We need to find new ways of capturing and sharing the extensive knowledge and experience that we have across the market as broadly as possible using real life scenarios.
We need to find new ways of capturing and sharing the extensive knowledge and experience that we have across the market as broadly as possible using real life scenarios.

Education in Leasing

In today’s commercial world invaluable coaching and development opportunities are few and far between.

Julie Henehan

Julie Henehan

Julie Henehan is Sales Director for CIT’s Vendor Finance business in the UK.The vendor finance business covers the equipment finance market, where CIT has an established and significant presence, particularly in the Technology and Office Products sector. Prior to joining CIT in 2006, Julie held a number of leadership roles in sales, marketing and business development, laterally at GE Capital. In addition to her responsibilities at CIT, Julie is Chair of the Finance and Leasing Association Technology and Business Equipment Group and has taken a leading role in developing new guidance for members on mitigating the risks associated with vendor financing.
Julie Henehan

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Introduction from Executive Producer JO DAVIS
The workplace is changing. Vertical operating structures, remote working, technology and lean organisations mean we are missing out on coaching and development opportunities that previously were plentiful. In this article Julie Henehan from CIT talks about this in terms of an ‘academy' which uses technology, real-life scenarios and shared materials across the industry.

 Who should be interested in this?
Anyone concerned with learning and development, recruitment and retention.


Education in Leasing

Creating Coaching Opportunities

Talking to many executives in senior positions across the industry today, many had the good fortune to have been supported and mentored early in their careers by industry experts.  Arguably at a time when many lessors operated regional offices where originations, collections, customer services and sales were all managed under one roof, it was easier for the business leader to provide a broader range of development for individuals in an environment where daily work life provided real, hands on and diverse coaching opportunities.

In today’s world with vertical operating structures, remote working, increasing use of technology for communication, offshore solutions – not to mention greater demands on executives' time driven by leaner organisations – these invaluable coaching and development opportunities are few and far between especially for those embarking on their careers in asset finance.

The gap is not around regulatory, compliance or technical training where, given the economic environment and the fall-out from market failings over recent years, as an industry we are stronger than ever.  It is how we share our collective experience of what can go wrong when vendors or end users misuse our services, what are the warning signs to look for and importantly what actions we can take in our businesses to protect against these situations.

Here is an example of a potential fraud:

  • Originations receive a finance proposal for Vending equipment from a Reprographics vendor
  • What should you do next and why?
  • End user advises that they have never heard of the supplying Reprographics vendor partner who has proposed the transaction?
  • What should you do next and why?
  • On further investigation the End user confirms they are working with a different vendor partner and a broker intermediary
  • What is likely to be happening here and why is it a problem?

We need to find new ways of capturing and sharing the extensive knowledge and experience that we have across the market as broadly as possible using real life scenarios such as this, without names, to provide managers and their teams development and coaching opportunities, sharing best practice in a way that is interactive, fun and relevant.  The plan would be that we create a template for the information that we are looking to gather and ask each participating lessor to provide at least one example per quarter, from Credit, Fraud, Originations or Sales, of a real scenario that they have come across in their business to share across the group.  This would require them to provide detail of the key steps in identifying an issue, why they were red flagged, actions that were taken to identify/clarify the issue as well as actions that could be taken to prevent the event occurring again.  Ideally IT based, this tool would provide coaching opportunities through posing questions to the trainee at each stage through the progress of the scenario, giving feedback and input on where the potential issues are and why.

If each lessor committed to providing just one scenario per quarter in an agreed format for a centrally held on line development Library, how powerful would that be in accelerating the learning experience for the next generation of leaders.

Promoting Leasing in the 21st Century

Despite the lack of liquidity in the market and SME’s calling out funding as being key to support their growth, there remains a lack of appreciation of the part that leasing can play to support businesses in acquiring the equipment that they need to support improved performance.

As an industry, we can continue to promote our services through trade associations or in the trade press but ultimately in the vendor leasing market, we rely on our partners and specifically the partner sales teams to promote the availability of our services and to articulate the benefits to potential users.

Despite the changes that we have seen in the market, the basic benefits of leasing are as relevant today as they have always been.  I found an old 35mm slide from a Lloyds Bowmaker training presentation the other day with the benefit ‘Leasing Keeps other Lines of Credit Available’.  Who would have thought that some 20 years later this same benefit would be more powerful than ever but, at the same time, that there would remain a lack of appreciation of the leasing products we have available to support customers today.

We have seen huge investment in the market in extranet tools that allow vendor salespeople to gain immediate quotes and credit responses on demand, but the reality is that usage levels are often disappointingly low vs. expectations.  Primarily because those very markets where we would expect sales teams to embrace the tools, use leasing so rarely that it is often considered easier to phone or email than to remember the site log in and/or password – however easy we perceive the process to be. That takes us back to the profile of leasing in this environment.

The challenge of partner education and awareness is in delivering training and on-going messaging in a way that works for the new generation of vendor salespeople coming into the market… in making the messaging relevant, interesting and concise… ideally to do so wherever possible within 140 characters!  The sales-aid model relies on the vendor salespeople to promote our proposition and if we fail to adapt we risk a future where we may need to consider higher cost and lower impact means of getting our messaging to the end users.

As an industry we need to embrace new ways of learning using technology and tools such as social networking sites, face time, text and instant messaging to ensure that our approach is still as relevant and appropriate to the partners and end users today as the benefits. In my experience the new generation of vendor salespeople think that power point is dated, out of touch and tedious let alone a power point training presentation delivered classroom style. It’s not the way that this generation of salespeople work or learn. To ensure that asset finance remains relevant to this audience, we need to move with the times looking at training that is available on demand, on-line, using You Tube to deliver training videos where they are needed and embracing new ways of working in the future that we may not have even considered today.  Imagine a world with virtual on-line Avatar finance experts on hand 24/7… this may be a little ambitious for most today but it’s where our thinking needs to be for the future.

Building the Asset Finance Gene Pool

With increasing pressures to perform and to deliver results quickly, we’re seeing more lessors looking for a ‘quick fix’ in bringing on board what they perceive as ready-made, experienced asset finance sales people to fill vacancies and hit the ground running. Even though there may be a desire to do otherwise, with financial pressures on headcount, productivity and operating expenses there often isn’t either the time, training/financial resource or appetite to bring raw talent into a business and develop them from scratch.

The result… a shortage of new home-grown sales talent, the potential for inflated salaries and a rising cost base as lessors seek to attract what they perceive to be strong salespeople from competitors, and a shortage of the new talent that we need coming into the industry.

We welcome the new training courses available from organisations such as the FLA and the Leasing Foundation but do we need to go a step further and develop the concept of leasing academies where lessors can pool resources to educate and develop new recruits/graduates from scratch and nurture new talent.

This could take the format of dedicated external training over the course of a 12 month period to supplement the lessor specific in house training.  In addition to the courses already available, this could incorporate seminars delivered by subject matter experts across the industry from participating organisations, external sales training delivered by independent sales training consultants but tailored to leasing and mentoring programmes with industry experts or our retired business leaders.

One might argue that we don’t want our people being trained by competitors but then again, to an extent, isn’t that what is already happening in the market today.


The opinions, statements and information that appear in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or outlook of CIT Group Inc. or its affiliates.

About CIT 

CIT Vendor Finance, a unit of CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT), is a leading provider of financing and advisory services to small businesses and middle market companies.


CC BY 4.0 Education in Leasing by Julie Henehan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.