There's a leadership problem brewing in the business finance industry. If nothing is done to create and develop the next wave of new leaders, it could be an industry that is under threat.
And it’s not just asset finance that is at stake, it’s the UK’s entire business community – the vast majority of which rely on finance to keep going.
Part of the problem is that there is no clear route into the industry, meaning people often drift into business finance from other areas of financial services, and there’s little education about what the sector is and what it does.
The Leasing Foundation is one organisation that recognises the multiple challenges faced by the sector as a whole, from recruitment to diversity.
With billions of dollars globally in business finance, it’s a hugely powerful industry. Yet if you studied business or finance at university, it’s unlikely you would have heard about it.
There is also no defined set of career opportunities, which is not the case for other professions such as accountancy or law.
It’s crucial that finance organisations collectively provide some kind of structured process to help people enter the sector, develop their careers and so move the industry forward.
It’s also vital that we nurture young talent. Smaller organisations often struggle to get up to date with new developments in technology, for example, but the fintech revolution is now starting to bite and it’s reshaping what customers want. It’s even changing what defines a good leader.
For millennials, it’s not about a command and control style of leadership – it’s more about fairness, leadership through example, and investment in the future. Younger generations also want to focus on building sustainable businesses that aren’t only about making profit.
In a world where change is the norm, disruption is everywhere – meaning leaders need to be more self-aware and farsighted.
This is why the Leasing Foundation launched its Future Leaders programme. While many leadership training schemes teach about the past, the Future Leaders programme is developing capability for the future.
It’s not about giving people a list of what they should do to become a great leader, it’s about exploring their own potential, and helping them collaborate more effectively.
Business finance groups, like LDF, nominate their rising stars into the programme.
Peter Alderson, managing director of LDF, says programmes like this can “create an increased level of understanding and personal confidence among staff, which provides great value to businesses”.
He also points out that, by boosting diversity, the industry will be far more attractive to young generations going forward.
By creating a more inclusive culture, more people will aspire to work in business finance because it reflects their own experience.
The Future Leaders programme is of course only one solution to this problem, and companies need to act now to reshape their businesses for what is happening in the future, not the past.