Although we tend to claim each New Year
is a pivotal one, I truly feel 2010 is very much more pivotal than
any previous year. Entering 2009 was definitely interesting. There
was some sense of foreboding. As a broker we knew funding lines
were going to be an issue but felt demand was still going to be
good. We were pretty accurate on both counts.

Our funders continued to have liquidity issues,
resulting in a very transitional year for our key relationships. On
the other hand, business was still brisk and netted us a record
year on all indicators, leaving us with a strong business in a
fragile industry.

Taking charge

The next year is pivotal because it could go either
way, and we in the industry have a lot of say in how well things
fall out.

The simplest thing we can do to create positivity
is to support each other much more effectively than we have in 2008
and 2009.

Naturally we have, whether wittingly or not, all
pulled in our horns in one way or another, and while that protects
our individual organisations it often negatively affects the
partners or customers we rely upon.

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This year could be the time to open up again and
look to really work with partners, and find ways to bring a
positive feel back into the industry. Perhaps even a bit of
altruism is called for to encourage growth.

We recently surveyed our dealer base and found some
revealing answers about we need to do to help in 2010. The dealer
community deserves a lot of credit for surviving in 2009 despite
fear of mass collapse: resilience and the help of the scrappage
scheme ensured casualties were at a minimum.

We need to ensure full support is forthcoming from
the finance industry to keep 2010 profitable for them.

Ultimately our industry exists to aid the sale of
cars for our dealers. So we need to ensure we are doing that and
not getting in the way by harbouring fear and negativity.

So let’s work together and make it happen in 2010.
Do whatever is in your power to improve the industry. Work with the
brokers, comfort and reassure the dealers, improve your systems,
invest in your personnel, reprice your packages, accept more
proposals, lobby your parent for funding or just act constructively
and optimistically.

If we want a positive 2010 then we have to
contribute to it and try to take some control, and not wait for
outside circumstances to dictate the landscape.

Richard Hoggart

The author is director of DSG Financial
Services