Investec Asset Finance, headline sponsor of The International Materials Handling Exhibition (IMHX), hosted its fourth annual broker conference and dinner in Oxfordshire last week to raise awareness of some alternative finance options that can help growing businesses.
This year’s conference focused on how brokers can build a successful brand to gain competitive advantage and increase their reach among SMEs.There are over 500 finance brokers across the UK providing almost £13bn of funding to UK SMEs every year. The conference gave brokers an insight into the SME funding landscape, and highlighted the growing role of asset finance in supporting their development. Asset finance was responsible for 28.3% of all UK investment in machinery, equipment and purchased software in the twelve months to March 2015.
The event was hosted by Mike Francis, head of Investec Asset Finance. Investec Asset Finance is celebrating its tenth year of trading in March 2016, having funded business worth over £2.9billion since its establishment.A panel of industry experts gave thought-provoking and informative presentations.
Martin Harries, Investec head of intermediary sales, gave an overview of the Investec Asset Finance offering, and Philip Shaw, Investec’s Chief economist, explained why he thinks the UK economy is in a reasonably strong position, contrary to common perception. He highlighted that the UK has now had ten consecutive quarters of continuous economic growth.
Raymond van Niekerk, head of Global Marketing at Investec, and William Kendall, a leading entrepreneur who built up New Covent Garden Soup and Green and Black's, then gave energetic and colourful presentations about their experience of building brands. They were in agreement that a business’s employees are core to its brand.
Andrew McMillan, former head of customer service at John Lewis, who is widely recognised for developing John Lewis' much admired sales and service culture, developed this notion further in a discussion on customer service. He explained that some businesses just provide a transactional service, whilst others businesses offer an experience. It is a customer’s experience that informs their perception of the company and brand.
During the evening, Investec Asset Finance welcomed Charles Rolls, a co-founder of Fever Tree which is a client of Investec. Charles spoke about how Fever Tree grew into an international brand, along with premium gin and tonic. Following this, an auction hosted by Jonny Gould raised £3100 for Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group Charity.
Mike Francis, head of asset finance, commented on the conference:“I am delighted that the conference has been such a success. The high calibre speakers and large number of attendees stimulated intelligent discussion and debate. It was a great opportunity for brokers to think about how they can build their brand, better service their SME clients and build the asset finance brand.
“In particular, Investec is pleased to have made a real contribution to raising awareness of some alternative finance options that can help growing businesses. If UK SMEs are to continue to thrive in the midst of economic challenges, there needs to be greater, nationwide education of the full range of asset finance options available and how to access them through specialist finance brokers.”