Dave Fishwick's interest rises

Watch out big business, Dave Fishwick has you in his sights. The Lancashire businessman who took on the banks and pay day lenders sees another injustice that needs sorting: late payment and its impact on smaller companies.

It’s just one of the issues that the entrepreneur, campaigner, TV star and subject of a major Netflix film now in production, believes needs fixing - and fast.

Nelson-born Dave, who says the big banks “dislike me with a passion”, is equally passionate on this subject. He says: “It’s tough out there for small businesses.

“I say this to my people. If we owe money to somebody pay them quick, don’t make them wait.

“If they have to wait 30, 60, 90, even 120 days to get paid, a small business can really suffer. Pay them immediately

Some of these bigger companies can really help the smaller companies by doing that. If the money is in your account and you’ve got it and you owe it, then pay it.

“If you go to a supermarket, you can’t walk out and say I’ll pay you in three months. ‘I’ll have eaten those beans and those potatoes but I’m giving you 90 days, and then I’ll pay for them’. You’d get arrested.

“The bigger the company the worse they can be in paying. And what happens if the big company goes bust in the meantime, the little company is going to go through no fault of its own. That has to change.

Self-belief, determination, drive, it’s all very important. If you don’t believe in yourself nobody else will

There should be rules in place and that should come from government. I don’t see why you need more than 24 hours to pay. You can move money digitally now in seconds.”

The subject of late payment is just one of the things Dave speaks passionately about. But he’s not just a good talker, the 50-year-old has a track record of getting things done.

His approach to problems has seen him working with both ITV and the BBC in recent months, dishing out his no-nonsense advice to people as the cost-of-living crunch starts to bite hard.

Then there’s the little matter of the biopic that is currently been made of his life, starring award-winning actor Rory Kinnear, known for his roles in James Bond and Ridley Road, as the man himself.

Bridgerton star Phoebe Dynevor is also in the star-studded cast as is Joel Fry, who recently starred as a lead in big-budget family movie Cruella. Jo Hartley, who appeared in Ricky Gervais’ hit Netflix comedy After Life is also appearing.

Filming has taken place in Burnley and in Dave and Nicola’s home in the east Lancashire countryside. The film also sees an appearance by rock legends Def Leppard.

The plot centres on Dave’s life and how he took on the finance industry and battled to open the ‘Bank of Dave’ in Burnley. He gave himself the task to create a bank and send it into profit in 180 days.

The David versus Goliath battle was well chronicled in an award-winning Channel 4 TV series and book. More than a decade later Burnley Savings and Loans, anchored firmly in the community, has now lent more than £27m to thousands of people and businesses. Profits go to charity.

When we arrive for this interview, he is busy recording a promo for the BBC. He’s just teamed up with the broadcaster to help people struggling with debt.

It’s another sign of how his life has changed and the media’s interest in what he has to say. He’s even a social media star, his TikTok videos on how to fly a helicopter, one of Dave’s great passions, have gone viral with millions of views. Little wonder he declares: “The world is bonkers now!”

It is 10 years since he originally started out on his Bank of Dave quest – the last programme in the multi award-winning Channel 4 TV series went out more than six years ago.

He then took on the pay day lenders as the ‘Loan Ranger’, a documentary that saw him take his message to senior politicians.

He says: “It was difficult to make but well worthwhile. We got things changed.”

He adds: “My name isn’t Dave Fishwick any more its Bank of Dave. Dave has become my last name!

“But I love it dearly and it’s a real honour and pleasure to be thought of and seen in that light. If you’re going to be typecast, be typecast for something cool.”

Dave started work after leaving school at 16 with no qualifications. His first job was a builder’s labourer earning £27.50 on a YTS scheme.

His rise has been well documented, from his first efforts in business cleaning up and selling cars, to the creation and growth of David Fishwick Minibuses – still based in Colne and the UK’s largest minibus supplier.

Today his business interests are wide, ranging from property to an investment company in America. He set up the operation in the States almost 20 years ago and today it is his main business.

But with the TV work, does he see himself more of a media personality than businessman? He says: “No, I’m just Dave from Burnley who sells a few buses.

“I love buses, buses make me real, and I like going to the garage. I go every week at least once. It’s a form of normality that I like.

“I enjoy stepping in and out of the media, it’s magical. TV is magical and the movies even more so.

“To have the honour to be able to watch a movie being made in your own home, your workspace, the bank and the town, it has been wonderful. There is something really special about it.

“The cast is awesome. When someone is the subject of a biopic, they’re normally dead. But I’m still here!”

