A banker with ‘dirt under his fingernails’ from his years in farming has joined Clydesdale Bank as its Agri Business Partner for Kent and Sussex.
Born and bred on a mixed farm between Eastbourne and Lewes in Sussex where he worked with his family, Justin Ellis also spent a year managing a dairy farm in New Zealand before embarking on a new career in banking with Clydesdale Bank’s sister organisation, the Bank of New Zealand.
After nine years in New Zealand Justin’s broad Kiwi accent belies his local origins, but there is no mistaking his experience in both the farming and banking sectors, nor his dedication to working with farmers to maximise their businesses.
“I was keen to bring the family back to the UK,” said Justin, whose two children go to Brighton College. “I was itching to get back to working with farms and farmers and family businesses.
“There are real challenges facing the industry which has seen three or four years of dramatic price fluctuations and real uncertainty over commodity prices. There is also an ageing farming population and as a bank we can help with succession planning, supporting farmers bringing the next generation into the industry.”
Operating from Clydesdale Bank’s Tunbridge Wells Financial Solutions Centre (FSC), Justin is keen to use the bank’s relationship driven approach to help farmers meet those challenges.
Clydesdale has had great success with its Investing for Growth initiative which offers benefits such as loan repayment holidays, interest-only repayments and extended loan and credit terms and is designed to help businesses take advantage of quality growth opportunities by providing investment finance, increasing cash flow and easing debt commitments.
The bank recently confirmed it had met its target of £10 billion of new lending for business and personal customers in two years to October 2011, of which £1 billion was earmarked for the South East.
Coupled with a business model that allows lending decisions to be made locally, Justin believes he is in the perfect position to help Kent and Sussex’s agricultural community.
“I’m a specialist relationship manager connected to the rural community and with contacts with the bank’s other specialists, Credit Partners, for example,” he said. “We have autonomy to make lending and relationship decisions within the FSC which, coupled with our knowledge of a member’s individual business, means we can react quickly to their changing needs.”