Crunch time for lending to SME’s in UK?

I know that the headline sounds a bit drastic, but it is true. Lets paint the real picture,no spin, no gloss just facts. Lending to SME’s is very tight, but lets look at the whole picture.

The great saviour was to be peer to peer lending and crowd funding, the new way, for a bright tomorrow. In reality, the amount lent to SME’s was relatively small, but attracted great publicity. This came from the media and  other sources. But even at the start, there were exclusions, such as you had to have two years audited accounts for many of the peer to peer lenders . In the real world we all know that it takes at least 6 months from year-end to have your accounts out, even if your accountant was Superman. So effectively, no lending for business under at least two and a half years trading.  Peer to peer lending to new starts, almost no chance!

Now the FCA are looking at such firms, with regulations concerning investment advice, only for high net worth individuals, and certification of a maximum of 10% of their net investible assets in unlisted equity  and debt securities. This will affect the amount available to SME’s and other business from these lending platforms. So the funding gap won’t be coming from this source.

Lets now just look at the Department of Business , Innovation and Skills, in their last report, it states that  it has become more difficult for SME’s to obtain bank finance following the 2008- 2009 financial problems. This lending drought is still here, conditions on loans and overdrafts have many onerous conditions, that has  put off SME’s looking to expand, and that is why the recovery is very patchy. It might well be strong in the M25 area, but outside, the response that we receive is that it is still very hard for SME’s in most sectors.

So where do we go from here, well, there is nothing new under the sun, and the often forgotten form of funding available to SME’s is leasing or HP. Not quite as glamorous as crowd funding, not so chic as peer to peer lending, but crucially it is available to all SME’s new starts, established companies, and in all sectors of business. You can even arrange refinance or sale and lease back to release valuable working capital back into your business.

It is time that leasing came out of the shadows, came out into the market place and shouted loud and clear, funding for SME’s , new starts,  welcome, come and talk to Oak , real people in the real world.



Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 8 Comments

The 24 hour sales person!

If I offered you a sales person, who was never ill, never late, never put in expenses, never moaned about the car, never received parking tickets and always said exactly what you wanted them to say, you would snatch my hand off! Where is this mythical enigma? The truth is, you more than likely have that person already.

This incredible sales machine can only be one thing, it is your website. Many companies assume that to have a website, is just like having a brochure, something to show sometimes, or to blithely say, “go to our website” The facts are staggering, 89% of all considered purchases are now searched online as a stage one of the buying process.

We all do it, look at Google to have a quick search to see who we should consider, and to check costs etc. This applies to flights, holidays, car prices, smart phone offers, utility websites etc. It is our first port of call. The second fact is simply amazing, first page of Google has almost 92% of web traffic.  Therefore, if you are page two, the most you can expect  about .5 to .6 % of per placing of enquiries.  Page three and beyond, simply forget it, no chance. So you simply have to have a website on page one of the search engines.

Moreover, the key is to spend on that page almost as if the page was a salesperson without all the ancillary expenses. If you do not, putting it simply, your competitors will, and they will grow, whilst you will stall at best. To achieve a website that generates leads and prospects and crucially sales, you require a friendly attractive website, but also a website that is Search engine optimised on a monthly basis.

Just think, if you went to a website, and clicked on latest news, Jan 2013 we launched a new widget, nothing since…….., you can almost hear the tumbleweed. They either got bored, or simply cannot be bothered. If that is the case, what will they be like to deal with my order? That reflects directly back to the company, and that makes us click away to another site, which is regularly updated, looks fresh, this company looks switched on and reliable. It’s a very simple process, and we do it; if the website looks poor, we assume that dealing with that company will be likewise.

Sites can be in many languages, opening up new markets for you. A well run and optimised website is just like that amazing enigma of a sales person. Always fresh, always welcoming, always selling your company.

Oak speaks from experience; we have invested heavily in our website over the last 10 years. It is the best move we have ever done. Oak Leasing has become the UK’s most popular leasing company website by utilising  and developing its own in-house search engine optimisation and search engine visibility optimisation. Oak decided to go in-house with our own SEO services 10 years ago, as we felt we had to move from a jargon built environment to one that we, as real people could understand.

