Provident Financial Breaks Gloom, Reports Strong Start to 2018

According to a trading update by Provident Financial, all the lender’s businesses are performing well. The update has put an end to the doorstep lender’s recent problems. The Bradford-based lender offers high-cost loans to some of the most vulnerable families in Britain. Reports of a strong start have put an end to recent financial woes.

According to the trading update, all three businesses of the group have started 2018 on a positive note. This announcement comes after Provident Financial tapped £300 million of fresh investment funding. The lender had failed to reorganise its debt collection business and announced two profit warnings in the recent past. Provident Financial had also had a challenging year for shareholders before making the positive announcement.

In August 2017, the then C.E.O. Peter Crook resigned after the lender announced a 2nd profit warning in a span of two months. The second profit warning was triggered by a decision to overhaul home-collection business by hiring 2,500 customer experience managers to replace self-employed debt collectors. In the wake of the news, there was a massive exit of self-employed agents that happened faster than Provident Financial had envisioned resulting in poor debt collection rates.

The lender also faced a massive fine of £2m and compensation amounting to £169 million in February 2018 paid to its Vanquish Bank Unit consumers after the FCA found the lender guilty of malpractice. The regulator discovered that Provident hadn’t informed its customers accordingly about the total cost of add-on product, Repayment Option Plan.

The FCA is also investigating Provident’s car finance business Moneybarn. The regulator is concerned on how the lender has been evaluating potential car buyers before issuing loans. Although Provident Financial’s debt collection business is still making losses, the business is set to become profitable in 2019.

The trading update also covered the level of debt collection after Christmas which happens to be the busiest and most profitable period for high-cost lenders. Provident Financial debt collection arm enjoyed considerable business during this period adding that Vanquis Bank had been delivering profits beyond

expectations and although Moneybarn business was affected by bad debts, the performance was modestly beyond expectations with customer numbers higher by 24% compared to the same period last year.

The improvement was experienced despite the lender tightening the criteria for choosing suitable borrowers. In remarks made to mark an end to the first quarter, Provident Financial C.E.O. Malcolm Le May stated that the financial and operational performance of Provident Financial is promising and the lender is on track to post 2018 results that match internal plans.

About Provident Financial: Brief overview

Provident Financial is a sub-prime lender or “doorstep lender” in the UK. The company specialises in home collected credit, online loans, credit cards and consumer car finance. The company is listed on the LSE.

Provident Financial conducts business under different brands. Vanquis does credit card business. Provident Personal Credit is a home credit operations company while Satsuma offers online instalment loans. Other brands include Moneybarn for car finance business and Glo for guarantor loans. Provident Financial’s home credit brand Provident Personal Credit lends to individuals in their homes via local agents. The company serves over a million home credit customers.

Provident Financial was established in 1880 to offer cheap credit to residents of West Yorkshire. The lender was listed on the LSE in 1962. The company formed Vanquis Bank in 2002 to issue/operate credit cards. Vanquis focuses on pre-paid credit card business. In 2013, Provident Financial started its online short-term loan business Satsuma Loans before acquiring Moneybarn a year later. The Moneybarn acquisition was meant to give the lender exposure to automobile finance business.

Provident Financial has had a fair share of challenges ranging from fines to reprimands for questionable lending practices to breaching regulatory requirements. The lender’s stock has dropped by over 60% in a single day (22nd August 2017) after issuing a 2nd profit warning, events which saw the resignation of the then C.E.O., cancelation of shareholder dividend, a warning alluding to the cancellation of the full-year dividend in 2017 and announcement of an ongoing investigation by the FCA.

The latest trading update signalling the end of the lender’s financial woes is a “breath of fresh air”. If Provident Financial manages to maintain the current momentum, the lender may be able to reclaim long-lost glory.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

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