The Close Brothers Group has
an ambitious vision for its asset finance business based on a
culture of staff involvement and embracing opportunities. Claire
The Close Brothers Group has a lot
to boast about: for the six months ended 31 January 2011 its
adjusted operating profit from continuing operations increased 5.5%
year-on-year to £65.4m (€73.6m). It also remains well capitalised
with a core tier-one capital ratio of 13.1%.
According to a presentation to
investors and analysts published on 24 November 2010, the Close
Brothers Group has more than 16,000 SME customers in the asset
finance sector. The presentation reveals that as at 31 July 2010,
the asset finance portion of the group’s commercial loan book stood
at £901m – a 26.5% increase compared to the same period in
Given these positive figures, it is
little wonder that Mary McNamara, managing director of the group’s
commercial finance division, is upbeat about its prospects. “Our
ambition is to grow. If there are relevant opportunities out there,
then we would certainly be looking at those.
“We’re in the position of being
able to grow both organically and otherwise.”
McNamara is joined at the meeting
with Leasing Life by Roger Stone, Neil Davies, Mike
Randall and Richard Briscoe – the respective managing directors of
asset finance, leasing, broker and transport, and business finance
at the Close Brothers Group.
The five directors all keenly
emphasise the value of the group’s ‘vision’.
Stone says: “We’re working together
to be the business finance partner of choice – that’s our vision.
That’s embedded – it’s something that goes from the ground upwards.
We continue to have workshops and we continue to involve all the
On top of this, Stone adds, is the
importance the group places on expertise among its staff.
Having focused on CBF in the May
issue of Leasing Life, two other key areas for Close
Brothers Group are Close Leasing and Close Asset Finance.
The more niche of the asset finance
businesses, Close Leasing specialises in middle-ticket funding.
“We approach things more from a
credit perspective and 20% of our employees are involved in the
credit area,” says managing director Neil Davies.
Close Leasing began trading in 2007
and its business comes from brokers, corporate finance advisers,
solicitors and vendor schemes.
Close Leasing has also entered the
renewable energy and materials handling spheres.
Close Asset Finance, which has
expanded into Ireland and Scotland, is known as being something of
a bastion for the SME market.
Managing director Roger Stone says:
“We’ve stayed fully open and we’ve filled the gap where others held
“We now have about 18,000 SME
Its focus is primarily on ‘hard’
assets – for example, commercial vehicles, construction equipment
and manufacturing machinery – and it has recently entered new
markets, including agriculture.
“This is a new and exciting
opportunity within Close Asset Finance,” Stone says.
“We now have a growing presence in
that market place, which we’re looking to develop further in the
“We believe it’s a market that was becoming neglected.”