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Andy Taylor, Sales Director at Haydock Finance shares his thoughts with Asset Finance Connect on Haydock’s recent growth and success, the importance of culture and people in the industry, and the role of the FLA and NACFB in the lender-broker relationship, as well as providing his vision for the NACFB as the driving force of asset finance brokers.

Growth and success at Haydock

In this year’s Asset Finance UK 50 Report, Haydock Finance was awarded strongest advance in the AFUK50 ranking, an achievement Taylor puts down to the culture and people at Haydock: “If you enable people to make decisions and promote a culture that has the customer at the heart of everything you do, high growth and success is a very happy by-product. Of course, it’s not easy and it takes time, but our team has worked so hard over the past few years on this cultural, customer centric focus that, with the right support and training, the results are there for all to see.”

With an increased focus on attracting and retaining emerging talent in the asset finance industry, Taylor has witnessed the challenges that this brings at Haydock, with successful employees being sought after by other finance companies, a sad by-product of being a successful company with a positive culture.

Taylor believes that young people in the industry want to sample different businesses, different cultures and different ideas, leading them to move more frequently from business to business and role to role during their career. The next generation of asset finance professionals increasingly focus on the business culture alongside company values and vision before making the move to a new company.

When looking for new talent at Haydock, Taylor focuses on whether that individual will be a cultural fit for the company rather than looking at academic achievements: “We tend to look more for the person than the qualifications.”

Benefits of being an independent lender

As an independent lender, Haydock is fortunate, according to Taylor, as they do not have the difficult compliance requirements of banks, in addition to having supportive owners enabling Haydock to progress and grow at a fast pace.

Haydock, unlike retail and challenger banks, can balance price and risk very well and this, in turn, helps UK SMEs who can sometimes struggle to get finance from high street and challenger banks. Taylor warns that, as recent events in the market suggest, “large defaults can come quickly and from nowhere, so you have to guard against complacency at all times”.

The recent AFC asset finance confidence survey suggest that there will be modest growth in lending to SMEs, while privately many lenders were reporting a modest contraction of around 5-10% in September. Taylor, on the other hand, has not witnessed a drop in lending highlighting that Haydock is progressing well with positive results and can be ambitious in their growth targets due to the funding and backing from their owners.

Taylor notes that FCA regulations are causing difficulties for the regulated sector, making it more difficult to lend to many sectors. As an independent funder, Haydock has been able to grow “safely” over the past four to five years, and Taylor strongly believes that for every UK SME there is no shortage of finance companies willing to lend them money, “it’s just connecting the two.”

The cost-of-living crisis has affected many UK businesses including SMEs, which has had a knock-on effect to some lenders. The current climate along with the lack of supply of new assets over the past couple of years has resulted in SMEs keeping assets for longer, investing in used rather than new assets, and an increased demand for refinancing, according to Taylor.

The NACFB as the driving force of brokers

Joining the NACFB Board as a non-executive director in 2022 as well as chairing several FLA committees during his 20+ years in the asset-based lending industry, Andy Taylor is increasingly positive about the role of both trade associations in the asset finance industry. But he sees a very clear split in their roles: “FLA is for lenders, and the NACFB is for brokers.”

Whilst Taylor sees the introduction of brokers to the FLA as associate members as a positive step as both trade bodies need input from their counterparts, he is adamant that the clear membership choice for a broker is the NACFB.

Taylor agrees that the FLA does a great job for lenders, and brokers should be involved up to a point, “but brokers should be part of their own trade body…. after all brokers and lenders don’t agree on everything, do they?”

As an outsider looking in over the years, Taylor admits to being critical of the NACFB but since joining the association in 2022, several important changes have been made that were raised by asset finance brokers.

His vision for the NACFB is to “have a strong well represented asset finance broker membership with brokers, large and small, having regular input into the lobbying and horizon scanning of the association.” Of course, Taylor points out that this can only happen if asset finance brokers can see the value in the NACFB leading them to become a member.

While the value of the NACFB as the driving force of brokers is being enhanced by the day, according to Taylor, the NACFB needs to better communicate this to asset finance brokers: “There will be events planned throughout 2024 that will enable non-member asset finance brokers to come and see for themselves, listen to existing members and start to realise it’s better to be in than out!”

Taylor believes that it is critical to lenders that brokers are members of a strong association, separate from their own trade body, because independence is of utmost importance.

The role of technology in the broker-lender channel

Whilst Taylor sees the importance of technology and the digital journey in the future of the broker-lender channel for simple decision-making and repetitive time-consuming processes to make things quicker and more streamlined, Haydock still relies heavily on human intervention; “talking and understanding why a deal should be done is something that a simple tick box exercise would not be able to cope with,” according to Taylor.

The human element side of the broker-lender relationship is particularly important at Haydock. Taylor comments that, “I wouldn’t like to see all ’friction’ removed from the customer journey from first contact to paid out and then settled, as if there is no friction the cheapest price generally wins and that isn’t right; it will be a drive to the bottom.”

Taylor has strong views on the introduction of a new digital platform into the asset finance industry to help solve problems within the broker-lender channel; issues that don’t necessarily exist for all lenders such as Haydock.

In addition to the cost of such a system, there is also the risk that rigid digital decision-making processes would stop proposals being passed to a lender, which, if looked at personally on a case-by-case basis, might be accepted with a few adjustments.

Contact Andy Taylor via email at andy.taylor@haydockfinance.co.uk or visit his LinkedIn profile at linkedin.com/in/andy-taylor-73ab2124. For more information on Haydock Finance, visit their website at https://haydockfinance.co.uk/