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Motor dealers offered new lending package for credit impaired customers

Inisium by The Funding Corporation Motor

Inisium powered by The Funding Corporation Motor

Experienced motor finance lender The Funding Corporation (TFC) has announced the launch of Inisium – a new alternative finance package intended to help motor dealers expand their customer base.

The company says that Inisium has been structured specifically for credit-challenged buyers, including those whose higher incomes don’t limit their choice solely to budget vehicles.

It will, believes TFC, meet an important and growing need for finance which recognises that many customers with a poor credit history have now overcome their previous financial difficulties.

TFC says that Inisium marks a fresh commitment by the firm to partnering with independent motor retailers, dealer groups, car supermarkets and finance brokers.

Inisium is a Hire Purchase product which offers a level of borrowing consistent with the person’s ability to afford the repayments, plus terms of up to five years with no initial deposit.

According to TFC Managing Director David Challinor, the facility will benefit all borrowers:

David Challinor

David Challinor, Managing Director of The Funding Corporation

“A decade or so ago, mainstream lenders tended to overlook minor credit blemishes – but since the credit crunch, it’s been almost a case of one strike, and you’re out,” he said.

“This leaves a large number of people with comfortable earnings and secure employment whose purchasing power is capped by restrictions on how much they can borrow.

Inisium will enable car retailers to promote themselves to a much wider market,” said Mr Challinor.

The facility will be available with full on-line management, and same-day advance and commission payments.

TFC was formed in 2001 and was nominated once again this year for the “Alternative Lender of the Year” accolade from Credit Today magazine – a title it won outright in 2011.

Mr Challinor says TFC is keen to develop a close partnership with dealers which offer Inisium, and to become an invaluable ally in their business objectives.

“The retail motor industry is constantly changing, and Inisium will similarly evolve as a lending product to help our partners improve their bottom line, whilst ensuring that their customers get a product that suits their needs and circumstances” added Mr Challinor.

National honours beckon for Chester finance firm.

Credit Today Awards Finalist logo 2014 Two glittering prizes are in prospect for staff and bosses at a Chester-based finance group which has reached the final stages of a national awards scheme.

The Funding Corporation has been shortlisted in two major categories of the Credit Today Awards, the UK finance industry’s most prestigious accolades.

Judges decided that the company’s high standing justified it being put forward for both the “Treating Customers Fairly” award, and the title of “Car Finance Provider of the Year”.

Now everyone at the Chester Business Park company must keep their fingers crossed until 8th May when the winners will be announced at London’s Grosvenor House.

The Funding Corporation will share its place at the sparkling awards ceremony with many of Britain’s biggest financial names including Barclays, Lloyds, RBS and Bank of America.

In order to reach the finals, The Funding Corporation had to submit its policies and practices for scrutiny by a panel of leading independent judges from the finance sector.

They examined how well the company is safeguarding the interests of customers, and the ways in which staff ensure that borrowers are treated with fairness and integrity.

Company Managing Director David Challinor said the firm was delighted to be judged on its track record, and that its 150-plus staff deserved a big share of the credit for the judges’ decision:David Challinor

“Although we are a finance business, we never lose sight of the fact that our success depends on customers receiving the highest standards of personal care and service,” he said.

“The delivery of this is largely in the hands of our staff, and it is their professionalism and helpful attitude which helps to ensure that we are not seen just as a faceless institution.

“We all feel honoured that a relatively small Chester company has earned its place alongside so many giants of the financial industry in the finals of these awards.

The Credit Today Awards, now in their fourteenth year, are organised by Credit Today magazine with sponsorship from major finance industry bodies and organisations.

No duvet days for Chester staff on volunteer scheme

Scores of staff at a Chester finance company decided to take a day off in the run-to Christmas this year, even though they were perfectly well and hadn’t booked any holiday.

But instead of a reprimand, bosses at The Funding Corporation issued each with a “thank you” – and the assurance that they wouldn’t be losing a penny in pay.

For rather than snuggling under the duvet, the staff were turning up for a hard day’s work helping a good cause in the Chester area.

They were taking part in the company’s recently launched Employee Volunteer Programme which allows them to take one day off each year on full pay to assist local caring organisations.

Chester’s Hospice of the Good Shepherd, which is The Funding Corporation’s adopted local charity for 2012, was the beneficiary of the volunteers’ work.

