Latest news on leasing volumes recorded by the Finance & Leasing Association (“FLA”) shows that asset finance new business grew by 17 percent in March compared with the same month last year and was 13 percent higher in the first quarter of 2014 than in Q1 2013.
Finance for plant and machinery and business equipment saw the strongest growth in Q1 2014, up by 11 percent and 20 percent respectively. Growth in commercial vehicle finance remained robust at 19 percent, while IT equipment finance 11 percent higher than in Q1 2013.
Commenting, Geraldine Kilkelly, Head of Research and Chief Economist at the FLA, said, “In Q1 2014, the asset finance industry returned its best first quarter performance for five years, and the pattern of growth suggests a broad-based recovery in business investment.
“The industry reported higher levels of finance provided to businesses in the agricultural, construction, manufacturing, and services sectors in the first quarter.”

 The FLA has appointed Simon Goldie as new Head of Asset Finance. Commenting on the appointment, Stephen Sklaroff said, “I am really pleased to welcome Simon to the FLA at such an important time for the asset finance markets. His skills and experience will help us build on recent progress in raising the industry’s profile with our stakeholders and customers, and in persuading politicians and regulators to help us support economic recovery even more effectively.”
Simon has built up significant public policy experience during his time  at  the  Chartered  Institute  of  Taxation  as  their  head of external relations and at  the  Association  of  Consultancy and Engineering as their director of  policy and external affairs.
While working on campaigns for tax simplification, a taxpayers’ charter and infrastructure investment, Simon was named one of the top 100 lobbyists in the country. As well as working in the public policy arena, he led a thought leadership programme for Lexis Nexis while he was their head of PR in the UK.
Simon Goldie said of his new appointment, “I’m delighted to be joining the Finance & Leasing Association at this very exciting time for the asset finance sector. The industry has made a real difference to the growth prospects of private and public businesses of all sizes and I look forward to helping it continue to do so.”

 The FLA Spring Drinks, which always follow the FLA’s AGM, were held this year in the hall of the Worshipful Company of Butchers, in Bartholomew Close, EC. Director-general Stephen Sklaroff’s report contained much positive news for the guests, and it does seem that Starship Leasing is at last heading back to a normal orbit. As regards asset finance, the director-general said:

“In the asset finance marker, new business grew by 13 percent compared with the same quarter last year, to almost £5.7 billion. Finance for plant and machinery and business equipment saw the strongest growth, up by 21 percent and 20 percent respectively.
Growth in commercial vehicle finance was also robust at 1.9 percent, while IT equipment finance was 11 percent higher than in the same period in 2013.
In short, FLA members are supporting the economic recovery by helping consumers and businesses all across the country purchase the goods and services they need.
One of our tasks at the FLA is to try to ensure that the regulatory environment continues to make that possible . . . and that has certainly been a challenge over the last year.
For example, although we had  already  made a lot of progress in getting important changes made to the new regulatory regime for credit, when we  saw the  FCA’s first d raft  of  the  new  rules, we noticed they had convened a lot of what used to be OFT guidance into FCA rules. This would have had major implications for compliance and would have lost a lot of flexibility.
Thankfully, the FCA listened to our concerns and the final version of the rules published at the end of February – while far from perfect – restored a lot of that flexibility. Of course, our dialogue with the FCA about the new regime is if anything intensifying, now that we have passed the 1 April date for the start of the new regime. There is a huge range of transitional issues to be sorted out, on some of which I’m pleased to say we’re making good progress.
We’re also ensuring the regulator doesn’t lose sight of the specific issues facing particular markets – for example, how the new regime will apply to the regulated part of the business finance sector, and how our various intermediary partners in all our markets will cope with full or limited authorisation.
We are of course continuing to run targeted conferences and training courses aimed at helping all our members prepare for the new regime. We’re running an Authorisation Workshop in early June which will cover the information required by the regulator, how to prepare for authorisation, completing the application form, and finalising business plans. And we have another major credit regulation conference planned for 14 October to mark the first six months of the new regime.
Meanwhile, our membership numbers continue to rise, and we continue all our work in other areas, including on lease accounting, Government business finance support schemes, crime detection and prevention, and market best practice.
As I’m sure most of you know, Nigel Clibbens of Lombard has been elected as our new Chairman and begins his two-year tenure today. I would like to welcome him to the role and also thank the outgoing Chair, Philip Ross, for all his support. That’s enough from me – do enjoy the rest of your evening.”

