Interviews

Oyster Bay Systems: Proof you can teach an old dog new tricks

4 min read

24 January 2017

Former special projects journalist

As a longstanding software company - Oyster Bay has been running since the 80s - it is important to keep up with changing technology.

Software provider for the finance industry, Oyster Bay Systems, has been running since the 80s and it is keen to keep its ideas fresh. We caught up with Martin Breach, operations and sales director, to hear more.

Oyster Bay’s software, the Vienna Lending Platform, is a system that manages loans from point of sale through to end of term. It can manage a variety of lending markets from asset finance, consumer finance, broker finance, commercial finance and motor finance.

The one thing it doesn’t cover is pay-day loans. “There were some ethical pay-day lenders, but there were a lot of things that didn’t sit well with us so we decided to stay out of that market altogether,” explained Breach.

“Actually it worked really well for us because it’s been regulated out and lots of our competitors that built revenue streams on pay-day lenders have now lost a lot of money and are now in trouble.”

The business has clients of all shapes and sizes, from small family run finance companies that are maybe part of car dealerships, to global finance corporations. The software is now used in 11 countries worldwide.

Oyster Bay was originally founded in 1983, and so naturally the product has changed a lot since then.
“A huge part of what we do is product development, improving the technology, the functionality,” said Breach.

“Not only is the technology changing, but also the market needs and the customer needs and their expectations. That’s good for us, because people expect software to do a lot more of the job, take a much bigger role in the day-to-day running of the business.”

A few years ago the company started receiving offers from competitors. A lot of its competitors only serve niche markets, such as motor finance and mortgages, and if a client offers more than one of these services it can quickly find it needs four or five different software platforms. Vienna allows the client to manage all types of loans in one system.

A turning point came for the company when a client purchased Vienna to replace three competitors. Oyster Bay decided that was a good time to really push the company and see what it could do.

Oyster Bay is a long-standing family business; it wanted to inject some new ideas, and sought out an objective mentor. “One of the problems you have when you have a business like ours is that sometimes you hire people that think and look like you,” said Breach.

“People want to please you, and because we’re all part of the Breach family, people sometimes tell you what you want to hear.”

The business signed up to the Entrepreneurial Spark programme to get some new ideas, a new lease of life, and work with people that had no interest in saying what it wanted to hear.

Although it is one of the oldest companies on the programme, Breach is adamant that the challenges are the same for all businesses – each need a market, and each need to find a way to make their ideas work.

His biggest piece of advice to impart for businesses of all sizes is the classic: “Cash is king.”

“You’ve got to have cash – nobody is guaranteed a tomorrow. With the uncertainties in the economy and everything that’s going on, you’ve got to have money to tide you over.”