Our Single-Minded focus:
Interview with Mark Lockwood,
Head of Asset Finance
Having a single minded focus is an essential component of any successful Owner Managed Business’ strategy. Over the course of this series, we’ve spoken to leading members of Owner Manager Businesses across Britain, who have shared expert insights on how they master a single minded approach to their business. This week, we sought out one of our internal expert team and spoke to Mark Lockwood, Head of Asset Finance.
Mark Lockwood has been with Allied Irish Bank (GB) for eight years, and has led the asset finance proposition since 2012. We interviewed Mark to discuss our single-minded approach in working for our OMB customers and what this means for your business.
Having a Customer-Centric Approach to Asset Finance:
“We place our focus on Owner Managed Businesses and we put emphasis on building long-term relationships. What that means for us as an established bank is that we can go to a customer and offer a full service proposition that we can deliver through our teams across Great Britain. This relationship approach is complimentary to how we deliver Asset Finance to our new & existing customers.
We approach every customer based on their own particular needs, we don’t offer a package straight off the shelf. Every customer is different so it’s really about sitting down with the customer, understanding their specific Asset Finance needs and putting something together that is really tailored to them.
One accolade I’m particularly proud of at AIB (GB) is winning the “Best Service from a Business Bank" at the Business Moneyfacts Awards 2015 for the second consecutive year.”
Staying Up To Date on the Market in Asset Finance:
“Asset Finance involves moving fast & is often time pressured, as the assets we help finance for our customers are often mission critical. Our relationship approach in staying close to our customers & the market help us understand what’s really important to delivering a highly valued service on time.
Over the last couple of years, we have researched the market and put together an Owner Managed Business Outlook document. This gives us an in-depth look into the perceived prospects, opportunities and challenges that face OMB businesses today. It gives us a unique insight so that when we’re going out to meet customers, we understand the challenges of being an OMB, and of the time and risk involved in running your own business.
We stay up to date with the sectors our customers are in, for example Waste Management, not only through our OMB Outlook but also by becoming members of industry bodies, making sure we’re connected with relevant professional partners such as accountants, solicitors and financial advisors to ensure that we have a good understanding of the key dynamics in the market at this time. No business is exactly the same, even in the same industry. Businesses structure themselves very differently for a variety of reasons.
We go into every business meeting finding out what makes the business tick and what they are trying to achieve over the next 3-5 years. Then we evaluate how we can assist with that plan and be a trusted advisor as they put that plan into practice.”
Knowing our Customers’ Business Needs:
“What customers really appreciate is when you spend time getting to know their business. So that’s what we do.
Working in an Asset Finance business means we get to visit our customers on a regular basis as their investment plans in plant & equipment evolve throughout the year. We ensure that our customer portfolios don’t have a huge amount of customers in them to allow our relationship managers to spend more time with our customers. That allows us to have that personal touch, to build up a relationship with our customers over a long period of time.
We can understand where their focus is. Are they growing? Are they winning new contracts? What are their investment plans over the next 12 – 24 months for new plant & equipment? Do they require new premises to expand, buying another business or looking to diversify? Do they need us to introduce a particular professional advisor to help their business?
The personal approach allows us to act as a trusted advisor for many of our customers. At Allied Irish Bank (GB), it’s not a tick the box approach. We go out and meet the customer, understand their industry, understand exactly where they are as a business, and that feeds a lot of information into what we can then deliver to the customer.”