Landmark Finance: Building on an affinity

What’s the best way to fund your next vehicle purchase? A very good approach is to use a specialist coach and bus finance broker, as they can deal direct with funders and work on your behalf to get the best deal. Mel Holley visits Landmark Finance to find out more.

It’s been six years since Landmark Finance was formed but the team, comprising Directors Ron Telford, Robin Crossland, Paul Horsfield and Sales Executives Andy Cartwright and Paula Timmins, have been together for much longer.

As the former Hansar Finance team, they’ve worked together for over 15 years. Set up in 1989 by Ron Telford and Terry Cross, Hansar was sold to Alliance and Leicester in 2000, which in turn was bought by Santander in 2007, just before the banking crisis.

In 2009 Santander, along with other major banks, reviewed its asset finance policy becoming very selective in both the assets and credit worthiness of customers. This gave Landmark the opportunity to enter the broker market and fill the gap left by the banks.

In a twist, Landmark has now re-established its relationship with Santander along with other major banks to provide more funding choices.

Talking about the 2009 exit, Paul says: “We thought it was too good an opportunity to throw away, as we had an established customer base; we wanted to continue to work with the industry.” Adds Robin: “There was a gap left for people looking for finance.”

Since 2009 Landmark Finance has established itself as a major player in the coach and bus industry, building on its customer base and increasing its panel of funders.

In November 2014 it moved from its original offices to new premises in Hazel Grove, South Manchester.


What Landmark offers

A specialist finance provider in the coach and bus market, Landmark can not only provide finance for vehicles, but also garage equipment, ticket machines, directors’ cars, re-financing, raising equity, acquiring new businesses or buying additional land.

“An additional benefit is that we can offer finance for most requirements; it’s an overall package,” says Ron.

“It’s really grown over the last 18 months, and because we talk with so many new funders we can now offer more opportunities.”

There are around 15 core funders that Landmark use. With this diverse range of funders, it can cater for all finance requirements covering a wide range of differing circumstances, including vehicle types and ages.

Having access to a varied panel of funders allows it to place a proposal to the funder offering the most competitive terms, depending on risk and which is most likely to provide the facility.

“Our skill as brokers is matching the proposal to the funder that is going to offer the best rate,” says Robin.

“And that’s the job of a broker, it’s a mix-and-match,” adds Ron. “It’s about knowing the market and having a variety of funders.”

Funders also like to limit their exposure, which means that they want a portfolio spread of both risk and types, or ages, of vehicles.


Finance options

“Our skill is in presenting the case to the funder in the best possible light,” says Robin.

Explains Paul: “A lot of our customers want to expand their funding outside their current banking facilities.

Because asset finance is totally independent from their banking lines, it both retains their existing bank relationship but gives greater flexibility on business purchases.

“This means that you are not tied to the bank; the bank has less exposure, avoiding extra charges that the bank may make. Banks look at total exposure including asset lending, and therefore can control growth.”

Says Paula: “If the bank gets nervous, they can withdraw your overdraft facility, as many did after the financial crash.”

“It’s better for operators to separate their finance, because they control their business, not the bank,” adds Ron.


Vehicle funding

When it comes to the makes and models of vehicles and funding rates, this has a number of factors, primarily the potential re-sale value. “We are in effect the bank’s specialist division in coach and bus, and we play a part in assisting them and explaining market trends,” says Andy.

“If you go back a few years, when the new manufacturers entered the market, funders were nervous and unsure on residual values and therefore required additional security by way of larger deposits and shorter term guarantees,” says Paul. “It was a learning curve for the funders to gain confidence in the new vehicles.”

Adds Ron: “For example, with Yutong, you have a very strong dealership in Pelican Engineering and the back-up it offers. And that’s the type of knowledge that funders want.”


Your best position

The important point is that Landmark Finance’s range of funders means that it can cover all aspects of the market.

From an operator’s point of view, if you are be able to prove that you can service the loan – i.e. provide sound financial information, with a diverse mixture of work providing regular income – this will enable Landmark to secure the best terms available.

“We build up a good understanding of the business and how it operates, which when presented to a funder means that we have answered most of their questions,” says Ron.

“We can show why they should consider funding a deal, rather than why not,” says Paula.

“We approach it as if we were lending our own money,” adds Ron. “We pre-underwrite, and that gives our funders confidence in our introductions.”

Landmark Finance prides itself in being able to react to immediate purchases, offering a fast turnaround if required.

It also welcomes the opportunity, when time permits, to set up credit lines for a 12-month buying programme for operators, giving them the flexibility and confidence to negotiate the best deal.

And that’s the best position you can be in.

Landmark Finance cementing long-term commitment by moving to Affinity House
Landmark Finance cementing long-term commitment by moving to Affinity House