Evolution Funding (‘Evolution’), the motor finance broker and technology provider, has been named ‘Best Broker’ for the seventh consecutive year at the annual Car Finance Awards 2022.
Evolution have also been awarded ‘Best Direct Consumer Proposition’ for the third time, with a submission that focused on their motor finance fulfilment service for aggregator partners.
The independent panel of judges comprised some of the industry’s leading experts, including Andrew Brameld, managing director of BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Jo Davis, partner at Auxillias Limited, and Seán Kemple, MD of motor finance at Close Brothers.
The judges were impressed with Evolution’s continued innovation and understanding of market needs, along with significant growth, expansion of routes to consumers and increased footprint across the industry.
Paul Saggar, Evolution chief innovation officer, said: “To be named Best Broker for the seventh year is unprecedented, and we are humbled to have been recognised once again in a year when the competition was about as stiff as it’s ever been. As always, this accolade sets the bar high for both us and the industry, but we never take our foot off the pedal when it comes to innovation and industry leadership.”
Evolution Funding has partnered with Codeweavers to help dealers deliver a more streamlined and efficient finance journey to customers.
Dealers can now access Evolution’s full finance product suite through their Codeweavers portal, as well as manage finance applications right through to e-Sign. For car buyers, the integration facilitates both online and in-showroom applications and customers can expect a much smoother experience as they shop for vehicle finance.
Paul Hibbert, Evolution Funding Strategic Relationships Director, said:
“We are always looking to strengthen our proposition when it comes to improving our dealer partners’ digital presence. As such, we are delighted to have completed this integration with Codeweavers.
“Our finance products and technology combined with their market leading web and Showroom System platform will make it easier for our mutual dealer partners to transact, whilst delivering an optimised end-to-end digital journey for their customers. We look forward to working closely with Codeweavers to build out further enhancements.”
Alan Cooper, Codeweavers Head of Affiliation and Partnerships, added:
“With Evolution’s broad customer base and position in the market, this integration enables a vast number of mutual customers to benefit from improved functionality and efficiencies within our platform. We are delighted to have partnered with Evolution and we are excited to see what additional gains the partnership can generate.”
This time last year, Evolution Funding had just launched its new pricing models in response to the FCA changes banning the use of discretionary commission models in motor finance, which came into effect on 28th January 2021. What was that time like for the business?
Keith: For me, it was 16-hour days and all hands on deck in the run up to the 28th. Leading up to that point, we had conversations with every dealer about how they wanted to structure their customer proposition. We then had 48 hours to change the pricing for around 3000 dealers, with a finite deadline of midnight by when every pricing change had to be done in time for dealers opening on 28th.
Sam: We also had a lot of conversations with lenders around when best to change the pricing, because we had to be sure that customers weren’t detrimented during the change.
The work started at least a year ahead of the deadline with the lenders and working pricing models through in line with the regulator’s expectations. Tell us more about that.
Sam: Lee [Streets], Sam [Whittaker] and I were in discussions for months, looking at different pricing model options, understanding the rule changes, working out what would work for lenders, dealers and especially customers. We spent time looking at what would be acceptable to the regulator and importantly, what we could actually deliver by the deadline. We didn’t want to just take the easy option of fixed rate pricing for everyone as we didn’t think that was right for both dealers and customers. And so, we developed credit score-based pricing, which delivers a rate based on the customer’s credit profile.
We then produced documentation that would show how these pricing models could be controlled – that was a big thing for me. It’s not just about what rates and packages the dealer is going to offer but how do you ensure that every customer gets the right rate? In addition, we went out to external legal counsel and QC opinion, to confirm that what we were proposing would fulfil the rule changes. We then presented to our lenders and partners to get them on board with our solutions.
Keith: There was a lot of time, effort and resource going into building credit score-based pricing and so whilst all of that was going on, we were talking to all the big dealers and car supermarkets to gauge whether what we were building was something that they wanted.
At that point, we were a lone voice. Everyone else was talking about fixed rate pricing, partly because it’s the only thing they could deliver. However, because we’re a bit more agile than the big lenders, we felt we could deliver a credit score-based pricing solution. But all that work is for nothing if the dealer won’t adopt it, or the lenders won’t allow us to do it.
We spent months with our finance team dissecting pricing packages and testing all the different methods and scales, whilst also ensuring that credit score-based pricing was a viable financial model for both the dealer and Evolution.
