Michael Urquhart has served at People’s Capital and Leasing since its inception in 1997. This year, he became the president and CEO, following the retirement of Vincent Cianciolo. With 17 years of experience at the company adding to his diverse background, Urquhart sets his sights on strong leadership in a growing market in 2014.
Michael Urquhart, President & CEO, People’s Capital and Leasing
Not many can say they’ve had the privilege of watching a business grow from inception to become a national player in one of the largest finance industries in the U.S. But Michael “Micky” Urquhart is one of the few—he was a key participant in the birth and growth of People’s Capital and Leasing early on in his career. In March 2014, after serving various roles at People’s Capital and Leasing, Urquhart was named president/CEO upon the retirement of Vincent Cianciolo. Under Urquhart’s leadership, People’s Capital and Leasing is expected to maintain its stature in the equipment finance space. This year, the company occupies the number 40 spot in the Monitor 100 rankings, having reported year-over-year portfolio growth of about 10%.
Urquhart says in 2014, he only expects the business to grow, stemming from an increase in company size. “We are expanding our sales team, which has the primary responsibility of building vendor relationships, and expanding our presence throughout their territories” he says. “We have a strong path for vendor growth and our boots are on the ground. People’s Capital and Leasing is going to get out there and create opportunities.”
A forecast of growth is an extension of Urquhart’s impressive background – one that led him to what he says was a natural progression to his current position. As a young Penn State graduate, Urquhart gained exposure to the financial world as a CPA at Cooper’s and Lybrand (now Price Waterhouse-Coopers). There, he rose to audit manager, focusing on middle-market clients. “I was the audit manager on the Phoenixcor account, a well-known middle market leasing company in Connecticut,” Urquhart says. “After a successful sale, post-acquisition management asked me to come on board as the chief financial officer. While I didn’t accept that specific job, I did go into the corporate development side, where I was responsible for establishing vendor programs—a key element in corporate finance.”
After three years at Phoenixcor, Urquhart left and founded Main Line Capital, a middle market equipment finance brokerage firm. “It was just a group of five of us that worked there in the beginning and we focused on the origination side of the cycle,” Urquhart says. “At that time I was getting a lot of my funding through a company formed by the former chairman of Phoenixcor, who started Independent Resources, a company that focused on the funding side of a deal. We teamed up to originate and secure funds for Main Line. People’s United Bank became one of our primary funding sources.”
People’s United liked the structure of Main Line’s loans, Urquhart says. “Seeing the geographic diversification of transactions, the structures we were putting together and the pricing on those loans, People’s United Bank, through its subsidiary, purchased a majority interest in our group, and in 2002, when People’s United purchased the remaining outstanding stock, we became a wholly-owned subsidiary.”
The Leadership Team
Subsequently serving 17 years at People’s Capital and Leasing, Urquhart was named president/CEO in March 2014. “Professionally, it was a natural progression for me. I have been here since the inception,” Urquhart says. “In the earlier part of my career, I was in the corporate development side, figuring out how we could get to where we needed to be by working on different origination paths to grow the business. Then I progressed to overseeing one of two direct origination groups, which represents about 40% of the volume that People’s Capital generates. While in that position, I had the pleasure of working closely with our president and chief operating officer, and from there, I progressed to my current position, the president’s job.”
Urquhart says a highlight of his current duties is being involved on a day-to-day basis with a wide range of disciplines at People’s Capital, from sales, underwriting, and portfolio management to documentation and legal. “I truly enjoy extending my reach to the full team here at People’s Capital,” he says. “Unlike my predecessor, Vince Cianciolo, who was originally a loan officer at the bank, I had no experience at that level. He proved to be a great mentor and showed me how to understand the bank’s credit culture and how it works seamlessly to be a part of the bank,” Urquhart says. “From that, I took a bigger role with the management team.”
With the experience and knowledge of his team behind him, Urquhart says he uses the guiding principles of People’s United Bank to succeed. People’s United maintains a focus on clients across the U.S. in the middle-to-higher market, with client profiles as small as revenues starting at $5 million, to publicly traded corporations. “We are very industry specific—that’s how People’s Capital was formed, on a basis of presence and expertise in certain industries.” Urquhart says the company focuses on transportation, construction, printing, packaging, aviation, marine, mining, energy manufacturing, plastics and machine tools, with the possible expansion into healthcare and rail in the future.
Urquhart says that one of his primary goals as president is to continue to build vendor and customer relationships. The company offers secured loans and finance leases, SBA and IRB financing, operating leases, vendor program financing, synthetic leases, and fixed and floating rates. It also assists clients in determining the feasibility of new versus used equipment. With a wide range of services, Urquhart said the company heavily weighs the benefits of a team while striving to surpass its customer satisfaction goals.
“Our core principles are caring for customers and delivering outstanding results. Vendors love to have a lending partner who helps them generate equipment sales. To help them, you have to be able to support the process throughout, designing creative financing solutions that in turn help vendors sell the equipment.”
As he previously indicated, People’s Capital and Leasing’s leadership is the key to their team’s success. “We have outstanding leaders here. It’s the greatest part of my new job,” Urquhart says. “The amount of time they’ve been here speaks well to how we work as a team. We are streamlined and effective relative to the process. One of the strengths of People’s Capital is that it has been able to develop a management team that we have grown from within and we are very proud of that.”
Moving into the second half of 2014, Urquhart says he will remain focused on the guiding principles of People’s United while working to achieve company goals. Urquhart says that People’s Capital has seen an increase in its transportation, marine and manufacturing business, and a slight decrease in mining relative to economic uncertainty regarding coal. “Healthcare is also one area that we would like to grow,” he said.
Data from this year’s Monitor 100 shows that People’s Capital & Leasing had total net assets of $1.9 billion at year-end 2013, up 10% from the end of the same year-ago period. Ranked the #41 volume producer, People’s generates its new business volume, in order of significance, from direct end users, vendor/dealers and indirect sources. At the end of 2013, the company employed 68 full-time staff members.
Regarding the equipment finance industry as a whole, Urquhart says he is confident about the opportunity for growth. “Indicators show increasing opportunities for equipment financing in the industries we focus on. The only concern we have is the industry-wide problem of rate compression. Despite that concern, across the board, it’s good news,” he says.
“I would also like to see us dig deeper into our leasing product,” Urquhart says. “Our goal here at People’s Capital is to have a better presence on the leasing side. We want to be middle market leasing bears.”
Brokerage, like many financial and professional services, has changed over the years, with the rise of digital innovations, ease-of-use communications and new products on offer through the leasing industry. But for those just starting out, sometimes the old-fashioned way of growing a business is still best, as Bob Bell explains.
With all the hype about blockchain revolutionizing the way business gets done globally, have you ever stopped to think about whether the equipment leasing and finance industry is ready to dive into this potentially disruptive technology?