Angola’s first licensed credit bureau in partnership with Creditinfo to provide millions with access to finance

Creditinfo Group, the leading global service provider for credit information and risk management solutions, today announces plans to open Angola’s first licenced credit bureau, with Bureau Central Privada de Informação de Crédito SA(Bureau). This long-term strategic partnership, represents a vote of confidence and major investment into Angola’s buoyant economy, unlocking access to credit for millions of micro-to-medium sized businesses and citizens – many of whom are currently unbanked.
To deliver a world-leading private credit bureau solution, Creditinfo will combine Bureau‘s local knowledge with its own extensive experience delivering private credit bureau solutions in developing markets – including across Sub-Saharan Africa. The project’s initial remit will include Creditinfo’s most popular products and services, including CBS. Based on market appetite, further value-added products will be introduced.
Samúel White, Regional Director at Creditinfo said: “Accessing credit has long been a challenge across Sub-Saharan Africa. By opening Angola’s first private credit bureau, we’ll enable banks and other lenders to extend credit to citizens and businesses, helping to build and develop its already thriving economy. Supporting the unbanked to access finance requires a specific set of experiences and insights which Creditinfo has honed over decades of working across the region. We’re proud to be a leader in this space and can’t wait to open for another dynamic market together with our strategic partners.”
Cristiano Monnerat, Director at Bureau Central Privada de Informação de Crédito S.A.added: “Boasting significant untapped opportunities for wealth creation and a young, dynamic population, Angola represents an attractive investment for us. As such, we’re excited to be able to draw on Creditinfo’s global expertise to build a private credit bureau that’s run by local people, for local people. All in all, this marks a major step forward for Angola’s growing economy.”

Rising interest rates to impact brokers’ searches – latest Knowledge Bank tracker results reveal

The current rising interest rate environment looks set to impact mortgage availability and criteria searching Knowledge Bank’s latest criteria tracker results reveal.

The ‘maximum age of the borrower’ at the end of the mortgage term remains the most common search in the residential sector suggesting that borrowers are looking to extend mortgage payments over the longest possible term. The second most searched for criteria are for ‘income multiples that lenders use for affordability assessment’, and this looks set to become increasingly important as rates rise and affordability will come under the spotlight as the basis for responsible lending.

There was consistency in month-on-month criteria searches in the buy-to-let sector with ‘first-time landlords’ still keen to enter the market, making it the most-searched for the second month running. With rising house prices and a strong demand for rental properties this sector remains attractive to long term investors although rising product rates will squeeze margins and may adversely affect those landlords most heavily leveraged.

Criteria searches for second charge loans has seen the greatest change over the past month with three new searches making the top five. Brokers searching for lenders who would accept IVAs, both on-going and current became the second most popular search in the sector. This suggests that even in a low interest environment with robust house prices, borrowers are still getting into financial difficulty.

Searches in the bridging and commercial lending categories remained consistent with April’s results with searches for ‘regulated bridging’ and the ‘minimum loan amounts’ the top two searches in bridging. In the commercial sector, brokers searched for lenders prepared to lend on ‘semi-commercial properties’ and for those who allowed highest loan to value (LTV) as the top two searches.

Knowledge Bank believes that with the latest Bank Base Rate increase and the expectation that it will continue to rise borrowers are understandably moving towards fixed rate mortgages. However, intermediaries need to ensure that their clients still match lenders requirements well before the search for individual products begins.

“With criteria changing every single day it’s too easy to put the cart before the horse and start refining product rates without establishing whether your borrower will be accepted by the lender in the first place” said Matthew Corker, operations director at Knowledge Bank.

“In a rising interest rate environment, we should expect affordability to become even more prominent in lenders’ minds as that relates to the borrower not the product. It is crucial that brokers check criteria prior to a product search to avoid wasted time in the application process.”

TransUnion Appoints New UK Chief Operating Officer

Laura Barley has been appointed as chief operating officer (COO) for TransUnion in the UK, meaning that its executive team is now an even split of men and women.

TransUnion pledged in 2019 that it aimed to achieve gender parity in senior leadership by 2030 in all the regions it operates in. The UK leadership team, which is now 50% female, is a testament to that commitment being put into practice.

Having been with the business for over 15 years, Laura has taken on responsibility for all aspects of UK operations. This includes operational assurance, ensuring the highest standards of service for TransUnion clients and consumers.

Satrajit “Satty” Saha, CEO of TransUnion in the UK, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Laura to the UK executive team which has now become 50% female. It’s a real privilege for me to be leading with such a strong, diverse team. Laura’s appointment also highlights the pathways to progression that exist here at TransUnion for all our colleagues, and her experience and knowledge of the business will be a great asset.”

