Meet the CEO: Haydock Finance CEO, John Jenkins

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been CEO of Haydock Finance for over 5 years. I have always believed I shouldn’t be too focussed on my exact career or next role but instead focus on building experience and capability, and this belief has served me well.

I began my career at Lloyds, and I was there a long time, undertaking a broad range of roles with increasing seniority.  However I reached a point where I felt I had learned what I could and was in danger of becoming a little fixed in my approach to ‘the way things work around here’. I believed that my next move had to be away to experience a different culture and approach.

Fortunately, GE Capital were looking for a sales director for their Commercial Finance business, which fitted my skill set, and was the complete contrast in style and culture I was looking for. Also, importantly as I discovered, they saw this role as a 12-to-18-month succession into the role of CEO, which was my ambition.

I was successful and joined with a clear short term induction plan, a development plan for 12 months and a long-term goal in mind with time to prepare… except the CEO left after 12 weeks not 12 months. So instead of a slow and steady build into a new, much bigger role in a vastly different organisation I was immediately asked to do the role I had really joined to do. And loved the challenge.

 

Tell us about your company.

Haydock Finance, UK, has been a leading asset finance specialist for over 40 years, supporting the growth of UK SMEs. We work closely with a nationwide portfolio of introducers to provide funding for a comprehensive range of business hard assets, across a diverse range of industries including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, logistics and transport. The business is a unique barometer of the overall health of the economy and really understands the challenges SMEs face.

 

How would you characterise 2024 in your sector so far?

Optimistic. SMEs play a vital role in the UK economy, and I believe that they always will. They are the true backbone of a healthy economy, driving growth, innovation, employment, and new market opportunities.

The latest stats from the ONS suggest that the overall UK SME turnover will hit £2.3 trillion this year (15% YOY growth) and there is genuine optimism. Obviously, there are some key pressures that small business leaders, indeed all leaders, will need to face in the year ahead but the overall energy in the industry is a positive one.

 

What are the key opportunities in your business?

Whilst many SME owners state that attracting and retaining great people is one of the biggest challenges that they face, the current revolution in the job market is in favour of smaller businesses and a people-focused business strategy.

People want to feel empowered and connected. Small businesses are by their very nature, more collaborative, committed to a clear purpose, and whilst they work hard, they are happier because of this. This culture is priceless for an SME, something that needs to be invested in and nurtured so that it is not lost as the business grows. Use this culture as a tool to attract more like-minded people, through testimonials or clear evidence on your marketing.

 

What are your biggest challenges? How would you analyse the economic conditions that are influencing those challenges?

Ensuring that our business and those SMEs that we support are agile and resilient, able to react to the certainty of uncertainty.

Small businesses are intrinsically set up to face uncertainty, to react quickly, to innovate, to make things happen. Larger businesses could learn a lot from them.

What remains a core challenge, though, is the cost-of-living crisis and the uncertainty surrounding inflation and energy prices. This makes it more difficult to predict consumer changes and supply chain forecasting, and highlights the significance of good data, good decisions, and strong contingency planning.

 

What projects or developments are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the culture that we have here at Haydock Finance, creating an environment where employees feel safe to express their true selves, ideas, concerns, and aspirations. I firmly believe that you should lead by example: Leaders should demonstrate authenticity, vulnerability, and openness themselves. When leaders are transparent about their own experiences, it sets a precedent for others to feel comfortable doing the same.

 

What are your goals for the future?

To continue to support SMEs to grow. This means we need to attract the right people with the right attitude and aptitude and really understand our SMEs’ business so that we can continue to support them through their growth and realizing their potential. So, our goals for the future are to evolve and adapt to new requirements and needs of SMEs so that we can support the backbone of the UK economy to the best of our ability.

 

What would be your advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Focus on your people and build resilience into every aspect of your business. Embracing resilience and change is essential for thriving in today’s dynamic world. By fostering a culture of adaptability, empathy, and empowerment, we create organisations that are not only prepared to face the challenges of today but also equipped to lead the way into the future.

 

To learn more about Haydock Finance, visit https://haydockfinance.co.uk/

About Lisa Baker, Editor 2390 Articles
Lisa Baker is the Editor of Always Finance, and writes about Business, Finance Technology and Healthcare. Lisa is also the owner of Need to See IT Publishing.