Dave is quick to acknowledge the part others have played in the story being put on film, including David Henshaw, who was an integral part of the successful launch of Burnley Savings and Loans and who he describes as his “right hand man”.

He says: There’s none of this that could have happened without him. There isn’t a more honest, ethical or moral person in the world.

“If David was running the Bank of England, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in. We’ve also got 12 people working at the bank and without that team it would be totally impossible.”

Looking at where he is now, Dave says: “I own my small country estate. It’s 100-odd acres and a beautiful place and I’m incredibly lucky to live here. There’s a mile and a half of river that runs through it and I’ve an aircraft hangar for toys and I feel completely blessed.

“But I don’t forget where I come from. It was a very small, terraced house on John Street with an outside toilet and no money for toys. I know what it’s like to have nothing and I know what it’s like to have something.

“It’s been tough at times but it’s just a matter of self-belief and keep going. Self-belief, determination, drive, it’s all very important. If you don’t believe in yourself nobody else will.

“These days I do things because I want to do them. It doesn’t matter how much somebody wants to pay me. If I don’t want to do it, there isn’t a number.

“In the early days I had three jobs. You’ve got to work hard, but hard work puts you where some good luck can find you.”

Dave also reveals that he and Nicola plan to give away 90 per cent of their wealth when the time is right.

The dad of two says: “It is very important that you don’t leave wealth to the next generation. I’ve seen what it does to people if you leave a huge amount of money.

“My view is leave enough to do anything but not too much to do nothing. It’s very important that you don’t leave too much because you burden the next generation with it.

“We will spend latter years of our lives finding out where it can do most good. The Bank of Dave will eventually become the foundation that gives.

“Some of that will be interest free loans to people who are really struggling. Some will be money where we feel that it will have an impact.

“I don’t just want to write a cheque, I want to see where its’s going. I’ve worked really hard as have the rest of us and I want to see where it does most good and goes back to society, where it’s come from.”

When it comes to success in business, he has some simple tips. “If you surround yourself with good, honest, ethical people that you trust, good things will happen. If you do the opposite, the opposite will happen.” Dave believes the secret to business growth is to “take a step back” and see what is actually happening, instead of trying to do everything.

He adds: “You don’t want that ‘third milk round’ effect. Your first milk round is a fantastic business, you’re working hard at it and making a few quid and you think, ‘I’ll get a second round now’.

“Then you’ve got to buy another van and employ people and order a load more milk and you need somebody to trust, and you have to keep an eye on all that as well.

“If you’re not careful you end up thinking, ‘I can make more money if I get a third round’. That’s where it goes wrong and you end up making less money than you did when you just had the first round, because you are trying to do everything, everywhere.

“It’s about delegating. Learn to delegate first rather than focussing on getting bigger. Also be creative. If that second round is delivering orange juice and milk shakes and other things, suddenly it is not a second milk round, it is a new business complementing the first one. That’s the future.”

Warming to the theme he adds: “If you are going to start a business, don’t just try and set off without knowing a great deal about it.

“If you want to start a pub business that offers food, get yourself a parttime job in the busiest pub in the area that does the things you want to do. Somebody in that pub has done the job right.

“Take pictures of the décor and furniture and source them cheaper. Look at what drinks sell best, what food sells the most, what the price range is.

“When is the pub at its busiest, where are the drinks being supplied from? Don’t try and reinvent the wheel, the wheel goes round brilliantly. Just borrow some of the best ideas.

“Work three to six months in a place like that. You’re going to get paid; you are going to meet people and listen to a lot of things and every night you are going to come home and write it down.

“Borrow their ideas, take them back into your own business. It doesn’t matter what business; it all works the same.

“At the end of six months you are going to have a business plan to die for. Then you’re cooking with gas!”

Things like late payment, the negative impact of pay day loans, the attitude of the big banks - all these issues make him mad, he admits.

However, he says his secret is not to let anger deflect from the task in hand. Dave says: “Take the emotion out of it and deal with it. Take a deep breath and remember there is always a way.

“You will always find a way, whatever the problem, it’s just a matter of finding it, whether you go round it, over it, under it or smash through it.

“As soon as somebody gives you just a hint of a way forward. If you ask enough people somebody will say, ‘There used to be a way, but you can’t do it that way anymore’.

“It’s just that inkling, that’s all you need. Because once you’ve got that you are in and there might just be a way.

“You just need to peel that stamp back a millimetre and then you can rip the envelope open, and the answer will be inside.”