MF Blog: Welcome to the world of tomorrow

As we welcome in the New Year, I would also like to introduce the latest member to join the Motor Finance team, Sotiris Kanaris.

I know he has managed to speak to a few of you already, and I’m sure he’ll get the chance to speak to more of you over the coming months. He’s brought in some fresh perspectives to the magazine, and is already working on some features which I think will be interesting, and should be ready for the February issue. I hope you’ll all give him the warm welcome I’ve experienced since I took over on the magazine towards the end of 2014.

Moving on from that piece of housekeeping, and looking ahead to 2015, most of the themes that have pervaded the past 12 months are likely to continue for at least the next few months. Regulation is certainly a hot topic in the sector.

Some of you will have gone through the process of attaining full FCA authorisation by the time you read this, while some of you will be going through it currently. Others still will be helping your partners in this process. With a number of grey areas still present in the regulation, it’s likely this will remain a hot topic for the future.

With regards to the FCA, there’s a worry that so far the regulator has been focusing its considerable resources on other industries, such as payday lenders. At some point its attention will turn to motor finance. People we speak to remain confident that the industry is generally in good shape and that there aren’t many ‘bad eggs’, but there’s still a fear that one or two may be taken to task as an example. We can but hope this isn’t the case.

Last year saw the market expand rapidly.  SMMT figures showed that new car sales jumped by more than 9% and FLA figures have shown finance for both new and used cars grew year-on-year for every month of 2014 to November (the latest information available at the time of writing). Unsurprisingly, this attracted new players to market.  As a result, buyers now have more independent options than ever to choose from when selecting which intermediary and which finance provider to go with, so standing out is harder than it’s ever been.  

As long as the market keeps expanding at pace this shouldn’t be a problem. However, many providers aren’t resting on their laurels and are instead actively seeking to be as competitive as possible. In this FCA world, competing just on rates is no longer a feasible option, and so other means are being explored.  
One area is technology, and I expect to see plenty of news in this area in the future as companies look to it to help make the customers experience as quick and painless (and dare I say enjoyable) as possible.  Examples of this, from e-signatures for customers to sign, to speedy affordability checks at the back-end, are already widespread, but it seems likely that this trend is going to continue into the future.   

Looking at this month’s magazine, we have our annual Motor Finance Power 50 list.

This year we experienced an unprecedented response from all our readers. Those featured include independent and captive lenders, brokers, lawyers, technology specialists and so on. So in the one sense, it really shows the diversity of roles present in the industry. Someone saying “they work in motor finance” could actually mean any number of things, and the associated career paths could be equally divergent.

I would like to thank everyone who voted, and congratulate everyone who made the final list.