With the crushing, inevitable, group exit for England in the FIFA World Cup still fresh in the mind, I can at least take solace in the hours of entertaining football played by the other nations competing throughout the tournament. While dreams of an England football triumph might have been crushed, at least the UK and European leasing industry have less to worry about, as industry insiders remain highly optimistic about the current situation of the market.

I can also take comfort in the fact that, although England seems to be going backwards on the football field compared to European rivals, its asset finance industry at least seems to be moving forward alongside its European equivalents.

This month’s industry feature on materials handling, for example, finds an industry which has really started to move into growth mode after the recession. A lot of this appears to be coming from technical developments in forklift truck technology, and a push for greener equipment, which will hopefully spill over into other sectors in the future.

There were some big people moves in the UK in materials handling in 2014, and Leasing Life got a chance to catch up with some of those involved, and find out how things have gone for them in the past few months.

One area of slight concern in materials handling is the potential lack of new people specialising in it, and in a way this feels like a microcosm for the asset finance industry in general – those working in it enjoy it and extol its virtues, but those outside it are either unaware of it as a career possibility, or choose other options.

It was refreshing to speak to Lombard’s managing director Richard Hemsley, formerly a career banker, who recently made the leap to asset finance.

He is able to give a relatively fresh take on the industry, the challenges it faces and what makes it different to other lending products. One of the big themes of his leadership is trying to get more SMEs aware of asset finance, and one of his tasks has been to ensure Lombard and parent company RBS work together to ensure customers consider a broad array of funding options.

Considering a broader array of capital acquiring options is something of a hot topic in the industry and, as Mike Cobb found in the first part of a two-part feature on access to capital for asset finance companies, they really are practising what they preach.

Speaking to accountants from firms KPMG and Grant Thornton UK, it seems that since the recession lessors have expanded the number of ways they access finance. Whereas previously there was a tendency to look to a bank, now they are trying a range of different options including block discounting and from so called ‘exotic funds.’

Leasing Life Conference 2014 Warsaw

This month also features a survey on the Polish leasing sector, where Leasing Life is due to host its annual Conference and Awards in November. This two-day event has become a staple of the industry, and is a great place to network and talk about the latest trends and issues facing the industry. Nominations for the Awards are open until 28th July, so if you want to nominate your business, or even another business, visit bit.ly/1qNcyHD for information on the awards and how to nominate.

Jonathan Minter
jonathan.minter@timetric.com