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

The Fear Of Heavy Fines Is Causing Lenders To Be Over Cautious

Tuesday, 27. May 2014

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.

logo of FCA

logo of FCA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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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Graham Hill Warns About The New Financial Conduct Authority

Monday, 3. February 2014

We are getting close to the day when the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) takes over from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and launches its new guidelines to the finance industry. The new rules will affect all parties involved in ‘consumer’ finance. At one end of the spectrum the new rules will affect consumers as well as non limited SME’s such as sole traders and small partnerships, in the same way as the Consumer Credit Act covers these entities at present.

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.

The rules will also affect every provider of ‘consumer’ finance. In the motor trade that will include the finance organisations as well as dealers, brokers and introducers such as accountants and IFA’s, all will be affected by the new rules which will come into force from the beginning of April 2014.

For those currently providing advice they should have applied and paid for ‘Interim Permission’ that keeps their Consumer Credit Licence active whilst the changes are introduced. If, whoever you are dealing with, doesn’t have interim permission they are trading outside the law. The problem is that we don’t yet know exactly what the rules will be, making it impossible to prepare for them.

One thing is for certain, we will have much stronger controls imposed upon applicants for finance to prove that they can afford the repayments. This raises two issues, the first goes to the core of the credit industry which is down to the judgement of the underwriter. The word affordability is used in the proposed regulations but what does it mean.

We are told that applicants will have to provide some form of affordability proof. This is likely to be an income and expenditure statement. But if you take a person who can demonstrate income of £1,000 per month with expenditure of £1,001,including his vehicle costs, does this mean that he fails the affordability test?

He is hardly likely to pop to the pub for a pint if it means he can’t afford the repayment on his car which he needs to get to work in the first place to earn his £1,000 per month. So it will be interesting to see how this pans out and what additional pressures are placed on those providing and wanting finance.

It is a bizarre situation when someone else has to tell me if I can afford a repayment on a car or not. Personally I would die of starvation before I would give up my car through non payment of the monthly lease. Which brings us to the next point. After carrying out a more substantial test on applicants for finance it is reasonable to assume that far fewer applicants will receive credit approval, otherwise what would be the purpose of the massive investment and the changes to legislation?

So let’s think about that. I have a client who applies for finance on a Ford Fiesta at a prime rate of £150 + VAT per month. Unfortunately he fails the affordability test so he is now forced to go down the path of sub prime lenders. The current rate is around £295 + VAT per month for the same car.

But the sub prime lender must surely apply the same affordability test or is it a little less stringent – in which case it defeats the objectives of making sure the client can afford to make the repayments in the first place. By making sure he isn’t offered finance at £150 per month how on earth is he likely to be able to make payments at twice the rate?

The whole thing is starting to look like a farce but very worrying at the same time. The only advice I would give at this stage is that if you are looking to change your car this year do it before April you could give yourself an awfiul lot of work and be badly disappointed! Watch this space. By Graham Hill

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Financial Conduct Authority – Waste Of Time?

Monday, 29. April 2013

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a man of reasonable logic, I speak my mind and stir up debate. As was said about me in Motor Finance, ‘As readers of his work and this publication will know, Hill always has a contentious opinion and is one of the most recognisable people at industry events, if only for the argument going on around him.’

That last bit might have more to do with my Rod Stewart style hair cut but that aside I’m totally confused by the new Consumer Credit changes that will be imposed by the new body, known as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in 2014. I have just read a long article in Credit Today in which it gives a flavour of the proposals and the responses from the industry.

Now we all know that the credit industry in this country, indeed around the world, is imperfect and in dire need of change. There is a huge education void, illustrated by the fact that my simple guide to car finance is still the only proper guide to car finance available in the UK when half the bloody population has a car and all of those cars will be financed at least once during their life.

I applauded the fact that many issues were to be addressed such as irresponsible lending and dubious collection techniques which are still being employed. But when the whole of the credit industry seems to agree that the new regulations are ‘nothing to worry about’ the new authority hasn’t done its job right.

For example Andrew Smith of debt management company, ClearDebt believes that the prudential capital requirement, if it goes ahead ‘Will not be too onerous’. Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Consumer Finance Association is said to have uttered, ‘There is nothing in the consultation document that gives him cause for concern.’

With others making similar noises I question whether the Government has got it right? With the introduction of a new regulatory controller I would expect them all to be ‘bricking it’ not ordering up another G & T. I don’t intend giving details of the proposals unless I think they are relevant but I despaired at a comment from Hamblin-Boone, bear in mind that the changes to be introduced are described as a new ‘risk based approach to lending’.

OK, got that? Now to me that suggests that the lenders have been lending irresponsibly and instead of concentrating on collecting toxic debts a new approach to lending is required in order to prevent the bad debt in the first place.

Agreed? Hamblin Boone is reported as saying: When considering the impact on the wider market he believes that consumers are likely to remain unaffected by the regulator’s high risk/ low risk approach. He says, ‘I don’t think there will be any less provision of credit but consumers will have much more confidence in the providers of consumer credit.’

So summing up, huge amounts of money are about to be spent on a new regulatory body that will have zero effect on lending. What a load of bullsh*t. Watch out for the launch of my new revealing book APR – A Simple Guide. That will certainly throw the cat amongst the pigeons! By Graham Hill