A big deal: Matthew Atkin and Sean Lester

by Matthew Atkin and Sean Lester10 May 2021

Melbourne-based Atlas Broker specialises in equipment and property finance. Brokers Matthew Atkin and Sean Lester helped a business client who was frustrated by their current bank and wanted to refinance to a more progressive bank that better understood the needs of the business.

The scenario

Atlas Broker had been working with this client for eight years, assisting with their CAPEX program. The business has a variety of equipment finance needs, so we have regular discussions around their upcoming requirements. The types of equipment they purchase vary from forklifts to prime movers and production lines, so they are a very interesting client to work with.

As part of our regular catch-ups, we ask about the client’s other finance and insurance needs. These can include equipment, property, insurance premium funding or cash flow lending. The client advised us that they were not happy with their current bank, and they wanted to refinance to a funder that was more closely aligned with their values. They asked if we could help them refinance with a progressive bank that was willing to sit with the owner, understand the journey, and then work with the business to help make it happen.

The client has a very involved structure, with multiple entities. At Atlas Broker, we often work in teams on these larger clients as we find it allows us to constructively workshop deals to find a solution that will benefit the client. It was through this process that we identified Judo Bank as the right partner for the client.

The solution

Judo was very proactive from the beginning. We had multiple face-to-face meetings and Microsoft Teams meetings to work through the client’s needs and come up with a solution that could work for both parties.

The client kept reinforcing the fact that they were frustrated by their current banker’s lack of understanding of their business and lack of interest in working through the client’s plans. Judo was very keen to engage with the client, and meetings were held with a number of very senior people to make sure everyone understood the road forward.

As the client’s broker, we were also involved in these meetings as we are often the bridge between the client and the funder; and given our understanding of both parties were able to add value throughout the process.

We also engaged heavily with the client’s accountant. It was important for the accountant to be comfortable with the solutions provided.

The solution we presented to the client involved multiple working capital solutions for different trading entities, the refinancing of commercial properties, the refinancing of existing asset finance debt, and approval of a line of credit for more asset finance purchases to follow in the coming year.

Judo was fantastic to work with. Any refinance process will create a number of hurdles, but it was Judo’s ability to take a commercial position on the information provided that enabled as to keep moving through the process. We have continued to work with Judo and the client very closely, and the relationship is working well.

The takeaways

There were a number of lessons learned or reinforced. To start with, Atlas has a long-held view that we need to be in regular structured contact with our core clients. We used this process in this case to ensure we were able to understand our client’s pain points. We were able to uncover the client’s dissatisfaction with their current funder and assist with providing a solution. This has reinforced our views around the importance of an ongoing relationship, as you can’t help a client if you are not having regular dialogue.

We also believe in asking lots of questions. Often the client’s bankers are not asking these questions and the client can feel frustrated. This lets the client you know you are interested and care about their business. Most clients are really happy to talk about their business, as they are proud of it.

It’s important to communicate regularly with the funder and ensure their questions are addressed by sourcing the appropriate information in a timely manner. Sometimes we forget as brokers that our funders are also our partners, and the more we can help, the easier it is for them to make decisions in our clients’ favour.

Understand the deal is also key. Our understanding of the client gave Judo the confidence to keep moving forward with us to get the deal finalised.

Finally, working in teams helped get this deal done. Not many broking houses share this view, but ideas often come from conversations, and these ideas enable us to provide better solutions to our clients. We will continue to do this where appropriate.