Welcome to the Influencers Forum on the subject of Business Funding.
We’re currently in uncharted territory due to the pandemic. And it’s never been more important to ensure your business is well-funded to get you through the next 12 months or so when hopefully, life will resume and we will all get back to what we do best - business. But where to go and what decision to make?
Today I’m joined by a range of experts in the field to debate the subject of business and personal funding and hopefully lead you in the right direction.
I’d like to welcome our panel:
Nigel Lambe, CEO of Sussex Innovation Centre
Nik Askaroff, MD of EMC Corporate Finance
Darren Hurdle, Corporate Finance Director of Kreston Reeves
Samantha Kaye, Director of Wellesley Wealth Advisory
Simon Bulteel, MD of Cooden – R & D Tax Specialists
Dan Morgan, Managing Partner of Haines Watts Esher
MAARTEN: So when it comes to funding one’s business, there’s a wide range of places to go. But I think it’s probably quite interesting to start with an overall view of what you think about the best places to go for funding right now. What’s your view on business funding? Are there pitfalls of where we should go or where we shouldn’t?
NIK: Essentially, business funding falls into four or five categories. It always has done; friends and family lending money to people to start up businesses; individual private investors; business angels – or business vultures, as I call them – banks, mezzanine funds, then into venture capital and private equity in the top professional marketplace.
What’s happened during Covid is that there has been a mass of fringe funders springing up offering leverages and debt facilities on pretty onerous terms. So it is a pitfall for people because they’re making it very easy to borrow money. And people aren’t reading the small print.
There’s £1.3 trillion sitting in banks, with investors funding routes in the market at the moment. So there’s plenty of cash around for the right proposal.
DARREN: It is really mixed. You’ve got the traditional banks and, go back a number of years, that’s where everybody applied. But subsequent to the financial crisis in 2008, a whole raft of other funders have sprung up; the asset-based lending community in particular. And where the banks still are not as free lending as they as they were, the market has been infiltrated by a lot of asset-based lenders and other mezzanine debt providers.
You’ve also got crowdfunding in there as well. But I suppose for now, the kind of things we’re seeing more of is going to those asset-based lenders and chall-enger banks that have stepped into where the normal high street lenders are not servicing the clients properly.
SIMON: For a business like my own, which is a fairly small business, the things that Nik and Dan mentioned are beyond where I will be looking for my money to see me through this period. There are tools out there that many accountants are using, including an online system called ‘Capitalise’ which is a system that’s there for accountants to go to the market, enter their clients details and they’ll see who the funders that might be able to support them.
For the small business, that’s the sort of place that you may be wanting to note down as what is your accountant seeing. What they can do with things like Capitalise, things like their existing bank relationship, is to get the money that sees them over the next six to 12 months.
DAN: These challenger banks are very interesting where we’ve had a number of clients go to their normal banking relationship for a CBILS, and get turned down. We are the registered office for many clients so we probably get a letter a week from Funding Circle for every client. And they’re the ones that are really pumping it hard. Their lending criteria appears to be a lot more relaxed than a traditional bank. And they do CBILS in pretty much most instances where a traditional bank won’t. So a lot of clients have had to go beyond their normal relationship for that.
And the interesting thing is, if a traditional bank did a CBILS, it will be at a very low interest rate. Whereas with the challenger banks, their lending criteria is a lot easier, but the interest rate they’re charging can be significantly higher.
MAARTEN: Samantha, you deal with a lot of personal investments. What’s your view on where we are at the moment with funding?
SAMANTHA: We’ve come at it from a slightly different angle. So obviously, for corporate lending, I would always defer to an expert, and I’m not an expert in that particular field.
However, where my clients will come to me is enquiring about setting up SSASes, (small, self-administered schemes) which is a very particular pension scheme whereby an employer can take a loan for themselves from that scheme. So effectively, they’re loaning their own money, but it’s a risk in terms of taking your own money out of your own pension fund to loan to the business, and the HMRC take a very dim view on a trustee permitting a loan back to an employer for cash flow purposes.
So we’ve had some very interesting conversations about clients trying to rejig their existing assets – personal and corporate – in order to get through these times without having to take further lending. Because, as everyone has said, at some point, that lending needs to be paid back. And it’s almost deferring a problem that you know is coming. So it’s trying to get through these times, as best you can.
MAARTEN: So just so that readers understand, what is mezzanine funding?
