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Motor Finance and Insurance – Change at Last!

This post was written by Neil Watkiss, Head of Consumer Credit

“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be…”

These words may not have been written about the motor finance industry, but I believe that they increasingly ring true in our marketplace.

This has not always been the case. When I entered the industry in the late 1980s, there was very little change in the industry, with lenders, brokers and dealers all continuing to operate in much the same way for years and years.

Lenders all competed against each other on commissions, all using variations of Difference in Charges (DIC) commissions. Moreover, most lenders ran Business Manager training programmes that stuck closely to the template defined by Lloyds Bowmaker. Brokers employed teams of field-based account managers and operated in a very similar way to lenders, while virtually all dealers employed what was basically the same showroom process. Meanwhile, sales staff tended to circulate between dealers on a regular basis. To use a phrase from Blackadder, the industry appeared “as likely to move as a Frenchman who lives next door to a brothel”.

Today, our industry is virtually unrecognizable. In many ways, change has been forced upon us by economic factors, take the “Credit Crunch” as an example. In addition, the changing regulatory environment has also stimulated fresh thinking. But, of course, the biggest impact has been made possible by the rapid pace of change in the development of technology.

I think that it is fair to say that our industry was initially, for the most part, “late adopters” of this changing technology.

At DealTrak, we are fortunate to have a unique perspective on the industry. We are proud to count many of the country’s leading brokers and dealers among our clients. We work with lenders, product providers and other key suppliers to our industry to continually improve their offering to our mutual clients on the DealTrak platform.

From our position, we can see not only what is currently changing in our marketplace, but also, through our dialogue with our integrators and partners, we have an insight into what is on the horizon.

From our vantage point, we see that virtually all lenders are developing exciting new products and enhanced functionality, all to the benefit of brokers, dealers and customers. We see brokers who have developed and refined their field-based, dealer-facing operations to an advanced level. We have also seen new types of broker, many supported by sophisticated lead generation activity. We work with dealers who have grasped the potential of the rapidly-changing technology to engage with customers in new and exciting ways.

Our industry is increasingly populated by forward-thinking, technologically-savvy and customer-focused people.

New lenders are appearing on an increasingly regular basis. Dealers are looking to develop brokerage operations. Brokers are starting to set up their own lending operations. The pace of change, previously glacial, is now accelerating rapidly.

The opening quotation is from Isaac Asimov, talking about science fiction. He continues:

“This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.”

And as I reflect on this exciting industry of ours, I cannot help but agree.

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