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Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture

David Golder SimplyBiz

Well, no sooner had we packed away the Halloween pumpkins this year, then another orange-faced gentleman popped up to give most of the world a shock on an unprecedented scale.

President-elect Donald Trump is packing up and preparing to move into the Oval Office, and, with a history of rather – ahem – unpredictable behaviour, none of us know what the effect may be on policy and the economy on the other side of the pond.

So, you may think, what exactly does a new president over in America have to do with the British consumer credit market? While the answer, at the moment, is absolutely nothing, one of Mr Trump’s main platforms – and certainly something that appealed to many of our US peers – was the promise of ‘lighter-touch’ regulation in the financial services market. In fact, never one for understatement, Mr Trump commented in June: “Regulations have grown into a massive, job-killing industry — and the regulation industry is one business I will put an end to.” Now, while those of you who are currently struggling through the more detailed sections of your GABRIEL return may be nodding in temporary wholehearted agreement, I thought it was worth re-visiting why regulation around the consumer credit market was introduced and, while occasionally a pain in the neck, the benefits that this new style of regulation has afforded us.

Firstly, in this increasingly litigious culture, structured regulation provides you with a layer of protection against scurrilous claims. The necessity of sticking to a pre-agreed compliance framework, and documenting that you are doing so at every step, may cause you a bit of extra hassle at the time, but it genuinely is safeguarding the future of your business in the long term.  

Secondly, up until two years ago, while most firms operated in the best interests of customers, the consumer credit marketplace wasn’t short of unscrupulous operators who had no solid business model other than making as much profit as possible from those who, in many cases, could least afford it. The move to receiving regulatory oversight from the FCA has required wide-scale change to the processes and procedures of many, and has resulted in more documentation for most as well as an increase to the checks required to ensure that clients can afford to take on your products and services and that it’s appropriate that they’re making their own financial decisions.

However, this move has also cleared out a lot of the businesses that targeted very vulnerable people or created situations in which customers spiralled into insurmountable debt. Not only has this made huge steps towards improving the public perception of the consumer credit market, but has steadied the British economy, as a whole. Tighter regulation was put in place, at home and abroad, not to create jobs for compliance policy professionals, but on the back of a credit crunch that had repercussions across the globe and from which we are still only just recovering from today. While the FCA can be viewed as adding complications to your business, I think it is vital to bear in mind that its aims are the same as all of ours: to provide a fair market that is profitable, but which also treats customers fairly and results in positive outcomes for all.  

Working with an organisation such as the SimplyBiz Group means that our specialist team will keep you up to date with what you need to do, the practicalities of how to approach it and the regularity with which it needs to happen, so that you don’t have to do it all yourself. If you want help with adapting to FCA regulation and keeping compliant on an ongoing basis, please get in touch with us urgently on 01484 443 424.

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