Is the economic cake now rising?

Signs of recovery

We all know what happens when you bake a cake with plain flour and forget to put the baking powder into it. It comes out rather flat, leaden and unappetising.

Just like our economy over the past few years. However, I’m beginning to see signs of recovery, are you?  Confidence is to the economy what baking powder is to cakes.  It’s the tiniest ingredient, but absolutely essential for success.

Rising figures

I noted recently that the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ June figures show that lending was up a huge 26% on the same month in 2012.  The quantity of goods sold at retail level is up 2.2% to June (ONS), small yet significant if sustained across the whole sector. So it looks hopeful.

At Lovetts, we’ve seen more companies prepared to ‘get tough’ with their customers, with our July Claims showing the strongest month since mid 2011. This makes me think that companies are more confident in their own future, and that they can safely take legal action against their customers, without that ‘fear’ of finding themselves bereft of business.

‘Fear’ and ‘confidence’ are probably more significant in business than anything else.  It is easy to blame the banks and rightly so. Even today’s headlines show that the cost of putting right the PPI scandal is over £18 billion, twice the entire cost of the Olympic Games!  But even without bank support for business, confidence can lead to winning ways.

It is the same in Credit control.  How confident is the CEO in getting future business, so he/she will allow the FD and credit manager to go strong on recovering outstanding funds?  More confident now, it seems to me.

Beware…

But beware – companies, particularly SMEs, are prone to struggle for cash as they start growing again.  Most small businesses underestimate the liquidity required for even single figure % growth in Sales. So they’ll hold onto the creditor’s money for longer, particularly as their banks will not yet have loosened their lending strings.

So the cake is cooking nicely we trust, but none of us can afford to take our eyes off ledger overdues lest we get our fingers burnt just when things look more positive.

Author: Charles Wilson, CEO of Lovetts plc, Debt recovery solicitors

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