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News

Bankers’ credentials woefully lacking says SME lender

In a telling and thought-provoking article in the Daily Telegraph, Paul Lynam, CEO at Secure Trust Bank, alluded to today’s bankers lacking professional banking credentials. He referred to his own career, at the beginning of which as a new starter at NatWest the first thing he was told was that to get on in the bank he would need to complete the banking exams. He has continued to believe in the need for professional banking qualifications, and puts his bank’s success in recent years down to its professionally qualified leadership team.

He even went so far as to say that one wouldn’t see an unqualified dentist, or fly with an unqualified pilot, but the powers that be seem to think it’s alright to put people in charge of financial affairs who have no professional banking qualifications. His conclusion is that the industry has allowed itself to become dumbed down, as it is difficult to call oneself a professional if one has no relevant qualifications whatsoever. Some might say that this same observation might be made of the asset finance industry, which has a professional qualification put in place by the Finance & Leasing Association, but which only a minority pursue.

Many readers will remember Paul Lynam as managing director of Lombard back in 2007/8 . .

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New FD for Shire Leasing

Helen LumbMark Picken, Managing Director of Shire Leasing Plc and those of the wider Management Board are delighted to announce the appointment of Helen Lumb as Finance Director to Shire Leasing Plc.

Speaking about Helen's appointment, Mark Picken said, "I am very pleased to announce Helen's arrival at Shire. Helen joins us at a pivotal and exciting period in the company's growth. Helen will play an integral part in the future scale, direction and profitability of our organisation." 

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Aldermore defers IPO

Due to the recent deterioration of global equity markets, Aldermore’s Board and Shareholders have elected not to proceed at this time with the initial public offering of Aldermore. The Board stated, “Aldermore continues to perform strongly, with excellent organic loan growth and a proven track record of delivery through its modern, digital platform. AnaCap, as a long term investor, will continue to support the next phase of its development.”

Reports from the Telegraph quote Philip Monks, Chairman, saying that the challenger bank was likely to look at an IPO again in the future, but possibly not until after the May General Election. . .

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Another win for Barcelona

L-R Enrico Duranti, Jukka SalonenThe Grand Marina Hotel in Barcelona provided a warm and balmy waterfront setting for this year’s Leaseurope Annual Convention, and was an inspired choice of location at a time when it seemed the rest of Europe was suffering torrential rain. The annual gathering attracted some 450 asset and consumer finance executives from across Europe, and a number of visitors from the US. Important announcements included the appointment of new Chairman Enrico Duranti, CEO, Iccrea Banca Impresa (left in photo) who took over from the long-serving Jukka Salonen. Jukka will be moving to a new position as COO in Nordea Bank, where his well-known championing skills for innovation and strategy development will be put to a new challenge. 

The successful programme of panel sessions covering Basle III and beyond, IASB, Services innovations, and cloud financing, culminated in the now “must-see” Futures Group presentations . .

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Kennet acquisition update

West-Midlands based leasing finance company Kennet Equipment Leasing (“Kennet”) has acquired Aylesbury-based AH Corporate Finance (“AH”), in a move that will see Kennet absorb the AH portfolio into its own business. Kennet itself was recently acquired by private equity player Star Capital, and clearly the added financial clout of Star, as well as possibly its corporate strategy mindset has played a large part in Kennet’s latest move.

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£80 MILLION BOOST FOR LEASING FINANCE

Mark Picken Shire LeasingAS THE BRITISH BUSINESS BANK FOCUSES ON ALTERNATIVE LENDING FOR SMALL BUSINESS, Shire Leasing, which specialises in providing block discounting and leasing finance to small businesses, is to receive an £80 million boost thanks to an investment by the British Business Bank and the private sector.

Leasing finance, block discounting, and asset finance are increasingly important sources of finance, allowing small businesses to invest in assets or equipment for growth which they would not have been able to afford otherwise. The British Business Bank’s investment is its first into the block discounting market and comprises £40 million from the British Business Bank, matched by £40 million private sector funding.

Shire already supports 11,000 SMEs across the UK, but today’s investment means Shire will be able double the level of finance it currently provides to smaller businesses. Typical assets it enables small business to lease or purchase include vehicles, communication systems, or capital equipment. The average loan size is £6,000 and the average agreement term is 48 months.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said, “Today’s investment is significant because it shows we are serious about promoting greater use of asset finance and alternative lenders. The market is heavily dominated by the big high street banks so competition is limited and innovation is slow, but by making these investments we can start to engineer long-term structural changes that benefit both businesses and the market.”