It proved to be one of the best moves that we have made.SEO services, Oak Leasing We can now offer our seo services to both suppliers and other companies who are looking for a fixed monthly cost to overlook their website, re write and seo the whole site, and monitor its progress.

We will not promise you the stars, or the moon, but we will promise to improve your ranking on search engines. Our record is proof enough.We can now offer website leasing to complete the website jigsaw for you. Search engine visibility is the real key in SEO services optimisation. Putting it jargon free, if you cannot be seen, you are not visible, and that means low website traffic.  If you think you need a refreshing “jargon free ” look at you website to improve its results, just contact us. No smoke, no mirrors, just pure live results, the rest is up to you.

” We have found Oak to be outstanding.Can’t believe what they have done to our website in getting us on the first page within days! ”

Liz Hughes. Salon Connections Director.

So if you wish to make 2014 really happen, give us a call, and see how we can change your website into one that your competitors envy, and drives more leads and sales into your company.




Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs, Website SEO | 11 Comments

No landing problems for World’s oldest air service

The world’s oldest air service will be re commence for one day only, starting on the 24th of December. This service has been in active use for at least 150 years. It has never had problems with landing slots, and remarkably, is able to operate throughout the night with no objections. This service has proved to very popular with many generations, who even try and see its craft in the sky.

The service operates world wide, and has a successful customer score of 11 out of 10, quite a score I think you would agree.  How different is the other side of air travel. The Heathrow  saga drags on for years, with much wringing of hands, and papers and reports  of all colours and sizes. And still we have not got anywhere! Just as a point of notice, Frankfurt opened its fourth runway in 2011, and now employs over 78,000 jobs at the airport.

Swiftly moving on, looking back over the year,what did we get right? Well in February we said that buy the end of the year, the French economy would be in a far worse place than the UK,  In Die Spiegel , the renowned German newpaper, dated 11/09/13, they also have came to the same conclusion concerning the German government that we did, two months after Oak called the situation correctly !

Enough of the past, what does the future hold? In the UK, with unemployment down, inflation down, and growth up, the prospects are quite good for the UK. In Europe, it is different, with poor economic data in from France , and an expectation that they will lurch back into recession again, whilst the German economy is expected to grow by 1.7 %.

Whatever the new year holds for us all, may I wish you all a Happy Christmas, and a very profitable New Year, and I hope that the oldest air service brings you all that you wished for!

Oak Leasing, the leading European leasing company

Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 8 Comments

Cappuccino or Espresso anybody?

Everybody is discussing the recovery, is it real, how long will it last. All of these are questions the Chancellor, and those that are very close to the chancellor at the Treasury, would really like to have the answers. Let us digress slightly to the world of coffee. As most people know, the typical cappucino  is a coffee with a great deal of frothy milk, normally sold far too hot. Whilst on the other hand, an Espresso is dark and strong, and is not for the faint hearted when partnered with a double shot!

How is this related to the recovery of the economy I hear you cry? Well a cappucino is weaker, and has froth which will subside, and look eventually quite a mess . An espresso is strong and keeps the drinker of it going and alert for quite some time. A sustainable recovery should be based on two pillars, manufacturing and exports, which I suspect that our present uplift is not so based. I believe that it is based on consumer recovery and service based industries. Whilst any recovery is very good for us, we firmly need to push harder on exporting and manufacturing. Exporting especially into Europe.

If there is any doubt on this fact, just take a look at Germany, who  is renowned for manufacturing and exporting, and no one would doubt their economic strength.  So whilst our recovery is bright, we have to build, to make it lasting.

Any growth for companies, has to be well funded. Leasing and asset finance has always led the way for firms access to finance and to acquire new and crucial equipment. But at the moment, with banks still reticent to lend to newer starts, companies have searched for other forms of funding such as crowd funding, peer to peer lending, and even loans from so called pay day lenders.

It is time that companies took a harder look at leasing companies for their funding. Many peer to peer lenders ask for last two years accounts, and in the real world, we all know that will eliminate almost all companies under  three years trading!  Also many peer to peer funders will only lend to limited companies or limited liability partnerships. If you are a sole trader or a normal partnership, their answer will be simply no! Not so helpful. Moving to pay day type lender’s, their rates are normally so high, that it almost beggars belief!

