Graduates are the ‘bridge to the future’

This year, IGF introduced its graduate recruitment programme. Taking on four graduates with a year’s post university experience was a significant shift for the business. Yet, the support from within IGF has been overwhelming.

Speaking about the launch of the programme, John Onslow, CEO at IGF, says, “We see graduates as the bridge to the future. Not just for our business but also the wider asset based finance industry. Young adults, from all walks of life, bring with them innovative ideas and new ways of working and thinking. We believe it’s our responsibility to provide them with individual training programmes, opportunities and mentors to help them thrive.

“I’m often heard saying the world is changing faster than any of us can reasonably understand. We haven’t implemented a graduate programme as a tick-box exercise. The expectation is that the graduates we select will help provide energy, a fresh outlook and a road map to the future, particularly in relation to technology and communication. They will make a real contribution to our business. In turn, we will provide them with an entrepreneurial outlook and a deep understanding of SMEs – the challenges they face, how they work, why they exist - and what fantastic client service looks like.

“We’re proud that the programme we offer is unique amongst non-banking, independent asset based lenders. Historically, the main banks have catered their graduate programmes to their own needs. Training and developing individuals in the ‘banking way of working’. By definition, this tends to be a more rigid, formulaic and standardised approach. Instead, we focus on nurturing an independent, entrepreneurial, ‘can do’ mindset. This is arguably what our business, industry, and ‘UK PLC’ needs in order to remain world leaders.”

Oliver Smith joined the IGF graduate programme in September 2019 as a business development executive. Based in Birmingham, Oliver reports directly into Paul Edmeades, ABL director Midlands. Oliver supports SMEs who require Invoice Finance and ABL facilities up to £15 million.

Prior to securing his role at IGF, Oliver moved to London to work at Goldman Sachs in the fixed income currency and commodities team within their trade support team. Oliver explains, “Here I learned a lot about government and corporate bonds and why banks trade. However, this was something I couldn’t see myself doing for a long time. The pace was great, but I felt like I was only able to scratch the surface at this job. I was after a career where I could be in front of clients, negotiate deals and win business. I wanted to be able to apply my social skills and impress others face to face, not just over an e-mail. “I began looking specifically at more entrepreneurial, independent companies. I knew this would put me on the front line, where my ideas and thoughts could come to life. IGF fitted the bill perfectly; a job in new business and sales excited me.

“I was partnered with respected, Midlands veteran, Paul Edmeades to shadow and learn from. Paul has two hats; he was a former head of underwriting, and now an ABL director. Literally everyone in our industry from Bristol to Nottingham knows of Paul! I count myself lucky that I have his knowledge just across the desk.

“Two months on, I’m happy to say how quickly I’ve picked things up. We are seeing a flurry of deals coming our way in the Midlands. In addition, we’re being as active as possible within our existing KBI network and introducing ourselves to new KBIs.

“I still have a lot of learning to do, but I’m really enjoying myself. Time is key in the ABL world. You need to build up relationships and trust with KBIs. I feel lucky that I’ve been offered an opportunity to network in the Midlands at such a young age. I already see a long career in this industry.”

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