At the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) we have now had some time to speak with some of our members and lenders, about the gap left by ING’s withdrawal from the leasing and asset market.

If we look back again at our annual member survey, we spot straight away that the asset finance market has grown enormously. It doubled in size for the twelve month period ending in summer 2012 compared with the previous year’s results. And our members have reported a 26% increase in commercial property lending and a 41% growth in short-term lending. The increases in invoice finance reported by NACFB brokers for four consecutive years have now flattened out, but the general trend across the commercial finance industry appears to be one of positive growth. Figures are heading back up close to where they were before the global recession.
Closing that gap completely, however, will still need an extra £10bn (€12.35bn) of business a year in the commercial sector – and now we have sadly lost ING from the asset finance market.

The NACFB had an excellent working relationship with ING, and its withdrawal from the asset finance market was not a welcome development. A large number of our members put a lot of business through to this big-name lender.

It’s very good that there are some positive signs around and some lenders prepared to step in and inject fresh capital into the market. And the NACFB, with its growing membership of rigorously regulated and highly-qualified commercial finance brokers, is doing all it can to help. We’ll very shortly be announcing the names of two new lenders who have agreed to work with us, taking us ever further beyond our 2008 record of 84 lenders. From the lowest ebb of the economic downturn to today, we have more than doubled the number of lenders who work with us.

This is one way to help fill the funding gap. Several NACFB members have picked up the phone to express their concerns to us about ING’s withdrawal from leasing and asset finance. Offering them new lenders and new funding sources is our first and best answer.

The other solution to the funding shortfall is to encourage our lenders to grow and to lend more, which is why we place great importance in finding and working with some of the less well-known names. We’re very proud to work with MetroBank, with its high street branches, but we’re equally pleased to work hand-in-hand with small own-book lenders, because we can offer them a straightforward package of regulated qualified brokers that they can grow with.

If we can grow too in 2013 – helping a growing number of brokers to source larger sums of funding from an increasing number of patrons – then the funding gap will shrink. In this scenario, everybody wins.

Adam Tyler is chief executive of the NACFB