The constant replacement, management and disposal model of computer and other technology equipment creates unique challenges, explains Keith Nowland, Head of Sales at Lombard Technology Services, Commercial & Private Banking, RBS
How can Lombard help with technology asset management?
We make asset funding facilities available for technology, but we do so much more than that. We can procure equipment, sourcing it effectively thanks to numerous accreditations with tier-one manufacturers; we can maintain the items we have funded; and we can also collect and safely dispose of the assets.
How do you support companies when they need to buy new equipment?
When you use Lombard’s specialist team, instead of making the purchase yourself you have all the usual benefits of a funded investment — it frees your cash up for other things, for example — but we also help customers become more disciplined about managing their equipment, getting them into a cycle of maintaining and replacing kit. That cuts out the hidden expenses that can crop up when a business owns its own technology, and it also protects them from depreciation. Our online Lease and Asset Management software helps companies manage their technology portfolios effectively, by keeping track of when equipment needs to be refreshed, improving financial and strategic decision-making. Over time, technology becomes outdated, software is no longer supported and the costs of maintaining, managing and hiring old kit become more expensive — it’s like running an old car. In this market people need to keep up with improvements to stay ahead, and to give them a competitive edge.
Why should a business consider Lombard for managing its maintenance?
Many companies rely on product warranties, but look at the small print; a lot of these guarantee to take something away and look at it, but not necessarily to fix it. There are separate maintenance firms in the market but the advantage of using us is that we’re a one-stop shop — we can provide bespoke multi-vendor maintenance as part of our overall support package, so you don’t have to negotiate and manage multiple manufacturer relationships.
How can Lombard make the tricky task of disposing of technology assets easier?
There is a lot of legislation around disposal. Your business will want to have confidence that it is complying with the rules and that its partners operate to the highest industry standards, particularly when it comes to handling data during disposal. As part of a large banking group — Royal Bank of Scotland — we understand the importance of handling data. We are also the only Adisa (Asset Disposal and Information Security Alliance) certified technology finance company in the country, which means we’re audited to the highest industry standards.
How do you pick the right solutions for each customer’s business strategy?
It may sound obvious but the important thing is to listen to the customer, to understand their business and what they’re trying to achieve. We need to learn about their long-term ambitions — there’s no point in us making assumptions about what is required. Our specialist team understands the importance of technology to business, so once we know what their position is we can provide the appropriate solution.
Does Lombard offer anything for firms that create new intellectual property (IP)?
Innovation is vital and we are always looking for new areas where we can offer our expertise. We have developed the Software Licence Solution, which allows us to offer funds to a company that has invested significantly in software IP. As far as I am aware we are the only company currently offering this type of solution, and it has created a lot of interest. It isn’t traditional in asset finance to put a value against something you can’t see or touch, but we get security in our investment by linking the funding to the revenue that the software generates.
Do you think UK businesses realise how much growth technology can drive?
Everything we see suggests an increasing awareness of the importance of technology. In a survey we conducted recently, two thirds of businesses felt a greater investment would improve efficiency and productivity.
Why would a business come to Lombard rather than going to a manufacturer?
When you go directly to a manufacturer, you tend to be tied to their hardware and services. We are “vendor agnostic” — we can manage projects that have multiple suppliers and manufacturers.
Is this a service other banks provide?
I don’t believe any bank other than Royal Bank of Scotland (which owns Lombard) has a specialist team like ours within its company, with the depth of knowledge we have, that’s available to UK customers.
What is the most unusual asset you have financed and managed?
At the moment we are providing funding to a business that puts pitch-side digital advertising boards around premiership rugby grounds. These used to be fixed in place, which could cause injuries when rugby players collided with them. Now the screens are spring-loaded — they won’t get damaged and they will keep players safe.
To find out more about Lombard’s specialist technology team, go to www.lombard.co.uk/asset-finance/technology.
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