Leasiing Life Awards The Finance and Leasing Association
By James Lee on 09/08/19 | Category - Asset Finance

The RWM Exhibition could not be taking place at a more fitting time, with the actions of "Extinction Rebellion" still fresh in the minds of the British public. Although some of the methods the movement employed can be questioned, you cannot deny that it has reenergised the climate change debate. 

As the importance of global warming scales the political agenda, so too does the importance of recycling and waste management. In order for the UK to meet the Climate Change Committee targets of net zero emissions by 2050, it is vital that waste management in the UK is supported and developed. 

The progress that has been made in recycling over the past 20 years is undeniable. The graphs below shows the vast reduction in waste sent to landfill and the subsequent plummet in emissions emitted. Nevertheless, it is difficult to not concentrate on the plateau that has emerged over the last two years.

Just as technology is widely accepted as the driver of economic growth, similarly it is technological progress that is essential for developing recycling methods and reducing waste. Exhibitions like Letsrecycle Live, and the RWM Exhibition are vital, they act as vehicles to distribute knowledge, promote best practice, and share technological achievements.  

As a society we have reached a defining moment in waste management, attitudes need to change and technology uptake needs to increase, to overcome this stagnation.

First Asset Finance Plc have supported the waste management industry for the last 20 years, providing the sector with funding options and financial choice. We are proud to provide asset finance to established waste management companies, as well as supporting the growth of start-ups in the industry.

If you are interested in attending the RWM Exhibition you can get free tickets at the following link. http://www.eventdata.co.uk/Forms/Form.aspx?FormRef=RWM99Visitor

By James Lee on 06/05/19 | Category - Asset Finance

 

What we have learnt from the Commercial Vehicle Show 2019.

 

Now the buzz of the Commercial Vehicle show 2019 has died down, it would be wise to reflect on the learnings from our day in Birmingham. 

Firstly, and I hate to sound like a broken record but, electric truly is the future. The breadth and quantity of electric vehicles on show, is a testament to the progress made by companies pioneering this green change. As vehicle’s ranges improve and batteries reduce in both cost and weight, it is understandable why companies like Sainsbury’s are looking to roll out electric delivery vehicles in their fleet.

Secondly, residual value financing across the commercial vehicle industry, is becoming rather scarce, particularly in the electric market. Speaking to both vehicle manufacturers and finance providers, it is obviously a moot point. This has piqued the interest of First Asset RV, as independent providers of residual values we are looking to change this outlook, to benefit finance providers, customers and manufacturers.  

I have asked Robert Taylor, Commercial Director, and  Emma Crawshay Jones, Business Relationship Manager, for their respective highlights of the CV show. Incredibly they both forgot about my 5th place finish in the virtual reality, F1 racing.

 

 

 Emma -  "Naturally I visited the CPD Bodies stand, who had their own pop-up cocktail bar. I was very impressed with the hand built, Trucks and Van Bodies they had on display. Their new 3D body builder is a great visual tool, and definitely worth using if you plan on buying a truck or van."

Rob - "Chereau is a household name in the commercial vehicle world and it’s refreshing to see they are not resting on their laurels. Still providing excellent build quality and adding innovative technology. This means they are producing trailers that last for years and maintain their value particularly well. "

James - "Fuelmii fleet is a company that has merged the novel combination of petrol station and home delivery. With a fleet of vehicles equipped with diesel storage and pumping capabilities, they deliver fuel to your vehicle fleet. All of this is easily done through an app or online, making refuelling easy. 

 

 

 

 

 

By Simon Jones on 11/12/18 | Category - Asset Finance

           

As we move into our 42nd year in the asset finance industry my office has persuaded me that a reflection on the journey we have taken might be of interest to others and therefore with some humility but substantial pride I agreed to pen this blog.

FAF started its long journey in November 1977 when as a 26 year old chartered surveyor with 5 years of commercial property financing under the belt I felt the need to be self- employed and in charge of my own decisions.  At the time leasing was very much in its infancy and the business began by setting up, running and managing leasing companies for and on behalf of corporate clients at a time when the government was keen to encourage investment into industry by offering 100% first year allowances on all expenditure incurred on plant and equipment.

