Be tech savvy to sustain growth

This past month has seen Motor Finance host its first international conference.

The day was, by all accounts, a great success, and I’d like to thank everyone involved who helped make it such a good event. I would also like to congratulate all the award winners, as well as the finalists. The quality of the candidates for this year’s awards was really high, and this speak volumes about the state of the industry.

Hopefully the fact this was a European conference made it stand out. Considering the motoring industry in general is so international, the finance industry behind it is in a different situation. Once you get beyond the captive lenders, you very quickly start to find a lot of companies who just operate in their home market. While the UK market no doubt has some serious differences compared to mainland European markets, it would still be smart to keep an eye on them for developments. These countries will be facing some of the same challenges as us, and may come up with some novel innovations from which we can learn from. It’s my hope that the Motor Finance conference can go on to become a genuine forum from which we can learn from each other, including those who operate in different countries.

One theme which came through loud and clear on the day is the need for innovation. This is a fast-moving industry which has grown rapidly over the past year or so. On the one hand this presents companies with plenty of opportunities for growth – and I’ve spoken to many people who have done just this.
On the other hand, this growth has led to many new companies entering the market – companies often backed by outside capital, and looking to gain market share. While the market is growing, there’s plenty of growth to go around. But if (or when) that growth slows down, companies are going to have to fight to increase market share and grow, and those who took the easy options in this time of growth may start to suffer in the long run.  

The advice on the day was particularly aimed at IT and technology firms. The world is increasingly moving towards using technology for more and more of its solutions. People are increasingly buying items online, and even when they’re not using the internet for the end-purchase, chances are most will use it at some point in their research. Beyond that, data gathering is allowing companies to reduce costs for themselves and ultimately the end-user, as well as finding the most appropriate solutions.

In some cases, this may not be appropriate, but in a lot of cases, developing good technology is of paramount importance.  And the nature and speed of technological development means that even if you have a good technical solution, you can’t rest on your laurels, otherwise your competition may start to catch up.
Consumers and the cars themselves are both becoming increasingly technologically advanced. It would make sense for the companies responsible for the finance agreements to be technologically savvy also.
While this may sound somewhat harsh, the overall picture is actually fairly rosy. The reason companies need to keep innovating is because the industry itself is growing so quickly, and if they don’t take advantage of the opportunities, someone else will.

Next year we intend to host another conference in which these themes will no doubt be touched upon again. Hopefully many of you will have the opportunity to hear what the future speakers make of it at the time.