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Debating the future of auto finance

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9th May 2023

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Jerry Young



To say that the UK’s auto finance sector provides a platform for hot debate and intricate analysis is perhaps one of the biggest understatements possible to make as we move into the second quarter of 2023.

Indeed, the auto finance sector has borne witness to some mammoth changes over recent years, driven largely by digital innovations and changes in the way that people purchase a new vehicle. All the evidence available indicates there has been a degree of volatility permeating through multiple aspects of the supply chain, resulting in significant changes to how the entire sector is expected to operate in the coming years.

Furthermore, when you consider that one of the definitions of “revolution” is “a big change or improvement in the way that something works” then it is no exaggeration to say that the auto finance sector is facing its own revolution soon.

The current backdrop

The latest statistics from the Finance & Leasing Association show that even after the end of the Covid lockdowns, volatility continues within the sector. They show that consumer car finance new business volumes fell in January 2023 by 3% compared with the same month in 2022. The corresponding value of new business fell by 5% over the same period.

In the twelve months to January 2023, new business grew 5% by value and held steady by volume, compared with the same period in 2022.

The consumer new car finance market reported a fall in new business of 6% by value and 10% by volume in January compared with the same month in 2022. In the twelve months to January 2023, new business volumes in this market also decreased by 10% compared with the same period in 2022.

These figures are not insignificant. What is the story behind them?

Despite emerging from the devastating Covid lockdown, which saw showrooms closed and dealerships deserted, and despite huge inroads being made to overturn the recent shortage of semiconductor computer chips, why does the sector continue to face significant ups and downs in its fortunes, even over the relatively short space of just one year?

Introducing the ieDigital auto finance debate

As one of the main providers of the technology that powers the online customer service channels of many of the UK’s main auto finance providers, ieDigital is at the forefront of the current trends and developments that the sector is facing. Indeed, it was felt that there is so much going on that the time is right to assemble some of the leading figures within the industry to sit down and analyse the main talking points of the moment.

The result is a series of four informative discussion videos, all chaired by Alejandro Gonzalez, the Editor of Motor Finance Online. The videos feature Jerry Young, the CEO of ieDigital, one of the portfolio companies of Parabellum Investments which is led by Founder and CEO, Rami Cassis; Tom Senior, Director of Classic, Vintage & Sports Car Finance at Cambridge & Counties Bank and Simon Oldfield, a seasoned industry professional, with over 30 years’ experience in the UK automotive sector, including board-level roles at Mercedes-Benz, Vauxhall and BMW.

A link to view the first video, which discusses how the move towards the agency model is changing how people acquire a vehicle, can be found here and below.

Motor Finance Online will be sharing three more videos at regular intervals over the coming weeks. These include the impact of EV’s on brand choice & brand personality, and a discussion on who owns the end consumer and the customer data.

The common factor that comes out loud and clear from the points discussed is that the relationship between customer and motor finance provider continues to change, almost beyond recognition, and the motor sector must always have an eye on the future.

The recent fluctuations in new car sales figures prove that it is just as important to ensure long-term security as it is to weather the economic issues of the moment. That is why the motor finance sector is continually innovating. Such a characteristic should be applauded – it demonstrates an ability to adapt to challenging market pressures.

One thing is for sure – based on the evidence we can see all around us, disruption in the sector will continue for a long time to come. These changes will impact the way we all work in the future, and we look forward to sharing our insights with you during our discussions.

The move towards an agency model

The first video contains an analysis of how a move towards the agency model is changing how the way people acquire a vehicle. It incorporates a discussion on how the relationship between the manufacturer and the dealer has changed, together with an overview of the relationship between availability and choice.

Motor Finance Online will be sharing the remaining three videos at regular intervals over the coming weeks.

The second video will discuss how electric vehicles will impact brand choice, brand personality and brand loyalty in the market. The discussion incorporates how EV’s may change our relationship with the brand, and what factors will influence the cost of EV’s compared to internal combustion engine cars.

Video number three examines how digital engagement is transforming the ownership of end consumers and their data and looks at the question of whether manufacturers ultimately own the end customer.

The fourth and final video in the series analyses how the digital journey can take account of vulnerable customers, and How the digital experience can improve the information presented to consumers.

We hope you agree that these are all critically important topics for the future of the auto finance sector, and we hope that you find the discussions useful.


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