An introduction from the merchant bank Henry Ansbacher was both timely and effective as we set up our first leasing entity (Epicure Leasemaster) for a business involved in food distribution as well as  being the notable owner of the restaurant A L’ecu de France in Jermyn Street. A restaurant which with some justification boasted one of the finest wine cellars in London.  Our office was based in Eagle House, Jermyn Street above the restaurant which I confess we used more often than perhaps we should – staff discounts were a double edged sword.

Funding for the business was arranged with Julian Hodge under a block discounting facility where we were paying 400 basis points margin over LIBOR – leaving us a challenge to find business at the right level. However with the benefit received from the 100% FYA’s we were able to subsidise the rate of interest we had to charge a customer to a level where we could compete effectively with traditional bank borrowing costs.  It is ironic that the capital allowances initiative which was brought in to encourage investment into industry all those years ago, and did so most effectively, has today moved to where structures designed to take advantage of the greatly reduced level of incentives are subjectively being regarded as being evasive or at best unwelcome tax avoidance.

As the business grew we found the need to set up a broking side where we could place excess business we were generating but could not effectively compete with banks on pricing but where based on our origination and structuring capabilities we could earn introductory fees.  The business grew quickly as each year we had to write more business to not only shelter our clients increasing liability to corporation tax on their mainstream profits but also to cover off the rental income we were receiving from the leases we had written in the previous year.

This inbuilt mechanism for growth drove the leasing industry to dizzy heights in the 1980’s as the product became the preferred source of asset financing against more traditional products.  Then in 1984 Nigel Lawson brought in his budget which announced a reduction in 100% FYA’s in the follow on three years from 100% FYA’s to 75%(1984); 50%(1985); and eventually 25% writing down allowance each year(1986).  At the same time the Chancellor also announced a reduction in the rate of corporation tax from 52% in 1983 to 50% (y/e1984); 45% (y/e1985); 40% (y/e1986); 35% (y/e1987).  The leasing industry drew nervous breath believing it had been taken off at the knees with it’s competitive pricing ability from subsidising interest payable from the FYA’s it received being removed.  This was the first time that a chancellor had set rates so far in advance and it turned out to be a hiatus for the leasing industry where lessors were buying equipment assuming 100% FYA’s and a 52% corporation tax on the lease rentals but in fact the lease rentals coming in over a 5 year period were then being taxed at a lower reduced rate of corporation tax. By pushing the fully taxable stream on the rentals into a later year when the tax rate was lower the lessor made a real saving.

The market quickly recognised this and for a few years leasing facilities on leased plant and equipment were regularly being offered at negative rates of interest because even though the lessee might be paying back less than the capital, on an after tax basis the lessor was still making a handsome return. Days of joy for FAF as the demand for leasing grew quickly.  As a consequence, towards the end of the 1980’s when corporation tax stood at 35% most Lessor finance directors looked at their gearing, which had grown hugely off the back of demand for debt, and decided that to pay the corporation tax at the lower rate of 35% was on balance a better idea than to spend so much time effort and balance sheet capacity in running a leasing business.


There developed for a few years in the late 80’s / early 90’s a strong market in the buying and selling of leasing companies as the industry adjusted itself to the new tax regime and the number of Lessor’s declined.  Nigel Lawson had achieved something quite special in that he had reduced the tax rate but saw the tax "take” increase. Mr Trump of late has yet to achieve the same.  In the early 90’s we sold 25% of the business to Elders Finance – the Australian Merchant Bank – part of the Foster’s Brewing Group.  This was a short lived experience as they fell into difficulties in the recession of the early nineties and we subsequently agreed to terminate the arrangement. This was a difficult time for FAF as the entire economy was suffering from the inertia of business in general.

With some determination and focus we worked our way out of the 90’s recession much wiser for the experience and with a thorough understanding of the concept that "cash is always king”.  At this point we decided that we would turn FAF into a lifestyle business where the shareholders would take out what money was sensible each year rather than attempting to build the balance sheet.  We continued with this strategy without having any debt until 2010 when we decided it was time to re-build the group balance sheet.  There followed a period of interesting change in the business model as we began to build our own rental book through First Asset Rentals Limited. This led to the development of an operating lease strategy when we would take top slice risk on deals which banks were reluctant to fully underwrite in order to deliver the necessary accounting treatment for the customer.  This was followed closely with a residual value product where we use "patient capital” to invest in the residual value of assets at the end of an operating lease.   We have now added the third leg to our stool in the guise of FAF Capital Limited which provides debt to corporates in support of our structured lending products and is itself supported by a range of wholesale funders.  As a small, focused, and intelligent financing business we persist and strive to deliver an exceptional and bespoke service to all of our loyal customers employing the benefit of our many years’ of experience as well as a quality contact base.

