Close Brothers Motor Finance has appointed former Barclays Corporate banker Rebecca McNeil to lead the motor lender. Brian Cantwell finds out more about her background, her vision for the new role, and her early plans in the business.

Close Brothers Motor Finance has appointed a chief executive officer, following James Broadhead’s decision to retire.

Rebecca McNeil will lead the team at Close Brothers Motor Finance, and will join the executive committee for Close Brothers’ banking division.

McNeil was most recently chief operating officer for Barclays Business. Prior to this she was managing director of lending for Barclays Corporate Banking, providing financial products and services to support companies looking to grow and develop their businesses – from startups and small businesses through to global corporates.

McNeil joined Barclays from GE Capital, where she worked for five years in both business development and asset management. McNeil has also been chair of UK Finance’s corporate committee, and has been heavily involved with the government’s Scale Up Task Force and the Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Committee.

The lender said her wealth of experience working with small businesses and lending will help to ensure that Close Brothers Motor Finance continues to develop its dealer-led proposition, helping dealers – many of which are small businesses – to grow their bottom lines using point-of-sale finance.

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As chief executive, the lender said McNeil will be leading the business at a time when its dealers are optimistic, but navigating economic uncertainty, changing market conditions, and the rising use of technology.

McNeil will spend her first months at Close Brothers Motor Finance visiting many of the firm’s regional offices as part of its annual Motor Finance roadshows. McNeil explains that her priority is getting to know the business’s people, and understanding the business and the industry.

“Really at the moment it’s about getting to know the business and getting out and about,” she says.
“I think for about eight or ten weeks I will be travelling all over the UK, going out to see our branches. We have about 14 locations in the UK, the Channel Islands and Ireland. There’s a series of roadshows going ahead so I’m going to get out and meet the people who work in those branches, and I’m going to spend some time there with our dealers as well,” McNeil tells Motor Finance.

“I want to make sure that we are as efficient as possible and we provide the best customer service that we can, which will be a priority. I know that the team are already doing a great job at that,” McNeil continues.

“Latterly, as chief operating officer for Barclays Business, the customer experience field was my world, so I’ve spent a lot of time working on what customers want and need. Customer focus is very important at Close Brothers, and that is one of the reasons that I came to work here.

“I want to make sure that the relationship with the customer is seamless.”The change from corporate banking to consumer motor finance lending was driven by McNeil’s previous experience and interactions with Close Brothers.

“My experience over the years has been with them working in the banking industry. Getting to the interview process was a really strong value step and a really strong focus on the customer, which is what I feel very passionate about and is something that draws me to a business.”

She adds: “My experience of the leadership team is excellent. There’s a really strong team at the helm of Close Brothers overall, and coming into the business and meeting all of my direct reports within motor finance, I can see that I have got great teams around me as well.

“It’s evident to me that Close Brothers really invests in its businesses, which is refreshing. It really wants to ensure that every business gets the best equipment, systems and capabilities. The bank has a really good strategy and knows what it is about.”

The future motor finance market is not without its challenges, of which McNeil is aware. Obviously there are challenging conditions at the minute: there’s a lot of change and regulation, and lot of challenging economic circumstances.

“But it means that motor finance is an interesting business to work in, and I can see a lot of opportunity within the business as well,” McNeil notes.

“I’m coming in as a chief executive, with a strong team around me. It’s great to have a strong business to be in, but also to be in a market where there is opportunity.” <