Heavy FCA Fines Make Life Difficult For Lenders

Tuesday, 17. June 2014

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

As the new rules imposed upon consumers and small businesses via lenders by the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) start to take affect there is a worrying undercurrent starting to gather momentum. Earlier this year I was in a meeting with directors of one of the biggest lenders in the car finance industry.

Thinking of a change but unsure as to the best way to finance your car? Then you need a copy of my car finance book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide by Graham Hill. Click on the link below to buy the best car finance book on the market, available as a Kindle Book and Paper Back.

I asked what they believed the effect would be of the forthcoming FCA regulations and the rules that had started to filter through. Their response was, at the time, quite dismissive. They pointed out that they had been in the motor finance industry since 1959 and by now they actually knew how to underwrite a customer.

Whilst they weren’t prepared to share actual numbers with me they explained that the amount of delinquency was minimal (that’s the amount of defaults and arrears) and it was certainly manageable so the idea of a Government body telling them what they needed to look out for when underwriting a customer was frankly – ludicrous!

The idea that you needed to carry out some strange affordability tests and have copies of umpteen bills and proofs was simply several steps too far. We all had a bit of a laugh, a cup of tea and a chocolate Hob Nob before moving onto the next item for discussion.

Fast forward a couple of months and that same company is suddenly asking for more information, copies of tax returns, 3 months bank statements and a tree’s worth of paperwork to prove the person is who they say they are. So what has happened? Fines, that’s what has happened. The lenders who are new to the rules of the FCA have been told that if they don’t tow the line they will be fined – and I mean FINED!

Last year the FSA and FCA dished out £472 million in fines, even what many would consider to be minor breaches attracted fines measured in tens of thousands of pounds. So suddenly lenders have had a wake up call and who suffers? Other than brokers like me, the customers – that’s you!

Let me give you an unbelievable example, traditionally lawyers have been extremely low risk applicants as they generally operate as partners which means that all of their personal assets are on the line when taking out finance. In a recent application, out of 5 partners 4 had houses worth over £1 million and not one had a mortgage, the fifth had a house worth £800,000 with a £200,000 mortgage on it.

The company had been trading over 20 years and neither the company nor the partners had a blemish against them. Perfect you would think. Ohhh no, we even had last 3 months bank statements available showing a balance never less than £70,000 but their year end is September so the last accounts to be completed were for September 2013, which had not been finalised so the last audited accounts available were 2012, too old for the lender, or should I say the FCA when testing for affordability.

The lender then wanted management accounts, which the company doesn’t run. As the senior partner pointed out, they make obscene amounts of money, as explained by their accountants once a quarter, so why would they need to know how much they spent on paper clips or stamps? So no accounts dated within the last 12 months and no management accounts – customer declined.

After appeal we managed an acceptance but with a much larger initial rental to which the customer said no – or words to that effect. The times are certainly changing and in my opinion – not for the better. But the real reason for writing this piece is to warn you if you are due to arrange finance for a new car.

First of all forget the fact that you have had finance before, many funders now ignore that totally, you will be treated as a brand new customer. Make sure that you prepare for finance as I explain in my book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide (available on Amazon), make sure that your last 3 months bank statements are looking good and if they don’t, wait till they do and make sure there are no returned (bounced cheques/direct debits) items on the statements, that would be a straight decline.

Get a copy of your credit report and see what it says, make sure there are no mistakes on there, it is simple enough and that extra bit of preparation could be the difference between getting a car or not. Oh and use a proper broker that can make sure that he can help you along the process, you often only have one shot at finance so don’t let a bucket shop blow it for you. By Graham Hill

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