New FCA Permissions Replace Consumer Credit Licences

Saturday, 7. February 2015

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.

If you work in the finance industry you have probably been involved in debates and discussion over the last 12 months regarding some of the biggest changes to the consumer credit industry since the introduction of Hire Purchase in the 60’s. If you are a lender, broker, dealer or consumer (this includes small businesses that are small partnerships or sole traders) life will never be the same again.

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 Government passed over administration of the Consumer Credit Act from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in April 2014. Since then confusion has reigned. I’m not going to talk about the affect on the lenders and the brokers but you need to understand the potential detrimental affect on you as a customer.

In the past when a dealer, broker, shop or anyone else had to provide advice on finance they had to hold a Consumer Credit Licence. It was a totally meaningless piece of paper, we all knew that, as long as you didn’t have a criminal record or were an undischarged bankrupt you could apply for and be granted a licence. It was simple but actually meaningless.

So when the FCA took over and changed the system from a single licence with a number of categories such as credit broking, debt collection, debt advice etc. we now have a three tier system, named Full Permission, Limited Permission and Appointed Representative. It was all beginning to look good, at last there was a body to police the consumer credit industry that might get rid of a large number of crooks and ensure that new entrants and even those already providing advice were properly qualified.

However, the opposite seems to be happening. In order to apply for permission brokers and dealers will need to spend a lot of money, not only in application costs but ongoing administration and reporting costs. This will result in some smaller used car dealers withdrawing their finance offering because the new regulations are far too complicated for them to understand.

It will also cause some brokers to withdraw for similar reasons so you as a customer will have less choice. It also means that the cost of being regulated will increase sharply so those costs will be reflected in the finance charges. On the other hand brokers who offer commercial finance to limited companies, i.e. non consumers are also being encouraged to apply for Full Permission.

I find this approach by trade bodies and lenders obnoxious. These companies with little or no experience of consumer finance will be able to provide customers any consumer product they wish from personal loans to HP and buy to let mortgages. It’s a disgrace, these brokers should never be given Full Permission but if recent history is anything to go by every applicant will be granted Full Permission with very few rejections.

Sounds like Consumer Credit Licences all over again. If you are currently considering various car finance options make sure that you are talking to someone who is properly qualified. By Graham Hill

Graham Hill Gets Grumpy Over Crooked Dealers & Manufacturers

Friday, 9. May 2014

Oh dear oh dear oh dear! That was me uttering under my breath as I slip on my Mr Grumpy hat. I just read about a Fiat driver who took his car into an independent garage to diagnose a problem. The problem was a faulty turbo unit.

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The garage called a Fiat dealer and was given the price of the replacement re-conditioned part as £399 which the customer agreed to pay. However, when the part arrived it also arrived with a bill for £542 with no explanation, an increase of £140. The independent garage said that they would have to pass on the increase but provided no explanation.

After querying it Fiat explained the increase by saying, ‘Many components are improved and upgraded over time but, on this occasion, it seems the old unit was still on the system, even though it was no longer available, hence the different price.’ However, no doubt as a gesture of goodwill the customer was given £150 worth of vouchers to be used against service costs and parts over the next 12 months.

What a load of bull poo! First of all why are dealers and manufacturers so crooked and secondly why are customers so bloody naïve? There is such a thing as the Sale of Goods Act that protects buyers of goods and an Office of Fair Trading from whom you can get advice and support so why are people writing into magazines and newspapers who guess at the answers to legal problems?

Let me explain the situation we have here. Don’t confuse this transaction with walking into a shop and buying something on the shelf that has a price ticket attached. The price ticket has nothing to do with the contract of sale it is what is known as ‘An Invitation To Treat’.

The shopkeeper is not obliged to sell the item to you at the price on the ticket. It is a suggestion, you then make an offer to buy the goods at the price on the ticket and the shopkeeper normally accepts. If the shopkeeper has made a mistake when pricing his goods he doesn’t have to sell it to you at the mistaken price.

That is a fact! However, this isn’t the case with respect to the turbo unit. The independent garage entered into a contract with a Fiat dealer to supply a part for a car. The dealer agreed to supply the part and the garage agreed to pay £399 for the part, in turn agreed with the customer. That’s it, end of story, turn out the lights on your way out!