Santa's Grotto Volunteering DayDuties included helping prepare for the hospice’s festive fare at Inglewood Manor Hotel in Chester, and packing gift bags for its successful “Santa Dash” through Chester in December.

Other staff even found themselves taking on the role of Santa’s little helpers when they played a part in the Christmas Grotto at Gordale Garden Centre in Burton which raised money for the hospice.

Since launching the scheme in summer, more than 250 hours of volunteer time have been notched up by members of The Funding Corporation, based on ChesterBusinessPark.

Inspiration for the helping hands project came from the company’s charity committee, and the idea won full backing from staff and management.

Committee head Jane Whittle, the company’s Marketing Manager, said that the last couple of months had fully demonstrated the value of the programme:

“The lead up to Christmas always finds charities put under extra pressure as they coincide many of their fundraising events with this traditional time of giving,” she said.

“The good causes benefit from this scheme, but our staff say that they also get a lot from the experience of taking on a new challenge in the heart of the local community,” added Jane.

The Funding Corporation employs 195-plus staff, and volunteers stepping forward have come from all parts of the company.

Roll up… firm’s offices transform to festive market

Xmas Shopping Day FundraiserStaff at a Chester finance firm swapped spreadsheets for shopping bags last Friday (02 Dec) when a traditional Christmas market arrived in their offices.

An inspiration of the charity committee at The Funding Corporation, the market was a chance to stock up on festive treats and gifts while raising money for good causes.

Stalls from local traders, offering everything from Christmas cards and decorations to secret recipe reindeer food for children, reported a roaring trade from the firm’s 120-plus head office employees.

Stallholders had agreed to donate a proportion of their takings, and by the time the last box of hand-made chocolates was wrapped, the company had raised more than £250 for its chosen charities.

This was then doubled up by the business to provide a £530.00 boost for Chester’s Hospice of the Good Shepherd, and the national motor industry charity BEN.

“There was a great atmosphere during the day” said company Marketing Manager Jane Whittle, chair of the charity committee.

“It was win-win all round as local traders were being supported, two important charities benefitted, and staff got to beat the crowds and avoid the last minute rush for stocking fillers,” she added.

Employees of the company, based on ChesterBusinessPark, earlier this year helped the firm win a top platinum award from the Institute of Fundraising for their commitment to payroll giving.

Car group’s “rate us” invitation attracts 1,000 verdicts

A national used car group which opens its website for customers to comment on their buying experiences has this month (October) posted its one thousandth review.

The four-figure milestone was reached just over one year after ACF Car Finance started giving buyers a platform to air their views, and to grade the company with one to five stars.

Following its launch, the website drew praise from various industry bodies, including the Finance and Leasing Association which commended its “openness and honesty”.

Comments from customers appear against the showroom from which they bought their car, giving other prospective buyers in that region a candid appraisal of the quality of service on offer.

Reviews, say the company, are never censored for negative feedback. Only issues undergoing resolution, and comments in possible breach of data protection laws, are disallowed.

If neither of these restrictions apply, says ACF Car Finance, customers are at liberty to comment on any aspect of their experience, including the service they received and the vehicle itself.

Norman Beaumont, Sales and Marketing Director of ACF Car Finance, says that because reviews are only accepted from bona fide customers, their credibility is not in doubt:

Norman Beaumont“In contrast to some consumer review websites, such as those in the hotel industry, we can provide an absolute assurance about the provenance of the comments that are published.

“They are exclusively from people who have been through the entire buying process, and who are now driving around in the cars which we supplied.

“In other words, these reviews are not skewed by praise or criticism from people with other agendas, but are simply what genuine customers feel about the company,” said Mr Beaumont.

ACF Car Finance, which has a national network of used car showrooms, is the retail subsidiary of non-prime lender The Funding Corporation which was established just over ten years ago.

Virtually all cars supplied by ACF Car Finance are funded by loans from its parent, and arranged on behalf of people whose credit status excludes them from bank borrowing.

“Customer review platforms such as this, provided by the direct supplier of the goods and services, are extremely rare in the used vehicle motor sector,” said Mr Beaumont.

“The fact that so many buyers are clearly keen to comment, and that our review pages are among the most visited on the website, shows the value of letting people have their say,” he added.

