In a speech given to FLA members in London last night, Finance and Leasing Association director general Stephen Sklaroff covers a successful year for the UK leasing industry.
While events like the EU referendum and the US elections were happening – and generating feverish commentary in the media – the FLA’s members just quietly got on with the day job.
Which shows in the figures.
Asset finance recorded its thirty-sixth consecutive month of new business growth in September, up by 12% compared with September 2015.
Consumer finance new business was up by 7%, and motor finance providers reported that new business volumes – business and consumer – were both up by 3%.
And it looks as if growth continued across the FLA’s markets in October.
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So we’re ending the year in a very strong position, both in terms of our market performance, and in our work with the stakeholders who shape our business environment.
During 2016 we worked with the Departments of Health and Education, the Local Enterprise Partnerships, the British Business Bank, the Payment Systems Regulator, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Road Haulage Association and the National Farmers’ Union on issues ranging from leasing in the public sector to fraud prevention in the Direct Debit system.
In letters to the Prime Minister and other government ministers and in meetings with officials from the relevant departments, we emphasised that, while Brexit creates obvious challenges, it also gives us opportunities – like the chance to revisit parts of the regulatory regime which were previously off limits.
We’ve also established an excellent relationship with the new Minister for Small Business, Margot James MP, who has already attended two FLA events and with whom we are discussing, among other things, the role asset finance can play in the Government’s industrial strategy.
I’ve also recently seen Andrew Bailey, the new CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority.
More than half of the firms he regulates are in the credit markets.
I’ve suggested that he should therefore consider new ways of ensuring the interests of our markets are properly understood at senior levels in the FCA.
We certainly need to avoid the problems that many FLA members experienced during authorisation being repeated during supervision.
We will also be responding to numerous FCA consultations in 2017, including on affordability and creditworthiness, the credit card market study, together with the FCA’s thematic work on early arrears and staff remuneration.
2017 will also be a crucial year for firms preparing for the FCA’s Senior Managers Regime, which will be extended to all 56,000 authorised consumer credit firms in 2018.
Other issues ahead include the FCA’s proposed two-year deadline for PPI complaints and the associated advertising campaign, and the new EU Data Protection Regulation.
One very strong FLA theme during 2016, which will also continue in 2017, is our work on industry standards and professionalism.
This ranges from our research on dealing with vulnerable customers, to our two Codes of Practice and our training for members, which now includes new higher-level qualifications in both the motor and asset finance markets.
I’m happy to say that 2016 saw the FLA gain another 11 new full members, spread across all three of our main markets.
I’d like to thank you for your support, and the Kingsway team for their hard work throughout 2016.
And on that note, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a prosperous New Year.