Sam: There were certainly some weird and wonderful pricing packages that we worked through, many not viable but I believe in the end, we ticked the box for most dealers whilst delivering the right customer outcomes.
Keith: What’s interesting about this change is that we knew it was coming years ago. However, very few businesses were actively looking to use it to change the market in the way that Evolution has. We were very conscious that we had to try to bring the market with us.
Sam: What we didn’t want to do was go out to lenders and ask them what solution they could give us because we could have ended up with multiple solutions. Instead, we took the approach of, ‘here’s what we’re proposing, we’ve established it meets the rules, are you happy with our solution?’.
Keith: That’s an important point about our change of approach. In the past, we’ve probably been a little reticent to stick our head above the parapet and say, ‘this is how we want to operate; this is what we think we should do’. We truly believed we were right in our approach – we’d done all the research and groundwork, taken legal counsel – and I think the lenders appreciated that proactive approach, which took a lot of the burden away from them. That was a real mindset change and turning point for us as a business.
Sam: The great thing with the lenders is that through the audits that our lenders do with us, they know we have robust processes, policies, and procedures in place. When we went to them with our pricing proposal, they could see that it wasn’t just about the packages but also reassurance that we would control it and record and prove how a customer’s outcome had been determined.
So, what was your initial reaction to the FCA changes?
Keith: I’m possibly an outlier as a salesperson because I really like compliance! Dealers haven’t really got time to understand this kind of change and so when a lender or broker takes the reins by coming up with a solution that will keep the dealer compliant, that’s a massive selling opportunity. Credit score-based pricing was already in operation in the credit card market and I’m a big believer in it. I think the motor finance market moving that way is inevitable and that eventually it will all be credit score-based pricing.
Sam: That’s a good point. There was no other finance market where the individual selling the finance had an influence on the rate the customer gets. The change was inevitable.
How have dealers embraced the changes?
Keith: The larger dealerships and car supermarkets have, as they always do, embraced the changes. They’re corporate businesses and tend to understand early on what they need to do. Some of the smaller dealers took a little more time to adopt. However, all the lenders and main brokers have been great. I think a lot of dealers have recognised that the changes have removed a lot of risk and responsibility from their business.
What impact have the changes had on dealers’ incomes?
Keith: The majority of our dealers have seen a positive impact. Any income they may have lost when correctly delivering lower rates through fixed or credit score-based pricing is more than made up for by the increased finance penetration. Our data shows the credit scores that are underwritten, and the loans taken out and we see examples where the dealer would previously have lost business from a high scoring customer because they were not being charged the rate they deserved.
Evolution Funding post-PS20/8 commission models
Credit Score Pre**
Credit Score Post***
Increase of £12 per case
Increase of £61 per case
*Dealers measured at group level – not by forecourt. **Pre PS20/8 comparison period is Oct ‘20 – Jan ‘21 *** Post PS20/8 comparison period is Feb ‘21 – Jan ‘22
A year on, how do you think those changes are working for the industry?
Keith: It’s created a much more pleasant experience for the customer. All the doubt and bartering has been taken away so customers can now focus on the enjoyable side of buying a car. The motor industry hasn’t had a particularly good reputation, with lots of people having bad experiences buying cars on finance from motor dealers. What the FCA have done has completely revolutionised the way the market and the public see us. For the dealer, I think these changes have saved the point of sale market in motor finance. I think if we’d continued as we were, direct lenders would have continued to steal market share. The changes now mean that the experience of buying cars on finance in dealership is now pleasant and fair.
The FCA estimated that the changes would save customers £165 million a year. Do you think the changes have achieved what the FCA intended?
Keith: If the intention in relation to this figure was to drive down APRs, I don’t believe it’s done that. I think instead, it’s spread the APRs out. There are more customers getting lower APRs but also more customers getting higher APRs because they’re getting the rate reflective of their credit profile. If you’re a good customer, you’re more likely to get a lower APR now, but if you have poor credit, you’re almost certainly going to get a higher APR than you used to. So, the FCA changes have delivered fairness and transparency, but I don’t think it’s made the saving that the FCA cited.
Sam: I think ‘fairness’ is an important point. People have now got the accurate and appropriate APR for them but at Evolution, we’ve not seen an overall shift in our average APR across the whole of our business. We also don’t set the rates for all our customers either. In the subprime space, it’s the lender that sets the rate. It’s a couple of years before the FCA review the changes and the question is, if it hasn’t delivered what they wanted it to deliver, what comes next?
