Congratulations to our CEO, Mark Catton, who has won the Finance Monthly Game Changer Award!
Mark Catton is the former head of RBS’s UK Corporate Bank. In his first year in post, Mark has secured a second tranche of funding from the British Business Bank ENABLE fund. This £51million, on top of an initial £51million asset finance facility granted in 2016, will allow Henry Howard Finance to extend its leasing and asset finance offering to a larger portfolio of UK businesses.
Here, we chat to Mark about his whirlwind year at HHF and about the future of SME finance in the UK.
Congratulations Mark – how does it feel to win this award so soon after taking the helm at HHF?
It’s not something I’d ever set out to do but it’s nice to get the award and it’s very flattering. It reflects really well on the team here and what we’re trying to build.
2018 was a very busy year for you and the business. What have been your highlights so far?
Our highlight has to be the quality of the team and the number of fantastic people we’ve been able to attract to the business. The great thing about our new recruits is that they all like our story and want to be part of it.
At board level, we have a new chief operating officer in former GE capital executive Anne Williams, and we have also recently welcomed former Opel Vauxhall Finance executive Mark Tweed to the team as our chief financial officer. We have also taken on additional key staff in Manchester, the Midlands and the South West to extend our relationship manager reach around the UK and have developed our marketing, customer engagement, HR, compliance and customer service teams during the year.
A number of things went well for us last year. We exceeded our plans for the year and set some new highs for our loan origination, as well as the number of SMEs we’ve supported with finance.
HHF works in a very competitive market and many SMEs are still looking to high street lenders for finance. How does HHF stand out from the crowd?
It’s pretty straightforward really. It’s about a passion for great service. Our teams build personal relationships with our customers and do their best to support their finance needs. If you look at our customer case studies, they all say how well supported they feel by their account manager.
The vast majority of the deals we finance for our customers are done on our own balance sheet, so we make quick decisions and can be very flexible, but we also have excellent relationships with our panel of funders, so we can deliver a range of solutions.
Vendor finance is a key part of business for HHF – how is HHF helping SMEs with leasing agreements, and again, what makes HHF different in this market?
We’ve not particularly shouted about it but we’re one of the leading Vendor finance businesses in the UK. We support several hundred Vendors across all sectors and equipment types – for example, we finance complex IT programmes, telecoms solutions, security equipment, shopfitting, leisure equipment, to a range of vending solutions. We work with some of the biggest Vendors in the market and offer a technology-led and service-led model.
Our HowApp technology offers Vendors what they need to give their SME customers the service they want – and we’re currently investing significant sums into our HowApp platform to ensure it is at the leading edge in this market. We’re working in partnership with a number of our Vendor customers to ensure we get that right, which has been a great asset in the development of the platform. Importantly though, alongside our use of technology in this market, we also try to deliver a great personal service – all our Vendors have dedicated relationship teams and that is key to the success we’re having.
What can we expect to see next from HHF in 2019?
2018 was a great year, and I’m confident that 2019 will be too. Our plans are to keep growing and investing – and supporting more SMEs.
To contact Henry Howard Finance please call 01633 415222, or visit www.henryhowardfinance.co.uk