NIK: So if you take the three stages of funding, you’ve got secured debt, which is where somebody comes in, and gives you a mortgage, like they might do on a house. Or in business terms, they might finance a bit of plant and machinery or lend you money against your debtor book. And then you’ve got unsecured finance, which might be just a loan from the family or might be a loan from a private investor. And in the middle, you’ve got mezzanine. So it’s like a mezzanine floor, which stands behind senior debt, and in front of equity. So it’s fringe lending, not on normal terms.
MAARTEN: Looking at the various routes of funding, obviously, crowdfunding has, prior to last March, been quite an active market. Is anybody seeing much activity with their clients in crowdfunding?
NIK: There’s a lot of activity going on. We don’t like a lot of it because there’s often not enough diligence around the proposals. I’ve seen some crowdfunding prospectuses which don’t even have a forecasting of what the business is going to do.
The EIS tax scheme is promoting a lot of individual investors investing in startups. And it’s probably just as well, because that’s the biggest source of funding for startups and new businesses anyway, which we need. Crowdfunding should have a great purpose to support those smaller businesses.
NIGEL: We have run a few campaigns lately. And I have to say, I’m lukewarm on crowdfunding. There were so many ridiculously bad deals that got through that people got burnt on, and that’s given the whole sector a bad name.
The whole idea is democratising investment; it was brilliant, and I really wish someone would get a grip of it and put a bit more control in place. I love the concept, I just hate the fact that so many charlatans have managed to raise ridiculous sums on ludicrous valuations. It gives everybody a bad name.
DAN: We’ve got a number of startups that we work with that are still going down the route of SEIS, and tax reliefs, trying to raise funding. It’s an area where I think we’re always concerned, and for many reasons that the others on the panel have just said. So we don’t get actively involved in it.
But certainly some clients do it direct, while looking at angel clubs as well, and trying to pitch and present to raise funding. At the moment, if you’re the right sort of sector, and there’s still appetite; there’s still a lot of cash out there.
MAARTEN: What about venture capital; Nik called it vulture capital? Are there venture capitalists out there at the moment looking for deals?
NIK: There’s 2,500 VC companies in London. And there’s a whole sector - SEIS – which has to take minority investments anyway. So they’re effectively VC-based.
It’s all about how good the proposition is and how robust the proposal is. Although there’s lots of money, the sensible investors and the fund-led investors are very robust in their due diligence.
So you have to put more work and more time into the due diligence. Anything that doesn’t do that is likely to be on the fringe, and dodgy in some way, in my view.
So you’ve got a very strong VC community, but it’s not easy to get hold of their money. They seem to take a lot of time not appreciating what startup or a second-phase funding is. They’re looking for companies that have that post-cash post-revenue, post-profits, delivering at least half a million of profit, and they still classify that as startup funding.
But in our minds, that’s not startup funding. The reality is, there’s money out there for all sectors and all good propositions. Unfortunately, 80% of propositions are not good ones, and it’s sifting through them that takes the time.
MAARTEN: So as a startup business, or as any business, for example, I’m looking for funding, what are my fears about venture capital? The common fear is that I’m going to lose control of my business; I’m going to be told how to run my business. What should I be afraid of? Or wary of when it comes to venture capital?
NIK: Exactly those things. Essentially, why are you doing it? What’s the purpose of the money? How are you going to use that money? And what are you willing to give away to get the money?
DARREN: One part of clients going the venture capital route is education. You use the term ‘vulture capital’ Nik – and that is quite widely known in the market. That’s how people see particularly the earliest stage venture capital money, as a vulture capitalist coming in and just taking over, you’re answering to them, and you’re not running your own business anymore.
MAARTEN: Dan, are you involved in venture capital deals at all?
DAN: Personally, I’m not. I think I’ve had a number of clients take a look and have a chat with our corporate finance team. We have our own managers and one of the things they like is that it’s owned by the family and they control the business so that they like the potential of ‘we can do this and grow it’ but control is so key for them and they rarely go ahead with the VC route.
MAARTEN: Then you have the problem where control is very important, but you’re down to the last five quid in the bank something has to give doesn’t it?
NIGEL: Their objectives are completely different from yours. There may be a point in time where your objectives are aligned, and you can work together and you get along, and that works nicely. But you’re trying to do different things. So the fact that so many investors fall out with their investees and vice versa, it’s not surprising because they clearly want different things.
DAN: We have some wealthy family clients and they invest as well. It’s a little bit less ‘vulture capital’. They’ll want to protect their investment, but they’re not quite so cut-throat as a venture capitalist sometimes can be.