Why do companies look to access such funding? Perhaps that leasing companies have too low profile, have a reputation of saying no to new starts, or just too difficult to deal with a leasing request.

I cannot speak for other leasing companies, but at Oak, we are funding more new start business’s than ever; helping to re finance equipment for more established companies looking to free valuable working capital, in fact our fast and friendly service is well known. What we offer is down to earth leasing, we are real people in the real world. What we do not offer is froth, mission statements and the like.

So how do you like your coffee, a frothy cappucino, or a straight strong espresso?

We are in the Espresso camp, along with Germany, and would be delighted to help you in your leasing both in the UK, as well as in Europe.

And remember, we do not have tablets of stone underwriting, limited companies, sole traders, partnerships, whatever, everybody welcome!

Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing | 24 Comments

Silver Linings

In last quarter’s figures released from the Bank of England showed yet again that lending to the SME sector and new start business is down. No matter what people say, figures do not lie. Total business lending, that is loans and overdrafts fell by £3.8 bn in August, and SME lending fell by £0.7bn.  This is echoed in Europe, well really most of Europe, Germany is always the exception.

If looking at the whole European picture, our figures are very good in comparison. Spain’s lending was down by a whopping 66%, Portugal down by 45%, but you would half expect those figures. The figures you would not expect are that French lending was down by 37%, and even more surprising, the Dutch by 32%.

So where is the good news, well it is very simple. Oak is currently arranging funding for more new start  business’s than ever before.  No tablets of stone underwriting here, just straight forward common sense.

And there is more good news, after attending the Inter Europe Airport show in Munich, it became very apparent that with local funding being severely reduced, it gives UK SME’s an opportunity to expand further into European markets by offering finance or leasing to their customer utilising Oak’s European leasing presence.

It’s hardly rocket science is it, but the best ideas are always very simple. Opportunities are always there, they do not disappear, but you might have to hunt a little bit harder to uncover them.

As we approach D day in the United States in respect of their budget debt ceiling, another country had exactly the same problems, but has hardly caused a ripple on the surface. The Dutch government were in a similar position in respect to their budget. However, they have secured a four party coalition to pass the new budget.

I will leave you with the thought for all of Europe’s problems, at least we can overcome them without a last ditch drama. Now that must a silver lining!


Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 23 Comments

Flies in the ointment

G day, or Germany day approaches for Europe on the 22nd September. The German general election result will have a large effect on the whole of the Eurozone.  Most of Europe hopes that an election victory for Angela Merkel will provide her with the platform to be able to assist the struggling Eurozone economies.

There are two flies in that particular ointment. Firstly, the new political party, Alternative für Deutschland is moving towards the critical 5% of the vote. For those who are unaware of this new party,they are the anti euro party in Germany, a sort of German UKIP. If they achieve 5%, they will gain seats in the Bundestag, and could well move Angela Merkel to form a coalition with her rival, the SPD. With the results of a recent poll showing that 55% of Germans thought that the Eurozone should be reduced, room to manoeuvre for the new Chancellor will be greatly reduced, and unconditional support for struggling countries will not be available to her.

Once the election is decided, all of the problems that have been held in limbo over the Summer months will surface. The extra bailout for Greece, and the restructuring of the Eurozone banks will have to be decided. That will cause problems, as all of these issues will upset one or more country in the zone. Could be time for another summit!

However, while Europe holds its collective breath, the UK has good news, the service sector has grown at the fastest rate for six years. The influential OECD predicts growth in the UK economy to rise to 1.7% between June and December.


Oak Leasing has shown by growing into one of the leading European Medical equipment Leasing companies, even  the Wall Street Journal has recognised Oak Leasing as a leading European Leasing company.

As a leading European leasing company, as confirmed by a recent survey published by The Wall Street Journal, we see that it is crucial for companies  not to miss out on the European leasing market. Europe is a market that we can help you conquer, we have the expertise, you have the products, now lets talk and put a European leasing  and European finance programme together. In October, we will be at the InterAirport Europe show in Munich, helping one of our German manufacturers use leasing to help them close more business. They took up our offer of a vendor programme and have proved very successful.

