Leasing organisations are a bit like buses; you wait around for one and then two come along at once.
One would probably not expect that old cliché to ever be applied to the European asset finance industry, but a quick look through the following news pages shows it is perfectly apt.
In late June Peter McDonnell of the Cordoba Group suggested, at an industry lunch held in London, that he thought there might be space in the UK market for a not-for-profit membership organisation, geared firmly towards the social side of the business (see UK leasing needs one voice – FLA, page 8).
Just a few weeks later and two well-known and vocal members of the leasing community Andrew Denton, of CHP Consulting and Derek Soper, of consultants IAA-Advisory, launched the Lease Foundation (see Not-for-profit foundation to focus on research and fundraising, page 6) with a mission-statement focused on supporting the industry through academic research, personnel development programmes and charitable endeavours.
Unlike buses arriving at the same time, however, there is nothing irritating about the sudden proliferation of leasing organisations and gatherings.
For a start, there is the simple fact we don’t all get out as much as we used to. 2008 brought to the industry a dramatic focus on efficiency and cost-benefit calculation which saw marketing budgets slashed, working hours increased, and a generally more austere approach to working life take hold. Add to this the recent advent of the bribery act cutting back opportunities to entertain clients, and there is a definite feeling that the leasing social life has suffered.
And that, besides diminishing opportunities to catch up with old friends and colleagues, is bad for business. I know for a fact that conversations had at the recent Cordoba gathering led to commercial agreements being made, and job interviews being arranged.
Secondly, there is the charitable aspect. The leasing industry’s philanthropic work is necessarily enhanced by the creation of new events, and the fact that both of the new organisations are keen to focus on charitable work is indicative of the warm heart of the leasing community. That, no one can argue with.
Of course, the creation of new organisations does nothing to diminish the importance of those already established. Leasing trade bodies across Europe – the FLA in the UK, BDL in Germany and Assilea in Italy to name but a few – all make an enormous and, at times, irreplaceable contribution to their home markets and, under the auspices of Leaseurope, to the industry as a whole. Their high-level lobbying, professional statistics work and tireless communication efforts could not, and will not, be replaced by complementary organisations.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to be done, and clearly there are people willing to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in.
As an industry which relies on up-to-date, relevant data to be able to better service its client base and better manoeuvre the obstacles ahead, the establishment of more research groups will undoubtedly benefit leasing companies and professionals throughout the sector.
Being at the helm of the trade magazine which services the pan-European leasing industry, I take pride in the part Leasing Life plays in providing information to the leasing community but equally I welcome the addition of more data providers and the dissemination of intelligent thought and analysis.
What some readers may take issue with is that, with too many voices representing the sector, the right voices could get drowned out in the resulting cacophony.
This is a danger but it is onewhich is easily avoided.
So long as cooperation and a strong sense of community is maintained between the groups that form, the addition of further organisations is a golden opportunity for all members of the sector to help enrich their industry through active participation. Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to welcome the Lease Foundation and to encourage Peter McDonnell in his endeavours. I look forward to working with both groups in the future and to invite you all to do the same.