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Mike Randall, chief executive officer at Simply, has been reappointed as chair of the Leasing Foundation, marking the start of his second year in the position.

Having been involved with the Leasing Foundation for some time, Randall worked as director from 2016 before being appointed chair of the board in April 2020, with his new reappointment set to run until the end of April 2022.

On the topic of his reappointment, Randall said: “I’m delighted to have been reappointed chair of the Leasing Foundation and I’m looking forward to continuing the plans we set out last year. We’re committed to raising further awareness of the industry in order to make business finance a career of choice for young people, and to help businesses in this sector hone and embed their diversity/inclusion and innovation initiatives.

“The industry is changing rapidly, particularly because of the challenging year we’ve all been through. We are here to support the sector and will work hard to ensure everything we do is relevant and useful to businesses.”

Founded in 2012, the Leasing Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that works to support innovation, diversity & inclusion and the next generation in an effort to drive growth across the asset finance industry.

The foundation has served as a platform from which a range of projects and initiatives have been launched. It has achieved this, in part, by forming strong partnerships with other trade associations such as the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) and the Asset Finance Professionals Association (AFPA Trust).

A challenging year

When asked about his experience in his first year as chair of the foundation, Randall said: “It was a challenging year. I became chair in April 2020 just as lockdown and the pandemic hit. I concentrated on steadying the ship and focusing on what mattered to the industry with a view to things returning to a new normal in 2021. Thankfully, things are looking far more positive now.”

Randall went on to explain that the entire team at the foundation had been hard at work behind the scenes over the last 12 months, developing initiatives to be launched once lockdown restrictions have eased.

He said: “The Next Generation team has continued encouraging young people in the industry to expand their networks by holding online events. It has also developed the cross-industry ‘Insights’ programme, set for launch in May, focused on retaining and developing young talent in the sector.

“The Diversity & Inclusion team has continued focusing on helping business finance companies to understand the business benefits of building inclusive teams. The thought-provoking blog programme has carried on throughout the pandemic and several events have been organised, including a number in partnership with the FLA.

“The Innovation Initiative has been planning a programme of events to roll out later in the year to continue guiding businesses to take advantage of emerging technologies. A focus on brokers will be next – helping them operate in a digital world.”

Forming strong connections

“We’re working closely with the FLA across all of our programmes, from running joint events to collaborating on innovative projects such as the current challenge to enhance a broker’s journey in terms of proposal, governance and execution.

“The partnership was an obvious thing to do - the Leasing Foundation represents the individuals in the industry and the FLA represents companies on behalf of the industry. This kind of collaboration has many benefits for both parties in terms of education, networking and broadening people’s career prospects.”

Looking ahead

“Everyone has been through a turbulent time trying to remain open and helping customers in the eye of the hurricane at the same time. The asset finance industry has remained strong and is now seeing light at the end of the tunnel. 2021 will hopefully be a calmer year for most of us and we are hoping to help get the UK back to work and help SMEs do this successfully.

“In the immediate future we will be withdrawing our fellowships as we encourage everybody involved to be active and help make a difference. In previous years, the fellowships were gifted to anyone that participated in Leasing Foundation events but we feel that this did not necessarily help to drive initiatives forward. Looking further into 2021, we have many exciting projects in the works that will be announced over the coming months.”

With more than 30 years of experience in the asset finance sector, Randall held a variety of senior positions within Close Brothers Asset Finance & Leasing including managing director from 2005, and chief executive officer from 2012. In this role, he was responsible for the asset finance business withing the Close Brothers Group, managing a loan book of £1.6 billion and 462 staff.

Randall worked within Close Brothers for 11 years until April 2017 when he founded Simply. Simply is an independent lender that offers an alternative financial model to banks. Having recruited more than 95 staff from within the asset finance industry, the company has worked with more than 3,000 small- and medium-businesses across a range of sectors including manufacturing, construction, transport and recycling.

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