This month, Adam Tyler, CEO of the NACFB, has a mathematical conundrum on his mind.
He asks, “Where in Boston is there currently the greatest thirst for commercial finance?
While you wait for the answer to that, here’s what we’ve been up to sine I last wrote for Leasing World. I was invited back to 10 Downing Street on 24th April. This was my second opportunity to put forward the case for the NACFB and its members and the access we can provide to all commercial funding opportunities.
Some of you also caught our chairman Marcus Grimshaw on Sky News at the end of April. This was a massive opportunity to broadcast the name of the NACFB and, just as pertinently, of, which saw an immediate fourfold jump in visitor numbers for the rest of the week following the TV coverage.
Additionally, our Bank of England Trends in Lending comment was pick up in The Times and on the Daily Mail Online. But the thing about being on the news is that it isn’t, in itself, actually a news item. That’s why I’m about to give Lensing World readers a little exclusive that you’ll read here first:  in which region do you find businesses looking for the smallest and largest commercial loans?


No surprise to see that London tops the chart.  Going through all the data from the 1ast one thousand deals from the website, we find the average funding request from London was for £342,000. The second highest average loan request is found in Northern Ireland – perhaps a bit more of a surprise at £229,000.
It is East Anglia that appears to have the smallest appetite for funding.  The average request (and today we’re working with mean average, dividing the total value of all leads by the number of leads) from East Anglia was just £98,000.
Something, though, gets in the way of pulling a neat conclusion out of these results. We can read the figures as an expression of the unavailability of finance – if you don’t expect to get a large loan, you may try for a small loan. That would explain the massive values in the capital city where confidence is high and lenders are active. But that wouldn’t explain the figures from around Belfast, where the number of active lenders remains very low.
So we’ll be continuing to analyse these figures and gradually putting together a fuller picture – at the same time as putting pressure on those who can make a difference in evening out the availability of funding across the UK.”

 The Leasing Foundation this month has continued with eye-catching headlines, involving crucibles (sounds painful), observatories, catalysts, thought leaders, and lenders’ thoughts. The content and speakers are as ever top quality, though the copy can be a bit over the top at times. In the Crucible in May will be Andy Hard, ex acting CEO of Lombard and now CEO, Financial

Services  of  Shop  Direct,  “in  an  unscripted,  frank  and  honest exploration of leadership through  open,  authentic,  meaningful and challenging dialogue.” Quite honestly, that’s the least we’d expect from Andy, so the seven-adjective embellishment of the word “dialogue” is surely unnecessary?
One Leasing Foundation headline that caught our eye here at Leasing World was “Better-educated older people are for more likely to work for longer,” taken from an Economist report. Oh dear, starting to wish I’d never done that MBA!

Outsiders often ask what AF-PA is all about, so we asked Stephen Bassett, the Asset Finance Professionals’ Association chair, for his response.
“Well, it is not an association for companies, it is for individuals only. It seeks members who support the maintenance of high professional standards in our market, and who also like to socialise with their friends and acquaintances in the sector.
“Our  main  aim  is  to  organise  regular  events  during   the year where we can all meet  informally  and  without  any particular business pressures. These events may be large or small and will generally seek to support a smaller charitable cause chosen for the event.
“If attendees can make new contacts,  secure  jobs,  or  even find new business, then that’s all  to the good, but  it’s not  the main point, which is just sharing time and experiences together, and relaxing!
“Non-members can usually attend events, but being a member does give you priority and keeps  you  in  touch,  it  also  gives your Association more credibility and negotiating power with venues and makes us more attractive to potential sponsors, thereby keeping prices down and passing more funds through to the charities.
“So, the more members the merrier and the more things we can then hope to do, so please do help to spread the word.”

Press2 - Bill Dost

Since we started following the associations more closely, we noticed that one Reverend Bill Dost (above) was on the board of the FLA, the board of AF-PA, a Fellow of the Leasing Foundation, a patron of the NACFB, as well as a lifetime member of some exclusive Savoy Hotel club.   Nicely   positioned   on   the leasing boards, we thought, but nothing beats the kudos that goes with the Savoy, as they say on their website, “To stay  at The Savoy is to follow in the footsteps of Sir Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Christian Dior, Maria Callas, Claude Monet, Katherine Hepburn,” and the Reverend Bill Dost | May 2014

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