Our Wholesale Finance team provides significant backing for the UK’s fleet industry, funding 95% of independent firms in the sector. In this Q&A we meet Craig Maddox, one of the names behind the team’s continued success.
Tell me about yourself and your background
I’m 28 years old, from Liverpool and a massive football fan (Everton season ticket holder!). After leaving university, I started my finance career in a graduate sales role with an asset and cashflow finance company.
I progressed into a full relationship management role after early success and stayed with the company for nearly five years, including through a business acquisition.
I then had an opportunity to be part of setting up a new commercial finance company that had really started to take off before COVID hit, which impacted the business and unfortunately resulted in the investors pulling out.
After that, I got the opportunity to join Close Brothers Asset Finance and work with the Wholesale finance team in my current role as a Business Development Manager.
You work in the Wholesale Finance team – what does that involve?
I manage around 25 key accounts based across the UK, ranging from short-term vehicle rental businesses to traditional large vehicle contract hire providers. We provide different finance products to the motor industry that allows our customers to invest in and grow their fleet of vehicles.
My role involves traditional relationship and account management – building strong relationships with my clients and working with other teams within our business to provide a quality service.
What does a typical day look like?
A typical day would involve regular communications with customers – discussing potential deals, arranging quotations and talking about the industry in general. This is a key part of the role for me because it gives me the opportunity to continue to learn about the industry from experienced customers while developing strong relationships.
I also need to ensure I’m on top of all my accounts on a daily basis by reviewing management information, discussing credit requirements and tracking new business volumes. I will also spend part of my day searching and prospecting for new opportunities, understanding current industry challenges and discussing new opportunities with the team.
How does your industry experience help you in your current role?
The motor industry was new to me when I started at Wholesale Finance; however, I was able to utilise a number of transferable skills from my finance industry background.
I have years of asset finance experience, which has given me a strong understanding of the solutions and financial analysis required and I’ve been able to use this expertise when discussing requirements with customers.
My knowledge of starting a new commercial finance company has given me the tenacity and work ethic to succeed and the insight into wider business relationships and roles, not only sales but also forecasting, budgeting and marketing.
I’ve developed strong customer service skills, which have allowed me to engage with, and learn from, my customers early on in my career at Close Brothers Asset Finance.
What has been a highlight for you since you joined the team?
A big highlight since joining the team has been the performance of the business through turbulent market conditions, which have impacted the supply of new vehicles into the whole market. We’ve performed well and continued to win business and provide different solutions to our customers.
Who would be a ‘typical’ customer?
A typical Wholesale Finance customer is a traditional contract hire company that provide business contract hire to corporates and SMEs. These companies will offer business contract hire and potentially personal contract hire for individuals too.
We also work with short-term rental providers who fund vehicles via HP (Hire Purchase) and provide rental terms to their end users.
We are also increasingly working with vehicle finance brokers to help them build their own book offerings through business and personal contract hire.
What products do you offer?
Hire purchase, undisclosed agency (BCH), disclosed agency (PCH)
What do you do to ensure you can offer the best possible customer experience and service?
I ensure I’m readily available to my customers, providing quick and clear responses and assisting with any queries they may have. I like to work in a methodical, organised way to ensure all tasks are completed in a professional way and treating each and every customer we have in the same way.
Looking to the future, what are the key developments in your sector?
The big key development I see in the UK motor vehicle sector is the supply and maintenance of electric vehicles. We’ve seen massive strides made in this area but I still believe the network and infrastructure needs to improve greatly before we see more EVs on the road.
I am also personally interested in consumer behaviours and how these may change over time with regards to purchasing new vehicles – we have seen a few new entrances to the market who provide a purely online based model. It will be interesting to see how the traditional players adapt to this and how successful the new ‘tech savvy’ firms will be.