Yesterday’s news
tomorrow

Given the tendency of the national
newspapers to ignore the car finance industry unless there is a
potential ‘rip-off’ issue to wade into, one would expect only the
biggest news stories to be reported in print.

Nevertheless, in the Daily
Mirror
on 16 November, a story appeared urging used car buyers
that they faced “a growing threat of finance fraud that could leave
them at risk of losing their cash and their car”, but which
provided no data or evidence to support the claim.

Seeing HPI mentioned in the
article, our reporter traced the story back to the data provider to
see what had sparked the story – turns out the piece had been based
on a press release to mark Car Crime Awareness week… back in
May.

More baffling, the HPI release had
been made in support of an FLA release discussing fraud statistics
for the first three months of the year.

Surely the Mirror could
have found something more pressing to report on than third-hand
news from six months ago?

 

Mexican
stand-off

Picture of a sombreroNothing concrete enough to report at the front of the
magazine, but interesting to note the level of animated discussion
on debt and receivables trading at recent networking events.

One source described the UK motor
finance industry as being in a “Mexican stand-off” over loan-backed
securities trading, adding that “once one deal goes through, there
could be a real rush on”.

All the more reason to keep one’s
eye on FirstRand, then.

Debt buyers were out in force too,
with one particularly thirsty fund looking for portfolios of
delinquent subprime debt that had been largely restructured to
allow for smaller payments over longer periods of time.

Hard to believe there isn’t still a
lot of that floating around – could some of it soon find a new
home?

 

Antisocial
network

There seem to have been many
articles and reports written on the use of social networking in the
financial services sector – but could the biteback be
beginning?

A woman from Tampa, Florida is
apparently hoping to make legal history by taking a US debt
collection firm to court to stop them using Facebook to chase up
car finance repayments.

She claims the company, as well as
telephoning her up to 20 times a day, contacted her sister and
other relatives via Facebook in order to get her to pay up.

Now she is trying to set a
precedent for the courts to keep debt collectors off social sites,
with her lawyer describing the facebook posts as starting “a domino
effect of panic and embarrassment”.

All very well, but did she pay? If
so, then it looks horribly like the collector’s tactics worked
quite well.

 

Timing is
everything

Picture of an Irish flag button badgeA touch of
irony here – as Ireland goes to Europe for the inevitable bailout
and its government publishes the most brutal budget in the nation’s
history, luxury car firm BMW announces it will set up shop with its
financial services arm in the Republic.

Previously, finance for BMW and
Mini at the group’s 12 Irish dealerships had been handled by
Permanent TSB, but this set up came to an end earlier this
year.

To be fair, the move actually makes
a great deal of sense – with so many lenders having withdrawn from
the Irish car market, potential BMW buyers will be crying out for a
source of finance.

And with BMW’s track record in
handling multi-make finance, there’s no reason why the lender
couldn’t branch out and take a slice of the non-BMW market too.

 

The winner
is…

And speaking of BMW multi-make
finance…

Alphera, the group’s “brand
agnostic” retail finance arm, just announced a 230% increase in new
contracts in 2010 over 2009, and a network of dealer and broker
partners grown by over 150% since 2008.

The news came at the company’s
fourth annual Partner Forum, held at Chester in late November, and
was followed by a distribution of awards from the funder for its
most valuable partners.

The Dealer Partner of the Year
Award went to Westover Group, while Alphera’s 2010 Broker Partner
of the Year was named as DSG Financial Services. James Long of
Alphera was named as the company’s Business Development Manager of
the Year.

 

It’s all downhill from
here

It seemed like a good idea to start
having a ‘Car of the month’ feature here on the back page, but it
was perhaps a poor decision to start in a month where most of the
UK’s roads were covered in compacted grey snow.

As such, this month’s honour will
be given to a sledge. A sledge made by Porsche.

You might not believe that what
looks like the unloved child of an office chair and a stepladder
could be worth £330. Nevertheless, that is what this aluminium
beauty will set you back if you truly want to be the envy of your
peers (at least in terms in prestige sliding objects.)

Still, according to Porsche’s UK
website, it is “ready for use within seconds”, “UV-resistant” and
“tested by German safety standards agency”.

Buy one and pretend it’s for the kids.

Picture of a Porsche sledge