Beating ID fraud wins credit for Chester finance firm

A Chester company is home to one of Britain’s three most accomplished risk management teams, a major finance conference in London heard this week.

The Funding Corporation was revealed at the annual summit for credit professionals as having won a top place in this year’s Credit Excellence Awards.

The awards, announced at the conference, saw the Chester Business Park company excel in the category which highlights firms best able to assess credit risk and guard against fraud.

Competitors for accolades in the contest ranged from public sector service group Capita to leading financial institutions and major commercial names such as Volkswagen.

The awards were made at the charity fundraising gala night following the conference when the competition judges – all senior finance figures – announced their verdicts.

The Funding Corporation’s place among the top three UK firms in its category was agreed after an independent analysis of how the company takes steps to guard against business threats.

They include a sophisticated system of ensuring that people given loans for car purchases – its core business – are well positioned to afford repayments, despite many having a poor credit history.

Judges looked too at the detailed measures taken by The Funding Corporation to protect itself against fraudulent loan applicants and identity thieves.

The company uses a combination of advanced technology, such as airport-style scanners to verify ID documents, and the skills of specially trained anti-fraud staff based at Chester.

Last year, the company reported, it successfully identified almost 500 cases of suspected fraud, representing around £3.2 million of bogus loan applications.

Company Managing Director David Challinor, who was invited to London for the event, said he was delighted to see his management team commended in the Credit Excellence Awards.

However, he added, the honour was in reality a company-wide achievement:

“All staff receive training from our anti-fraud personnel, and it is their vigilance which often results in our identifying people trying to take out loans they have no intention of repaying.

“Every finance company is exposed to risk at one level or another, but when we first set out in business ten years ago, incidences of crimes such as ID theft were comparatively low.

“However, our management team has been quick to develop new anti-risk policies and to harness technologies which protect our business and the jobs it sustains.

“Receiving this national recognition is a tribute to their professionalism,” added Mr Challinor.

Why finance firm’s new quality tool isn’t just talk

Millions of words of conversation are now being saved for analysis and assessment every week by motor finance group The Funding Corporation (TFC). 

It follows the installation of new recording technology said to be the most advanced of its type, and which provides the company with much more than just a means of remaining compliant.

The system allows TFC to drill down into types, times and locations of telephone conversation, and to monitor, compare and evaluate the way in which staff and customers interact.

The voice audit trail encompasses both the company’s headquarters in Chester, and the nationally-based used car showrooms of TFC’s motor retail division ACF Car Finance.

As well as identifying actions which could improve customer service, the analysis of speech content  also enables the firm to pinpoint newly evolving topics and concerns among buyers.

In the wake of the system’s installation, TFC has now established a new Quality and Evaluation Unit in Chester which is tasked with management and operation of its functions.

The team recruited for the unit will monitor and quality-assess customer-orientated calls made both from and to TFC’s central office, and its regional dealerships.

Supplied by Business Systems UK, the technology is made by US specialists Verint which provides sophisticated recording technology to government and law enforcement agencies worldwide.

According to Lorna Rossi, Head of New Business at ACF Car Finance, the system provides a range of performance tools beyond the simple ability to record and archive conversations:

“The web-based structure of the technology means that we can quality manage, assess and score the structures of calls being made, and to make comparisons across the company,” said Ms Rossi.

“For that reason, the system is as much a function of improving business intelligence as it is a means of verifying conversations and ensuring that individuals are adhering to compliance requirements.

“The technology represents a considerable investment by TFC, but it is providing a resource for information gathering which would be hard to achieve by any other means,” she added.

Trade-in time – but car buyers put on status alert

Deferred decisions by motorists to swap their car for a newer model could go into reverse next year, suggests UK finance provider The Funding Corporation (TFC).

The company, which specialises in non-prime loans for private car buyers, says predictions that income levels will rise in 2013 could trigger an increase in used car sales. 

However, it warns, many customers may find that the lending landscape has changed drastically since they last took out car finance – and that their loan application will be declined.

TFC says its customer analysis shows that almost all banks and other mainstream lenders now apply much tighter lending criteria than they did just a few years ago.

Even just minor blemishes on a credit file, such as a few missed credit card or mobile phone payments, can now add up to the rejection of a loan request, it says.

The group, a provider of finance for people with impaired credit records, issued its warning after the publication of reports that UK households will see a rise in real income levels next year.

