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“IN SOME CASES WE’RE NOW ASKING WHAT DOES THE BUSINESS NEED TO GET IT THROUGH THE NEXT SIX TO TWELVE MONTHS, AGAINST INTERIM PERFORMANCE MEASURES, RATHER THAN

GIVING THEM THE BIG CHUNK OF LONGTERM MONEY THEY ORIGINALLY APPLIED FOR.”

game-changing information that the banks didn’t have. But we don’t deal with vanilla or risk-free cases. Everything we see has a challenge with it and this means we’re going to see some defaults. Our mission is very clear: it is to help small businesses that are viable, or have the potential to be viable, to survive and to get credit. We have agreed with Bank of Ireland that if they have a problem with any of our credits they will come to us first and not act in the way they did. It wasn’t right.” JOINED UP THINKING As the economy begins to pick up again in 2015 it remains imperative that we support our SMEs, irrespective of whether the end result is expansion or mere survival. The Government has created a number of agencies that are working to ensure there is a steady flow of credit to business. While Trethowan is not seeking further powers for the Office, he does believe that the economy will benefit from more joined up thinking from such bodies. “Our powers are okay,” he says. “It’s about the ability to interact with other organisations such as Microfinance Ireland, the Credit Guarantee Scheme, the SBCI and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. We already work with them but it’s a matter of us being able to bring them into the picture and use some of their powers.” One measure Trethowan is seeking from Government is the introduction of a more comprehensive central credit register of companies. He believes the data available could be more meaningful and, among other things, help determine the risk involved in InBUSINESS | Q1 2015

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THE CREDIT APPEALS IN

providing credit to a certain business. He points to the existing registers in France and Holland as examples to follow. “We have a very fragmented system at the moment. We have commercial credit agencies but their data is not as good as it could be. A really good state credit register would be a real boost to the economy – a one-stop shop where you can find out anything about a company.” ROLES AND MODELS As well as heading up the Credit Review Office, Trethowan holds two additional roles. He is currently Chairman of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (a post which he will step down from in June) and Chairman of the Progressive Building Society. A busy lifestyle for someone who was considering retirement back in 2009. So are there any signs of him revisiting those plans? “I’m still very passionate about the whole thing,” he says. “I know what we’re trying to do and we’re being relatively successful at it. Until the demand goes away, I’m more than happy to continue.” In his spare time, Trethowan likes to “potter about in the garden” and “play golf very badly” but his real labour of love is making scale model aircraft, a past-time he has kept since he was a young boy. He says that due to his hectic schedule, which includes a regular commute from Co Down to Dublin, he has plenty of models still in their packaging. If his passion for securing a steady flow of credit for SMEs remains, it might be a while yet before they’re assembled. For more on organisations supporting SMEs go to page 62

34 - Borrower got funds from bank 44 - More work needed by borrower 58 - Borrower abandoned appeal 23 - Work in progress

203 Borrower upheld or commitment to reassess if short-term performance hurdles are achieved 158 - Bank upheld

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR A CREDIT REVIEW? • The business must be an SME, sole trader or farm • The business must have applied for credit facilities from a1,000 up to a3m with one of the participating banks • The credit facility must have been refused, reduced or withdrawn and the business exhausted the bank’s internal appeals process 21

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InBUSINESS Q1 2015  
InBUSINESS Q1 2015