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Chartered Trust comment

Information is power: this business school catchphrase was never more relevant than in today's highly competitive motor retail finance market.

It is a key reason why Chartered Trust is pleased to be sponsoring Automotive Management's new Finance Analysis feature.

Each month the feature will bring you a comprehensive listing of the current manufacturer finance initiatives, along with informed comment and analysis of the latest trends from key industry competitors, such as high street banks and direct loan companies. As you know only too well, the customer is becoming better informed - about car specifications, car prices, finance rates and special offers. To be able to compete, you too need all the information at your fingertips. Chartered Trust believes in giving dealers the competitive edge. It is an underlying principle in our "Reassuringly Different" way of doing business. That edge comes from our in-depth knowledge of the business; our ability to create bespoke finance packages to suit your specific dealership and customer profile; and our market leading systems - including equips, the first internet-based software for instant credit decisions. Sponsorship of Finance Analysis is typical of our approach. By providing clear, relevant information and business advice we help you make the right decision for your business. In short, our team is here to help. It is no coincidence this feature is being launched this month. March, with its W-plate change, will be critical to an industry which is facing real challenge. New car customers are in short supply; those who do walk through the door are looking for a very tight deal. Offering the right finance package - making the car affordable, the buying process more enjoyable and ensuring the customer comes back in two or three years time - is more important than ever. Despite four base interest rate rises in the last six months, there is little sign of corresponding rate rises at the point of sale. Intense competitive pressure between all the lenders, plus a need by the car manufacturers to stimulate demand, is ensuring consumer rates stay flat and margins are squeezed for dealers and finance companies alike. Analysts expect base rates to continue to rise in the short to medium term, moving from 6% now to nearly 7% by December and then going higher again in 2001. This scenario of rising interest rates, combined with the outstanding offers available in the market now, is a powerful argument for closing a sale at fixed rates before it is too late. In the next few weeks, the Government will publish its response to the Competition Commission enquiry into car pricing. It will be a make-or-break day for the industry. Whatever the response, much of the current uncertainty in the market will disappear; dealers and customers alike will know where they stand. Pent-up demand will be released. It is widely expected the Government will demand an 'unbundling' of captive finance plans and 'free insurance' deals. The following pages are packed with close detail of just such schemes. How many will survive? In a time of such uncertainty, you can rely on Chartered Trust to continue to offer an innovative range of services, helping all our customers to profit from the opportunities which undoubtedly will result. We would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about it.

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