Canada has been incredible from the beginning. When I lived back in Dublin, I was always living for the weekend to hang out with friends. When we moved to Canada the idea was to meet new people and take advantage of all the different things available so close to the city. I live in Toronto which is an awesome place. You can easily get out of the city and in a short drive you can be in the countryside. In the winter we were able to go to the closest mountain to do some snowboarding within a two-hour drive away from the city centre. You can even get a bus! It is THE place to be when you do business but Covid has turned it into a ghost town to a certain extent.
My girlfriend and I are spending some time now in the countryside outside Quebec for a change of scenery. Being back in nature, it is a game changer. We have only been away for two days but already we are sleeping better, much happier in ourselves and our livers are thanking us already. We went for a jog this morning and it is just beautiful, the fall colours are everywhere – beautiful orange and red colours. We can leave our front doors and go hiking on the weekends so it will be a perfect working break.
I was originally in client management, but I have recently moved to business development. This was for a couple of reasons. The company growing. We need to hire new members of staff and my decision would shape which roles would be needed. I really enjoy having conversations with people, I always say that any conversation is a good conversation no matter how bad it is! What I have moved into within business development is a combination of partnership management and building out the Accelerated Payments network with commercial loans providers, brokers, introducers, and other referral partners. What we are trying to build is strong relationships with individuals who are established and experienced in the industry. They know what to look for in a deal. I would rather receive 5-10 introductions where we know that we are the best option for those businesses, and we can do the deal as quickly for them as possible.
Absolutely! When we go to international events, we had a golfing one recently, and as soon as they hear us speak with our accent – “Ahhh you must be from the Irish Company Accelerated Payments”. It is a fantastic talking point. It has been great with clients where they think we must not be in Canada and then we offer them a face to face. People do enjoy the differences. Saying that, there are a lot of Irish in Canada, there is a great relationship between Ireland and Ontario.
Good question, we have briefly touched on my love of conversations and meeting people. There is a huge diversity and direction in which the conversations can go. One moment you can be talking to a national referral partner about their experience in the market, what they are doing – this has slightly shifted in current remote times so it is not as intimate but still builds on relationships. The next, you can be talking to a business owner who is running a small shop in the Niagara region in Ontario discussing cross-border trade or supply shortages for a manufacturer. Then the following call is on a multi-million deal. It is this variety of conversations that I love. I wish it were in person, but without travel time I can reach so many more people online. We can start building the basis of long-lasting relationships even if we have not been physically in the same room or bar.
And I love to see our clients grow. A company who started working with us last year have now tripled the volume of invoices both in size and in number. Their growth is inspiring, and we get to see it happening first-hand real time. Helping SMEs to achieve their goals and achieve their dreams. As cheesy as it sounds, in some cases if it were not for the avenue of capital that Accelerated Payments proved they would not necessarily have been able to do that to the same level or at the same pace.
We have just announced that Kevin Clark has joined our strategic advisory board. He has been in the banking industry for 30 years and co-founded an alternative lender in the small business loans space. I am excited to have him on board and it will be beneficial to have someone with his knowledge of the Canadian market on board.
What we are seeing is that there is an increased requirement for financing ahead of time before they have completed a project. We have partnered with a couple of firms who focus on this type of finance so that we can attend to all SME needs as best as possible. More often it is when a business has won a large order with a large customer, such as Amazon or even NASA and the US Navy, they throw all of their cash reserves into the project to make sure they satisfy the deal. But then they are left with a working capital gap. The larger the customer, even with a good credit rating, the longer the payment terms and the SME can be waiting 60-90 days with a huge cashflow gap. Sometimes these big players assume that as they are bigger, they can call the shots. If there is anything that I could change in the SME world it would be this and flip it on its head so that the smaller the company the sooner, you got paid. Accelerated Payments was created to solve exactly this problem.
A few areas that the government has provided support is some capital resources, wage and rent subsidies. It is going to be interesting to see what will happen in the coming months now when these schemes finish. I am hoping that the government will provide incentive for businesses to approach alternative lenders and share knowledge. It is a huge opportunity for FinTech to assist the growth of SMEs and the alternative lending space simultaneously.
I initially found the move quite daunting, somewhere I had not lived in before. But we were welcomed in with open arms. The Canadians by reputation are friendly but I was still taken aback at how friendly they are! How quick it is to build relationships and how open they are to new ideas and introducing me to their networks. The transition over here was a lot easier than expected. The people in the FinTech industry are really receptive, to listen to you and to have conversations with you to understand the position that we are in. We are a young company to Canada so we do rely on gathering information from veterans in the industry. So many people have been friendly and have given me bits of advice and connections. Giving you the time of day really!