A lot of them attend Angel networking and Angel clubs. People go and pitch to them a little like Dragons’ Den. And I know they’ve got a website as well, where you can just send in business proposals. We’ve always got to be very careful about what we pass to our clients.
NIK: There are some very good ones out there who do it for the right purpose at the right time. And then there’s a lot of others; a bit like crowdfunding. The concept of crowdfunding is fantastic, and peer-to-peer lending is fantastic. But unfortunately, if you don’t have structured regulation around them, they get abused.
MAARTEN: Samantha, do you have any clients with considerable funds who look to use it for investment in business?
SAMANTHA: It’s not part of our core market because I am in such a heavily regulated environment. It’s just too far up the risk chain. So for us ‘boring’ is the new sexy – so it’s pensions, it’s unit trusts, it’s ‘do what you know’, and ‘do what you do well’.
With some of the crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, it’s at your own behest, because there is such a risk to it as far as the regulator is concerned.
MAARTEN: The next one to come onto is business accelerators. Nigel, I can’t resist but come to you with that as you run one of the most successful and respected such hubs. Do you look for funding for some of your businesses, or do you ever get involved in funding them?
NIGEL: It was always a weakness in our portfolio that we never really got directly involved until recently. So we set up a brand within our organisation called Suss Ventures.
We have a huge track record of people who have grown businesses with us and have now moved on. So we’re bringing some of them back as investors and mentors to some of our businesses. We’ve started a very traditional invest-ment broking service, we have a panel of investors, and we have a lot of people who want us to pitch their businesses, of which we take probably, the top 3 or 4%.
So we’re doing a very bespoke tailored service which seems to be working very well. And those businesses all need funding. We are very well connected to a lot of private investors, the smaller family offices, and the smaller end of the VC market, and particularly the EIS Scheme is very popular amongst them.
MAARTEN: Where is Suss Ventures getting its funding from?
NIGEL: We’re just matchmaking, we’re taking investor money, and matching it and just brokering that into companies who are trying to raise funds, so we don’t invest on our own.
MAARTEN: Because business accelerators, and business hubs are becoming very popular, it does seem to be that this community route does seem to be a very good route to go with a smaller business or the startup business – would you agree?
NIGEL: Yes. I think you can find people who understand a bit more about your business and a bit more about your journey, particularly if you can take successful entrepreneurs who have made their money and now want to reinvest.
I think that’s very helpful, because you’re getting skills and knowledge as well as money. And people will have very different needs. We’ve helped thousands of businesses grow successfully over the 25-year time period we’ve been going.
NIK: If you look at the American model, it was based around the universities, and then the sort of roll-on from universities exactly like SINC – and SINC was one of the innovators in the UK.
But if you look at Cambridge Ventures or Oxford Ventures, it’s around the big universities and the spin-offs, and then getting the regeneration of the money from the guys who’ve made money out of having that support. They get their own alumni. And it should be the model we support.
The business community as a whole should be ring-fenced regarding size, because once they get too big, they’ll start competing with an open market. But certainly the startup to second phase capital should all be done through an innovation hub / enterprise accel-erator-type operation.
What we don’t need is one in Eastbourne, one in Hastings, one in Bexhill, one in Brighton, one in Crawley, and have 50 of them spring up with no real resource and no real money behind them.
MAARTEN: Isn’t that effectively what we have? They seem to be popping up everywhere.
NIK: Banks, Chambers of Commerce; everybody’s got them. That’s the difficult thing. If there’s 100 benevolent investors in Sussex, I’d be surprised. If you can get hold of 50 of them, get them all down to the Innovation Centre, and let them support the innovation teams...
Put them in one place. Don’t have two in one, two in another as that’s spreading government money too thinly. The LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships) have got significant amounts of money and the business networks have been given money but it’s all been fragmented.
NIGEL: The real key to making a success of it is understanding that whole journey. Not only have we brokered money into companies, we’ve started peer-to-peer CEO networks where you can learn from each other in terms of how to grow a business and all of those pain points.
It’s being able to understand that journey so all of our senior team have run their own businesses. As many of the people that call say, if you haven’t woken up at 3am, trying to figure out how you’re going to make payroll at the end of the month, you don’t really run a small business.
MAARTEN: Do you have many incubation hubs in Surrey?
DAN: There’s a few. The University of Surrey, and there’ll be one or two on local business parks as well, where they try and have a bit of an incubation-style service where people take some flexible office space. And it’s certainly an area where there’s potential but it’s very fragmented.
