This big bank inefficiency and computer says no approach is why we are thriving – by Steve Noble

Steve Noble is Reward Finance Group’s managing director for the North West. Steve’s very well-known and highly respected within the industry, having successfully led teams for more than 30 years, as well as helping to deliver funding to SMEs in the region. He enjoys all sport and, if his golf was matched by his talk, he would be off scratch.

For all of us we spend a good chunk of our lives at work, so I’m luck to spend that time with people I genuinely like, get on with and who I can have a few laughs with, but who all share the same common goal of trying to support our clients. Ultimately that makes me really lucky and appreciate what we have, to the point I’m not entirely sure it’s a job at all.

There is an absolutely colossal opportunity for our business in the next 12 months. What we do is so flexible, versatile and simple, that I see us assisting so many opportunities as businesses come through and out the other side of this unique period in our lives. We have a brilliant finance solution that can assist so many that perhaps our biggest challenge is actually getting that message to enough people.

One of the biggest challenges at present is mainstream lender appetite. It’s so wrapped up in governance and bureaucracy that will see lots of businesses really struggle to get the right support. But it’s a double-edged sword, because this big bank inefficiency and computer says no approach is why we are thriving…so at an individual level, let the banks knock themselves out and we’ll happily step in with a simple common sense solution!

Possibly quite a controversial view of the last 5-10 years, is the idea that taking tech to allow an automated decisioning process that is somehow better for all customers and improves their experience. It has definitely been something that has soaked up masses of resource, commentary, business thinking and development….undoubtedly for the benefit of some, but certainly not all, and not by a long way. Getting an automated decision as a consumer might be brilliant and we will all likely recall an occasion where we have marvelled at this, but the nuances and variations between two businesses that at a surface level might look alike, could be huge; attempting to shove them through the same computer led approach, hinders so many great businesses.

Our key strapline is ‘Driving Business Forward’ as that is exactly what we want to achieve for our customers. We also have phrases that we resonate to – “not all lenders are the same” is perhaps a reflection that we want to stand apart from the crowd with a conscious enthusiasm for what we do, how we want to listen to and back people who run businesses and have ambitions that we can support. We also recognise the phrase “there are only ever really two times, now and too late”, because sitting and waiting for tomorrow or next week doesn’t really work for the businesses that want our support; so don’t delay, crack on and do your very best, always. And, that gets us back to ‘Driving Business Forward’.

I’ve always and continue to try to operate in a way that means I am there for the teams I’ve led. To me that means as a leader always giving them your time, being interested in them, supporting their efforts and being authentic and honest. Ultimately, don’t try to be something you’re not – people will see through it.

I don’t think there is one single person who has influenced my career but I’ve been lucky to have my own approach shaped by snippets from a few people. The boss who instilled the idea to treat any lending as if it’s your own cash, but always trying to see the good in people and situations. The person who’d inspire you to run through a wall if necessary, but who was always clear and honest in their feedback. The guy who gave you the freedom to make decisions, but know the detail that went with it. As for a person who inspires me, and this divides opinion – Alex Ferguson (I’m no Manchester United fan). His ability to continually evolve during such a period of monumental change in the game, to capture such incredible loyalty from his teams and a person, who away from the camera knew everyone’s name, had time for everyone and was able to laugh at himself.

Away from the office it may be a cliche…it’s friends and family. I love sport, particularly football, golf and cricket as well as travel and the desire to see the world are always the dreams of future planning. But I’m as happy sat with a group of friends and family, nursing a drink and sharing some laughs. I’m not a complicated man!