T&L Founder and Director Paul Lewis sat down with David Ray, Business Development Manager at Aldermore to talk about their experience of working together to structure complex financing transactions in the transportation sector.
Tell us Paul, how long have you worked with Aldermore and David?
Paul: I’ve worked with Dave from when we first started T&L Leasing in 2008, where he set up one of our first funding lines and then when he joined Aldermore in 2011, we were delighted to continue working together. The relationship we have with Aldermore has flourished under his watch.
David: I can’t believe we’ve known each other for 15 years. Like all partnerships, it’s had its challenges, but we’ve built a very successful, harmonious, and mutually beneficial relationship together.
What type of deals do you work on together?
Paul: T&L Leasing specialise in arranging funding for predominantly heavy commercials and trailers to SMEs and corporates, with transactions ranging from £100k into the multi millions. We work with standard products like hire purchase, but what really stands us apart in the market is our ability to work with lenders like Aldermore to finance complex transactions. Between Aldermore and ourselves, we’re able to work with manufacturers and suppliers to create residual value based off-balance sheet solutions that match the customer’s requirements.
David: While we can fund the more standard transactions for light and heavy commercial vehicles, where we can really add value is in structuring the finance to meet the customer’s needs. We aren’t what you might call a “flow funder” for T&L Leasing as we’ve got the industry experience to provide solutions that others might not consider.
How do you work together to give your mutual clients the best possible service?
Paul: As with any broker, we’ll either kick off the conversation directly with the customer or be brought into the opportunity with one of our supplier or manufacturer relationships. We’ll then have an in-depth discussion about the customer’s specific requirements, work with the supplier and take over the finance side of the deal. It’s at this point we’ll be speaking with Aldermore to ensure they can meet the customer’s requirements.
David: On the complex transactions, we make sure all our key stakeholders are involved from the outset and it’s my role to essentially project manage the transaction. Whether it’s bringing in sales, credit, asset management, commercial and legal, we work together to get the best possible outcome for Paul and his customers.
Paul: Dave does a great job of knitting everything together to make sure the process flows seamlessly and we’ve had some great experiences working together over the years, especially with Aldermore’s talented commercial team delivering bespoke documentation for us. It really helps that Aldermore give us direct access to their team of experts which makes completing complex transactions much more straightforward. We feel like we’ve got a really tight relationship with Aldermore because of the direct connection. It makes us feel like we’re part of one team.
What’s the secret to a great broker & funder relationship?
Paul: Trust is key from both sides in getting together, listening to each other and delivering. We know that Aldermore trust that what we send to them is well thought out, that it mitigates the risks, adds value and is right for the customer. We know it’s on us to convert what we send Aldermore so that it’s worth their investment of time. We believe feedback is really important in a relationship, especially with complex transactions that require a lot of time and energy to complete. We try to make sure we give the Aldermore credit team feedback when a deal completes, as they might not be in the loop at origination stage. We appreciate the work each person does to make the deal happen, so that’s really important to us.
David: Treating each other fairly and with respect is absolutely key as Paul says. It’s a fair and equitable partnership and we make sure we both get what we need out of the relationship and what we do is complementary for each other. We believe as a lender that we go the extra mile to offer T&L and their customers an added value service. And it’s because of this that T&L bring us into deals you would probably expect we’d be able to get based out on price alone.
Paul: The added value Aldermore brings includes the range of solutions they can provide, whether that’s products or bespoke documentation. They’re able to help us win the customer over by delivering a solution that’s right for them, and not having to compromise. It’s that understanding of each other’s strengths that helps us stand out in the market.
What are the biggest challenges and trends in the transportation market?
Paul: With the volatility in the macro-economic climate, we’re keeping a close eye on the impact that continues to have in the transport sector. Smaller fleets are particularly challenged as they’re perhaps operating off smaller margins or relying on sub-contractor work from their larger peer group.
The availability and delay of assets due to lack of components is meaning transport and logistics companies must plan further ahead than normal. This makes accurate forecasting incredibly challenging, especially factoring in replacement plans for assets. It can then become harder to negotiate new or existing customer contracts as they may need more than 12 months to place orders for product.
David: We’re definitely seeing more questions from brokers about our appetite for funding alternatively fuelled vehicles as manufacturers are under pressure to look at hydrogen or electric products. But there continues to be challenges with the infrastructure to support adoption and getting the assets on the road. While larger businesses are rightly trying to hit carbon targets there’s still a question of what the return on investment in the more sustainable assets will be in years to come.
How can you overcome the challenges facing the transportation industry together?
Paul: Despite some of these challenges which we were posed with as a business in 2022, it transpired to be our best yet in terms of our total customer advances, both overall and with Aldermore specifically.
I always look to be optimistic as any form of challenge always brings opportunity. Despite testing market conditions, the demand for wheeled assets continues. However this environment generally impacts credit appetite from our principal competitor funders for the structures and volumes our customers require. We can take advantage of this.
David: It’s a testament to our combined experience and understanding of the sector that while others retrench, we can use our expertise to continually support brokers and their customers in this market. We believe it’s really important for our brokers and their customers to have continuity and a safe pair of hands through the good and bad times.