Reflections:


The industry has changed enormously over the last 10 years as banks retreat back to their standard product offerings with little appetite for any real transactional innovation or flexibility. A change which has been to our benefit and perhaps the main reason we have managed to stay in business – the ability to move quickly and provide varied and flexible structures for our customers.  Of some concern  is the a dearth of young people coming into the asset finance industry over the last 5 to 10 years – Is this because there isn’t sufficient training or perhaps because there is a need for more self-promotion by the industry as  the skills employed by those financiers in the early years are being over looked.

As with any business big or small two principles remain the same
• "Money IN must always exceed money OUT”
• "Cash is King”

It always amazes me how many times this is forgotten.  The key to a successful business is a happy working environment and the team spirit which we at FAF are fortunate enough to enjoy is well deployed amongst all of our staff and the Board.


As we move towards 2019 we have a strong range of interesting products and are very fortunate to have a dedicated, loyal and highly professional team of asset financing specialists who are as always keen to provide the first class service for which we have become known. We look forward to taking the business forward for the next 42 years.

By Laura Gosshawk on 20/11/18 | Category - Asset Finance

 


2018 Leasing Life Conference & Awards: Winners Announced

 

The winners have now been announced for the thirteenth Leasing Life Awards, which took place at the Hilton Tallinn Park in Tallinn, Estonia on 15 November this year.

The Awards, which were held as a part of Leasing Life Conference, brought together leading figures from a variety of leasing industry backgrounds, to discuss and celebrate the industry’s progress. There was also a chance to explore the latest developments in the market in this year’s conference.

The awards challenged candidates from across Europe to share their recent successes and the achievements of the European asset finance industry in 2018. The winners across 12 categories were carefully selected by the judging panel and honoured in the ceremony hosted by CEO of Alfa – Andrew Denton, Chief Executive of IAA Advisory – Lindsay Town and Editor of Leasing Life – Brian Cantwell.

The panel of judges brought in fresh industry expertise and longstanding knowledge of Europe’s asset finance industry. The judging panel was actively involved in the evaluation process, guaranteeing the independence and transparency of the programme.

"Entries into the awards were of a very high standard this year and our judges had a hard time picking the winners. Of particular interest to the market were the innovation-based and SME lending awards," says Cantwell. "The industry is growing more and more competitive each year and the Leasing Life awards are a great way for lessors to distinguish themselves to customers in the marketplace."

"The European leasing industry is dealing with continuing challenges and uncertain political and economic circumstances. The Leasing Life conference and awards allows these businesses to come together to benchmark their progress and to add to their strategy to limit future risks."

 

 

The list of winners of the 2018 Leasing Life Awards:

Asset Finance Intermediary 2018 – First Asset Finance

Asset Finance Legal Provider 2018 – Stephenson Harwood

SME Champion – Bank Lessor 2018 – Metro Bank

SME Champion – Independent or Privately Owned 2018 – 1pm

Vendor Finance Provider 2018 – DLL

European Lessor 2018 – Societe Generale Equipment Finance

Middle Ticket Corporate Lessor 2018 – ABN AMRO Lease

Digital Innovation 2018 – BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions

Sustainability 2018 – 3 Step IT

Young Professional of the Year 2018 – Mike Green (White Oak UK)

Industry Ambassador of the Year 2018: John Rees (Societe Generale Equipment Finance)

Lifetime Achievement: Cormac Costelloe (Dell Financial Services)

                                        

***

 

Notes to Editors

About Leasing Life Conference & Awards

The Leasing Life Conference & Awards over the past 13 years has become the European asset finance and leasing industry’s signature event. This year, Compelo hosted the conference and awards at the Hilton Tallinn Park, Tallinn on 15 November.

 

Exclusively sponsored by Alfa, the leading global supplier of asset and motor finance software and consultancy services, the awards recognise the achievements of the European asset finance industry in 2018.

