Developing the motor finance industry for the ‘new normal’
12 April 2021
By James Marquette, Senior Policy Adviser
Over the last year, we have been continuously reminded of how the pandemic will lead to a ‘new normal’, as the limitations of lockdown spurred on a marked increase in digital adoption. In November, Auto Trader reported that 61% of consumers thought buying a car online was appealing, and 41% would consider completing the whole process online.
The permanence of these trends remains to be seen, but several large motor finance retailers that provide fully-online car buying journeys have been making strong gains, with some reporting annual triple digit revenue growth.
Given this backdrop, we recently discussed with members the need to adapt our industry training tools to help ensure that consumers are provided with the best possible information, regardless of whether the sales process is face-to-face or online – and to also look afresh at the SAF materials to assess what may need to change as more consumers transition to electric vehicles.
The following points are now firmly on our radar:
- Changes to financial services legislation – We have made clear to Government the need for reform of the Consumer Credit Act so that the regulation underpinning motor finance and other consumer credit markets meets the expectations of our customers. If we succeed in securing improvements, the FLA’s SAF training initiative and learning channels will be central to communicating and embedding these changes.
- Expert advice for the emerging electric vehicle (EV) market – Many consumers are unfamiliar with how EVs compare to traditional combustion engines, so having inhouse expertise at showrooms or online to explain key points such as charging, range and total cost of ownership will be vitally important to aid the transition to EVs ahead of the 2030 target.
- Importance of digital skills – Increasingly, digital channels such as Teams, Zoom or other platforms will be used throughout the sale process, as they have been by many dealers operating in lockdown. Digital and customer service skills may become almost as important as topic specific knowledge.
- Centralisation of training – retailers and lenders have increasingly sought to centralise the training they use into one platform. This trend will no doubt continue as flexible ways of working evolve, and learners need to access training from various locations.
- Demand for real-time delivery of training and assessment – The UK workforce is currently made up of 50% millennials, and these ‘digital natives’ prefer new learning formats and approaches. The use of bite-sized sessions, gamification, competition with other staff members, real time training updates and continuous learning and assessment, suits millennials and younger generations.
The involvement of FLA members in shaping the SAF Initiative ensures that it remains responsive to changing needs, and relevant to the industry and customers it serves. We will be taking forward the points raised and will keep members updated.