Interview with Joe Diggins - Director of Tower Trade 06.09.2018
- When you were younger what did you want to do when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to be a manufacturer. I wanted to produce goods and be involved in the manufacturing side of things. This is because it was fascinating for me and it was my father’s background and I was exposed to it from a very young age.
- Give us a brief outline of your career to date.
When I finished college, I went to work for a building society in Ireland, basically processing mortgage applications. I then moved to Jersey, where I started to work in the trust industry. From there, I learnt a lot about the legal background of international contracts and agreements. From there, I went into international tax work for corporates. I moved back to Ireland in 2006 and set up a tax practice and trust company and in 2012 we branched into trade finance in Ireland. We set up a trade finance company to exploit trade opportunity there.
- What does your role look like at Tower Trade/Deal Partners?
I am the Operations Director and I do the business development side of things also. I deal with day to day issues in running the trade finance operations and I source applications and find new customers. I also sit on the credit committee to approve new clients.
- What motivates you?
I think it’s getting up in the morning and knowing that no 2 days are going to be the same – there is always a new challenge, always something new in my day. It motivates me to see that the clients that started with us are doing very well, that they have been with us and grew rapidly, they are still coming to us, which means that we must be doing something well.
- Why are you passionate about SMEs?
I think it’s because I recognise that people who are running it put their heart and soul into it, as it takes a lot of guts to do that. I have always had admiration for them and try to help them in any way I can, may it be referring them or providing the finance. It’s building up that network of contacts that helps everybody. You see it from the testimonials, from people that refer them to you, etc.
- If you could take one thing to a desert island, what would it be?
A book because I have all the time in the world!
- What are some of the risks of trade at the moment?
I think that there is international kind of risks – the tariffs (looks like a trade war has been started by America), rising oil prices, increased costs. I think that Brexit is also a massive risk to European businesses, not just British. The whole supply chain will have to change if it does go ahead.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing business in the UK?
Advantages: it has a long history of international trade, very well-developed rules and structures around it; access to finance; legal rules are very strong for international trade; it has a very good infrastructure and a lot of people who have experience in international trade and you can go and get advice from them. Disadvantages: Brexit and a certain level of bureaucracy in terms of taxation – we understand the reasons behind it, but in some cases, it can go too far.
- What do you think are the main implications for trade following Brexit?
If we assume that it happens, it will be a massive problem for any SME in the UK that sells to Europe or imports from Europe. It will cause problems for online traders because they will lose the benefit of the VAT one stop shop system and they will have to register in every single country that they sell to.