I’m on the Surrey Chamber board and it’s a frustration where you’ve got the LEPs with the funding, and you’ve got a lot of groups that are trying to do things, but it’s all quite fragmented. There are a lot of good ideas and people want to deliver them but it’s hard to do so.
I know we sponsored a business startup programme through Surrey Chamber and it’s basically somewhere where startup businesses can just come and have a have a chat with an advisor for an hour just to give them an initial steer on their business.
There’s a lot of potential with an incubator and I looked at Nigel’s website earlier and it looks a fascinating model. I think Surrey do a similar thing. It certainly looks like a very promising way to go.
MAARTEN: It seems to be – if one believes the press – a resurgence in people actually saving money, which hasn’t been the case for quite some time. Are you seeing a lot of activity in that market of people actually saving money?
SAMANTHA: Absolutely. Last year was a phenomenal year for new cash investments. So the NS&I did the markets a great favour when they slashed their rates on Premium Bonds and their savings accounts. We saw a huge shift of cash from Premium Bonds and NS&I accounts into the markets.
And people have been very smiley, very happy in terms of the returns they made especially towards the end of the last year. ‘Boring is the new exciting’ – ISAs, their pension funds, just normal investments. So we had a very busy time last year, as did I think a lot of financial institutions in terms of making sure money’s in the right place. People sitting at home if they were furloughed, were reviewing their old pension funds that had sat in a dusty old drawer for 10 years that they’d been meaning to get around to. And we are always just that bit too busy to be bothered – and 2020 was the year for that to happen.
So there was a big review of money last year. We did a lot of pension reviews, Will reviews, powers of attorney reviews, ISA transfers, and it was a phenomenal year actually, in terms of activity because it gave people that were at home the chance to review what they’d got.
With interest rates as they are, you haven’t got to go far to beat that. So, anything is better than nothing. And it was a good year in the markets, provided you took more of a global spread in terms of portfolio.
MAARTEN: Let’s talk about the EIS – the Enterprise Investment Scheme. Just for our readers, would someone like to explain exactly how that works?
NIK: It’s pretty simple. You can take up to 30% shares in the company and anything you invest up to a million pounds, it is 50% tax relief against your current tax bill. So if you invest £150,000 into a business that’s EIS registered, you get immediate 50% tax relief. More importantly, when you come to sell, it’s Capital Gains Tax-free, as long as you’ve held it for three years.
SIMON: You’ve got the Seed EIS in the first bit which is £50,000 investment. And then the EIS kicks in beyond that, the Seed EIS is high risk. You get a better reward than Seed EIS if you’re the investor, I think it’s 40% for Seed EIS. And then the EIS is a much bigger pot. The risk is deemed to be a little bit lower. For the company that’s getting it, there is a huge cash windfall.
NIK: It’s a massive incentive to private investors. And in reality, if you’re looking for private investment, and you’re not EIS registered, then you’re going to struggle because if I’m a private investor, and I’ve got a choice of an EIS-registered investment, or a non-EIS, I’m going to be seduced by the EIS reliefs and benefits.
MAARTEN: When it comes to asset-based lending and invoice-finance, how does that work? And is it a wise way to go?
DARREN: Yes, and it’s grown massively in recent years. It is along the lines of the title – it’s asset-based loans. So any assets you’ve got in your business, you are borrowing money against those. So it tends to be the asset-based providers who base their facilities around an invoice-discounting facility. The invoices that you’re raising in your business, you can borrow money against those. Then off the back of that, they will tend to lend against plant and machinery, stock to a degree, and property as well. They’ve largely replaced overdrafts at the banks, and they’d rather you go down that route.
So if you take an invoice-discounting facility, if your trade debtors are, as an example, a million pounds, at any one time, you can typically borrow about 80% of that figure on a revolving basis. So, as debts are collected and paid by your clients, it pays back a bit of that debt, but then you’ve raised new invoices, you re-borrow that money.
Where you can come a little bit unstuck is at the moment where your business has had to shut or your business has fallen off a cliff, if you’ve got a large invoice-discounting facility. Then suddenly you’re not raising any additional invoices to replace those funds.
But the funds are cheap, because it’s secured on those invoices. And it’s those asset-based lenders that have taken a lot of business away from the traditional High Street banks.
MAARTEN: Where do those people tend to come from? Where do you tend to find your asset-based lenders?
DARREN: We’ve built our contacts over many years. So we know a lot of those funders, and some of them have subsequently turned into challenger banks, where challenger banks have acquired asset-based lenders to build their book. But there are a lot of independents out there.
