FCA Issues A Scam Warning When Taking Car Finance

Friday, 22. April 2016

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.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued warnings about a number of scams that are doing the rounds perpetrated by brokers who are not authorised by the FCA.

They will be looking to take action against such companies when they are found but in the meantime the onus is on consumers to make sure they check that the person providing the finance/advice/services is properly authorised.

Especially the case when you are asked to part with money upfront as a commitment fee or a deposit to secure a car that will be financed. Their advice is ‘We strongly advise you to only deal with financial firms that are authorised by us, and check the Financial Services Register to ensure they are.’

And here’s the rub, if you give money to an unauthorised firm, you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. So as I pointed out recently the first consideration should not be the rate that you are offered, be that a lease rate or APR, but the company that offers it and will represent you going forward. You have been warned – yet again! By Graham Hill

The Desperate Need For Greater Understanding Of Car Finance

Friday, 30. October 2015

Did I mention that I won the Innovation of the Year Award at the Frontline Solutions sponsored Finance & Insurance Awards 2015? Well in case I didn’t mention it – I did! And very proud of it I am too. Earlier in the day at the conference, speakers spoke about the motor finance industry and the need for much more education, not just for those selling the finance products such as dealers, brokers, banks, building societies and others but also customers who stand no chance if the people selling the products don’t have a grasp of the way the finance functions.

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.

To add to the confusion salesmen, anxious to make a sale, end up emphasising benefits that often don’t exist and certainly avoid telling clients anything that may put them off. For example a bank won’t tell you that an unsecured personal loan puts you at greater risk than a secured personal loan.

If you don’t repay your £2,000 loan that is secured against your house and you end up in court it would be very extreme for the judge to throw you and your family out on the street and order the sale of your house with maybe north of £100,000 equity in it for the sake of a £2,000 debt.

On the other hand if the £2,000 was ‘unsecured’ a court order could be issued and you could end up handing over valued possessions such as your TV, computer, jewellery etc. I always say that unsecured means unsecured against nothing in particular. So whilst explaining the finance they kind of miss that bit out albeit that it may be in the small print.

Oh and it doesn’t stop there, they could still go for your house if you don’t have enough value in your possessions in order to pay the debt, known as a charging order. This will force you to pay the debt back if and when you sell your house which is basically what happens when you take out a secured loan that you cannot repay. And that is the tip of the iceberg.

Many retail car salesemen don’t understand how contract hire (better known as a lease) works. But neither do customers and even accountants often miss some of the massive advantages attached to car leasing. At the other extreme there are customers whom, having taken a car on a lease, suddenly become as expert as me! They simply tout around the market to find the cheapest deal but will it end up being the cheapest with so many opportunities to charge all sorts of ‘extras’ included in the contract?

The rates are often not fixed so between ordering the car and delivery you may find that the rates have increased by £30 per month as a result of a £1,000 increase in cost of the vehicle. There are also some ‘brokers’ who are not conforming to the new FCA rules, are not members of any trade association and possibly don’t have professional Indemnity Insurance or are just managing to survive and could be closed down before your car even gets delivered.

How will you deal with that situation? If he is shut down or goes bust what happens to the car you have on order? If the car was ordered by the broker the order will be cancelled and you could be back to square 1. See what I mean? There is more to education than just understanding the basic products.

That’s why I am in the midst of re-writing my best selling book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide and creating educational videos to make sure you understand the upsides, downsides and matters relating to vehicle finance. Watch this space for future announcements and products. By Graham Hill

How Anyone Can Access Information At Companies House For Free

Tuesday, 13. October 2015

Did you know about the changes that have come about over the last few months at Companies House? It will now be easier for lenders to access your business data held by Companies House as it is now FREE for anyone to access under the new Government Corporate Transparency Rules which are part of the BIS Open Data Strategy.

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.

This means that anyone, including the general public, can access over 170 million records held by Companies House including such information as Registered Office, Current & Resigned Officers, Mortgage Charge Data, Previous Names Data, Insolvency Data, Document Images, Accounting Information and much more.

