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Vehicle and Asset Finance in Basingstoke is looking to help SMEs access capital finance
AT a time when many small and medium-size firms are finding it difficult to access capital funding, one Basingstoke company is crying out for customers it can help.
In response to Tim Colman’s recent article in Gazette Business, where the Hampshire and Isle of Wight chairman of the Federation of Small Business (FSB) shared his views on whether banks are lending enough to SMEs, the managing director at commercial finance broker Vehicle and Asset Finance contacted us to say his firm has helped more than 1,500 customers find finance deals since the business was set up in October 2009.
Former Bank of Scotland regional director Duncan Shephard, based at Vickers House, in Priestley Road, said the firm’s customers range from a sole trader with a van to a small limited liability company with 10 to 15 vehicles.
“It’s the SME market where we have found our niche,” said Duncan, who explained that his firm can provide finance not only for vehicles, but also for plant equipment and machinery for a whole host of sectors from construction and engineering to farming, manufacturing and the world of IT.
“Our typical deal is a man buying a van, truck or car for his business – that’s 75 per cent of our work,” said Duncan. “But we are screaming out for customers. We’ve got 15 funders and they have all got funds and they all want to lend, to the right people, of course. The difficulty we have got is finding the customers.”
Some of the lenders are household names such as Santander and ING, while others are merchant banks like Close Brothers and Northridge Finance, which is part of Bank of Ireland.
“We have got an acceptance rate of 80 per cent – 80 per cent of the customers who come to us get a deal,” said Duncan. “Not all of our deals are massive, but we probably did £15million in our first two years. And this year we’ll probably do between £18m to £20m – we are about 20 per cent up on last year at this stage.”
Earlier this year, Vehicle and Asset Finance was presented with ING’s Outstanding Introducer award for business generated in 2011.
Vehicle and Asset Finance, which earns its fees from the banks, has brokered deals from all over the country, but the team at Vickers House are keen to offer their services to more businesses in and around Basingstoke.
“We try to meet every customer and look them in the eye, shake hands and sign the deal,” said Duncan. “The idea is that once we have done one deal, we have got a bit of a rapport and we’d like to do your next deal, whether it is buying a fork-lift truck, machine tool or whatever it may be – we want to be your funder.”
Duncan said: “I think we have been successful on the back of banks struggling to get themselves back together, deciding who they should and shouldn’t lend to. So a lot of them are missing a lot of good business that they would have normally have lent to.”