Dealer lending panels are skewing towards “enablers” when it comes to motor finance providers as the used car sector emerges from lockdown, according to Startline Motor Finance.

Paul Burgess, chief executive of Startline, explained that vehicle retailers were looking for a high degree of flexibility and willingness from suppliers in relation to finance, allowing them to restart their businesses as quickly and effectively as possible.

“Dealers want all the boxes ticked that were required from motor finance before the coronavirus crisis – a high degree of compliance, a strategic product range, strong account management – but also now need processes that fit in with their new trading models.

“It is all about acting as an enabler to their business. Lending panel volumes are favouring those that can make decisions with the minimum of fuss and as quickly as possible, because dealers – many of whom are operating on reduced staffing – just have other things to do.”

Burgess explained that a large part of this process of enabling had been based on IT enhancements and that motor finance providers that have spent much of the lockdown period working with dealers on developing technology stood to benefit.

“We spotted this trend quite early on and looked at ways in which we could streamline our IT to fit in with the reserve-and-collect processes that we thought would become the norm.

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“The key for us was to introduce a universal e-agreement that works for our dealers, for compliance and for the new processes. Since its introduction in April, it has played an important part in us hitting the ground running for the new normal.”

Over the next few months, Burgess added, flexibility would potentially become even more important simply because it was very unclear how the market would develop.

“We’ve seen an unleashing of pent-up demand in June but, in all honesty, that is unlikely to continue and it is very possible that we will see a see-sawing used car market over the coming months before any sustained recovery.

“There will be a need to adapt to market conditions quickly and without fuss, and we believe that the motor finance providers that are able to meet that need will continue to be the suppliers with which dealers will prefer to work.”

Startline Motor Finance is headquartered in Glasgow with a sales presence throughout the whole of the UK.