This year marks a special milestone for Bibby Financial Services (BFS) as we celebrate 40 years of helping SMEs to survive, thrive and grow. While today we support thousands of businesses around the world through our teams in nine countries, our history was shaped by our humble beginnings in Liverpool.
In 1982, amid a turbulent time for the shipping industry and with a growing desire for the Bibby Line Group to diversify, in a chance encounter Sir Derek Bibby met friend John Gee on a train from Liverpool to London.
During the journey Gee recommended factoring as an area of high growth, and after exploring the opportunity further, BFS was formed, initially trading from the Bibby Line Group’s accounts department, before becoming a separate business entity soon after.
Four decades on, we remain committed to helping businesses to grow; committed to our family values; and committed to contributing positively to the communities in which we work and live.
Throughout the past 40 years, we have witnessed profound changes in the business environment and economic landscape, but our support for SMEs has remained constant.
In the 1990s we saw SMEs become the workshops of the world as globalisation transformed commerce and opened new markets. We witnessed an explosion in entrepreneurial spirit as SMEs became the leading employers in most developed economies. Today they account for up to 50% of GDP according to the World Bank.
It’s been a dramatic 40 years, not least during the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent credit crunch when SMEs struggled to access finance to survive and thrive. But as many traditional lenders pulled-back, we stepped forward, and for many businesses this meant the difference between boom and bust.
Since then, we’ve helped SMEs navigate referendums, political uncertainty, Brexit, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re still here, working hard on behalf of our clients, helping them to overcome challenges and take advantage of market opportunities.
But while we celebrate our achievements and longevity over the past 40 years, our thoughts today are with those in Ukraine and throughout Europe at this difficult time. While we hope that peace and stability will resume soon, we’re committed to playing our part in supporting those affected, demonstrating our solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Though our history is hugely important to us, so is our future, and we’re focused on funding business growth for another 40 years and beyond, working with our clients and intermediary partners to drive economic activity locally and nationally. This involves, being on the side of businesses when they need us, whether this is in unlocking cashflow for day-to-day operations, investing in new staff or machinery, financing expansion and growth in new and existing markets, or funding new M&A opportunities that arise.
The needs of SMEs and the world around us have changed significantly since 1982, and we have changed as a business too, but our family values, the pride in our heritage and our commitment to supporting our clients, colleagues and communities hasn’t.
It’s for this reason that throughout 2022, we’ll be celebrating our past, but embracing our future.