The importance of the funding pillar for Leonard Curtis

Daniel Booth

There can be any number of reasons why a business owner would pick up the phone and seek the help of Daniel Booth and his team at Leonard Curtis.

With all the volatility in the economy, it therefore makes sense for an advisory business best known for the bread and butter work as an insolvency practice to have a wider range of specialists to suit the circumstances that have led to the approach, or referral, in the first place.

“If you want to appeal to a wider audience and actually be a bit more positive about life, you need to do some different things. Maybe for businesses that are insolvent, that’s where you end up anyway, it’s not going to get less insolvent. But along the way, maybe there’s a few things that you can do. And I think people trust you a little bit more on the basis that if you’re not just an insolvency practitioner, but that you are invested in a range of different options.”

That range not only includes insolvency, and the well-established skills in corporate restructuring, but legal advice and what he calls “a funding pillar” where a client may need support and advice on restructuring debts and negotiating a finance agreement. 

That team, led by Gary Cain, who has experience in asset based lending and bank, has earned the team a reputation within both the funding community, and wider professional services networks, and amongst well informed finance directors.

Booth explains that the debt advisory team supports clients with refinancing, borrowing, expansion and acquisition debt advice.

“Our approach focuses on getting to know who you are and what you want to happen. We work alongside 200+ active lenders, determining the optimum structure for every scenario. Meanwhile, we can review existing borrowing facilities and how these can be tailored to your future needs. 

“We’ve tried to just be a little bit different with it, I think, over the years,” he says.

He displays an acute knowledge of the sweet spots and skillsets of the different lenders, which ones can rock up at a business park on the edge of Crewe and make a decision and which ones have more complex systems and credit checking and processes to navigate. It’s a mix of streetwise market intelligence and proper business process. 

“We took a decision back in 2017 to become FCA regulated – and we don’t have to be, but we went down that route because we welcome more regulation. 

“I guess where we wanted to try and get to was formalise it a little bit more and make sure that we were giving the best advice to the client. We don’t take one inquiry and then flood the market with it, because that’s not doing anybody any favours and just takes up a lot of people’s time.”

The wider background against which Leonard Curtis operates is that corporate insolvencies appear to have levelled out at around 2000 a month. Within that are a dip in the number of businesses that are what he calls ‘end of life’ liquidations. In the last couple of years since the pandemic they accounted for as much as 96% of activity. Now he says it’s back to pre-pandemic levels of closer to 90% again.

“And what that tells you is that the UK SME market have moved more towards restructure and than write off,” Booth says.

“Coming out of COVID people were saying ‘this is dead, I’m not really that interested anymore. There’s nothing left. I can’t actually properly predict the future. I don’t know what my energy bills are going to be, or what interest rates are going to be, there’s too many moving parts. And I don’t like that idea’,” he says.

What has emerged he says, is different, but more predictable. 

“Whilst we might not like the landscape, because things are quite expensive, they are fairly static, they’re not as aggressive or volatile as what they were before. If you want to borrow some money, it’s more expensive, but you at least know what it’s going to cost. If you’re going to heat your factory and produce whatever you’re going to produce over the winter, you know what it’s going to be, and that allows people to forecast properly, and therefore it allows people to make an informed decision as to whether or not. 

“So I’ve seen an overall change in the overall volume of insolvencies. But we’re seeing the nature of the change.”

And that explains why having a range of options, like a debt team, should prove useful.