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5 minutes with Dale Trenam, Head of Transport

As the transport, haulage and logistics sector adapts to the impact of coronavirus and prepares for the changes that Brexit will bring, we catch up with our Head of Transport Finance, Dale Trenam, to find out more about his role and get his thoughts on what the next few months could entail. 

What is your background?  

I have been working in the asset finance and vehicle contract hire industry since 1994, working with a number of organisations including, Lex Transfleet, GE Capital, HSBC, Lombard, Soc Gen and now with Paragon’s SME Lending team as Head of Transportation Finance.  

Although, like all businesses, we have our challenges in achieving the highest service delivery possible for our customers, the SME Lending leadership team’s support and vision is the best I’ve worked with for many years and I’m really excited by what we will achieve as an asset finance funder over the coming years.  

What does a typical day entail for you at Paragon? 

Dale TrenamMy day generally consists of scheduled Teams meetings with key business partners within our transportation specialist introducers portfolio. This includes liaising with all key stakeholders on updates, solution solving, deal creation, general market discussions and account overviews.  

The day also involves discussing business development strategy, marketing ideas and updates. We also look at deal reviews with the transportation team members (on a very regular basis)!  

We have dialogue with our colleagues in the credit team to work through challenging credit applications, engage with our asset management team on valuations and add opinion and supporting information if required. We also have discussions with our legal team around bespoke terms and conditions for specific broker, vendor, dealer and manufacturer agreements.  

As expected, there is currently a huge focus on customer forbearance and arrears work, looking at CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) asset finance and loans in which we need to help guide our business introducers through our new deal input portal. I’m very proud of how the sales team members have got involved with this process and helped the business reduce the risk potential. 

I spend time working with the in-life customer service team to continually improve Paragon’s customer experience. Another focus is management reporting and sales forecasting, ensuring we are in line with targets and budgets, but my primary focus is the development and support of my transportation finance field sales team. This team is based all over the UK and their contribution to our team performance is exceptional. My team challenge me every day, but always in a constructive manner that ultimately delivers business growth, customer service excellence and with Paragon’s core values at the forefront of all objectives. 

What sort of impact has COVID-19 had on Paragon’s customers and the sector? 

The transportation, haulage and logistics sector was the first to really adapt, stabilise and recover when the pandemic first hit. This was primarily due to the continued need to deliver food, goods and provide services, such as vehicle recovery and key worker transportation.  

The manufacturing supply of new trailers, tractors, rigid vehicles and LCV’s (light commercial vehicles) stalled due to the UK and European manufacturers temporarily shutting down factories following the COVID-19 restrictions. Also, dealer groups were affected, with sales and operational staff having to be furloughed, reducing the supply of new assets. Bus and coach businesses were hardest hit. We saw this especially amongst our customers that specialise in the tourist market only and had not diversified their contracts into other areas such as schools and key worker contracts, which were quicker to return to BAU.  

The last couple of months have shown a steady return to volume levels similar to those of last year and hopefully this will continue to rise as our customers renew and add to their asset portfolio and continue to invest positively in their businesses.  

What support has Paragon been able to provide its customers? 

We have tried to really understand the requirements of businesses during this challenging time, looking for signs of vulnerability and of individuals within that business who may be suffering with stress or mental health issues brought on by the pandemic. Our customers have unique business circumstances, so we have worked with them and our business partners to find a bespoke solution and provide support and guidance on the financial products and options that are available to help them. We have asked our business partners to expand on information provided, especially on how a business has traded during this unique period, but this is so we can have a clear understanding of the business, its current position compared to pre COVID-19 and its projections going forward, providing our funding support whenever possible. 

What do you expect the next 6-12 months to look like for the sector? 

We and the market are very much reliant on both what happens with Brexit and what happens with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – especially with the second lockdown now in place. We can only hope that the transportation sector can continue to provide vital services across the UK and Paragon’s SME Lending business is able to support the funding requirements of customers, both new and existing. 

Asset funding in whatever format is a good economic barometer, reflecting how a business is adapting to market conditions. It shows a true picture of investment and demonstrates business growth plans in line with newly agreed contracts and where new assets are required to service these, generating revenue. 

We expect businesses to invest in their assets over the next twelve months and for many years to come and our team will continue to support both new and existing customers. 

How is Brexit expected to impact the sector? 

It’s likely that Brexit will have both a positive and a negative impact on the sector. The negative impact is very dependent on the structure of individual businesses – the contracts they have in place and their ability to adapt and access to the right support. 

The impact does hinge on whether there is a deal or a no-deal outcome but we as a team have been seeking guidance and understanding on the potential impacts from bodies such as the Road Haulage Association, to name a few. 

How do you expect the planned changes/introductions to Low Emission Zones to impact the sector? 

Paragon’s team has been working with the Energy Savings Trust to understand the impact of the Low Emissions Zones on our customers. We are now able to offer funding solutions for customers wishing to renew their new vehicle assets that can operate in these zones, without the fines and restrictions that older vehicle models and engine types will incur. Not only is our interest in developing funding solutions for these zones, we are actively developing our knowledge, understanding and future funding strategies around alternative fuelled LCV’s and HGV’s, which is hugely exciting and can’t now be ignored.

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Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551