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Meet the Expert: Gary Kidd, Corporate Manager

Gary Kidd is a Corporate Manager within the Scotland team. Here he talks about his work history and what technological advancements are happening in the industry.

Tell me a bit about your work history…

I’ve been in Banking since leaving school at 17 but specialised in Asset Finance when I turned 25 and I’m still here 27 years later! I’ve worked for five Asset Finance Brands in that time starting with NWS, British Linen and Capital Bank which were all Bank of Scotland owned, before moving to Lombard (RBS/NatWest) prior to joining Close Brothers in 2016. I’ve dealt with all types of customers and sizes of business during my time in the sector, from corner shops to Plc’s. I have also specialised in many sectors such as transport and vehicle hire, media and production, education, charity and science to compliment a keen focus on construction and engineering.

Can you tell me a bit about your current role?

My current role within Close Brothers involves helping to establish a large volume, high turnover, SME offering to regular asset buyers/investors and look to bring key on territory businesses to Close Brothers. This is helped through our client and asset focused approach.

Many businesses may have dealt with Close Brothers indirectly through Close Premium but hadn’t used us for Asset Finance so were unaware of all that we could offer. Others have developed frustrations with existing funders due to their lack of service, as many major banks adjusted their focus to call centres and online solutions, whereas the majority of businesses still prefer a personalised relationship which we are more than happy to provide. The role provides access to business owners, to learn and understand about their businesses, the hurdles to growth and even just navigating challenges, especially over these last two years.

How does a Corporate Manager support our customers?

A Corporate Manager is simply a direct relationship role but due to our clients being more regular purchasers of assets, we need to work ahead of demand and pre-approve and pre-sanction customers so that they have certainty of facilities and terms as they enter buying and investment programmes. We seek to work 6-12 months forward and have facilities in place before business assets are ordered. Clients need us to understand their business, and provide a quick, trusted and light touch service.

What types of Asset Finance do you specialise in?

With the Scottish market being quite compact, being a generalist over most sectors is what benefits me and our customers the most. There is no sector specific tunnel vision approach and you continually learn about developments in all sectors whether that be technology based or regulatory.

The sector we are most involved in is Transport, which is core to Close Brothers. I have, within the corporate business, a specialism funding into the scientific sector (life sciences) which has led to me meeting and assisting many brilliant and interesting businesses, helping to reach their potential for life benefitting treatments or processes.

What assets are currently most in demand?

It is fair to say all business sectors at present have high demand to invest after a stilted two years but the supply chain challenges are affecting all. Need for fresh new business assets is at a particular high point but availability is low. However once supply chain corrects I think there will be an incredible spell of investment.

In sector class, new plant and construction assets are in huge demand but all manufacturers are limiting production slots and availability will be affected during 2022. However commercial vehicle demand at present is at a point I’ve never seen in my years in asset finance. Huge demand vs limited stock has pushed the used market into a pricing overdrive and I’ve never seen CAP and Glasses Guides perform the way they are at the moment.

What effect is the semi-conductor chip shortage having on the Industry?

It is having a massive effect, every asset we fund from technology, engineering, yellow plant and vehicles, all depend on semi-conductors in order to operate. From CNC controls to vehicle navigation, there is barely an asset we fund that doesn’t have some form of computer/ chip driving the operation, so until production levels catch up with demand there may be a slow down in funding of new business assets.

I understand there are in demand vehicles now being released for sale but they will require retrospective fitting of semi-conductors for media, bluetooth and sat nav, rather than be stuck in compounds awaiting full completion. If there is a slowdown, Close Brothers can adjust focus to used assets as we can clearly see that the market is incredibly busy at present.