In April 2017, The FCA announced that they were planning to review the motor finance sector. They wanted to understand the use of motor finance products. They also wanted to look at the sales processes employed by firms and whether the products could cause the consumer any harm when buying a car on finance.
To complete this exercise, the FCA had a series of questions that they wanted to investigate within the industry. These questions were;
• Are firms taking the right steps to ensure that they lend responsibly, in particular by appropriately assessing whether potential customers can afford the product in question?
• Are there conflicts of interest arising from commission arrangements between lenders and dealers and, if so, are these appropriately managed to avoid harm to consumers?
• Is the information provided to potential customers by firms sufficiently clear and transparent, so that they can understand the risks involved and make informed decisions?
• Are firms managing the risk that asset valuations could fall and ensuring that they are adequately pricing risk?
In March 2018 the FCA released an update on their progress.
They advised that Some financial Products in the motor finance sector such as personal contract purchase (PCP, a form of hire-purchase with lower monthly instalments and a final balloon payment linked to the residual value of the vehicle), may not be fully explained to the consumers by some of the smaller lenders, specifically the prudential risks from a potential severe fall in used car values.
However, the FCA identified that the most significant issue surrounding the motor finance industry appeared to be the following;
• Whether lenders are adequately managing the risks around commission arrangements, and whether commission structures have led to higher finance costs for customers because of the incentives they create for brokers.
• Whether customers are being given the right kind of information, at the correct times, to enable them to make informed decisions, and whether firms are complying with relevant regulatory requirements.
• Whether firms are accurately assessing whether customers can afford to repay the credit, particularly when lending to higher-risk consumers.
All the above can be related to the commission rates that the Broker will receive from the lender for arranging the loan. The issues in particular being:
Has the Broker varied the interest rate to receive a higher commission?
Has the Broker informed the consumer that and what amount of commission they will be receiving from the sale of the product?
Moreover; if the Broker has amended the interest rate to receive commission has the lender thoroughly assessed the consumer’s affordability of the product?
There have been two different commission rate structures that the FCA have identified to have the most risk to consumers, and these are Increasing DiC and Reducing DiC. DiC stands for Difference in Charges.
Increasing DiC, also known as ‘Interest Rate Upward Adjustment’ is where Brokers get paid a fee, which correlates to the interest rate payable by the customer.
The contract between the lender and the Broker sets a minimum interest rate, and the fee is a proportion of the difference in interest charges between the actual interest rate and the minimum interest rate.
– Reducing DiC, also known as ‘Interest Rate Downward Adjustment’. This product is similar to Increasing DiC, except that the contract between the lender and the Broker sets a maximum interest rate.
Both of these products allow the Broker to set the interest rate that’s applied to the consumer’s loan within pre-set parameters.
This flexibility and opportunity for the Broker are where there is a considerable risk of product mis-selling, and consumers may be entitled to recover compensation for the commission rates.
The full update released by the FCA can be found here
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go to our motor finance claim page