3 October 2013 by Grant Collinson

Improving diversity, developing education and enhancing the reputation of the leasing industry were the key themes which emerged from the first Leasing Foundation conference held in London on 30 September.

The conference, held at the RBS London offices, was attended by the Foundation’s fellows, governors and invited guests and was hosted by Chris Sullivan, chief executive of Corporate Banking at Royal Bank of Scotland and patron of the Leasing Foundation.

Following welcome addresses, the conference was opened with a speech from Lord Mervyn Davies, former UK minister for Trade, Investment and Small Business and chair of the Committee for Women on Boards.

Lord Davies praised the Foundation for prioritising diversity and philanthropy in its founding principles and said it was important for companies to develop an executive pipeline “which is more open to diversity and management teams need to be more aware and knowledgeable” of different cultures and backgrounds to help them develop as businesses. “It is part of being competitive,” he said.

Lord Davies then joined a panel discussion chaired by Mary McNamara, chair of the Foundation Governors, and featuring Sullivan,who is also chair of the Global Banking Alliance for Women, and governors Carmen Ene and Lisa Marks. During the discussion the panel put forth the business case for diversity with Ene of IBM Global Business Services saying diversity in personnel “drives innovation and business growth.”

The second panel of the day featured Sullivan and governor John Howland-Jackson, former chief executive of ING Lease and currently special advisor to the board of ING, and was chaired by Foundation chief executive Andrew Denton.

The panel discussed the future of the leasing industry and how to grow business. Sullivan said there has “never been a better time for leasing to grow” and the panel agreed enhancing the reputation through educating businesses and the public about the benefits of leasing products, and differentiating them from other banking products, was central to achieving this growth.

Educating within the industry was also on the agenda with educational experts Tim Gibson, the head of Learning Services and the Ministry of Justice,Phil Stenton, professor and associate dean for Research & Enterprise at Falmouth University and Alastair Tyler, governor and trustee of ifs School of Finance addressing the conference on how the Foundation can achieve its aims to develop talent within the industry.

Peter Thomas, Foundation chief operating officer, outlined four aims in education as: developing a leasing apprenticeship framework, developing a digital platform for accreditation and learning support, building an executive development programme and defining core competencies for the leasing industry.

As part of the Foundation’s development programme, chief financial officer Tarun Mistry officially launched the Future Leaders programme designed to identify and support the future leaders of the industry.

The conference also featured a panel discussion on how the Foundation can achieve its ambitions in philanthropy which was chaired by Bill Dost, managing director of D&D Leasing and Foundation founding fellow and featuring philanthropy experts and representatives of the charity sector.

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