Welcome to ‘Tough Challenges, New Possibilities’, the interview series that asks business leaders for their advice for small businesses to adapt and thrive in these challenging times. We spoke to Alison Hutchinson CBE, an award-winning leader disrupting the charity sector, with over two decades of senior experience across the financial sector.

About Alison Hutchinson CBE

Alison Hutchinson is the CEO of Pennies, an award-winning fintech charity making digital giving affordable, sustainable, and feel-good. She is also a non-executive Director of LV= and the Senior Independent Director at DFS plc and Yorkshire Building Society. In 2016, she was awarded a CBE for services to the economy and charities.

What’s been your biggest business challenge?

I’ve been fortunate to have had experience working in a range of business sizes – from SMBs through to international technology giants. Typically, no matter the size, I’ve found myself involved in organisations that have gone through a lot of change. The biggest business challenge has always been defining and living a vision and purpose. A lot of leaders think you can simply clarify what you do and leave it there, but you’ve really got to galvanise it by surrounding yourself with the right talent who also have the right attitude.

And your biggest personal challenge?

I’m a busy person wearing many hats – mother, wife, CEO, Non-Executive Director. So many talk of time management and the best way to divide your time, but I think energy management is far more important, and can be a challenge to implement. It’s all about positive choices and I love to be busy, but it’s important to define how I manage my energy to show up for the
person or project I’m involved with, and give my best self.

How can banks and financial services companies do a better job in helping small firms?

We’ve seen an awful lot of challenges around surviving throughout the pandemic. The biggest thing a bank can do for a small business is understanding their business plans and how they might be able to support in any debt or loan management. It’s a key time for banks to work out how many SMBs are struggling as a result of the pandemic, and how many are struggling in general, and put in place measures to lift them out of survival mode where their business plan demonstrates sustainability.