Asset Finance Connect Summer Conference 2023

Digging deeper into consumer duty, consumer credit review, vendor ecosystems and the UK’s first asset finance B-Corp company

This June’s conference will dig deeper into current economic, regulatory, geopolitical, social and technological challenges to identify tomorrow’s opportunities to increase industry profits, and to deliver more value to customers, whilst at the same time investigating ways to reduce your overall carbon footprint.

The outlook since our last conference in December, held in the depths of winter, seems at last to be becoming less uncertain. The supply of new cars is beginning to increase, the economic outlook (for now) is becoming more optimistic and the global focus on sustainability continues to strengthen creating new opportunities for lenders to fund green assets and to accelerate business and consumers’ progress along the road to net zero.

The challenge for AFC members, as we anticipate spring, is to position ourselves for the future, so we are ready to take our share of new growth and economic renewal.

At a time of rapid change its never been so important for industry leaders to stay informed, to participate in the industry’s marketplace of ideas and to connect with industry peers to spark new ideas that will deliver growth.

Economic change

Economic uncertainty has traditionally been good for asset backed finance providers – a time to deliver more value to customers who feel buffeted by higher, fluctuating and unpredictable interest rates, and reduced lending appetite from mainstream and unsecured lenders.

To help our members re-check the economic pulse, 6 months on, we will again ask a chief economist from one of the world’s leading banks to provide their view on the outlook. Last time we heard from Seb Burnside, chief economist at NatWest. This time round we will hear the views of another chief economist, from a different bank. More details soon! We’ll also take another look at how supply chains are faring – not just for the auto industry, but across the broader range of asset classes managed by our members.

Regulation and legal change

Consumer duty is on the minds of many member organisations, and not just those who are directly regulated by the FCA. Lenders who focus on corporates tell us they want more clarity on how consumer duty may change their businesses. We will ask our legal partners Shoosmiths to help provide it.

One organisation which is right on the nail, researching the implications of regulatory change, is the FLA. Their new and major research project seeks to understand and communicate a vision for the future of consumer credit. They’re investigating how consumers perceive and use credit, how consumers choose and engage with credit, and what this means for the future of consumer credit. Stephen Haddrill, DG of the FLA will join the conference to update delegates on their progress and to provide an early view of their ongoing research results.

On the topic of consumer duty (which is the phrase that is dominating coverage on our asset finance international website right now) we’ll also be running our own separate workshops for compliance officers from AFC’s corporate members who can meet with each other in a dedicated stream of sessions in the conference where they can safely share ideas and experiences as they manage the changes they need to make in their organisations to align with the new regulation.

But the really big topic for the conference is to consider the broader opportunities which are likely to emerge from the review of consumer credit. What are the emerging finance products and services which can unlock growth in an industry which is no longer constrained by 1970s best regulatory practice?

Vendor ecosystems, vendor partnerships

In our last conference we introduced the idea of ecosystems and partnerships. This conference we aim to dig deeper – to take a look at some of the leaders in the development of ecosystem partnerships. We will consider products like those offered by Octopus Energy who deliver what they describe as a whole EV package for customers including car, energy and charger. Behind this joined up offer to customers are partnerships with finance organisations which leverage value both for businesses and for their employees through salary sacrifice schemes and potentially subscriptions. We will be asking our vendor partners to share the emerging opportunities they see to create partnerships that deliver value to our customers.

Asset Finance brokers and lenders

In our asset finance community we will continue to monitor the changes taking place in the broker lender channel. This partnership has come under strain recently with an impassioned debate over how to deal with issues like commission disclosure. These difficulties are not likely to disappear any time soon – and we expect more news on this topic shortly. Right now some brokers are also concerned that they are at the bad end of a ten year cycle where lenders rationalise their broker partners focussing on volume rather than quality. The current review of appointed representatives is further adding to brokers’ concerns.

But the positive news is there for those who work to find it. Asset Finance Connect have been talking with a range of lenders including Cambridge and Counties Bank, Time Finance and Haydock Finance. Time Finance research identified the appetite for brokers to engage with lenders and customers to ensure a good outcome for borrowers in default. Haydock’s Andy Taylor talked engagingly about the value of brokers who deliver quality over quantity. Out of these organisations we hope a new model for the broker of the future will emerge. We will dig into the opportunities in our asset finance stream.

The UK’s first B-corp asset finance company and the battle for talent

After the last conference, Leasing Foundation’s Nathan Mollett asked AFC to develop a dedicated stream of content for their next gen network. We’re happy to help out. Right now the plans are under development but we hope to hear from the UK’s first B-corp asset finance company about their certification journey and we will be inviting a group of CEO’s to answer questions from attendees about their career development in the AFC version of speed dating. More information about this to follow!