thomas peter 400

On 13 September at the International Asset Finance Network conference 2018, I’ll be inviting three industry innovators to pitch their disruptive ideas for the future of auto, fleet or equipment finance to a group of judges who we have called, after the TV show, ‘The Finance Dragons’.

Unlike Dragons’ Den, there’ll be no last minute investment deals to be done on stage, no-one will be trying to outbid each other and no-one is likely to say “I’m out” (although they may, given the right pitch, be in).

Instead our dragons, and those pitching, are trying to do something that can only be a good thing: spending some time talking about, analysing, criticizing and hopefully applauding, new, innovative and disruptive ideas in front of an audience of senior finance professionals.

We know that innovation is unevenly distributed. Much of the action is happening in fintech - emerging technologies create new possibilities and disruptive business models. Auto finance is already exploiting technologies like blockchain and using connected car data as part of emerging ridesharing and transport models. And in equipment finance, innovation is about exploiting technologies such as mobile to speed up and simplify processes and deliver smoother customer experiences. We are also seeing interesting crossovers in the vendor/captive finance space, which is looking towards "the leading edge of fintech" (see; and lenders like 1pm are making strides in developing new market opportunities including a recently announced international peer-to-peer fintech funding capability (see

But compared to auto, equipment finance has something to learn about innovation. This is not to say that it isn't doing a great job at serving customer needs - in fact the reverse: figures show that more than half of SMEs are turning towards non-bank funding according to Wesleyan Bank’s SME Heroes or Zeroes 2018 report.

There are any number of explanations for this: from the impact of regulation, through a lack of understanding of the transformational changes in other industries that have brought down incumbents and elevated challengers because "it will never happen here"; a lack of digital leadership, experience, insight and vision; industry bodies that aren't driving innovation; or a lack of bright new talent flowing into the industry because of poor awareness of what the industry is and does. Depending on what explanation you subscribe to, there are different interventions that might work to create some synergy that can bring innovation into lockstep for all of these areas.

One of these is taking innovation seriously and making it more visible.

That’s why we are holding our own version of Dragons’ Den. Our 'dragons' all share the view that we have to be more serious about innovation - just as they are in their businesses.

Jonathan Andrew (Global CEO, Siemens Financial Services), Andrew Denton (CEO, Alfa^ Systems), Graeme Banister (InMotion Ventures) and Ashley Barnett (Head of Fleet Consultancy at Lex Autolease), will be joining us to cast their critical eyes over ideas that not just address the pain points in the finance process or that deliver a smoother customer experience, but hopefully pick apart and evaluate one or two ideas that have the potential to disrupt the future. The opportunity they are creating is to help new ideas emerge, to discuss them and learn from them.                                                          

The Finance Dragons competition closes 15 August. Learn more, and apply to put yourself in front of our dragons here

To find out more about the International Asset Finance Conference, please click here

To book a ticket for the IAFN Conference and Awards Dinner 2018


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