On the back of launching a trade finance product, Aldermore Bank has informed GTR that it plans to double its specialist finance team over the next 12 months.

In an interview with GTR, Andrew Dixon, who joined Aldermore Bank as director of specialist finance in June, says: “We currently have 11 people in the team, based in Banbury, Oxfordshire – a new site set up to launch the division. Subject to growth, we would expect to see our headcount double over the next 12 months and get underway building our client bases and build on from there.”

Since January 2014, nine members of the specialist finance team, including Dixon, joined Aldermore’s ranks from Bibby Financial Solutions. He says: “We came to Aldermore to find new niche markets which the bank’s current product portfolio wasn’t reaching. I want to expand Aldermore’s invoice finance offering into new areas of the industry where there are specific funding needs that don’t fit the standard template.”

New products

The trade finance product launched at the end of last week is the second SME solution the UK challenger bank has rolled out in as many months. “The first product focused on the construction industry and our latest offering is designed to support importers and wholesalers, easing exporters’ cash flow pressures when paying suppliers,” explains Dixon.

“Clients that we look at still struggle to get an open account in places like the Far East,” he says. “Rather than switch to an LC at the point of placing an order, they can receive payment at the point of shipment. We wanted that to be easier and less costly to operate for our British SME clients.”

On the evolution of the bank’s trade finance products, Dixon says “it’s early days but it’s a good start”. He hints that another product could potentially be rolled out before the end of this calendar year.

In particular, Aldermore is keen to work with more partners and explore how it can support the UK export credit agency’s (UKEF) work. Dixon tells GTR: “It’s a relationship we’ll look to establish.”

The bank is also looking at developing entirely new products for the export market, with Dixon revealing: “Once we’re up and running, we’re also looking to provide expertise to companies looking to export, both in terms of tactical and territorial knowledge.”
Additionally, Aldermore is looking for more niche opportunities.: “We’ll be looking at how we can service those businesses that operate under contract as opposed to a normal invoice finance-type business; developing a proposition more tailored to fully support exporters,” says Dixon.

Payment instruments

Referring to the bank’s payment instruments, Dixon says: “The new product makes supplier payments and predominantly these days they tend to be telegraphic transfers (TT) on shipping documents. We can still offer letters of credit, but that has become less used over the last ten years. It’s not open account, it’s payment on shipping.”

The new trade finance product is available through US dollars, pounds and euros. Asked by GTR if they’ll add new currencies, like the renminbi (Rmb) and the rupee (Re), to their portfolio, Dixon responds: “A lot of the time transactions are still US dollar-driven, but obviously if that starts to change, we need to serve our clients and we will meet those needs.”