Blog about a blog!

Dear members,

Quick blog about a blog!

I put a tweet up today asking for ideas for a title for our forthcoming rolling blog. The objective of the bog is to put 100 (eventually 100’s) of personal accounts of the damage banks have done to the SME sector – and the difficulties we all face in trying to have the damage repaired – all into one rolling blog. i.e story after story to show the systemic attack on SMEs.

The reason I thought of this is because I’m increasingly aware that, even people who I think will be aware of what’s been happening to SMEs, actually have no idea. And on the other side of the coin, many business owners who’ve had their businesses trashed by banks and who would benefit from being part of our ever growing support and lobbying group, have no idea SME Alliance even exists.

In fact, many people in the UK don’t actually know what the acronym SME even stands for or how important SMEs are to society! They don’t know that the acronym stands for small to medium sized enterprises – so they don’t know it means butcher, backer, mechanic, plumber, electrician, hotelier, builder, care home owner, publisher, architect, accountant etc etc

In the same way we are far more supported and protected (and noticed) as a group than as individual companies, the appalling stories of what has happened to so many SMEs will have far more effect if people can read them in one place. All members can add their story if they want to and anyone subscribing to the blog (hopefully there will be a few bankers, lawyers, law students) will be notified every time we add a new story. Eventually it will paint a clear picture of how bad things are and how urgently change is needed.

Therefore the name of this blog – which could become a really poignant snap shot of what the financial sector was doing at a specific time in history – is very important because while it needs to be short, it needs to be self explanatory and something google will easily identify. So it might include words like bank, bankers, fraud, 2016. And although the stories themselves are predominantly negative, the fact we’re fighting back and helping each other is positive – so we don’t want to have a negative title.

Laura and I were looking for a well known film title we could adapt – but we unfortunately haven’t found one yet.

Bearing all of the above in mind – please keep tweeting ideas.

Best wishes

Nikki

p.s Part 2 of the newsletter about the last meeting will be sent by e-mail tomorrow and our new section for whistle blowers will also be published on the site tomorrow.

Re Meeting on 7th March 2016

Dear all,

Quick note

I am aware that many people attending the meeting on 7th March 2016 are planning on staying in London for the night of 7th. As you know, our meeting is between 2.00pm and 5.00pm and Jonathan Maskew of Shensmiths Barristers has now also organised that we can have further time in 23 Essex Street Chambers for a networking session after 5.00pm. This will be brilliant as it means we don’t have to troupe off to the pub – and before any big sighs, this doesn’t mean to say we can’t have a drink!! This will be arranged.

As quite a few members will be staying the night I am wondering if I should book a restaurant so we can have a meal together – make it a social event as well as a serious one?

If anyone thinks this is a good idea and would like to be included, please send me an e-mail with the title RSVP meal to smealliance2014@gmail.com or leave a comment under this blog and I will find a suitable restaurant – probably this one if they have the space http://www.punchtavern.com/food  as I have booked this before for Whistleblowers UK and the food was excellent and reasonably priced.

Anyone interested – please get back to me asap so I can make a booking.

The agenda for the meeting should be out tomorrow.

best wishes

Nikki

 

 

 

MEMBERS NEWS

MEMBERS NEWS

ANDY QUOI V NATIONAL WESTMINSTER BANK, 11TH JANUARY, MERCANTILE COURT, BRISTOL.

Tomorrow, 11th January 2016, the case of one of our members, Andy Quoi and his associates, against the National Westminster Bank PLC will be heard in be heard in the Mercantile Court, Bristol. As with many cases we know of, this case highlights the conduct of Nat West (RBS) with regard to the EFG scheme and also the now infamous GRG division of the bank.

I don’t want to go into any detail of the case as this may be considered inappropriate by the Court (although this is a civil action and not, to the best of my knowledge, subject to sub judice). However, I can say that this is a clear example of the type of bank conduct that urgently needs to be stamped out and another reason why it is so disappointing the FCA have chosen to dismiss an opportunity to do so in a transparent (and therefore meaningful) manner.