MAARTEN: Now talking about personal guarantees, where are we with this? Is this something that you would suggest one does or should most directors never go anywhere near it?
SIMON: They kind of defeat the object of having a limited company, don’t they? The original purpose of a limited company was you had your company over here, and you had your personal assets over there. And the two could be kept separate. The personal guarantee now has effectively taken that away.
NIK: If somebody hasn’t got anything, and the business is bust, and they’re bust, if a business fails, then they can take a view on a personal guarantee if that keeps them going. I’ve got one business was doing £140m turnover, supplying into the hotels and restaurants in London that went down to £4m turnover overnight. They went from £5m in the bank to £10m overdrawn.
Travel and leisure in Brighton, for example, half of them have gone bust and half have been struggling on when they probably shouldn’t have done. Yet some people still do it, because that’s their only choice.
NIGEL: It all flows into pricing, though. Ultimately, everyone hates personal guarantees, and wants to avoid them. But if the banks didn’t take them, lending would be a lot more expensive. So, it kind of pools the risk to some extent.
NIK: And there’s a good faith element of it. You turn around to somebody and say I want to borrow £500,000 from you for my business, and that person says I need you to put £100,000 personal guarantee up, it’s a pretty good indication of your confidence in the business when you say no.
DARREN: The alternative is that the business owner puts that £100,000 into the business alongside the funder’s half a million. So if they can’t put their hands on that £100,000, the funder wants to see some shared risk. And if I’m going to put up a lot of the money I want to see you put some commitment into it as well. If you can put up a chunk of money so all well and good if you can’t they’ll take a personal guarantee.
MAARTEN: There’s quite a bit of talk about R&D grants. Is anybody particularly involved in R&D grants? How do they work and how do our readers get them?
SIMON: It’s probably the best tax relief. R&D tax relief has been around twenty or twenty one years this year. Whether they’re profit-making to reduce their tax bill or whether they’re loss-making to bring cash back into the business, it’s not for every business, that’s part of the problem.
There are about 60,000 businesses at the moment claiming R&D tax relief. There are probably another 200,000-300,000 businesses across the country who could be claiming it. So you’re basically getting money back from money you’ve spent.
There’s not many grants that will do 100%. There are a few small ones that can recover 100% but it could cover a large chunk of 50%, 60%, 70% - depending on the level of intensity - that someone like Innovate could advance on the funding.
But a lot of the grants are a very competitive process. Nowadays, there are a lot of companies going for the innovation grants but there’s no guarantee you’re going to get them. The smart grant that’s done on a quarterly basis is probably the most competitive grant funding there is at the moment. And they only take a small handful of visitors through these smart grants. It used to be, years ago, there weren’t that many applications. So if you apply for it, you’ve probably got it.
Nowadays, you might have to go through two or three rounds, and they’ll let you come back with the same project a second time. And they’ll give you ideas of where you failed. But it’s a very good way of getting grants. There are other sorts of grants as well - the manufacturing programme; the South East Business Boost grants - again, that’s the process I’m going through for some clients, where they’ll fund up to 30% of your costs for something that will support your growth.
I’m sure that the government will be launching new funds to support business growth as we go forward.
NIK: There’s much competition on the grant side but the important one is the R&D tax credits. Any company that does any R&D should be claiming their R&D tax credit, because that’s the best tax deal in town. And it’s pretty straightforward.
NIGEL: I think every company should understand that about the R&D tax credits, because it’s not always obvious what you can claim for. And actually, you might be surprised that a lot of people don’t consider their business can actually qualify for the tax credits.
DARREN: As a firm, the R&D tax credits are something that we do push quite heavily, and it is an under-utilised grant.
DAN: We were chatting about an interesting case, we actually used it in an acquisition where the existing company weren’t doing it. We were able to say to our clients. “We think we could probably get about 20% of your purchase price back by doing R&D claims back once you purchase the company. That changed everything.”
MAARTEN: Slightly off the topic but something that our readers are always very keen on; that comes up all the time is what does the future hold? I know nobody’s got a crystal ball but the majority of businesses are terrified at the moment, not knowing how long this is going to go on for. So what I’d like to do is just go around the table and ask you, as our expert Influencers - what is your view of the next year?
NIK: First, I think we’ve got to remember that the industry, business and commerce are split into two groups - well, three really - but there’s two distinct groups.
There’s one that benefits from Covid. So anybody in tech, IT cloud systems, online... online is actually doing very well, as is anybody in logistics. Anybody in food manufacturing is doing pretty well. too.
