Bridging the knowledge gap

In a time where tailored solutions and bespoke services are part of many business operations, the process for securing funding can seem broad and generic – often causing difficulties for those looking to grow their opportunities.

Grow Capital is a family owned Australian business which aims to bridge the information gap between the funders  with the people who want that finance. In the process, Grow Capital is linking business owners and individuals with appropriate funding opportunities that may not easily be known or considered.

“We build personal relationships with our clients and do what it takes to find the best growth solution, even if we need to negotiate on their behalf with suppliers to get an outcome,” explains Grow Capital managing director Gus Gilkeson.

“We work to educate our audience with tailored finance knowledge to help them make better financial decisions for their business, wealth and lifestyle.”

Gus has an extensive background in strategic business development and has seen the challenges faced by small businesses first hand. Firstly by watching his parents work the land on the family farm and then by working in a traditional business in a small town. He balanced these experiences by entering into specialist studies in finance.

These experiences combined eventually led to his subsequent employment with several major banks and lenders, where the ideas for Grow Capital first seeded.

Working in these institutions, Gus saw the difficulties SMEs had in securing business finance and believed he could make a difference.

“At Grow Capital we want to make the lives of SMEs easier,” he says. “It’s common to see an SME that needs a specific type of lending, but doesn’t believe their current bank or funder can provide it. In which case they either have to go without or try to find it elsewhere. So there was capability to create this service.

“That’s where it pays to have the education and knowledge. That business may have an opportunity with their current funder and not even know how to go about researching or securing it. Equally, they may want to go to a competitor, or possibly find a combination of different solution providers. It’s about working towards a solution to get the mutual outcome that they all want.”

Of course, this problem is not unique to SMEs. As Gus notes, there is currently some two million actively trading businesses in Australia and it is believed that approximately 35% of those are dissatisfied with their financial arrangement.

While those numbers may be significant, Gus doesn’t seek to blame any individuals. The process of understanding the financial needs of a business or individual takes time and resources, and is something of a specialist skill. However, without that intimate knowledge there is a knowledge gap and disconnect between the two parties.

“We saw the opportunity to use our experience and skills – along with some new technology in the space – to assist clients and funders from a variety of sectors to get better outcomes. It’s a challenging area without that knowledge, and it can consume a lot of time that would arguably be better spent actually growing the business.”

The value of technology is clearly important in this space; yet Gus says the ever-changing needs of the sector means they are continually building and adapting product to better suit the clients. At last count, Grow Capitals uses more than 15 different technology solutions to cover everything from background checks and marketing communication through to data collection and validation. Even then there is a need to custom integrate and develop to ensure it provides a useful format that can help make decisions faster.

While the technology sphere is complex and continually moving, the approach to the client is established and strong.

“We have a simple four step process in order to get to know our clients and be able to better match them to the right solution,” explains Gus.

“We start with the word ‘understand’. We talk to the client, collect data and find out what they are really after. We move to ‘arrange’ at step two where we go out and seek offers for financing – and that leads to step three where the client chooses the most appropriate ‘fund’. We then stay with the client to review the business as it grows and changes – which we like to call ‘nurture’.

“In short – we understand, arrange, fund and nurture.”

Underpinning these steps is an extensive amount of skill, knowledge and industry contacts.

Grow Capital works hard with the client, asking the right questions and collecting the right information to take to market – while their access to a full range of banking products from traditional banks and second tier regional banks right through to funds’ managers and private and specialised lenders ensures choice for the client.

It is a personalised and client- centred approach built off family business values – something that drives Gus’ decisions into the future.

“I believe there is a lot of growth to come in our business with a huge amount left to achieve – but we know we need to remain faithful to always putting the client first. We will always seek ways to improve systems – particularly in providing faster service and improved access to funding – but it will always come back to knowing the client and making sure the lines of knowledge and communication and clear and open.”

 



Business First is a peer-to-peer magazine: written by CEOs and other high level executives, with interviews with some of the country’s best leaders.