A U.K. financial watchdog says some auto-finance customers are not receiving key information in an accessible manner, including information provided on lenders’ and dealers’ websites.
The Financial Conduct Authority in mid-2017 began research to build a stronger understanding of the auto-finance market and how consumers engage with auto-finance firms.
The FCA is the conduct regulator for 56,000 financial-services firms and financial markets in the U.K. and the prudential regulator for more than 18,000 of those firms.
In an interim report, the FCA says it has found growth in auto financing has been strongest for consumers with better credit ratings, who are less likely to face repayment difficulties.
The regulator says arrears and default rates remain generally low, though they have increased moderately in recent years. However, arrears and default rates are higher, and have risen more, among customers with the lowest credit ratings, who account for about 3% of lending.
“If not properly managed, some of the commission arrangements in place could incentivize dealers to arrange more expensive finance for customers,” the report says.
For the remainder of the review, the FCA will look at whether firms are properly assessing whether customers can afford to buy the car they are being offered – particularly for people with lower credit scores.
The FCA also is looking at whether the information provided to potential customers is sufficiently clear and transparent, so they can understand the risks involved and make informed decisions.
A final report, along with proposals to tackle any areas of concern, will be released by September.