Mark Picken, CEO Shire Leasing said, “Shire Leasing are proud to enter into this investment partnership with the British Business Bank. We have served the SME market with business asset finance facilities for 25 years. As the traditional lending banks have withdrawn much of their support from SMEs this investment will allow us to serve more of our core market and support those SMEs who are keen to take advantage of the improving UK economy.”

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Awards a seriously fun night

Lord Mitchell asks when he will get an AwardHitachi Capital sponsored Leasing World Awards night was definitely a fun night for the 18 Award winners, for the 200 guests that enjoyed the earlier champagne reception, provided by Close Brothers Asset Finance, and afterwards in the wine cellars courtesy of Aldermore Asset Finance (CLICK HERE FOR ROLL CALL OF WINNERS), but it had its serious side too. Lord Mitchell, who was ably assisted in announcing the winners by Charles Maddren of Great American Lease & Loan Insurance, and Carl D’Ammassa of Aldermore Asset Finance, had preceded the ceremony with a serious speech in which he predicted that this time next year Labour leader Ed Milliband would be Prime Minister. This drew gasps and protests from many of the audience, despite the fact that earlier in the day Investec’s chief economist, Philip Shaw, said that his economic forecast had factored in a Labour win (which many economists agree with).

Among the awards are several categories that hinge on special recognition or a specific event that occurred during the year that was felt to be worthy of an award, for example the Editor’s Choice award went to Hitachi Capital Business Finance for their help to Somerset farmers whose farms had been underwater for months, and had been abandoned by the government. It was possibly the first time that a lessor had voluntarily and without pressure granted a substantial rental holiday to help tide the farmers over.

Dr Ed White with Lord MitchellThe Contribution to the Leasing Industry award went to White Clarke Group, with a special mention of co-founder Dara Clarke whom tragedy befell earlier in the year. White Clarke Group started out as a modest firm supplying leasing software packages some 25 years ago, and has grown into an international group spanning Europe, North America, Australia and China, employing over 500 staff. The remaining co-founder, Dr Ed White mounted the podium to accept the award and gave a short but moving address. Afterwards, he said privately, “If Dara had been here he would have partied all night to celebrate this award.”

Without the software houses’ involvement, it is by no means certain that the leasing industry could have kept pace with all the complex tax and accounting changes, specific to the industry, over the years, and the industry has come to rely on software houses to keep them abreast of all the legislation. It is a fact that before the rental calculation algorithms were coded, lessors had to carry around a bulky “Blue Book” of tables containing all possible combinations of interest rates, periods, and rental frequencies.

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£2 billion milestone

Mike FrancisInvestec Asset Finance plc (“IAF”) has announced reaching £2 billion of total financing for equipment to UK businesses since its establishment eight years ago, marking a major milestone for the bank and its asset finance division.  

The announcement follows the recent statement issued by the Bank of England showing that Investec Bank plc was the second largest net lender to SMEs in Q2 among banks using the government’s Funding for Lending scheme, providing net funding of £136 million to SMEs last quarter.  

The £2 billion in lending has been aided by a £264 million securitisation deal, completed at the end of 2013. IAF sold bonds backed by £264 million worth of SME equipment leases to a range of leading institutional investors, the first of its kind in the UK. The securitisation deal included almost 36,000 finance leases and hire purchase contracts providing asset finance to UK SMEs . .

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Investec launches container finance

Investec Asset Finance plc (“IAF”) has launched a new specialist container box finance offering, led by Keith Glasscoe, as it seeks to build a significant portfolio in the asset class. Keith Glasscoe has more than 25 years experience in the Asset Finance sector and joined Investec six months ago with a mandate to originate larger sized deals with high quality corporate credits. Before joining Investec, Keith held senior positions at Barclays and Bank of Scotland, including leading the Structured Transport Finance team at Bank of Scotland for 10 years . .

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More huge VAT bills

A PwC press release says: Banks, insurers and other financial services firms across Europe face extra VAT costs running into £100 millions in the UK alone, following an ECJ judgment in September. The ruling means services supplied between a group’s headquarters and its branches may now be subject to VAT. Today’s judgment concerned Skandia America Corporation and the Swedish Tax Authority. Other tax authorities across the EU will now consider how they implement the rules.

