I remember as a child sitting down to my mother’s roast dinners almost every Sunday. The plates were crammed full with several types of vegetables, plenty of meat and, almost always, a huge serving of homemade gravy. I distinctly remember marvelling at the aromas, and how generously (with almost military precision) my mother had packed the plate to the brim. As a typical teenager (who always seemed to be eating something every waking minute), those Sunday dinners passed too quickly. I always wanted (and tried in vain) to eat them slowly to savour the meal as long as possible. Of course, the meals all too soon came to an end, nothing lasts forever as they say. Today, I can draw an interesting comparison between those Sunday dinners, and the evolution of international banking for SME’s (small to medium enterprises).
For years now, SME’s and entrepreneurs enjoyed international banking that was both plentiful and easy to find. Heading off to strange countries, typically in the locations where they were conducting business, did not present any major concerns when it came to accessing their funds while abroad. But like the Sunday dinners, the time of full plates of international banks offering various flavourful services seems like it is coming to a close.
Setting up companies to trade internationally is not difficult, never has been. But looking at banking services offered to SME’s boldly heading off into international territories is like looking at the glass and asking is it half full or half empty.
While SME’s looking to grow their businesses globally has increased exponentially since the 1990’s, poor banking practices, the growth in aggressive tax legislation (to level the playing field we are told), and a determined worldwide effort to control terrorism, has led to banks in many locations either putting much, much less food on the plate, or simply taking back the meal altogether after it has been served.
So what is the solution for starving SME’s and entrepreneurs how leave their home countries to take on the world with their innovative products and services? In a nutshell, it’s persistence. Same as it has always been. Same as it will always be. Banking is evolving and, while it is more challenging than before, it is just another matter to factor in when planning business in global markets.
I could also say that having good business partners, and ‘go-to’ people also helps. As the world get smaller, knowing the right people to get things done, is still the best way to limit risk in doing business away when you’re away from home, and mum’s Sunday dinners.