Before being appointed to the executive team, Laura was operations director with responsibility for consumer services, data operations and data. She has an in-depth understanding of customer experience, having recently driven a programme to improve customer satisfaction which saw clients vote the company Credit Information Partner of the Year in The Consumer Credit Awards 2021.

Speaking of her appointment, Laura Barley said: “I’m delighted to be appointed as the new chief operations officer at TransUnion in the UK and look forward to supporting continued growth by optimising business processes. I’m also thrilled to be part of an executive team with such a strong female presence. Working in an industry where there is often not enough female representation, having female role models at a senior level is incredibly important and something I am proud to contribute towards.”

Amanda Rendle Joins TransUnion’s UK Board as Non-Executive Director

Global information and insights provider TransUnion has appointed Amanda Rendle to its UK board as a non-executive director. Amanda brings experience in marketing and communications spanning four decades, with particular expertise in financial services.

Amanda previously led an award-winning client engagement programme at leading multinational bank HSBC, where she was global head of marketing for commercial banking, as well as global banking and markets.

Additionally, Amanda supported Masthaven in its transition from specialist lender to bank and has advised various new tech-based businesses across finance and marketing on customer marketing strategies.

“I’m excited about utilising my expertise to support TransUnion’s customers and the consumers they serve,” said Amanda Rendle, commenting on her appointment as non-executive director at TransUnion in the UK. “The role of data and insights is going to be pivotal as businesses aim to assist consumers through the ongoing challenges they face as a result of the pandemic and the rising cost of living. I look forward to working with the wider leadership team as we continue to optimise processes to deliver the best results.

Amanda’s portfolio includes current non-executive director roles for Tesco Bank, Homeserve Membership UK and the Government Communications Services, whilst she was previously a non-executive director for British Business Bank, The Royal Mint and Countrywide.

Satrajit “Satty” Saha, CEO of TransUnion in the UK added: “We’re so pleased to be welcoming Amanda to our UK board. With vast experience in the financial services sector, she is passionate about the voice of the customer and embedding insights into business processes to support informed decisions and drive the best outcomes.  Her skills and know-how will be a great asset as we move forward with our strategic long-term growth plans.”

BoE rate rise comment

Following the Bank of England decision to raise interest rates to their highest level since 2009, John Phillips, national operations director at Just Mortgages said: “The increase in the base rate of 0.75% to 1% will not have come as a surprise to anyone as the Chancellor has warned that rates could hit 2.5% by the end of the year.

“However, coupled with the financial pressure of the cost-of-living crisis means that the pressure on household budgets is the greatest it has been for a decade.

“While consumers have little control over their energy bills, they do have the opportunity to secure long term security in the form of a fixed rate mortgage. As a result, our network of mortgage advisers report that conversations with borrowers around longer-term fixed rates have never been higher.

“Although rate uncertainly has historically dampened mortgage borrowing, robust house prices and a move by many to adapt their working lives to be more home-based is sustaining the market.

“If base rate continues to rise, and mortgage deals become more expensive and elusive, the need for professional mortgage advice will be essential in helping consumers maintain a sustainable household budget going forward.”

Synectics Solutions’ national police unit partnership bolstering the fight against fraud and organised crime

Synectics Solutions, Britain’s leader in using data to detect and prevent fraud and wider economic crime, has partnered with the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) to help the finance and insurance industries guard against fraud and support efforts to tackle organised crime that harms communities.

NaVCIS investigations help identify those suspected of fraud or vehicle-related criminal activity, the evidence, intelligence and supporting analytical work is passed to police colleagues for further action.

As part of its role as a national policing unit that bridges the gap between policing and industry, NaVCIS issues intelligence alerts regarding ongoing investigations to Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) members who are registered for the service, along with law enforcement agencies and authorised stakeholders.

These alerts flag the names and details of individual victims whose personal data is being used to gain illicit finance by criminals, in addition to those responsible for the fraud. In using this intelligence, financiers can more easily recognise incidents of ID theft and prevent finance being taken out fraudulently – depriving criminals access to vehicles.

In recent years NavCIS has helped the police seize more than 5,000 vehicles, with a combined value of more than £75 million. NaVCIS intelligence shared with UK Port authorities, as well as police in Britain and the EU, has also helped disrupt organised crime – from drug and gun trafficking to large scale fraud, money laundering, and modern-day slavery.

