At the Leaseurope CEO Business Council meeting in March this year, 15 heads of European leasing businesses identified two core issues key to the future of European leasing. These were recruiting and developing the best young talent and innovating the industry to ensure it grows in future. Now the trade body, in partnership with Invigors, has come up with what it hopes will be one solution to both issues – the Leaseurope Future Group.

Made up of 16 young professionals from across the European leasing industry, the Future Group is set to present three innovative concepts to improve European leasing at the Leaseurope Convention in Rome in mid-October, tackling head-on the problems of talent nurturing and innovation.

The concept was developed by Leaseurope and Invigors following the Business Council meeting and the chief executives were asked to nominate one employee under 35 who they viewed as potentially having the talent to rise to the top of the industry.

Jacqueline Mills, director of asset finance and research at Leaseurope, said: "The leaders of the industry think that in an environment where investment is doing poorly, and is not expected to get better anytime soon, you need to do something special.

"And that is down to two things: people and innovation."

Leaseurope’s report of the Business Council meeting said the executives felt the industry wasn’t doing enough to attract entry-level talent into its organisations, and was also failing to nurture the talent it does have.

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"It was agreed that more needs to be done to cultivate existing staff members. For staff who perhaps have not reached their full potential, companies should encourage employees to try out different departments as to not box anyone in a particular role," the report said.

The chief executives also talked extensively about the need to innovate in the leasing industry.

The leaders said they felt the leasing industry is perceived as having a "tradition of centralised control" and focused on "past and present performance rather than the future", according to the Invigors report.

Nonetheless, the Business Council members felt the leasing industry could beat economic trends through innovation and looked at ways to achieve it.

How to innovate

All around the table agreed innovation was something cultural within a company and each leasing firm has unique factors, such as business strategy, which help to produce an innovative corporate culture.

Where there was disagreement was over whether this culture was in-built in a company or CEO-led.

For instance, some argued if a chief executive left, the company’s dynamic would remain the same whereas others argued company heads set the tone for a company’s innovative culture.

However innovation is developed within a leasing company, the industry leaders stressed successful firms need to instil a drive towards modernisation and creative change across the whole business.

It was with in mind Leaseurope asked its 16 Future Group members to come up with something new. Mills said: "We thought – who better to ask for fresh, innovative ideas than these young talents."

After being nominated by their bosses in May, the 16 participants were invited to Brussels where they were given a brief to develop an original idea which could revolutionise an aspect of the leasing business. The brief was deliberately kept broad to allow participants to develop an innovative idea in any area of the business, from a new product to a streamlined process.

Participants presented their ideas at a second Brussels meeting in July before voting to identify the best three concepts.

The top ideas selected, the group was then split into three teams to develop the chosen concepts.

The Group meets once more in September and their fully developed ideas will then be presented during a special Future Group session at the Leaseurope Annual Convention in Rome in October.

All 16 members of the Future Group will attend the Convention which Mills said was an "opportunity to be recognised by the senior people in the industry and to network with people they may not otherwise interact with in their daily jobs."

Bringing younger members of the industry into contact with senior figures is one of the aims of the Future Group, said Mills, and also to bring them together to "create a
networking group among themselves".

She also noted the Group’s diverse membership: "This is one of the first times I’ve come into contact with such diversity within the industry – roles, genders, nationalities – it’s a fantastic group of people."

"We want to bring younger people in the industry into contact with more senior people in the industry – to start to think about the next generation," said Mills.

She added that although only three of the group’s suggestions will be presented in Rome, there’s plenty of content from other ideas which she hopes will still be used to inspire innovation within the industry.

"This is also about sharing ideas and examples of innovation as widely as possible in the industry – which is an integral part of Leaseurope’s role to promote information exchange," she said.

Leaseurope hopes to continue the Future Group next year, making it a fixture of its Convention and to pick a new set of 16 young executives each year.

"This is a small but tangible step in the direction of identifying and cultivating industry talent, and giving that talent the freedom to develop their thinking in a constraint-free environment," she said.

"We want to spread the idea of people being the industry’s core assets and to provide everyone with concrete examples of how much you can achieve through fresh insights."