How do you think that the FCA could have done things differently or better?
Sam: I think an unforeseen consequence is the CMC activity that is attempting to exploit the FCA’s wording, even though the FCA made it clear that the changes were not retrospective of 28th January 2021.
Keith: All in all, the FCA do a great job. However, I wish they’d be more prescriptive. When they release legislation, it is often left open to interpretation. Big banks will always take a ‘non-risk’ approach, and this can lead to bad outcomes for customers.
What do you think will be the next big regulatory changes that we’ll see in the industry?
Sam: It’s got to be Consumer Duty. It leads on nicely from the changes to discretionary commission pricing models because it’s all about fairness, transparency, looking after the customer. Evolution have embedded TCF into our business for years, but Consumer Duty introduces terms we’ve not really seen before in this context, such as ‘fair value’. And this will impact everyone, so this is not just ours or the lender’s responsibility, it’s everybody’s, including the dealer.
2021 proved to be a year of records for Evolution. After a challenging 2020 thanks to Covid-19, our people came back fighting, resulting in an incredible performance across the business. We thank all of our teams for the hard work, focus, and commitment that makes these figures possible.
‘Tis the season for giving and so Evolution Funding was delighted to arrange a donation of thirty PCs to Mossbrook School in Sheffield.
Mossbrook School is a maintained primary school that supports pupils aged four to eleven years old who have a range of special educational needs and disabilities. Evolution’s IT department reached out to headteacher Jo Harrison regarding the decommissioned PCs and a date was arranged for dropping them off.
“Thank you to Evolution for their kind and generous donation. We would have had to save for years to replace all our computers – this will make an incredible difference to what we are able to offer our children.”
Jo Harrison, Headteacher, Mossbrook School
We were keen to meet some of the children that the PCs would be benefitting and so Jo kindly arranged a handover with the Badger Class and their teacher, Katie Meeney. And what a fabulous time we had!
We were greeted by fourteen of the most welcoming boys, who immediately introduced themselves and joined in on our impromptu photo session with enthusiasm. We spent the next half hour hanging out with the class, taking pictures, chatting and getting a little insight into a lesson, which included learning sign language. To top things off, each boy had created a greetings card thanking us for the computers!
It was a real pleasure to meet the Badger Class and we hope they enjoy putting their new computers to good use. When we asked them how they’d use the computers, we were told for writing, typing, spelling, stories, and possibly the best answer – booking a holiday!
“As a business, we are heavily focused on technology, and we understand the costs involved in keeping IT equipment up-to-date and working. We are delighted to be able to donate these PCs and pleased that they will make such a difference for the children of Mossbrook School.”
Sarah Simpkins, Marketing Director, Evolution Funding
Evolution Funding (“Evolution”), the motor finance broker and technology provider, has appointed Katie Hayes to the board as its Chief Operating Officer (“COO”).
Bringing over 22 years’ experience in the sector, Hayes joins Evolution from Lloyds Banking Group, where she was a member of the senior leadership team within the motor finance division. Positions held include Head of Jaguar Land Rover Financial Services for Black Horse and Head of Partnership and Market Development.
Prior to this, Hayes was Director of Customer Experience for Lex Autolease where she was responsible for product development and compliance, customer journey optimisation, and customer engagement.
Hayes will assume responsibility for all partner and end consumer journeys in Evolution’s point of sale and direct to consumer channels. She will also lead on product and process improvement, compliance, and governance.
Commenting on Hayes appointment, Evolution CEO Lee Streets said:
“The creation of the COO role is a crucial step towards achieving our strategic goals, especially when it comes to delivering excellence in motor finance. Katie brings extensive experience of working both commercially and operationally with a number of key partners.
“In addition, the expertise and insight that Katie has gained working in a number of senior motor finance roles will be invaluable for Evolution’s progression and growth. We are delighted to welcome her to the business”.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Evolution team at such an exciting time for the business and the sector overall. I’ve worked alongside Evolution on a number of occasions and always been hugely impressed by the people and the commitment to deliver. I’m really looking forward to being part of such a dynamic team and sharing my passion and experience of customers and partners.
“Bringing together vital elements of the business such as customer journey management and product and process improvement, along with non-dealer commercial activity, will be key to achieving Evolution’s growth objectives”.