As I look out of the window at another fine June day in London I, like all of us, is hoping we get, for once, a glorious summer full of sunny weather.
While good weather can’t really be relied upon, in the UK anyway, the sun is definitely shining on the UK asset finance industry at the moment, which seems to have emerged from the struggles of recession a bit earlier than most of its European brethren. Back in 2013, our UK feature described the industry as "back to business as usual", and this year our feature found the industry had continued to build on the back of that.
Current statistics from the UK’s Finance & Leasing Association point towards a broad based recovery and industry leaders seem to be having a hard time identifying areas that are doing either particularly well, or particularly badly. Even with that said though, there are still some pretty serious questions that need answering.
As ever with the UK, the nascent Financial Conduct Authority is on the minds of many in the leasing industry, and making sure the smaller brokers are able to cope with the requirements of the new regulator is an issue most lessors are taking very seriously, with most lenders looking to help where they can. Questions are also being asked about ways of increasing knowledge of asset finance to smaller companies, and this is something the FLA is taking very seriously.
Despite this, the UK asset finance market seems to be doing better overall, evidenced by a number of new players entering the market – two of which feature in this month’s magazine. Compare this to the end of 2012, when the UK market was just taking stock of ING’s departure, and the change in fortunes is obvious.
This issue also features lease portfolio management company Innervision. This company helps lessees organise their lease accounts, and is able to provide valuable insight into how companies conduct their asset finance business. Often it finds big companies do deals on a small local scale, and their records are not up to scratch.
This is especially important in light of the forthcoming lease accounting reforms due to be finalised and come into force at some point in the future. According to the company, a number of lessees remain totally unprepared for the more stringent accounting standards that are coming in, and this is something Innervision hopes to be able to help them with.
We also take an in-depth look at plant and construction leasing, with companies appearing at best cautiously optimistic about the potential for the rest of the year. Looking at this market on a country scale, the picture is more of a mixed bag. Ireland appears to have turned a corner in this respect, but unfortunately Spain is still really struggling, with the market expected to fall over the course of 2014.
In conclusion we’re running a survey to find out about our reader’s preferences. We genuinely want your opinions on Leasing Life, such as what types of news and articles you favour, and how you prefer to read it. The URL to it is: surveymonkey.com/s/95N2TS3 but even beyond this we are always listening to what our subscribers and the industry in general want to know.
Jonathan Minter, acting editor