The Asset Finance Observatory – a network of industry-based researchers drawn from the Leasing Foundation Governors and Fellows who develop, perform and use research driven by the industry’s needs – met for its first discovery workshop in London on 29 November 2013. The workshop was supported by Siemens Financial Services.
Participants at the workshop, who represented companies including NAB, Siemens, CIT, Close Brothers, HHF, DWF and SIA, designed a pilot research programme to look at the decision-making process around SME financing of assets.
Professor Peter Thomas, the Foundation’s COO and leading international expert on customer experience research, says: “There was a great deal of agreement in the workshop on the key issues that we want to look at in the project, and a broad consensus that the authentic customer voice needs to be heard to help the industry contextualise the surveys of SMEs that are widely reported. Our aim in this project, the first of a series of qualitative research projects, is to identify the real drivers of SME behaviour that remain unseen in current research and can be used to underpin new understandings of product innovation, sales processes and support marketing and communications. Future projects will look at issues including innovation, skills, technology and political and regulatory changes.”
The project uses a customer experience research approach that reveals the real voice of the customer and analyses the touchpoints that most matter to SME users of asset finance products
The research will be made available to UK and European policymakers, private investors, product manufacturers and operators of non-bank lending channels, as well as the leasing industry as a whole. The Asset Finance Observatory is underpinned by the Leasing Foundation’s philosophy of ‘research by the industry, for the industry’: rather than outsource the development of the research methodology, research process and analysis of the results, the Foundation will work with a range of companies across the industry who have a vital interest in the research.