 

About Leasing Life

Leasing Life provides essential briefing services across the breadth of the industry. Covering both bank- and manufacturer-funded asset finance across all asset classes, Leasing Life offers comprehensive, exclusive and intelligent coverage through in-depth market profiles, statistical analysis and up-to-the-minute news stories. See more on: http://www.leasinglife.com

 

For more information

For more information, please contact Rachel Archer at rachel.archer@compelo.com or call 44 (0) 20 7936 6591.

 

By Emma Crawshay Jones on 18/09/18 | Category - Asset Finance

"So, what do you do for work?" a common question we are all asked at every drinks party you are made to go to or when you meet a distant family friend. Working in Asset Finance is perhaps not the most common of all answers, let’s be frank! Many of my close friends if I asked them probably would not know what asset finance involves.

Considering that asset finance provides the funding to support 35% of investment spending by businesses in the UK economy (FLA, 2018) we are an important player in the economic success of the UK market. But, does the industry do enough to explain to the younger generation what we do and the career opportunities that exist? 

Previous generations, did not join a high street clearing bank (Barclays, Lloyds, RBS etc.) but instead joined the "hire purchase and leasing" subsidiaries of the banks. For others, it was an "accidental" rather than deliberate career choice. I personally fell into asset finance because of a family member. A significant minority in the industry today like me, joined because a family member was already involved in the industry. Which leads me to two questions - (a) would I have been aware of asset finance as an industry if my father had not been involved, and (b) is it an attractive industry for young people, graduates and non-graduates, to join today.


Well firstly I don’t think I would have joined the asset finance industry if it wasn’t for family. I do think we need more promotion of the industry at university level and the awareness of all the different areas one can go down in asset finance. In saying this, are people going to university less now? With the fees having increased we are seeing less children wanting/able to go to university. According to the Independent Commission on Fees, in 2012, there were 15,000 "missing" applicants who might have been expected to have sought a place on a degree course that academic year but did not. So if less people are going to university, how does the asset finance industry encourage the young to join? Perhaps one answer is for asset finance organisations to go into schools to promote the industry.

I do think the industry is attractive to young people. It is consistently growing and developing in resources. However, there is a lack of training for young people coming through and indeed if you are an employer looking to make new hires there is currently a dearth of talent to call on between the ages of 25 – 35 years of age. This needs addressing urgently as banks are now reducing staff and returning to standardised products.

As the industry moves on so do the people. Whether that be changing careers or retiring, we have to welcome the younger generation to come through and sponsor the industry. On the flipside, the issue of the younger talent replacing those who will be leaving with 30 years’ experience behind them, has been talked about for many years. There is no substitute for experience, especially when it comes to dealing with market downturns and economic recessions. But once they have left, where does that leave the younger generation, and how are we going to close this gap? Will this knowledge be taken with them or previous mistakes that were made in the past, reoccur? I think these people with such experience and knowledge should be encourage more to go into teaching or mentoring, so that their knowledge can be shared to the next generation coming up behind them.

After attending The Leasing Foundation’s,‘Young Business Finance Professionals’ at Hush Mayfair - April 18 2018, I wasn't amazed with the volume of young professionals that attended. As well as the Leasing Foundation; Young Business Finance Professionals programme, there is AF-PA,(the Asset Finance Professionals Association) that regularly holds networking events. So there are organisations out there to help people in the industry to network but is it enough to reach a wide audience of young asset finance professionals, especially those working outside London? Perhaps one way to improve awareness of the industry to the younger generation is to market more on social media, using trends and blogs. Looking at reaching schools across the UK and injecting knowledge to children from a younger age than university.

With a market that has grown dramatically over the past five years, and new business (primarily leasing and hire purchase) growing by 10% in May 2018 compared to the same month last year (FLA, 2018), there is certainly plenty of evidence that we need to support the growth of this industry by educating and promoting to the younger generation to get the word out there that working in asset finance is awesome!

By Laura Gosshawk on 01/08/18 | Category - Asset Finance

After a recent round table with the FLA regarding how to value an asset, the importance of people became even more apparent. With more and more automated processes, automated systems, out sourcing and generally placing as many layers and as much distance between the provider and the customer, I feel lucky to still work within a sector that knows the importance of people and a company that prides itself on maintaining strong relationships with both banks and lenders and our customers.

