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Entrepreneurial Exchange Agrees Partnership Deal With Clydesdale

EXCLUSIVE: Ian McConnell, Business Editor

7 Oct 2010

The Entrepreneurial Exchange has sealed a wide-ranging partnership with Clydesdale Bank – highlighting its desire for a relationship with a lender which “actually helps our members”.

Glasgow-based Clydesdale meanwhile declared that the entrepreneurs who make up the Exchange’s membership were “absolutely the market we are committed to supporting”.

Clydesdale is committing a “substantial” but undisclosed amount of money to support the Entrepreneurial Exchange’s annual conference and its separate yearly awards dinner for the next three years.

It is also keen to stage events at which its bankers can offer advice to Exchange members.

Entrepreneurial Exchange chief executive John Anderson believes Clydesdale is well placed relative to taxpayer-funded banks in supporting his members.

He said of Clydesdale: “We need to make sure we have a relationship with someone who actually helps our members.”

Mr Anderson added: “I think the benefit of not being caught up in the maelstrom, not having the Government or the taxpayer as a stakeholder, meant (in terms of) the Exchange partnering with a banking partner, the only choice in town has been the Clydesdale.”

Clydesdale’s main Scottish rivals, Bank of Scotland owner Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, have the UK taxpayer as a significant shareholder.

He highlighted the importance to Exchange members of having access to “specialist knowledge” from Clydesdale, as well as “financial input”.

Mr Anderson added: “This was clearly destined in the stars.”

Scott McKerracher, regional director of Clydesdale’s integrated financial solutions business banking arm for Scotland and northern England, told The Herald: “The timing is absolutely the point. We have very much an ‘open for business’ message that is out there. We have come through the problems (of the global credit crisis) very well. We have a very traditional approach to banking.

“We are growing our business pretty strongly in Scotland.”

Mr McKerracher highlighted a trebling of the number of “business developers” in his banking team to 80 in the last 15 months.

Mr Anderson and Mr McKerracher highlighted their organisations’ common values and notably the importance of deep relationships with their members or customers.

The Entrepreneurial Exchange, which is now 15 years old, has about 430 members.

Mr Anderson said that these members, a mixture of early, mid-stage, and larger companies, had collective annual revenues of £23bn and a total workforce of 290,000.

Although quipping that Aberdeen-based bus and rail company FirstGroup accounted for “quite a lot of that”, he noted that 70 members had annual turnover of more than £25m.

Mr McKerracher said: “As well as the conference and the Exchange (awards) dinner, we have a number of strategic events that we are looking to set up as part of the partnership, which will be absolutely about connecting customers. We are looking at assisting businesses that are looking to grow out the recession and attract them and work with them, using the skills we have as traditional bankers.”

He highlighted Clydesdale’s Investing for Growth initiative, which aims to provide flexible finance for businesses looking to expand “out the recession”.

Mr McKerracher added: “There is a lot of great businesses out there that are expanding in various sectors. We have got to try and get that positivity out there. This is the opportunity – taking our traditional approach and marrying it up with the Exchange.”

He highlighted the importance of giving Scottish businesses the confidence to export.

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