Picking up momentum since its inception in the summer of 2012, Andrew Denton outlines the Leasing Foundation’s plan of action for 2013.

The Leasing Foundation exists to encourage the health of the industry, and this year there are three main areas of focus: research, education and diversity – specifically, women in leasing.

Of the industry’s top-performers, not many started their career in leasing. Most seem to have fallen into it through accident or convenience, and it’s certainly rare that you would hear of someone who dreams of working in the industry. There is a need for us to attract the rising stars before they are snapped up by other sectors.

The UK’s Finance & Leasing Association has launched qualifications which support this aim and at the Foundation we have some exciting plans around education too. This year we intend to partner with a higher education body to produce a qualification, possibly an MBA, which is specific to leasing.

While this course provides value to those who may want to specialise at an early stage, some modules could also be available to students undertaking business studies (or similar) so they are afforded some valuable exposure to leasing.

With this, we intend to raise the profile of leasing and asset finance in the undergraduate community and beyond.

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There is some very thorough business data and other research information available on leasing, but we believe more is needed in order to position the industry more correctly. We want to start by trying to understand people’s opinions of it and for this we’re undertaking what could be called an evaluation of leasing.

In our project, code-named ‘Leasing 360’, we will communicate with all of leasing’s stakeholders (funders, parents, brokers, users, and peers) to understand what they believe is the nature and future of the industry.

Most importantly, we will contact the sceptics – for example, SMEs who don’t use leases and manufacturers who don’t have captives – to tell us what leasing means to them. Since it is a tenet of the Foundation that our output is free for public consumption, we intend then to publish this research in a way that allows everyone to build on it.

Meanwhile, Mary McNamara, a Foundation governor and chief executive of Close Brothers’ commercial division, is leading the charge in trying to position leasing as a more attractive proposition for women.

In the ’50 Most Powerful’ in the last issue of Leasing Life there were only three women in the list – something noted by Grant Collinson in the article as not the only example of poor representation in the industry. There are five female governors in the Leasing Foundation and, through our exploits in research and education, we hope to lead the way forward for more women to see the leasing industry as a practical and appealing career opportunity.

Finally, our nomination committee is starting to invite fellows to join the Foundation, and 2013 will see our first event organised for the fellowship.

I look forward to bringing you some positive results in the near future.

Andrew Denton is a founding director of the Leasing Foundation & chief operating officer of CHP Consulting