We caught up with Gary Kidd, Corporate Manager in our Scotland team to get insight into his background and work in specialist areas.
Tell us about yourself and your role with Close Brothers.
I am married to Lianne, a hard-working nurse for the NHS. I have 2 teenage daughters who are both at university studying Education and Prosthetics. I also own a Bearded Collie, Alfie, and a cat, Wilber.
I have worked in the Asset Finance sector for approximately 25 years, starting at NWS/Capital Bank but I spent the majority of my time employed at Lombard, working there for 16 years.
I moved to Close Brothers back in 2016 to help build a new, larger customer offering, seeking to support high asset turnover businesses and bring new clients into Asset Finance and wider Bank through cross referral.
The role put me back in front of business owners and decision makers and, in doing so, you really get to understand the growth plans, pathways and challenges that businesses are facing today and identifying the solutions and support that Close Brothers as a Bank can offer.
We have developed a strong vehicle fleet and offer key finance qualities to the Transport Division. We also have an appetite to support a number of niche sectors with creative funding solutions. Due to demand the offering has expanded, both locally and nationally. Elizabeth Plenderleith is moving from a role in Close Brothers Credit over to be a Relationship Manager, to help grow the team in Scotland and assist in servicing the increasing number of businesses that are now starting to look beyond their bank for asset finance and debt consolidation solutions.
How do you get involved with financing niche areas, like science and technology and what value is Close Brothers Asset Finance able to bring?
In a previous role, I worked as part of a team tasked with breaking into new sectors and providing funding for entities who were not traditional asset finance users but had a need.
Competition in main Asset Finance markets was always tight, innovative thinking was required and bespoke offerings were created for Private and Further Education, Charities and the Scientific sectors, with the latter really interesting me with some of the amazing work being undertaken.
I immersed myself in the sector, learned about the technologies used and grew a really strong network within the close-knit community. I was delighted when I could continue supporting this sector when joining Close Brothers and believe my work with key internal partners and taking them along the journey, means that we are now comfortable in being supporters to this sector. No two opportunities are the same so Close Brothers take on each proposal with an open mind and a commercial viewpoint to see how we can support and help clients in their direction of travel.
What are the main finance challenges facing the SME’s that you work with?
At present, traditional SME’s are concerned with short to medium income generation and probably more importantly continued availability of cash and finance support from their funders, who all need to be playing their part at this time.
At present the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is doing a great job in supporting SMEs but many clients, even with CBILS support, are finding their own banks becoming less supportive at present and decision making is very slow. There are concerns about debt and finance availability post CBILS and that funding into the SME sector will become laboured.
At Close Brothers we have no intention of letting that happen and our “boots on the ground” way of working helps us understand our clients better, identify and assist with issues and on occasion see past the numbers to ensure the correct level of support is offered to assist trading beyond the pandemic.
On the Scientific front, in the current Covid-19 world, there has never been as much collaboration and spotlight on the sector and research lab time is at a peak. Current challenges are funding growth with very short lead times and creating huge additional capacity required as the globe focusses on every avenue of pandemic treatment as well as many core treatments such as cancers.
For many growth and research and development would normally be funded by new equity, but funding rounds can take time which many businesses don’t have so the Asset Investment is an area that Close can assist on in a much shorter timeline.
What’s the most rewarding part of working on these types of deals?
Speaking about the scientific sector, I personally think it’s the feeling of gratitude from the management teams we work with, as we are supporting their quest to bring a product, process or solution to wider markets to bring progress or a cure to a medical challenge.
Also, when a company reaches a milestone in terms of what they are seeking to achieve and that’s acknowledged in the media, there is a definite sense of pride that we have helped in the process.