I know all our members will be supporting Andy and we all send our best wishes for tomorrow. I know everyone is very busy but if any members in the Bristol area do have a chance to attend in Court, that would be fantastic – but I know Andy doesn’t want anyone to feel any obligation especially as so many members are starting the New Year with imminent Court cases (I wish I was having waited for so many years!). In any event, I’m sure we will all be tweeting our support.

Andy will keep us posted and we will pass on any news he has.

If anyone else has news they’d like us to post, please send any week day by 5.00pm and we will post it on our bulletin board straight away.

Best wishes to Andy and family.

From all at SME Alliance.

Nigel Henderson – Letter to the editor of the Telegraph

Members of SME Alliance will know we received ‘the letter’ from Baroness Brady and, as a cross party organisation, we sent it to all members so those who wanted to could sign it and show their support for the Conservatives. We have no idea who did or who didn’t as we asked members to reply directly to Karren Brady. However, SME Alliance founder member, Nigel Henderson, who was, until recent years, a staunch Conservative supporter, was fairly incensed by the letter and wrote a reply which we published on our site. http://www.smealliance.org/blog/letter-from-nigel-henderson-to-the-conservative-party
Following the article in the Telegraph last Monday about the 5000 SMEs who did sign the letter, Nigel has written to the editor of the Telegraph. It seems unlikely the Telegraph will publish it.
If other members have written to any of the parties or media expressing their views on the upcoming election and would like us to put it on this site, please feel free to send it. Comment after the election may be too late!
27th April 2015
dtletters@telegraph.co.uk

Dear Sirs

SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT REPORTED IN TODAY’S PAPER

I refer to the article you published in today’s edition of your paper purportedly to be from the Small Business Community in support of the Conservative Party.

It is very evident that the letter your paper published and hyped on your front page is wholly unrepresentative of the SME sector as a whole. There are approximately 4 Million SMEs in Britain. From the numbers of respondents you have quoted, 5,000 signatories; this only represents 0.13% of the total number of SMEs in Britain.

The letter is not a spontaneous outpouring of support for the Tories from the SME sector but was concocted and choreographed via solicited support from Conservative Small Business Ambassador Karren Brady.

Being part of the small business community I was asked to sign, but I refused. I have continually voted Conservative at every election since I was old enough to vote fifty years ago, up to, and including 2010. However I now feel that over the last five years the Conservatives have abandoned the SME community and I cannot continue to support a Conservative Party that turns its back on and contemptuously dismisses the legitimate concerns of its core supporters.

In particular, David Cameron’s government has done nothing at all to level the playing field between SMEs and their banks and ensure that the former are treated fairly by the latter. Cameron’s government have done nothing to stop banks defrauding their SME customers and putting viable firms out of business in order to plunder their assets and strengthen their own balance sheets. Admittedly a few reforms are coming including the Vickers ringfence, but this will do very little for SMEs, many of which feel they have been hung out to dry by the Government of David Cameron following the edict of his paymasters in the city.

Since first embarking on a business career in 1968, I had expanded my business interests and developed my company into a very profitable enterprise regularly returning net trading profits of c25% of turnover and employing well in excess of 140 employees. All that dramatically changed the moment I had the misfortune of being induced to leave the bankers to my company for decades and become customers of The Royal Bank of Scotland in 1997.

For twelve of the last fifteen years I have felt a lone voice in the wilderness, fighting against blatant corruption and fraud perpetrated on my business by this bank. Only since 2012 has there been any meaningful support now available to me and my family; not may I say from any government source, but from the multitude of other victims of the corruption and fraud of banks in general and of course, RBS in particular, that I have now been able to network with as the full extent of this fraud has become apparent.

I am sure the Conservatives are fully aware of the significant efforts that have been made by SME Alliance Ltd and Bully Banks, to bring to the attention of Regulators, Treasury Select Committee and Government, the conduct of the banks in devastating the Small Business Community, and causing wholesale destruction of businesses that are the mainstay of the economy.