Computers are great, but they’re quite frankly, scary and our dependence on them giving us all the answers I find quite unsettling. A whole discussion on Artificial Intelligence and the future of that is another matter!

The importance of understanding the value of an asset at the beginning of its life, but also the end of a finance agreement, is paramount to how you structure a deal, for the customer and also to get the best out of the asset. With comments on future automated decision making for asset valuations, something I’m not even sure would be possible for some asset types, the value of the human element is key.

When it comes to people in asset finance it has to start at the very beginning and the customer understanding their asset for the finance to be truly effective, and let’s be honest cost effective. Knowing how it works, how long it will last, what it’s potential down sides are and working around, or within those parameters.

This translates into the customer relaying that through to the finance, either a bank/lender/vendor directly or an intermediary. That key contact should get to know the customer to really understand how they can help, where they can add value and start to build on a relationship rather than one off transaction. It’s this contact that will also determine how a transaction is structured and also presented internally for any kind of sanction or sign off.

A credit committee rather than automated decision on a customer allows for ‘story type’ deals to pass when they might otherwise not. In a world when a set list of parameters gives a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, with nothing in between and no human element to the transaction, where will the more difficult but equally as fruitful transactions go? How will they be placed? And where will that leave start-ups or SME’s with limited financial history?

At the round table discussion, it became apparent when placing a value on an asset at the beginning of its life and also the end, a person with good knowledge of an asset sector is vital. We’re lucky to work with a strong, independent valuation company that gives data driven information on asset sectors/types and their future/residual value. They are also a company comprised of human beings with decades of experience that talking to and gauging further opinion, proof and provoking discussion with can give us more answers than the numbers on a piece of paper sometimes. It’s about getting the right people to work with, not people that give you the answers you want to hear.

This personal element can allow us then to understand the asset values when speaking to lenders. We’ve experienced in the past, some lenders where the internal asset team may not understand the assets as well as they could and this has caused uncompetitive quotes. But it’s not just about accepting this; to get the best of out of lenders for a customer it’s about understanding at what stage of the finance process this is having an impact and addressing it. Taking an asset team to physically see an asset and a customer may sound ridiculously obvious but it also, and I fully appreciate why given constraints on people’s time these days, appears to happen less frequently before a deal is incepted. Having an asset inspection after an agreement has been incepted is a well-known process, however getting to know an asset and customer before quoting on finance can greatly improve an understanding on whether it is something or someone you may wish to work together with.

Inspection of an asset at the end of its finance life also has a substantially important human element. There are return conditions set in legal agreements, but an independent valuer that also understands and knows the asset types being inspected helps asks the right questions at the right times, that sometimes may not otherwise be broached. They may not produce a different outcome but if the customer knows they are being treated fairly it maintains a legitimate and strong trusting relationship. It’s looking at an asset and using the legal framework given, but translating that through to a customer; This takes logic, common sense and good manners that a computer or automated system would not be able to replicate.

From start to finish of the asset finance process and agreement, humans are vital key elements, but lastly I wanted to touch on the human element throughout. We pride ourselves in wanting to build long standing relationships both sides of the fence and it’s this sitting by a customer throughout a life of an agreement that gives insight into what works, what doesn’t work, what they may want to change next time; This could be anything from term, usage, to type of finance. The information they need or want to receive throughout the asset life, the format they want this in, what frustrations around system constraints they endure. It’s also having this contact set up and working with the people in different areas, from procurement to fleet, finance to purchase ledger as they will have different needs and requirements once the finance is in place.

Our human interaction with customers and banks over the years has always been maintained throughout every part of the asset finance process. It’s something that may be impacted by automated decision making and automated valuations in the future, and something we may need to adapt to. However, for now it’s something we pride ourselves on and something, as you will see from the CFO of Veolia UK below, something our customers appreciate too.

David Gerrard, Chief Financial Officer. Veolia UK

"Over 20 years, Veolia has procured one of the UK’s largest fleet of leased commercial vehicles. Throughout that time, we have used the services of First Asset Finance plc to assist in managing all aspects of our leasing programme, from lease inception to termination. The team at First Asset Finance plc have helped to deliver flexible funding solutions throughout the economic cycles and their personable, efficient and knowledgeable approach is respected throughout our group. The team is not seen as one of being a supplier; they are seen as trusted partners."


 

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