Nick Aust is a Senior Relationship Manager and industry specialist within the Print team at Close Brothers Asset Finance. Here he tells us about his work history, the types of assets that can be financed and the equipment that is most in demand.
Can you tell me about your work history?
I joined HSBC on a graduate programme after gaining my Law degree from the University of Kent working in corporate finance. I spent a year working in the City and was then transferred over to Canary Wharf where I was living at the time. Then in 2007 I gained a role within the Print division of Close Brothers Ltd where I spent two years as a sales coordinator, making sales calls for Area Sales Managers. I spent a lot of time getting to grips with the Close Brothers model and learning about the assets we funded which has helped me throughout my career. I then moved up to an Area Sales Manager and loved the job immediately. I started to produce good results within the first few months and I was driving over 40,000 miles per year for various sales meetings. In 2015 I was promoted to Senior Relationship Manager.
Can you tell me about your current role?
As a Senior Relationship Manager, I currently manage three Area Sales Managers and as a team we cover the whole of the UK. My role is to help them develop new customer relationships and use my own experience to help them find new opportunities and get deals over the line. We have a fantastic team camaraderie, we all help each out and as such have enjoyed fantastic results over the last few years.
How does your industry experience help you in your role?
I have been involved in print for as long as I can remember. My Grandfather was an apprentice typesetter and went on to found and run his own print business. I remember playing in the factory as a child and actually went on to work there during summer breaks from university, contacting new customers selling personalised analysis pads – as you can imagine I was always happy to get back to university, but I learned some invaluable qualities over those summers which I still carry with me today.
Having dealt solely with print equipment for 13 years, my product knowledge is good, and I do my best to keep up with the ever-changing world of print. This enables me to help guide my customers down the best possible path for their business and tailor finance solutions that will suit them best.
What types of assets do you finance?
We are happy to look at finance for almost any asset within the print and packaging sector. This includes anything from traditional litho print/finishing, to wide format, digital, web presses. Traditionally we have favoured the hard assets associated with litho print, however given how the digital market has grown over the last few years this has become a major part of our overall portfolio.
What machinery/equipment are you finding is currently most in demand?
The answer to this really depends what sector you are looking at. For large packaging firms we have seen an increase in requirement for upgrading actual capacity within the business, meaning new large format printing presses. The same can be said for book printing. For general commercial printers there has been a definite increase in digital requirements, which includes printing capacity but also finishing (guillotines/folders etc).
What technological developments have you seen in the industry?
Since my first Drupa event in 2008 the world of print has changed dramatically. Although the industry has shrunk, the companies that remain have managed to adapt to the changing requirements of the end consumer. Whilst margins of print have been squeezed, a lot of our customers have brought specialist finishing in house, to offer a wider product to their customers without having to distribute externally which further impacts on margin.