Yet we hear nothing from any of the parties of their determination to address the grave concerns of the SME community of the banking industry’s destruction of their businesses. What is unforgivable from my perspective is the total disdain and disinterest that all the political parties and the Conservatives in particular, being supposed champions of SMEs, has shown in acting and ensuring that this corruption is stopped once and for all, and that those perpetrators are immediately charged and brought to court for their fraudulent conduct.

It is very clear to my fellow SMEs and me that constructive, impartial and very clear evidence of fraudulent conduct by the banks, when presented to the Government at the behest of the BIS, was rapidly dismissed as being seen to upset the cosy relationship existing between the Government and their paymasters. I do of course refer to Tomlinson Report, which, along with the book published last year by author Ian Fraser, called Shredded: Inside RBS the bank that broke Britain, demonstrated the wholesale corruption and scandalous tactics employed by RBS.

There are approximately 20 Million voters employed by the SME sector and it is of course up to each and every small businessman or woman to vote as they wish, however a significant number are very disturbed by what has been happening to their fellow business operators and, through networking, SME Alliance Ltd reaches out to well in excess of 400,000 like minded people. This could have an influence on the outcome of many constituencies in the forthcoming election.

This is an election that is theirs to lose by the Conservatives and lose it they undoubtedly will. There is a weak administration with a weak leadership who only pander to the edict of their paymasters in the city. Those paymasters, like everyone else only have one vote and it is very clear that the disenfranchised among my business colleagues far outnumber the city voters. If, as I predict, the Conservatives do not secure a majority or sufficient votes to form another Government, so be it; the Conservatives only have themselves to blame for ignoring serious issues that are of huge concern to a significant proportion of the electorate.

Finally, you may care to reflect on the question of how many others like me were asked and refused to sign the letter.

Perhaps you may consider including this letter in your Letters column.

Kind regards

Nigel K Henderson

Open Letter to David Cameron

David Cameron

10, Downing Street,

London SW1A 2AA 27th April 2015

Dear Mr Cameron,

Re Support of SMEs

Any support for SMEs is to be welcomed because they are the cornerstone of the economy and employment. But there’s a glaring omission from your SME Manifesto and that is help for the thousands of SMEs that have been defrauded by the failed banks and are now priced out of the justice system.

Your own brother Alex Cameron QC attempted in May last year to stop a major fraud case involving banks and bankers because of the lack of legal aid for the defendants. He failed but had he been successful it would have given further credence to the growing belief there is one law for the public and another for the elite of the financial sector.

As the founder members of SME Alliance, we were invited to 10 Downing Street on March 6th this year to share our concerns about the plight of SMEs with your advisers. In particular, we drew attention to the lack of access to justice for SMEs. Since our visit, your Government has increased Court fees to £10,000 and this, combined with the continual reduction of legal aid has put many SMEs in an even more difficult position.

As part of our campaign we met with Andrea Leadsom your Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Guto Bebb MP on March 11th when we proposed a form of resolution for SMEs which, for want of a better name, we have called FOS Plus, a sort of supercharged Financial Ombudsman System. Ms Leadsom asked us to submit a report explaining our suggestions which we have done. It is work in progress but the draft so far is available on our website as follows: http://www.smealliance.org/blog/report-to-andrea-leadsom-mp-on-an-alternative-dispute-resolution-system-for-smes

We have heard nothing from Ms Leadsom so we challenge you directly: Will you commit now, before the election, to supporting this just and powerful initiative?

You have asked for the support of SMEs and a small percentage of the five million plus SMEs have duly indicated support after being heavily lobbied by Baroness Brady. We now ask you to support the thousands of SMEs who are being denied access to justice and to do so whilst we still have a chance to make informed decisions about which party to choose?

Yours sincerely

Nikki Turner, Nick Gould and Jon Welsby

On behalf of SME Alliance

SME Alliance meetings at EMM Law and Metro Bank. A really brilliant day!

IMG_8976Yesterday was a double whammy for SME Alliance – we had a morning meeting sponsored by EMM law http://www.emmlegal.com/meet-the-lawyers/kate-mcmahon/ on the subject of Private Criminal prosecutions and an afternoon meeting sponsored by the Metro Bank. I didn’t attend the morning meeting (no room at the inn) so I can’t say a lot except we’ve had some really good feedback and we’d like to thank Kate McMahon and her team at Edmonds Marshall McMahon for their hospitality and for explaining how the process of Private Criminal Prosecutions works. Hopefully Andy Keats, who set the meeting up for us, will blog about it in the very near future.

