Featuring Henry Howard Finance’s Commercial Director, our latest spotlight series hears from Dan Proctor. Dan joined the company four years ago but his relationship with HHF goes back more than a decade, having previously been a HHF customer and supplier too. Today, as an independent leasing company with its own book lending facility, HHF has supported more than 37,000 SMEs to date.
Here, Dan tells us about the history of the company’s transition from broker to lender, and the strategies which made it all possible.
What have you brought to your role with HHF?
Before I was with Henry Howard, I had my own software company, having worked in leasing since 1996 and supported many vendors within that time. When the financial crisis hit, I developed a software product to support technology companies with the use of leasing. HHF became a customer and used the software. HHF has benefitted from my 360-degree view of its services as a customer, supplier and employee, and its customer experience has been shaped effectively as a result.
What’s changed since you’ve been with HHF?
HHF started life as a broker within the sales aid marketplace, but the business needed to start lending when the financial crisis hit in 2007 due to challenges with access to direct leasing lines. The origination was still coming in, the salespeople still needed supporting, but finance from the banks was less forthcoming.
In 2014 Cabot Square came in with a view to turn us from broker into a lender, and to build that book, which is where we’ve been for the last four years. I joined as the Cabot Square investment happened, to support in building our initial HowApp – our vendor portal which allows our customers access to our service in the quickest way possible.
What is HowApp?
HHF, for the first time as a leasing company, is providing the integration and Fintech platforms necessary to automate the leasing journey throughout. So, the HowApp portal enables HHF salespeople to apply for client funds within 20 seconds, but also that vendor to then apply for credit on behalf of their own customers too.
This facility is being consistently improved thanks to a further £1m investment in our technology. Providing the best automated workflows possible reduces human and data input errors and helps HHF and its customers continue hitting their own milestones in the process. Leasing through HHF reduces your debtor days and eliminates CapEx costs upfront, which basically helps you to sell more!
Consequently, HowApp is an award-winning system, and the customers we work with have chosen to work with Henry Howard often directly because of the technology it provides. The million-pound investment follows input from our user forum internally and externally to ensure that end users are getting what they need – it’s not what the software does, it’s what the user does, that counts.
What are Vendors?
Henry Howard Finance has a specific vendor division and defines a vendor as anyone that sells equipment. Our customers are the salespeople within those vendors, with all our systems set up to ensure that individual is supported at all stages of their own customer sales process.
We work with a hundreds of companies which use our leasing capabilities to promote their own services. Using our technology, HHF helps to automate their workflows and their own sales and financing processes.
How does HHF differ from its competitors?
We stand out from the competition as we are agile, and able to make decisions fast due to the ‘can do’ approach of our new directors and board.
HHF understands that technology is an enabler. We understand that technology doesn’t replace the need for people in a business, but more enhances it. As a people focused business, we have therefore invested heavily in talent acquisition.
We use technology to facilitate our people rather than the other way around, to ensure our operations process is as slick as it can be and that sales teams have the right people focused attention from a training, support and development perspective.