Anglia UK Anglia UK

Moving forward

Jamie Palmer, Anglia's Head of Group OperationsMore than 12 months since we first went in to lockdown, the UK is finally taking its first steps to recovery as we collectively emerge from hibernation.

Like most businesses, we battened down the hatches for much of last year as we watched and waited with baited breath to see what would happen. As it turned out, we were one of the fortunate ones, managing to maintain a healthy business despite the turmoil around us.

So, as we stand on the precipice of the new normal, what will this look like for the motor finance industry? While I in no way pretend to have all of the answers, here are some of the key aspects I believe will shape the coming weeks and months.

Mental health – I’ll start with this one because it’s important. It would be naïve to believe that the last 12 months hasn’t affected all of us psychologically. While the majority are robust enough to dust themselves down and move on, the ones who suffer most will be those whose psychological state was the most fragile at the beginning of the pandemic.

The pandemic has impacted credit card users in a number of ways. For some, both lockdown and furlough have granted the ability to make huge strides towards paying off outstanding debts, but we mustn't allow this to cloud our judgement on the sheer volumes of credit card users who have struggled to meet repayments or those that started lockdown already in serious and persistent debt.

We know that the route out of lockdown will be different for different groups of people and there are likely to be some who have never before found themselves in need of support to deal with financial difficulty. Now more than ever, those in the consumer credit sector needs to reflect with care and empathy on what Treating all Customers Fairly really means in practical reality – having a toolkit that allows us to identify those at most risk of harm and support them effectively must be central to how we play our part in building the new normal.

Electric future – While Covid-19 has dominated the headlines over the past year, the environment and global warming has also been brought into sharp focus.  The race is on for the switch to electric and alternative energy sources, with the UK bringing forward its ban on the sales of petrol and diesel cars to 2030. For our sector, electric cars have their own specific challenges when it comes to collections. The average weight of an electric vehicle is 1,799 kg compared to 1,302 kg for a petrol car - a difference of around 40%. This will mean that 3.5 tonne trucks, traditionally used for moving vehicles, are not going to be able to bear the weight of electric cars. Despite overloading of vehicles being incredibly dangerous and illegal, it’s a growing but largely unrecognised problem for our industry. Overloading can have devastating consequences, and potentially be the cause of a fatal collision. So, in this dawn of electric vehicles, I see there being a need to introduce a new code of best practice to ensure all operators are aware of the legal requirements and stick to the rules or face serious penalties. Currently, if you are involved in a collision and are found to have been driving an overloaded vehicle, your insurance policy is likely to be void.

Move to digital – The pandemic has pushed us all online to the point of no return when it comes to work, shop and play. This trend will impact the way we buy cars with traditional car dealerships competing with ‘virtual’ showrooms such as Cazoo and Carwow, as consumers of all ages use their smartphones to seek out the best deals online from the comfort of their homes. For motor manufacturers and lending houses this will mean a need for regular and careful auditing. 

Overall, as the country gets back to work, with early evidence that the market is beginning to bounce back, the move to electric and post Covid-19 challenges means car sales will be more volatile than ever before. Lenders need reassurance that suppliers can uphold standards while remaining flexible to adapt to market volatility.

Jamie Palmer, Head of Group Operations

Anglia UK was established in 1997 and provides innovative and compliant services to the UK Motor Finance Industry. Today, Anglia has a portfolio of specialist services for finance providers including asset auditing and inspection, asset recovery solutions, credit management and vehicle transportation.