And then there are the ones that have suffered terribly who really haven’t got a clue when they’re going to come out of this. They’re just hoping they get through summer considering ‘do we close the door?’ take the pain and then reopen in a year’s time.
So I feel for those. Happily, they’re in the minority. When you see that the downturn in GDP last year was 11.6%, that was massively below what anybody would have forecast or really expected. So we have to accept, there’s still a strong economy out there. I think 2021 is going to be ‘an easy as you go year’. But I don’t think it’ll be a bad year, because it can’t get much worse than it’s been for a lot of people.
DARREN: I’m working on the basis that vaccines do work, and we don’t get another strain and we do start to see that light at the end of the tunnel getting brighter. We are going to see some issues with businesses, depending on what the government do with cliff edges, with funding. I think we’re going to see a lot of transactions. And there’s going to be a lot of over-leveraged businesses out there looking to reduce their debt burden.
I think there will be equity guys who have got a lot of money to spend for the right transactions and for the right opportunities. I think there’ll be a fair few debt-for-equity swaps of people reducing their debt burden with taking on private equity, or having to realise some assets. And I think business owners, we’re already seeing it to a degree, will look to de-leverage their risk and start to get some of their built-up value out of those businesses. But I think we’re in for a busy year.
NIGEL: I think we have to look on the year we’ve had and really be amazed at the amount of creativity and innovation in business in general and how they manage to adapt. I think if we’d sat here trying to forecast a year ago and said, we’re going to literally shut down the economy for a year and lock everybody up, and what’s the impact going to be, I never would have said it would be as little as 8%. We could bounce back within a year considering what we’ve done to the economy.
So I think it’s a fabulous result in the circumstances. Going forward, the world will be different and I don’t think we will ever get back to the way things were. So I think we will have to adapt and I think we will do that very quickly.
And I think we will have a huge number of winners out of this, and a huge number of new companies starting out. There’s definitely going to be some sort of an unlock premium once we all get back out and go crazy, and start meeting people in bars and restaurants again.
DAN: I think I’m always trying to be quite upbeat. And I think the UK is quite a resilient country. I think with all the Brexit stuff as well, pre-Covid, I think everyone did have a view of ‘I can’t affect what’s going on globally, all I can do is what’s in front of me and crack on as best I can’.
And so there’s a lot of companies just doing what they can, working hard and I think there will be a bit of a Last Man Standing mentality that if you can see other companies go bust, and you know that you will have fewer suppliers in your industry, that could be a bit of a boon coming for them.
Whenever there’s a downturn, there are opportunities, I think there will be a lot of transactions, there will be a lot of people starting businesses, a lot of companies acquiring other businesses and that there’s always opportunity that comes out of it. And if people can be dynamic and resourceful, and adjust their businesses, I think a number of companies have been very resourceful in this period and adjusted suitably to get themselves through.
SIMON: I think it’s going be a couple of years where people that are nimble, businesses that are agile will be the ones that do very well. Where you can see an opportunity, go and take it.
It will be tricky, but I think there are a lot of people out there that will pick up something new and run with it. I think we’ve seen from the last year how resourceful businesses and people have been. Quietly confident.
SAMANTHA: Following on from last year, there were some great success stories. Some businesses that adapted really well during the first lockdown, and then have thrived since. So I love the innovation of people when their pants are down, and they’ve really got to find new ways of earning a crust. I think it’s just phenomenal how we can all bounce back and make things work. So in terms of a pandemic, that we’ve obviously never seen, my children seem to think that I’ve lived through one before because I’m that old! But I’ve told them that I’m not and I haven’t. And it’s kind of new for me as well and that means that everyone needs to get their house in order. And I think that’s been a great reason for people to be getting themselves organised. And doing that makes you feel better. It’s good for the soul. It’s a financial health check for yourself.
SIMON: My hope is Rishi Sunak doesn’t throttle any potential recovery with tax reform, and that what’s going happen in the Budget is hopefully going to allow everything to flourish and bloom.
SAMANTHA: Pension tax relief has got to be tweaked at some point. It’s the lowest hanging fruit, they say. I can’t see them doing anything in the spring, maybe in the autumn, maybe - fingers crossed - next year. But there will be some changes. There’s got to be some money from somewhere to pay back this debt.
I would like to thank you all for joining me today, imparting valuable information to our readers during what is, and has been, a tumultuous time for us all. I have certainly learnt quite a few things and you have encouraged me to be positive and confident about the future.