Fred Crawley reports from the
Leaseurope/Eurofinas conference in Madrid
Regulation is a hot topic at present for Europe’s automotive
finance and leasing industry, going by the subject of discussions
at this month’s Leaseurope and Eurofinas joint annual

Although the sun made a good showing over Madrid, a sober
atmosphere prevailed over the two-day event – entitled “Navigating
through change” – after rounds of frank opening speeches set the
predictably unhappy economic scene.

In the discussion panels dealing with car finance and leasing,
however, the potential threats associated with international
regulation loomed equally as large as the spectre of
Daniel Rebbi, senior VP of marketing at RCI Banque provided an
overview of challenges both economic and political in his
presentation. He said that rising oil prices and saturation of
Western European markets meant a “difficult context” for the car
industry, made worse by the current financial crisis and alleviated
only by the possibilities of developing markets in Russia, Brazil,
India, China, and central American markets.

The developing system of restrictions on urban travel,
demonstrated by London’s congestion charge, and the possibility of
further government regulation on CO2 emissions, were also noted as
issues of concern.

Vincent Rupied of the Corporate Vehicle Observatory, meanwhile,
took a heavyweight approach to examining how the industry should
approach upcoming regulation.

In his presentation “The latest regulatory challenges for fleet
leasing”, he outlined the importance for operating fleet lessors of
understanding the ongoing development of the ISAB/FABS lease
accounting project, as well as its potential implications on

Rupied presented the results of a survey in which 4,000 fleet
operators were asked how their operating lease activities might be
affected, should future regulations require assets on lease to be
booked and depreciated on lessees’ balance sheets. The answers
were, according to lessors, quite bleak.

Although there was room for much discussion as to the likely
effects and timetabling of the lease accounting project as it
stands, the clear recommendation was that European financiers and
Leaseurope remain united and vigilant in discussing any proposed
measures with the issuing authorities.

Code needed

Also adamant on the issue of a united European industry response
to regulation was BVRLA director general John Lewis. He showcased
the success of the BVRLA’s Code of Conduct system (and particularly
its system for handling complaints) in maintaining his
organisation’s integrity, and argued for the implementation of such
a code across the entirety of the European rental industry.

According to Lewis, a code would not only increase levels of
business throughout Europe by stimulating the adoption of
universally high standards, but would help the industry in
complying with the “increased burden of EC and local consumer

In support of this, he highlighted the proposals of several MEPs
and consumer organisations, which sought stricter regulations as a
result of the complaints of unsatisfied rental customers. These
complaints, claimed Lewis, would easily be handled by a BVRLA-style

Concluding, Lewis called for the implementation of this code
within two years, supported both by Leaseurope and by the EU
commission as well as the European Parliament.