The afternoon meeting at the Metro bank also went brilliantly. Derek Granville, our host, was our first speaker and he explained both the ethos of the Metro bank and the way they work. Two things in particular were music to the ears of our members. First – they don’t want to sell you financial products. So no PPI, no swaps and no other dodgy, so called, insurance. Secondly the Metro Bank is completely deposit funded and there is no wholesale funding. So they are not reliant on the ‘money market.’ Sophie took loads of notes of the whole meeting and we will post all the main points Derek made as soon as she has typed her notes up. But I can say a lot of us were very impressed with what Metro bank has to offer and it does seem like they are bringing back old fashioned banking where you know who you’re dealing with and what you’re dealing with.

IMG_9015Our second speaker was Andrew Hilderbrand http://gunnercooke.com/team/andrew-hildebrand/ who is a mediator. And whereas the word ‘mediation’ means an alternative form of bank bullying to some of our members, Andrew very eloquently put the case for positive mediation. As many members pointed out, it’s not always the case you can get a bank to consider positive mediation as they’re used to having everything on their terms. However, tying this in with our report to Andrea Leadsom where we suggested ‘FOS Plus’ would require banks and clients to ‘mediate’ early on in the process of dispute resolution, Andrew’s brand of very successful mediation would work very well. Will blog in more detail soon – or better still I’ll ask Andrew to blog.

Our last speaker was Lindsay Whitelaw from Urica. This company offers a very different type of factoring. I have never thought much about factoring except when people call to talk about Bibby (which they often do) but what Urica is offering sounds very different and very positive. The difference with ordinary factoring is Urica requires no personal guarantees and only checks the credit worthiness of the creditor. Anyone who uses factoring services should check Urica out: https://urica.com/ As their website says – “It’s not invoice discounting because that’s just debt by another name.” So it’s an interesting concept and a very new business model.

IMG_8990

Overall it was a great meeting with many new faces including people I’ve been talking to for years about HBOS, Lloyds, bank fraud, SME issues, but I’ve never met. And both Jon and Nick invited some interesting guests. But as always it was really great to see all of our founder members there. I know some people came from Scotland, Wales, the West Country and the North of England. Thank you all for making the effort to travel so far to join us. And thanks also to the two new members who felt it was so positive they have offered to sponsor us.

I will blog again over Easter in more detail but, if I don’t get another blog out before Easter Friday, Happy Easter to all and many thanks for your support. Who would have thought we could achieve so much in such a short time???

p.s I don’t know what time everyone left the Shakespeare’s Head where networking was still going strong when the Turner crew left about 7.00pm but I’m guessing Weatherspoons like SME Alliance!

Private Criminal Prosecutions

Andy Keats has now confirmed he has organised a meeting for the morning of 31st March (remembering we already have a meeting in the afternoon). The subject of the meeting is Private Criminal Prosecutions – a subject many members are keen to know more about – and it is hosted by Edmonds Marshall Mc Mahon who are the first and only specialist private prosecution firm. http://www.emmlegal.com/

The address is 5/6 Crane Court, London EC4A 2EI – here’s the directions: http://www.emmlegal.com/contact/ 

The meeting starts at 11.00am finishing at about 12.30pm – so perfect timing for the next meeting at 1.30pm at the Metro Bank which is within walking distance.

Many thanks to Kate McMahon and David Jugnarain for hosting this and for giving us their time – they will be talking us through the process. Thanks also to SME Alliance member Andy Keats for setting this up!

As the meeting is in Chambers we can only invite 20 people max and 8 members have already said they want to come – not preferential treatment, they’ve spoken to Andy or I today and we happened to mention it.

The remaining places are also for members only.

If you are a member of SME Alliance and would like to attend please e-mail asap. smealliance2014@gmail.com. or call 07519 505276

We do have more news but run out of time today so I’ll do another update tomorrow.

Nikki