What have you got to lose, just give us a call , and use our European experience to help you grow, both in the UK as well as in Europe.

Oak ahead of the game again! in today’s FT, dated 9th September, one of their highly respected political commentators states that after the German election,”the German government could  have even less room for manoeuvre in the eurozone crisis”  Good to know that we fully understand the Eurozone yet again.



Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 19 Comments

Summer Torpor in Europe

The definition of torpor is either one of inactivity, or one of hibernation. As the summer finally hits the UK as well as much of Europe, the heat makes most people slow down. However the main cause of torpor in Europe is not the summer, or the heat.  It is simply waiting for the German general election.

This week, the Portugal is patching up another coalition to stagger on with austerity, rumours are rapidly spreading concerning Spain’s leaders.  Economic news from Spain says that it posted its first trade surplus in 40 years, might be thought initially as good news, but really puts the spotlight on the fact that imports dropped greatly, reflecting in the general depression in Spain.

Yet everything in Europe is on hold, and on hold for the German election, as bad European news is ” verboten” until September.  And yet time is not on the side of the Eurozone, with the Fed already clearly signalling that rates will rise, this will naturally put pressure on the euro. The will only exacerbate the problems in the Eurozone. Action is required now, and yet nothing moves. Politicians go on holiday, and the torpor continues.

Once the German elections are over, perhaps matters will be dealt with, for I am sure some cannot be left too long. Inflation is not the enemy but deflation.  The key word we will hear from both Brussels and Berlin after September will be growth, and that won’t come a moment too soon.

As a leading european leasing company, as confirmed by a recent survey published by The Wall Street Journal, we see that it is crucial for companies  not to miss out on the european leasing market. Europe is a market that we can help you conquer, we have the expertise, you have the products, now lets talk and put a european leasing  and european finance programme together.

For a clear  insight into Europe, come and talk to Oak Leasing, no rose coloured spectacles, just clear 20/20 vision.

According to the FT on the 23/07/13, they seem to agree that summer torpor is here until the Germany election. ” The only certainty is that no answer will come before September 22.” Yet again, be ahead of the game, read the oaklease blog.

In Die Spiegel , the renowned German newpaper, dated 11/09/13, they also have come to the same conclusion. That is two months after Oak called the situation correctly !

To be ahead of the game, read the Oak lease blog. Enough said!


Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 22 Comments

The European road to Tarsus

Last February, we said “With Signor Monti , installed by Brussels, and not the Italian  people, and ( the EU,s chosen autocrat) coming a poor fourth, will austerity be given the elbow” Now  we can hear the sound of tyres squealing as the euro zone turn sharply from austerity to growth. The change of emphasis is now from reducing budget deficit to either ignoring and overshooting the agreed 3% rule or simply turning a blind eye.

One may wonder why our European politicians have suddenly seen the light. I think there is no one reason, but a number of underlying reasons which have been on the sidelines for too long. Firstly there is the record unemployment of people from 18- 25 years of age. If you effectively ignore these for too long, the risks of either democratic apathy or extremism will increase. With summer coming, no wonder that Angela Merkel will host an European job summit for young people.

Secondly, Germany only just avoided a recession in the first three months of 2103. as Europe’s largest and strongest economy showed growth of just 0.1 % . This figure was disapointing and could be down to the very poor weather Germany had in the first three months, however in neighboring France, they dipped into a recession with -0.2% . With these figures, something had to be done to start to stimulate both their economies, and those of surrounding countries.

Thirdly, I do not think it is purely coincidence that Germany has moved to a growth strategy, as in September, there is the German general election. Austerity can only last for a finite time with the electorate, they have to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. In other words, a “feel good” factor.

Does all this mean that the good times are back? I have my serious doubts. The next key date is the 11th and 12 of June at the German Federal Court in Karlsruhe, where whey will decide if the buying of government bonds by the ECB was lawful. If the judges find against the ECB, the road ahead will be very rocky.

