Much of human emotion is built on
the concept of fight or flight. In either case, our subconscious
tells us to look after ourselves, but consciously we do it working
with the pack, not against it.

The once-in-a-century economic
crisis we find ourselves in at the moment demands that lenders do
not take flight from their responsibilities to the economy and
stakeholders. With the asset finance industry campaigning for
government funding to assist liquidity, we have a heightened level
of responsibility.

Similarly, we must act as responsible
lenders in dealing with the problems faced by our customers in this
downturn. Too often over recent months companies with viable
business models, but which are affected by short-term issues from a
customer or industry segment, have been pulled down by a knee-jerk
reaction from their lenders.

The mainstay of many of our industry’s
larger asset finance facility customers has been multiple funding
lines; the number of lenders often are in the double figures.
Notwithstanding confidentiality issues, we have a responsibility to
assist each other to highlight issues and, more pertinently, to
work for the common good to retrieve the situation and the assets

A dozen lenders each going their own
way to establish their position and to protect themselves has more
potential to cause harm than good, and certainly won’t retrieve the
situation for the customer. However, co-operation – working
collectively with advisors, administrators and agents – has the
potential to create strength in depth of expertise and bargaining
power. It is also likely to protect asset values by being able to
control the release of assets on the market, especially where there
is a large degree of homogeneity.

Balancing these needs of customers,
shareholders, stakeholders and our responsibilities to the wider
business community will be the key, not only to our individual and
collective survival, but also the strength with which the asset
finance industry comes out of the other side of this recession.

The author, formerly MD of
HSBC Equipment Finance, has since moved to a wider role within the