Partners Finance & Lease (PFL) prides itself on understanding Kiwi businesses to help them obtain the assets they need to grow. The board of directors consists of Francis Fitzgerald (founder), Jim Boult, Graham Robertson and Bryan Inch. Since it was founded in 2014 the company has supported more than 2,000 businesses with funding their assets.
In this latest series, Marketing Executive Amelia Chubb catches-up with founder Francis Fitzgerald.
A Cantabrian born and bred; Francis has been in the finance industry since 1996. He is Christchurch-based but often on the road visiting clients and business owners.
What is your background?
“I have always lived in Christchurch aside from a year in France playing rugby and three years in London working in the IT/telecommunications sector. I started in the finance industry in 1996 with Orix here in Christchurch and then founded Partners Finance in 2003. In 2014 we became asset-based funders specialising in plant and equipment for SMEs under the brand Partners Finance & Lease.
“Throughout my 24 years in the finance industry, technological advances have been incredible. Changing customer trends and busier pipelines have driven the need for faster access to funding and transaction efficiency. We review our systems on a regular basis however the three lending principals of character, capacity and collateral continue to be more important than ever.”
Why Partners Finance & Lease / what does the company mean to you?
“Working with all types of business owners at Orix gave me an insight into the control that business owners had over their future – it was this that inspired me to set out on my own. During the GFC we saw the demise of many great Kiwi companies, including South Canterbury Finance. I reached out to some of the company’s investors with the proposition of setting-up Partners Finance & Lease. The asset finance sector had performed well, even during the GFC, so it was the right place, right time and that’s how I met directors Graham, Jim and Bryan.
“The whole job of raising the money and setting up the business was significantly harder, longer and more expensive than I thought it would be but now we have done it and thanks to our customers and team – it’s been 100% worthwhile. From the outset I have always believed that if we focus on providing a great service to help our customers grow, then we will prosper – this is at the core of everything we do.”
How did you stay sane during the COVID-19 lockdown?
“As a family we did lots of walking, biking and running.”
Businesses are responding creatively as a result of COVID-19 – what have you seen / any standout examples of this in your area and beyond?
“I loved the example of a rafting company that reinvented itself to become landscapers and thereby keeping all their staff.”
What one piece of advice would you give to uncertain business owners / managers during this time?
“Focus on small tasks that you know you can achieve and that will make a positive impact on your business. Having a series of small wins will put you in a better frame of mind when you have to make some hard decisions.”