If you also wish to be on the road to Tarsus, and be ahead of the European equipment leasing market again, come and talk to us at Oak Leasing. We have shown further that we understand and can help you accurately plan ahead with your European leasing programmes. If you wish to see the light, just give Oak a call.


Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing | 23 Comments

Koblenz reflections

I find it mildly unsettling listening to the music of Finzi  from my hotel in Koblenz, as we approach the  centenary of the First World War, where both the UK and the Germans lost a generation, that the two countries are getting closer together than I think we have for many many years. Why unsettling, well perhaps I am from a post war generation whose views have changed from when I was a child, to where I am today. A position that I find myself myself very comfortable and at ease.

The French German coalition in Europe is under extreme pressure, Hollande is wishing to miss another deficit target, and will need Brussel’s blessing, as will many other EU countries. Targets appear to be a moveable feast! With the German elections due in the Autumn, all of Europe, or rather the EU will have to wait until the outcome.

Germany will need a new and steadfast partner, this opportunity is one which we ought to seize with both hands. But in reflection, perhaps we are old partners finding ourselves back together. This is our opportunity to influence the EU, as we have never had previously.

Everybody is discussing growth versus austerity, is the tide turning away from austerity. With unemployment rising in the Southern European countries, anything will appear to be better than austerity. Perhaps a slight relaxation over the summer months is what Europe needs, including the UK.

So why this slightly reflective mood?. Well I personally think that at times in the past , when times where very hard, countries would have distanced themselves from each other, and become entrenched. We all know that some of the decisions that Brussels makes are slightly on the barking side! However, if we ever consider to go our separate ways, just think back almost 100 years ago.

Whatever the faults, whatever the differences, my own personal view is we have to stay and be part of a maturing Europe. From a purely clinical view, it is by far our largest market, and we will need to sell into Europe to move out from  our present financial  position.

For a supplier or manufacturer to penetrate  into a new market, or invigorate a sales push, you will need to have an edge. Everybody says they have an edge, but you will require an astute and experienced  company to provide you with a sharp cutting edge, in other words a proven edge. That is perhaps why this month 5 large European and US companies have chosen Oak to be their European leasing partner. The question is, can you afford not to choose Oak Leasing?

Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing | 56 Comments

“We lost because we didn’t win.”

This quote came from a world famous footballer, but it could also  apply to the financial  ministers of the eurozone. To continue the football analogy, they scored one of the worst own goals ever seen.

The own goal was  of course how they handled the Cyprus situation, what with haircuts , levy’s etc . Even Mario Draghi said “It was not smart”, quite a understatement.  The EU minister, Jeroen Dijsselbloem who said this could be the way forward that the EU will handle future financial crisis’s was Dutch.

But the Dutch have their own problems, although almost under the radar . Their consumer debt is about 250% of available income. Compare this with Spain where in 2011, the debt ratio was 125%. Even though the Dutch have instigated €46 billion cuts, they will still break the EU deficit criterion of 3%. We are always told that it is the Southern Europe that is the problem, perhaps the problems are heading North.

When a  politician of Europe says ” banks must save themselves” people should take note, especially when that politician is Angela Merkel. There appears to be a shift in bailout policy, which will become more apparent as this year will show. It is not just the eurozone countries that are fumbling along, the report on some of the UK bank’s was very critical. With a further £24 billion required by our banks, we are in no position to say anything at all.

So how does this affect the normal SME’s or “Mittelstand’s ” in  Europe. The answer is very simple, with the banks still in a financial  mess, lending will not be their main priority. That has resulted in lending to companies being reduced, and that in turn holds back growth. Even Germany’s economy was close to near stagnation last month, whilst France suffered the biggest contraction for four years.

Oak Leasing is being asked to assist in more  European Equipment Leasing programmes this year, than in any time in the past. From large vendor leasing programmes with US companies wishing to use leasing into Europe, to substantial one off equipment leases.  It is crucial to have a “switched on ” European leasing partner, who knows the whole picture,rather than just by country to country. If you are thinking of leasing in Europe, just give us a call.



Posted in Equipment Leasing, European Leasing, leasing for SMEs | 27 Comments