The Institute was invited to join a lively panel discussion with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)at the International Trade Expo at ACC, Liverpool.
Our Director General Lesley Batchelor outlined to an audience of business decision makers how SMEs seeking to grow their businesses through exporting continue to be held back by a lack of skills’ training and information on funding.
Speaking at the ACCA’s Export Panel session “Access to Finance”, Lesley expressed concern that findings in the recent International Trade Survey commissioned by the Institute of Export (IOE) revealed that businesses were still unsure about how to access finance.
“Companies are using their own reserves and smaller SMEs are relying on their credit cards,” commented Lesley. “These worrying statistics are a clear indication that we must do more to educate businesses about how to seek finance and acquire the essential skills for international trade.”
“It’s vital that we make it easier for businesses to export – and that means clear information about where to obtain funding. Also, without the necessary knowledge of how to trade internationally SMEs will continue to be hampered. That’s why at the IOE we are passionate about teaching these skills in schools, so that we embed professionalism in international trade from an early age.
“Rather than giving businesses food to eat, it is better to give them the tools to export.”
Lesley was one of five members at the panel session which included Richard Abley, International Trade and Business Manager from Barclays Business, Andy Davies from Prospect Magazine, Paul Wills, Marketing Executive from UK Export Finance and Anita Williams, ACCA Manchester Network Panel Chair and Department of Local Government and Communities.
The expert panel debated the skills and knowledge needed for businesses to trade overseas, with Lesley advising about the importance of presenting a detailed plan to finance providers.
“It is really important that businesses emphasise the finances they need in the short term along with the funds they will require to grow in the future as their exporting activities increase. They will also need to demonstrate that they understand and have planned for the risks that overseas trading present,” Lesley added.
Over a busy two days at the prestigious event, Lesley also attended the “Maritime Logistics & Energy Breakfast with a Difference” and was involved in the ‘Spotlight on Best Practice in the Chemical Supply Chain’ workshop which was sponsored by Brabners and Brabners Stuart in association with Chemicals Northwest. The discussion focused on identifying, agreeing and promoting quality industry standards for the chemical sector, which is the biggest exporter in the North West.
Were you at International Trade Expo – what were your highlights? Please let us have your views.