Management Consultancies Association: breakfast briefing with Friends Provident CEO

We were treated to a fascinating insight into a very topical area, that of lending to the less credit worthy.

Provident Financial is one of the most successful financial services companies in one of the most difficult markets. It serves 2.6m people, providing consumer credit and credit cards to those who are not considered standard customers by other lenders. It became a public company in 1962. Peter Crook talked about the challenges facing this sector as public and regulatory scrutiny intensifies, the impact of technology and how the company engages with its customers.

Provident offers home credit loans, typically of a few hundred pounds, through a network of 8,000 local agents who call each week at 1.1 million customers’ homes in the UK and Ireland. Agents are primarily paid commission on what they collect, not what they lend, so it is in their interests not to lend more than customers can repay. The total amount repayable is fixed at the outset, so there are no extra charges whatsoever.

Particularly fascinating was the blend of the old and the new: the reps use bespoke apps on their own tablets. The result is great service and customer satisfaction with dramatically streamlined process with zero paperwork, reduced costs and maximum compliance.

Peter is a great ambassador for his company which seems very well placed to benefit from its competitors’ well publicised difficulties.

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