And in time more will be added. The new initiative also includes free access to developers who may wish to access information held at Companies House as part of a computerised assessment program.

Some may argue that little has changed as it only cost a quid to get your hands on any of this information in the past and it hasn’t exactly been widely publicised that the information is now free but more worrying is the path this is taking us.

How much more information will become available not only those who wish to use it for legitimate reasons but to those who wish to use it for less than legal reasons or for targeting. Worrying times in my opinion. By Graham Hill

Does Your Car Have The Right Number Plate?

Monday, 12. January 2015

Having a blog means that I get to hear some very dopey stories. The latest was a car that was delivered by transporter to a customer. As excited as he was about driving his new car something wasn’t right.

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.

He couldn’t put his finger on it but each time he walked towards the car a bell was ringing in his head but what was it? He walked all around the car trying to find a dent or something obviously wrong but could find nothing. After two days of driving the car he realised what it was, there was something wrong with the registration number.

He checked his agreement and realised that the car had been issued with a different number to his agreement. As it turned out there were two identical cars on the transporter, delivered on the same day to two different customers. Whether the dealer had issued the paperwork incorrectly or the delivery driver dropped the cars off to the wrong owners I couldn’t get to the bottom of, but as both cars were insured by the drivers on the other’s registration neither were insured to drive the car they were driving.

The fact is that they may never have known until the cars were returned or sold – how crazy is that? The other driver didn’t have a clue but apparently went loopy when he was told! And I don’t blame him!

The two drivers had their cars swapped and received a free first service. So when you have your car delivered check that the registration number agrees with your documents. By Graham Hill

Finance Application Successes And Failures Revealed

Wednesday, 18. June 2014

Following on from my last piece it seems that 1 in 6 applications for finance were rejected last year according to statistics revealed by OceanFinance.co.uk. It will be interesting to see how this compares to 2014 following the introduction of the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules in April of this year.

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.

They found that more than a third of the adult population (38.6%) applied for finance of some form or another over the last 12 months. This was an increase from 2013 when 33% applied for one or more of the popular credit products. Men are more likely to apply than women by quite a margin, 43.6% vs 34.4% over the last 12 months.

The age group most likely to apply for credit are 25 – 34 at 60.6% whilst only 17% of the over 55’s applied for credit according to the stats. The most likely decline would be if you apply for an overdraft at nearly one in five declines (18.6%). 16% of those applying for a personal loan get declined.

The good news for applicants last year, not so sure the same will apply this year, is that car finance applications were most successful with just 11% being rejected. Applications for a first mortgage was the type of  finance that lenders liked the most as they were most likely to be accepted, no doubt helped along by the Government incentives reducing the risk. 84.5% of all applications were accepted over the last 12 months.

The type of lender most likely to lend to applicants are what are known as ‘crowd lenders’ or ‘peer to peer lenders’ with an acceptance rate of 86%. It was also found that rather than operate a straight accept or decline process applicants were offered a higher rate of interest if they were felt to be higher risk, particularly when applying for credit cards.

I fear that this will all change dramatically over the coming year – for the worse! By Graham Hill

FCA Approaching Debt Problems In The Wrong Way

Monday, 9. June 2014

I know I keep whinging on about the FCA and their new rules but I am genuinely worried about the affect it is having on the ability of lenders and intermediaries to do business and for genuine borrowers to be able to take out finance. As a result I’ve become pre-occupied with the subject of affordability and how lenders can analyse the application from a client to assess whether the customer should receive the finance or not.

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 problem that lenders have faced for years is – will the applicant make his repayments? The only way they have been able to assess this is by combining historical data with statistics to arrive at a pretty Heath Robinson credit score.

From the information obtained from the credit reference agencies combined with the lenders own score card requirements a further analysis takes place using statistics to arrive at an acceptance, decline or an acceptance subject to certain conditions or additional information.

For example if you are married with children in a house that you ‘own’ you are less of a risk and more likely to pay than a single person with no dependents living in rented accommodation. The fact that you own your house and have made your mortgage payments on time contributes towards your credit score but the fact that you are married with dependents is part of the lender’s score card. Now here is the confusion created by simply looking at your credit score.

