connect, share ideas, knowledge, and best practice with each other to propel themselves and their SME clientele further towards success in a highly competitive and complex finance environment.
Currently hosted on Facebook, the group has grown from 2 to over 570 members in just 13 months, bringing together female brokers of all levels of skill and experience in the commercial finance sector.
Yasmine believes that more women joining the commercial finance industry, will bring better options for SMEs, and a greater diversity of opinions and perspectives.
“The female brokers I meet are so incredibly passionate, talented and driven. They’re kicking goals for their clients, and delivering strong value.”
“All SME owners are on a mission to deliver their dream and want to understand how engaging finance will help them to do that. Brokers ask the hard questions, challenge lenders and negotiate on behalf of their clients to get them a better deal,” Yasmine said.
“The skill and confidence required to achieve these come not only from experience, but also from good empathy which is a particular strength in women brokers.”
Yasmine’s advice to SMEs thinking about engaging finance for their business is to ask yourself these questions, then speak to a broker:
- How much do I earn?
- How much does it cost me to earn this?
- What's my profit?
- How much do I want to borrow?
- What kind of loan do I want?
- What do I want a loan for?
- As I pay back this loan, what will the impact be to my weekly cash flow?
- What will this loan cost me inclusive of all fees and interest?
- Do I understand my rights when it comes to using my personal property and signing a Guarantee & Indemnity when I apply for a loan?
Working with a broker helps you uncover what you may not know and to protect yourself and your business in the process.
For example, if you need a $50,000 business credit line your broker may organise this for you.
“They’ll also enquire about your medium to long term cash flow needs and put relevant products in place for you that won’t have a heavy impact on your cash flow and at the least possible cost,” Yasmine explains.
This ensures that your working capital needs are met and you can focus on growing your business with peace of mind.
Finally, be wary of shopping around too much, as there’s a large opportunity cost for not acting now.
Sonja Pfitz from Pfitz Financial & Business Solutions is a commercial finance broker for SMEs, specializing in local and global funding solutions for manufacturers. Her 25+ year career in finance and in the ownership of various businesses has provided her with first-hand experience, and insights into the funding challenges faced by manufacturing companies.
Sonja's clients have included a wide range of small to large companies in the steel, plastics, defence, food & beverage, chemicals and medical sectors.
Sonja’s advice for SMEs in the manufacturing business is “Own your vision with passion and transparency. Be wise in surrounding yourself with specialists in their field to support you and the growth of your business.
“Never take a setback or not winning a client as defeat or failure – it’s a challenge that will make you even more successful, from the lessons you have learned. Most of all take time to look after yourself… a healthy mind & body, is a happy effective business person.”