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August 1, 2009updated 12 Apr 2017 4:34pm

Building bridges

Fred Crawley discovers that Barclays Asset & Sales Finance has responded to the economic crisis by some internal reorganisation and getting closer to its parent. Although Barclays Asset & Sales Finance (BA&SF) is keen to remain relatively quiet in the run up to its parents half-yearly results which are due to be published on 3 August, it is clear that the asset finance arm of the UK banking giant remains active and keen to develop its strategic response to a challenging market. Speaking to Alex Brown, who heads up the Asset Finance division of BA&SF, it becomes clear that a central element to strategy in the coming months will be a much more integrated, joined-up approach to business alongside colleagues at Barclays Commercial Bank (BCB).

By Fred Crawley

Fred
Crawley
discovers that Barclays Asset & Sales Finance
has responded to the economic crisis by some internal
reorganisation and getting closer to its
parent.

 

Although
Barclays Asset & Sales Finance (BA&SF) is keen to remain
relatively quiet in the run up to its parent’s half-yearly results
which are due to be published on 3 August, it is clear that the
asset finance arm of the UK banking giant remains active and keen
to develop its strategic response to a challenging
market.

Speaking to Alex Brown,
who heads up the Asset Finance division of BA&SF, it becomes
clear that a central element to strategy in the coming months will
be a much more integrated, “joined-up” approach to business
alongside colleagues at Barclays Commercial Bank (BCB).

“Barclays Commercial
Bank has a huge client base, and we are working hard to leverage
that,” said Brown, talking about the 1,054-strong BA&SF team’s
close communication with sales staff and relationship directors
within the bank’s broader commercial finance operation.

“The Asset & Sales
Finance product set exists in a number of countries, including
France, Italy, Portugal and Spain, and that business stream is run
through Barclays Commercial Bank rather than the BA&SF balance
sheet,” he explained.

In addition to this
arrangement, he mentioned the work of the Corporate Jets &
Superyachts (CJ&S) team which, along with Barclays Marine
Finance, operates in around 50 countries worldwide.

Just as BA&SF
originates business from BCB, he explained, the CJ&S team works
closely with Barclays Wealth, with which it shares many ultra high
net worth clients.

Although BA&SF has
signed no new vendor partnerships in the past year, it retains its
controlling stake in commercial vehicle finance joint venture Iveco
Capital, which helped finance 20 percent of Italian truck
manufacturer Iveco’s UK sales in 2008. Iveco Capital operates in
four other national markets.

Talking about the bank’s
general asset finance strategy, Brown stressed that in any risk
decision, asset classes and sectors were secondary to an assessment
of the specific asset being financed, although the sector in which
potential lessees operate was still an important factor.

“The most crucial factor
for any asset finance risk division is the customer’s financial
position and the financial viability of repayment,” said Brown,
“and key things to assess include the importance to the business of
the asset in question and the potential commoditisation of that
asset.”

“Nevertheless” he
continued, “we have a keen interest in the customer’s sector of
operation, since it is important to be aware of the future
liabilities that this may impose on their business”.

In terms of BA&SF’s
internal organisation, Brown explained that over the past few
months, several divisions – including marketing and communications
– had been pulled together to improve communications and customer
service.

Additionally, April saw
the creation of a new “centre of excellence support team” aimed at
driving customer service across all BA&SF’s forward-facing
operations.

In a further development
to internal staffing, Brown described how the trial of a new
process streamlining system in the London, southern and eastern
regions of the business aimed at “releasing resource for
concentration on the pro-active generation of leads”, had seen a
348 percent increase in customer and prospect calls in its first
month. The scheme will now be rolled out nationally.

 

Key
people

Ian Stuart, Managing Director

Alex Brown, Head of Asset Finance

John Bevan, Head of Sales Finance

Maria Parpou, Deputy CEO, Iveco Finance Holdings
Ltd

Shawn Gamble, Risk Director

Narayanan
Srinivasan
, Chief
Operating Officer

Darren Hare, Finance Director

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