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Santander on ‘a slow burn’

Vik Hill and Graham Prestedge, managing director and marketing director respectively of Santander Consumer, are seasoned campaigners in the volatile motor finance sector. With their focus on “innovative and customer friendly new products”, they are planning a series of product launches this year.

Prestedge talks of releasing the long-awaited funding initiatives “towards the back end of this year because, at present, the market is in too much turmoil”.

Meanwhile the company is, he says: “Focusing on a slow burn.”

If Santander’s promised products are smouldering in its UK division’s Redhill munitions depot, the relative newcomer in the finance field has made a sustained impact with its front line operators – car retailers – who are being offered a pragmatic new relationship.

Ahead of target to involve 6,000 car-selling outlets by the end of this year, Hill says: “We will move when the time is right on the twin platforms of the way commission is paid and the length of time customer relationships last.”

Prestedge advocates a “quality rather than quantity” approach to funding, already manifested in the Primero campaign, aimed at combating direct lenders’ incursion into the market.

He explains: “It involves retailers banking smaller, more respectable commission, and eliminates administration fees at the beginning and end of agreements. Customers migrating to direct lenders are generally more educated and more assiduously search for the right deal. Why should they pay £100 at the front and back of a deal?”

Both men are united in their belief that point of sale finance selling can and should have strong appeal for car buyers, but the benefits of a one-stop dealer shop resource must assume a higher profile by “stating the obvious” and “elevating the professional education” of sales staff promoting Santander packages.

The Santander duo will only hint about their new consumer finance portfolio with reference to “progressive change and development with customer retention at its core, and longer customer-dealer-finance company relationships”.

Some form of rolling car ownership leasing arrangement to challenge short-term motor loan churn is likely to be part of Santander’s future portfolio.

Bundling together finance, insurance and car servicing is not on their agenda – Hill and Prestedge preferring a “fairly straightforward approach”.

Hill says: “We look at what the public genuinely wants rather than going off and piloting options which take off. We are evolutionary not revolutionary, seeking long term enduring solutions, not short term fixes.”

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