They included a prediction by the Centre for Economics and Business Research that incomes are set to increase by up to 1.5% in 2013 – the first rise since the onset of the financial crisis.

According to the economic body, it will be middle and low-income families which benefit the most.

“It is precisely these groups which have been holding onto their cars for longer, rather than committing to more finance in uncertain times,” said Richard Cox, TFC’s Head of Motor Operations.

“Whilst the predicted income rise isn’t huge, it may well be enough to boost consumer confidence and drive more prospective buyers onto the car forecourts.

“They might be advised, however, to take the precaution of ascertaining their loan status in advance, especially if they believe their credit record may have altered in recent times.

“Even a high salary won’t be any defence against a damaged credit status,” said Richard.

Many TFC customers refused by banks, he added, show no evidence of having chronic repayment problems, and are often the victims of past lapses which have since been remedied.

“Those who have been exercising prudence by postponing a decision to change their car may now feel their confidence bolstered by these latest income forecasts,” commented Richard.

“This could provide a very welcome lift for the motor industry as a whole, and we would just suggest that buyers don’t regard one declined loan application as a commentary on all lenders,” he added.

Vehicles funded by TFC are supplied by the group’s retail company ACF Car Finance which has branches throughout the country (see www.ACFCarFinance.co.uk)

Payroll supervisor Nigel takes short cut to degree success

Nigel PriceA Chester payroll supervisor has now joined the elite of his profession after being awarded a Foundation Degree in Payroll Management.

But for Nigel Price of motor finance group The Funding Corporation, the honour has come just two years after he enrolled on the course – in contrast to the three years taken by most students.

Nigel, aged 47, was able to short-circuit the normal time required to achieve the degree by demonstrating to the exam body the breadth of his existing expertise.

Based at the ChesterBusinessPark headquarters of The Funding Corporation, Nigel manages the payment of salaries to the firm’s 180-plus employees, and administers the firm’s payroll giving scheme which recently won a top platinum award from the Institute of Fundraising.

He first came to the company eight years ago from a previous payroll management role in Deeside.

The specialist degree Nigel has been awarded from the University of Worcester is run by the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals of which he is a member.

The £3,500-plus cost of the course was sponsored by The Funding Corporation, parent company to national car retailer ACF Car Finance, as part of the company’s programme of continuous learning which is available to all group employees.

It involved Nigel, who lives near Wrexham, in a combination of intensive home study and attending specialist lectures laid on for foundation degree students in Birmingham.

Olympic torch fires charity celebrations at Chester firm

Staff at The Funding Corporation in Chester who missed out on the Olympic torch relay were able to celebrate that moment in history recently.

Official Chester Olympic Torchbearer Ian Powell paid a visit to the company to spark off its annual summer social day – and to help raise funds for a local hospice appeal.

Ian, 26, was born with spina bifida and has always been confined to a wheelchair. But that didn’t prevent him from playing a star role when the torch came to Chester at the end of May.

Since then, Ian has given up many hours of his time to visit local schools and firms with the torch to help them raise money for their chosen good causes.

TFC CharityCommittee with Olympic TorchAt The Funding Corporation, Ian, who lives in Blacon, posed for pictures with individual members of the company’s 180-plus staff in return for a charity donation.

The collection was made on behalf of the Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Backford, Chester, for which the company is raising cash through a variety of different charity initiatives this year.

Ian’s visit to The Funding Corporation’s headquarters on ChesterBusinessPark coincided with its annual day of summer celebrations.

It concluded with a fun evening at the city’s Pitcher and Piano bar where a raffle of over £1000-worth of donated prizes helped to swell the charity coffers even further.

On the day, £530 was raised for the Hospice of the Good Shepherd by the company’s staff, and this will be matched by the company to total £1,060.

The Funding Corporation’s Managing Director David Challinor offered a special thank-you to Ian for his support of the event, and for the generous giving of his time and energies.

Not that Ian is any stranger to charity work. Last year, he raised £1,500 by organising a quiz for local disability support centre Dial House, where he used to work as an administrative officer.

Every week for the past three years, he has also coached and supported the junior section of his local wheelchair basketball team.

In recent months Ian has abseiled down a viaduct, done a parachute jump, visited the USA alone, moved into his own home and come second in a stand-up comedy competition at the Laugh Inn.