Your credit reference agency score could be excellent because you have a credit card with a £2,000 limit on it that is paid on the button each month with a small balance on the card that every 3 months is fully paid off. All other payments are made on time including your mortgage which shows you own your property and you have no adverse whatsoever on the file.

But just because you have an excellent credit score doesn’t mean that you can afford to take out a finance agreement that will cost you £500 per month. You may show that historically you have met all your commitments and therefore represent a good credit risk but where is affordability in all this?

The lender’s own score card may show that having responsibilities, like a mortgage and children, living in a certain area in a certain job may statistically make you a good risk, there is nothing to prove it and I believe that it is this shortfall that has caused the Government via the FCA to force the lenders to test the ability to pay rather than the intention to pay.

But my question is this – if, through some twist of fate or luck the system worked – why try to fix it to the detriment of all concerned? We know that short term or pay day lending is a totally different type of product and given the distress that the collection and ability to rollover the debt, thereby substantially increasing the amount owed, causes consumers, it makes sense that lenders apply a more stringent set of affordability tests.

But that doesn’t apply to normal lending where the lenders have many years of experience under their belt and know who represents a good risk and who represents a bad risk. It’s a little like Ford identifying a problem with Focuses manufactured between 2010 and 2012 but recalling all Focuses ever made just to be on the safe side. It’s ridiculous.

In my simple opinion the ‘problem’ is being approached from the wrong end as I believe that generally most people have the intention to pay and have already personally checked the affordability of the finance out of their income. If someone dies in a car accident the Government doesn’t stop everyone from driving.

Lessons need to be learned, addressed and repaired to prevent it from happening again. The same applies to lending. But it already does. The lenders would soon go out of business if the number of defaults and arrears kept increasing so they are obviously refining their credit underwriting but even the lenders don’t have access to a crystal ball to see into the future.

The Government needs to spend money on helping those with debt problems, assist them in managing the debt and help them to recover with least pain to them and their family. When it takes two and a half years for the Financial Ombudsman to review a complaint it is clearly here that effort and money needs to be funnelled not into affordability checks that the lenders do quite adequately.

I ask the question again, what happens to those that wish to borrow money for a car in order to get to work or get their kids to school when the lender, after applying the new tests says no? The whole FCA concept has been ill conceived and badly thought through and for once it has nothing to do with the EU. By Graham Hill

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Graham Hill Warns Again About Potential Economic Disaster

Wednesday, 14. May 2014

Last week I was thumbing through the latest edition of Credit Today, one of the journals I always try to read more thoroughly than any of the others, not only because it has a fairly good handle on the industry but also because a very good friend of mine, Fred Crawley, is the managing editor.

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.

So I was disappointed to see that a round table event had been held without my presence. I was more disappointed about the comments of the good and the great in the industry.

Motor finance currently runs at a massive £28 billion per annum and not only accounts for a slice of profit earned by the dealers but more important, and often overlooked, is that finance contributes heavily towards the sales of new cars, making it possible for consumers and small businesses to afford new cars rather than used cars.

The thrust of the debate was the effect of the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations and the effect on the industry. Virtually everything that was raised was to do with us, being dealers or brokers and them, being the lenders. There was a complete dog’s dinner of comments, speculations and suggestions but guess what?

I couldn’t find one sentence that mentioned the potential problems to consumers and small businesses. There was a lot of sympathy and even empathy for the lenders but what about the bloody borrowers. Why is it that the Government, and virtually all of the consumer and small business finance industry, walk around with their heads firmly planted in their jacksys?

They continue to make bold statements, explaining how they are setting out to protect consumers and SME’s but when you want to finance a replacement fridge, TV, car or essential equipment for your business how does it help when the lender explains that you have failed the new FCA imposed affordability test?

And where will all this leave the economy, it’s a sad fact of life that when people borrow money from a payday lender they often need it for essentials or some sort of an emergency like the freezer breaking. Either way the money doesn’t sit around in a bank account – it is spent which continues to help the recovery.