Stephen Morse, tax partner at PwC, commented: “The case significantly expands the VAT net for financial services firms. Banks and insurers are likely to be affected most. It’s standard for head office costs to be shared between a group’s subsidiaries. Any internal costs between a firm’s branches will now face VAT, rather than just the external costs. 

Many financial services firms will see their VAT bills soar . .

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Fireworks at Barcelona Convention?

Tanguy van de WerveCommenting on a preview of the three best innovation projects from Leaseurope’s Future Group Programme, Director General, Tanguy van de Werve, said, “It has been a great four meetings this year, again with many first-rate ideas. The Future Group session at the Annual Convention in Barcelona promises to be explosive!”

“We are very encouraged by the numerous messages of support we have received from CEOs across Europe, saying how useful this Leaseurope’s Future Group initiative proves to be. An e-publication presenting all the class of 2014 projects will be released by year-end, in line with Leaseurope’s objective to give back to the industry,” he added.

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Is the Queen off balance sheet?

Her Majesty the Queen is leasing a luxury Agusta Westland helicopter for a year, it has been reported recently. The helicopter will bear the Royal crest and apparently will be used on a trial basis. According to the Daily Express, a spokesman for the Queen said the monarch had secured an annual lease for a helicopter, for a fixed number of hours. It represented good value for money because it will provide an alternative to chartering a number of different helicopters, the spokesman said. While everyone else consider matters such as whether this is Prince William’s birthday present, the hot topic in the leasing community is - according to Julian Rose at www.assetfinancepolicy.co.uk - the appropriate accounting treatment is for the Royal chopper. In his blog, he wonders if . .

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Who wants to be a millionaire?

The broker market has gone through remarkable transformations in the past four years. It has come from being a bog-standard part of the market, swinging in and out of fashion or favour with lessors, to almost the only game in town for some lessors, and a fertile hunting ground for yield hungry private equity houses. The large brokers who have developed their own-book portfolio as well, have had a boost in the past two years from the absence of low rate clearing bank competition and the virtual disappearance of the overdraft. Meanwhile the lessors that fund them have grown in strength and focus from taking up market share left free by ING Lease’s departure.

Today, many of the large broker funders are operating at a new higher level, higher levels of business, higher standards of credit underwriting, and higher standards of professionalism brought on in part by greater exposure to complex regulatory requirements and training from funders. The result has been that these large broker funders are attractive targets for private equity players, and if you are in the fortunate position of owning a stake in a large broker funder, you can at last see an exit for yourself, and the prospect of a very satisfactory payout for all your hard work . .

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Leaseurope seeks new Asset Finance head

Leaseurope, based in Brussels, is the voice of the leasing and automotive rental industries in Europe and is composed of 44 Member Associations in 32 countries. It is now seeking to recruit a new Head of Asset Finance and Research, reporting directly to the Director General.

This is a challenging position that requires an extremely dedicated and motivated professional who is eager to work on topics and in an industry that are relatively technical in nature. The successful candidate will also be able to distill technical messages, and position them at the right level and within the appropriate political and/or economic context, depending on the audience. Leaseurope is looking for someone who strives for excellence in their work, with excellent hands-on organisational and multi-tasking skills.

This individual must also be able to identify and make links between industry trends and future European legislative initiatives in view of steering the Federation’s research programme. Additionally . . 

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Brits shy about their figures?

The Leaseurope Top European Leasing Companies ranking provides a yearly update on new leasing volumes and portfolios of the largest leasing firms in Europe. In the latest survey, 79 European leasing companies took part in the 2013 Leaseurope Ranking Survey. Of those, 62 parent and stand-alone companies reported total new leasing volumes of more than €130 billion, which represents 52 percent of all leasing business written in Europe in 2013. The top 20 parent leasing companies accounted for just over 42 percent of the total new volumes in Europe for 2013, and 27 companies reported new volumes of over €1 billion. 

The UK, despite being one of the top two markets for leasing new volume in Europe, the other being Germany, remains shy of revealing how much business is attributable to its lessors. Once again, the Brits refuse to bare their figures in public, and the Leaseurope lessor rankings show only Bank of America Leasing at No. 28, and plucky Asset Advantage Group at No. 61.

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