Graphic of the Basement Talk beastDear readers, welcome to Basement Talk, where Leasing
reporting team file their unique and colourful insights
into the more informal side of the asset finance

A good couple of months for lessors in London,
as the onset of warmer weather has been marked by a clutch of
well-received social events.

In addition to the perennially popular FLA
spring drinks – marked this time by good news that UK brokered
asset finance and consumer motor finance were trending above their
performance in early 2008 – a couple of Olympics-themed festivities
really helped get the summer going.

First, thanks to new broker market entrant
United Trust Bank, which at the end of May held a bash at London’s
New Zealand House attended by more than 100 brokers from the asset
and wider commercial finance worlds.

One of the event’s sideshows, an Xbox Kinect
setup billed by United Trust as a test of “sporting prowess”,
turned into a summer’s evening of cocktail prowess and imaginary
stick-hurling for Leasing Life’s Grant Collinson.

Fancying his turn as an Olympian, Collinson
enthralled and bemused onlookers with his sterling inability to
trouble the leaderboard at a game of virtual javelin despite some
impressive running on the spot.

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Basement Talk, leasing life, JavelinWith unlimited goes at launching an imaginary spear,
Collinson became a fixture of the evening, alternating between
“pretty tasty shots” at the bar and slightly less tasty shots on
the game screen.

But Collinson had it easy – the season was only
going to get more competitive.

Later in May, the smell of sour grapes was
particularly strong in the basement after George And Dragons, a
team consisting of Aldermore representatives andLL
assistant editor Richard Brown, beat the NetApp Ninjas,
featuringLL editor Fred Crawley, in the UK leasing
industry pub quiz run by New Leaf Search, the pan-European leasing
recruitment specialists.

Representatives from the two companies, plus
those of Bank of America, De Lage Landen, GE Capital, HP Financial
Services, EMC, Econocom, CIT and SG Equipment Finance were treated
to an open bar and full buffet as they battled over questions of
general knowledge, sports, music and leasing.

Although Bank of America took the title by a
single point from the Aldermore team, perhaps the greatest duel of
the night was between Brown and Crawley, two lords of trivia locked
in a titanic struggle for bragging rights.

The next morning, Brown would not keep silent
with comments such as “at least I know Elton John’s middle name”
and “don’t ask Fred if you’re unsure about the number of chickens
in the world”. Crawley was heard to mutter “I could sack Brown any
time I like”.

The team from De Lage Landen came third, while
the teams representing GE Capital and HP Financial Services
completed the top five.

Bank of America captain Clive Rendell toasted
his team’s victory with complimentary champagne and called for New
Leaf Search to make the quiz an annual event for the UK leasing

New Leaf Search staff as well as many who took
part also praised the event, so maybe next year Crawley will get
his revenge. Both he and Brown have started cramming.

If you fancy sampling a level of the questions:
name five of the eight men to have one the Formula 1 World
Championship three or more times, or ask yourself who won the 2011
Eurovision song contest. Or, after passenger cars and LCVs, what
was the most commonly leased asset type in Germany in 2011?

New apparel, late planes

Bigger news in the basement this month for
Crawley, who bought a new suit, and even had it tailored. The envy
shared among staff, darning the pockets on our second-hand jackets
by candlelight, was only heightened by the news that Crawley’s new
whistle was for the express purpose of chairing a seminar at the
convention of the Ukrainian Union of Lessors, for which he was
headed to the golden domes of Kiev.

Now, schadenfreude is an ugly word. So let’s
just call it ‘laughing at the boss when things go wrong for him in
fancy clothes’. What was supposed to be an 11am flight from Gatwick
to Boryspil was moved back to the early afternoon and we
atLL were asked to ensure this wouldn’t be a problem for
Fred’s car at the other end of the journey.

Still smirking at the thought of Crawley stuck
in an airport terminal for three hours, LL staff were soon
brought to something approaching sympathy upon the news that the
chief’s flight would now not be until the early evening, and that
he had been given a £5 stipend in apology – enough to buy a pair of
airport shoelaces or perhaps look at a bag of crisps.

Sympathy turned to sorrow with the next update,
which we received at our respective homes that evening: Crawley
could not expect to leave the UK that day, had been given a further
£5 voucher to use as down-payment on his supper or bar tab, and was
now planning to sleep on the seats using his (also new) shoes as a

In among many confused texts about “replacement
flights” and “wheels falling off”, the last message that night from
the boss was just after midnight, stuck in an airport faux-pub, the
“last outpost of madness in a civilised world.”

Some 21 hours behind schedule, at eight the
next morning, the plane finally took off. The last we heard from
Crawley was a frantic phone message asking how to give the address
of the conference hotel in Ukrainian to a bemused taxi driver.
Never let it be said we don’t make sacrifices to get our