If either party fails to perform then they are in breach of contract and the aggrieved party can seek compensation. In this case, if the dealer agreed to supply a part that no longer existed that was his problem not the garage that ordered the part or the customer. If, in order to perform their part of the contract, the dealer had to supply a more expensive item he has to suffer the loss, not the garage or in turn the customer.

This is absolutely ridiculous and Fiat probably know that this is the case but have screwed the customer – it’s simply not on. When will the car industry start to act honourably but more important when will consumers wise up? Oooh I get so angry! By Graham Hill

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Problems With Your Car – Know Your Legal Rights

Saturday, 15. March 2014

Something else I write about far too often is warranty claims. Dealers continue to let down customers and drivers know too little about their legal rights and don’t do things that would help their case. A lady had a Toyota that she bought second hand but found shortly after that the alarm constantly and randomly went off whilst parked on her drive.

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.

She returned the car whilst covered by the warranty but the dealer couldn’t replicate the problem so refused to accept that one existed. The problem continued and the car was returned, still no joy as the dealer effectively called the lady a liar.

The fact is that I have an extremely small amount of sympathy for the dealer as faults can often be intermittent so with modern technology why didn’t the lady take a video of the car with the alarm going off to show that it happened.

Or take a letter from a neighbour explaining that the alarm continued to sound without anyone touching the car so at least she can speak with some authority. My sympathy ended when I read that the dealer refused to continue checking the car for the fault after the warranty ran out.

As I have said time and again your legal rights don’t end the day your warranty runs out. Alarms should function properly for the life of the car so if it is faulty when you buy the car from a dealer there is something wrong with it and the supplying dealer needs to fix it or give you your money back. If you are not satisfied get the manufacturer involved and also advise the Office of Fair Trading.

In the case of the lady with the Toyota the manufacturer arranged to have the car looked at and turn down the sensitivity level on the alarm which fixed the problem. Unbelievable! The manufacturer needs to address the incompetence of its franchised dealer. The good news is that I am now working closely with several manufacturers  as a consultant and this is an area that will be addressed as part of my shake up of the industry. 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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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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Investigation To Be Made Into Insurance Premiums

Saturday, 1. October 2011

Do you feel that your insurer is ripping you off? If you do you’re not alone. In fact the House of Commons Transport Select Committee produced a damning report on the subject recently, giving the cost of car insurance a high profile and forcing the Government to take action. The Cost of Motor Insurance report calls on the Government to force Read more

What Not To Do If You Have A Problem With A Dealer

Thursday, 29. September 2011

I recently had a note from someone who was having major problems with a dealership over a fault that developed in his new car. The problem was taking far too long to resolve and the client was getting very frustrated. Even contacting the manufacturer didn’t seem to work so in a fit of rage he called the finance company, who legally still owned the car, Read more

Don’t Be Misled By Warranties Removing Your Legal Rights

Thursday, 30. June 2011

The Citizens Advice Bureau Logo.

Image via Wikipedia

There has been a great deal of publicity recently about the way that customers are treated by car dealers with trading standards suggesting that millions of pounds of repairs are being paid for by customers when in fact the repairs are legally the responsibility of the dealer. Sadly this also includes legitimate warranty claims on cars covered by the Read more

Laws Relating To Clocking Should Be Changed

Thursday, 19. May 2011

I reported recently on clocking, it would seem that others are reading my blogs as the Office of Fair Trading has issued a report that reveals there are more than 50 firms in the UK selling mileage correction (clocking) services. As a result they have called on the Government to act and close the loophole that enables these companies to quite legally reset a Read more

What To Do If You Can’t Pay For Your Car

Monday, 6. December 2010

If you were to have some major surgery, I’m sure you would need to know that the person carrying out the work was a qualified and capable surgeon with a history of successful operations. If not you may end up a paraplegic or worse still not survive the operation, so I’d say that it was quite important to feel confident that you are using a professional who is good at his job. On the other hand you may have a faulty gas appliance and need a repair carried out. Who would you call in to carry out the Read more