Overall, the asset finance industry has remained resilient in 2020. Although competition has certainly been tough over the past year, and consequently several businesses have exited the sector, the market in general has been relatively flat and stable compared to 2018. Within this environment, we’ve grown new business through our core broker markets, operating within our risk appetite.
Several other trends have emerged recently. Over the past couple of years, we had noticed that brokers were likely to offer a loan rather than finance tied to an asset because it’s easier: there’s no requirement for a supplier invoice, and a purchase isn’t necessary. That trend has slowed, in part because of the reining in of risk appetite among P2P providers, who had accounted for a lot of this supply. We have also seen a continued blurring of lines between tier 1, 2 and to a certain extent tier 3 lenders.
Lending, with an increased risk, has been undertaken by lenders who would consider themselves tier 1 lenders at tier 1 pricing. So on the one hand you have the new breed of providers reducing risk appetite, while on the other hand some existing providers are increasing theirs. We’ve tried to remain consistent, and the balance in our business lines (including materials handling, retail motor, wholesale etc.) certainly helps here.
Finally, when looking back at this year we can’t ignore Brexit. Our chief economist, Phil Shaw, spoke at a conference recently and was inundated with enquiries from importers and manufacturers around potential tariffs associated with bringing equipment into the UK post Brexit. This will be a huge factor as we enter 2020.