The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Expansion in Cambridgeshire
for First Independent Finance


Friday 3 November 2006

A finance company based in Ayrshire, Scotland is expanding rapidly in Cambridgeshire, England, thanks largely to the efforts of local director Stuart Croft.


In seven short years, First Independent Finance Limited has already grown to be the largest general asset finance broker in the whole of the UK, and Cambridge-born Stuart (37) says this is down to the company’s ability to blend the services offered by modern communications, and still offer personal face-to-face assistance for businesses throughout the UK when they need help in financing the assets their companies require to be successful.

Stuart explains: “We help businesses to find the best source of finance for large items of capital expenditure, whether it be a commercial vehicle, a computer system, printing equipment or a combine harvester.

“Meeting our customers and getting to know them personally is key to building trust and genuinely helping them achieve their business ambitions. Attention to detail and high-speed modern communications mean that we can offer a personal service and stay ahead of the competition. Customers are treated like family, that’s why they come back time after time,” says Stuart, who now lives in Over with his wife Alison and two-year old daughter Abigail.

Stuart was educated at Netherhall School in Cambridge, and initially trained as an electronics engineer. But having qualified in that field, he then moved into business finance.

After working for a couple of financial services companies, Stuart met Allan Ross, founder and managing director of First Independent Finance Limited, and in 2002 joined the young up-and-coming company as its local director for Cambridgeshire.

Allan Ross started First Independent Finance in a spare bedroom of his house in Stewarton, a small town in Ayrshire, with capital of just £10,000.

Today his company employs 32 people from office premises in the town’s Dunlop Street, and boasts an annual turnover of £60 million.

When First Independent Finance was set up, it concentrated on providing finance for farmers, as Allan and his co-director Robin Duncan had previously worked as regional managers in the agricultural finance divisions of major banks.

Since then, the company has diversified. Now it no longer offers finance just to farmers, but also to any type of business needing help with capital expenditure. Allan and his team can also organise personal car finance.

Allan says that First Independent Finance offers a one-stop approach to finance dealing by working with more than 20 leading finance houses, and because of the company’s increasing size, it can often come up with some of the best deals available.

It is this one-stop approach, combined with speed of response, quality local service, customer focus and attractive pricing that has led to First Independent Finance’s geographical coverage spreading from Inverness in the north down to Wales and Kent in the south.

18 months ago they announced they had broken through the £100 million barrier, by advancing £100 million to their clients since they started the business.

Now they have hit the £200 million mark, customers numbers continue to grow, and this comes on the back of winning Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire’s best performing business employing 25-250 staff last year, and best performing business under 25 staff the previous year.

It’s mainly down to the ongoing commitment and skill of the company’s staff, says Allan. “And that’s why Investors in People awarded us our 3-year renewal, proving that we have continued to value our commitment to the people who do the job of keeping our customers happy.”

Allan is very keen on staff training - and that starts at the top. He is currently studying part-time for a Master's degree in Business Administration at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

For further details telephone Stuart Croft on 07967 044203.

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