Creating barriers to lending will flatline the economy and could send us back into recession. We are in sensitive times, we need finance to keep the economy moving forwards but I seem to be a lone voice in the wilderness. Only time will tell, lets hope that common sense prevails and lenders continue to do what they do best – lend bloody money! Rant over! By Graham Hill

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Isn’t It About Time That Blogs Were Regulated?

Wednesday, 8. January 2014

New moan started, a few years ago a journalist with about as much knowledge about all things financial as a garden fork started a blog. In fact it was started about the same time as I started mine.

The difference was that I didn’t allow every John Henry and his mate to post things on my blog, unlike my charismatic friend. If anyone wanted to post anything on my blog I would mediate and if what they wanted to post was incorrect or simply trying to sell their pet insurance policy I would trash it.

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.

On the other hand many other blogs would allow complete (but often well intentioned) doughnuts to express opinions online which others would then take as absolute gospel. For example I have seen someone desperate because they are facing a £1,500 charge to repair a PAS pump, 3 weeks after the manufacturer’s warranty has run out on his car, seeking advice because he’d been told the repair was outside the warranty and therefore fully chargeable.

As you know from postings on my blog this isn’t unusual. In this case the car had only covered 15,000 miles but some numbnuts said, oh dear, sadly as you are outside the warranty there is nothing you can do, chat to your bank manager and arrange a loan. Which is what the poor sod did!! So this ill informed do-gooder just cost the driver with the problem £1,500.

The truth is that under the Sale of Goods Act the driver had a legitimate claim against the supplying dealer as the goods have to be as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. The ABS pump should last as long as the car, at least 8 years, so the dealer should make at least some contribution towards the cost of repair as the item concerned would appear to not be of satisfactory quality.

Oh and notice I said dealer and not manufacturer, the claim is against the company that sold you the goods, not the manufacturer. It’s up to the dealer to seek compensation from the manufacturer. This is just one of many pieces of advice given by ignorant subscribers with no legal knowledge whatsoever.

Sometimes on this and other blogs the advice has been accurate at the time it was given in say 2009 but the law has since changed and the advice is now wrong. So if you are one of those people that searches through blogs for accurate information, tread very carefully, the advice you follow could cost you a fortune.

It’s about time that blogs were properly policed before too many people catch a serious cold. 2nd moan over! By Graham Hill

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Payday Lending – The Wrong Approach

Saturday, 17. August 2013

Image representing Wonga as depicted in CrunchBase

Image by None via CrunchBase

Who is the worst payday lender? I’m not sure of the answer to that one myself but certainly the most honest seems to be Wonga. I have written a new book that will be launched soon in my Simple Guide series called APR – A Simple Guide.

Amongst many crooked activities revolving around the abuse of APR I talk about payday loans. I agree with a comment made in Credit Today when they suggest that instead of displaying a ‘representative APR’ in their adverts, payday lenders should display ‘lots’ and leave it at that for the usefulness it provides.

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 give an example in the book of a call made to a Payday lender who quoted a representative APR of, I believe 2,450%. However this is the rate if I borrowed money on the 1st of the month and repaid it on the 31st. After questioning a very nice chap on the phone before he hung up on me he gave me the amount of interest I would pay in cash terms if I had the loan for a complete month.

However, when I explained that it was less than a week to my payday, would they still charge the same fee that I would pay if I had the loan for a month, the answer was yes. When I explained that this reduction in time would seriously affect the APR the phone went dead. Everything about APR is a joke and is completely misused by those lending and misunderstood by those borrowing.

Recently Wonga, in an attempt to reflect more closely the borrowing of their customers, changed their worked example in their advertising by moving from £207 over 20 days (£47.20 in charges) to £150 over 18 days (£33.49 in charges). Nothing wrong with that you might think, if anything it is taking an honest approach to their lending, tell it as it is.

But unfortunately because of the ridiculous way that APR is calculated on short term loans it moved the APR from 4,214% to 5,853%. As a result the press had a field day, balloons went up, old people had sticks waved at them as they were identified as the old kindly people in the Wonga ad and brown, rather smelly stuff, was thrown at the office fan of many journalists as they fought to condemn Wonga.

