The Broker: Funding Businesses The Irish Way
I’m sitting in the lobby of The Marker Hotel, a 5-star 7-story property on the edge of Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock. Here in Ireland’s major tech hub, I’m waiting for a self-identified corporate finance broker by the name of Rupert Hogan, the managing director of BusinessLoans.ie. Outside of our email exchanges, I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve met brokers from the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, and Hong Kong, but never Ireland.
When he arrives, he doesn’t disappoint. Hogan is full of energy and enthusiasm. He has a natural charisma and friendly manner that’s well-suited for a relationship-based business. It just so happens that SME finance in Ireland is still heavily reliant on person-to-person contact and Hogan is at the forefront of helping potential borrowers look beyond the bank for their financing needs.
SMEs are looking for speed and ease in the loan process, Hogan says. Historically, business owners would call on their bank for financing, invoking the sanctity and reliability of decades-old personal relationships, but Hogan explains that relationships between SMEs and banks just aren’t what they used to be. “[SMEs] feel like they’re going to get the runaround,” he says.
That’s where he comes in. And it could be any kind of business, he explains. Hogan jumps from a call with an import/export business to one in retail, followed by one with an agricultural equipment company. He has to understand a bit about them all no matter what it is, to figure out a proper financial solution. BusinessLoans.ie doesn’t charge for their service but they do receive a commission from the financial company if a deal closes.
“Corporate” finance may evoke images of big city corporations engaged in international commerce but Hogan’s company can connect SMEs with as little as €5,000 through an unsecured business loan or merchant cash advance. Invoice Financing, leasing, and trade finance are also tools at his disposal. It’s not all small, however, as he hands me a rate sheet for one lender that will go up to €25M. Interest rates on these products when compared with their American and UK brethren are quite reasonable, and suggest also that the target clientele is not subprime.
As we sit there drinking coffee, Americano style in my honor, an executive for a local SME lender happens to spot him while passing by. After they exchange pleasantries, Hogan explains to me that he submits deals to that lender through their online broker portal. And so I ask him if doing everything online has become the standard in Ireland.
“It’s getting there,” he says, while acknowledging there’s still a ways to go with the population that’s conditioned to handling their financial dealings offline. The company’s domain name is perhaps perfectly positioned to capture that transitioning audience. When businesses decide to look for a loan online, he explains, “I hope they go to BusinessLoans.ie”Last modified: October 11, 2019
Sean Murray is the President and Chief Editor of deBanked and the founder of the Broker Fair Conference. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter. You can view all future deBanked events here.