The Daily Mail said, ‘Payday firm’s 1,600% rise leads to calls for tighter regulation.’ The Guardian also noted the rise with ‘Increase calls for a cap on the cost of short-term credit.’ In my book I’m calling for a massive change in the way that the world measures credit and this furore strengthens my resolve because APR is total nonsense.

Let me break this down for you without giving away my new approach to lending. Faced with a rise of 1,600% in the interest and charges that we would now be expected to pay, as illustrated by the Wonga example, you and I might throw a tantrum but what does it really mean?

What caused there to be hundreds of column inches to be written in the press about this massive rise in interest? If you take the first example from Wonga and break it down you will find that you will pay £207 over 20 days, or £1.14 per day per £100 in charges. In the second example you will pay £1.24 per day per £100 in charges. So this extra 1,600% amounts to ten pence per day per £100 that you borrow.

The massive reaction was over 10 pence per day per £100 borrowed. What a bloody nonsense – read my book when it comes out, you are in for some shocking revelations!

Oh and before you get the wrong impression I’m not a big fan of payday lending but if properly controlled with full disclosure there is a place for it for those struggling with their finances. Official statement over!

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Repossession – Do You Know Your Rights?

Wednesday, 14. August 2013

Tonight those lovely old ladies that present the BBC 1 programme called Rip Off Britain had a piece about Log Book Loans. In most respects, contrary to my usual complaints about the press and consumer programmes, it was surprisingly accurate but it missed a few very key pieces of information.

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.

First of all Log Book Loans, as pointed out in the programme, are what are known as Bills of Sale, regulated not by the Consumer Credit Act but The Bill of Sales Act 1878 and the amendment act of 1882. This Victorian act was created in the days when rights were with the lender, not with the borrower, as they are today.

A loan is secured against a car at a high APR, normally around 300% – 400%. In a case highlighted a lady had a recovery company call late at night to recover a car which they said had money owed on it on a Log Book Loan. The collection at a late hour was questionable but in a panic the lady handed over the keys and having already bought the car in good faith was later told that she would have to settle the outstanding finance if she wanted the car back.

The fact is that the finance company was acting within the law. In fact contrary to much of the rubbish written on the Internet, on various consumer sites, by people who have no knowledge of the law, they don’t even need a court order, which is the case once you have paid off a third of the debt on HP.

They can even enter your property, break down the doors of your garage and remove the vehicle. Unless of course, as one very smart chap suggested on a famous consumer blog, you remove the battery and two of the wheels! Nice idea unless you actually bought the car to drive – you dope!

The strange thing is that in 2010 the Government carried out a review of the act and amazingly did nothing to it leaving ‘innocent buyers’ in the cold. If you buy a car on HP or PCP, i.e. a loan secured against the car, and you buy the car not knowing that the car had finance secured against it, having asked the owner, title still passes to you as an ‘innocent buyer’.

So until log book loans raised their ugly head you didn’t need to fork out for an HPI check that tells you if finance is secured upon the car. The HPI guarantee covers you up to £30,000 against losses as a result of the finance not being recorded.

This was in fact a bit of a sleight of hand because as a consumer you were covered up to £30,000 under the Consumer Credit Act anyway so when the debt collector comes calling for the £15,000 worth of finance outstanding on the car you bought and HPI save you this money they simply phone the HP company and explain that you were an innocent buyer and the finance company, in most instances, will simply go walkies. But now that you have log book loans recorded also we are in a different ball game.

It is now worth paying for an HPI check (the full online check) if you are to protect yourself against the fraudulent selling of a car to you that has a log book loan secured upon it. What they didn’t make at all clear in the programme was that you should never simply hand over keys to anyone who turns up at your door with a piece of paper, that could be a forgery, saying they are the owners of the car.

And if the paperwork does not mention ‘bill of sale’ then the chances are that they are trying to recover a car that was on HP or PCP and as long as you don’t hand anything over you will be considered as an innocent buyer of the car and entitled to keep it. Once you forfeit the car you give up your rights.

Remember, if you feel at all intimidated call the police. I award 8 out of 10 to the kindly ladies of Rip Off Britain.

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