Under the new agreement this valuable intelligence will be integrated into Synectics National SIRA solution – the UK’s largest syndicated database of cross-sector customer risk intelligence. All users of National SIRA, particularly FLA members, will therefore be able to automatically cross reference potential customer details with a richer data pool.

DCI Brett Mallon, Head of NaVCIS, commented: “As a centralised, specialist police capability, we are dedicated to developing and sharing intelligence to tackle vehicle finance crime and associated serious organised crime.

“Anything we can do to make that intelligence easier and quicker to utilise is a huge step in the right direction. As many FLA members already use Synectics Solutions’ National SIRA, it makes absolute sense to integrate our data into that solution to automate name checks in a way that hasn’t been possible previously.”

The agreement will also evolve into a two-way data sharing partnership under the SIRA Affiliate Membership model, with Synectics Solutions delivering intelligence derived from National SIRA data via its Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to NaVCIS to help expediate their investigations.

Chris Hallett, Insurance Product Manager and Head of SIU at Synectics Solutions, commented: “We are always looking to forge partnerships that help both parties achieve shared goals. In this case, the idea actually came from our FLA registered National SIRA members, with many of them suggesting what a powerful resource it would be to be able to automate checks with NaVCIS alerts and cross-reference information with wider risk intelligence data. Now, they can. It’s a win/win for everybody and we are delighted to be working with such an important law enforcement agency.”

BoE Money and Credit Figures: Commentary

“With inflation running at a 30-year high, the Bank of England is all but certain to raise interest rates on Thursday to an expected 1%. In principle, this is designed to increase the price of borrowing, reduce consumer demand, and take some heat out of spiralling prices, but, for consumers and businesses already in some form of debt, especially those on variable rates, it’s going to be hard not to see this as yet another ballooning bill on the balance sheet.

“These macroeconomic factors mean people are borrowing more and paying down less debt, with one or two exceptions. However the forces driving credit demand are rarely this straightforward, and it’s important that we look beneath the bonnet to determine whether rising demand is driven by consumer confidence, financial hardship, or even anticipation of further price or interest rate rises.

“Our data at Equifax suggests that financial hardship is the elephant in the room, with many more people in the UK entering a state of financial vulnerability and the number of people falling behind on bills also rising. These trends are set to become more pronounced in May and June as the energy price cap rise, council tax rises, and the hike in national insurance flow through to people’s wallets, so this looks more like the end of the beginning for the cost of living crisis than the beginning of the end.”

Paul Heywood, Chief Data & Analytics Officer at Equifax UK

Band of England Money and Credit comment

Reporting on the Band of England Money and Credit data out this morning –  https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/statistics/money-and-credit/2022/march-2022 – Richard Pike, sales director at Phoebus Software, said: “There was strong lending in March at £7bn and with mortgage approvals remaining steady, we should continue to see a healthy mortgage market this year.

“But rates are rising with the average interest rate paid on new mortgages increasing by 14 basis points to 1.73% in March. However, this is still lower than the same time last year when it was1.95%.

“The rate for outstanding mortgages is also up slightly by 2 basis points to 2.04% but again it is below the 2.08% in March 2021.

“With a third base rate rise in five months expected tomorrow, new borrowers and those remortgaging will see rates increasing from historic lows. For many people this is the first time they will be experiencing this and with the rising cost of living and soaring inflation, some borrowers will have to tighten their belts.”

BoE comment: Highest net borrowing shows desire for properties

Following the latest Bank of England Money and Credit stats which found net borrowing of mortgage debt by individuals amounted to £7.0 billion in March, a significant increase compared to February, John Phillips, national operations director at Just Mortgages said: “Outside of the stamp duty inflated peaks, March saw the highest spike in net lending as continually increasing house prices drove up mortgage borrowing.

“While approvals remain steady, the spike in net borrowing shows consumers are looking to borrow more than ever. Competition for houses is still driving up prices, and with more sellers than buyers this looks set to continue.

“With the Chancellor warning that there may be seven more base rate rises before the end of the year, taking it to 2.5%, advice from brokers has never been more critical. The ‘effective’ interest rate rose in March and with the ongoing cost of living crisis, borrowers will be looking for advice on how to achieve long-term security in household expenses.

“Anecdotal feedback from our network of brokers reveals a push towards fixing rates for longer in the hope that the financial landscape will be less turbulent in a few years.”

iwoca SME Expert Index: One in three brokers say lending market has returned to pre-pandemic levels

The small business lending market has already returned to pre-pandemic levels of activity, according to nearly a third of brokers (30%) surveyed in iwoca’s latest SME Expert Index.

And nearly another third (31%) believe the market will return within 6 months, based on the number of loan requests they had each month before the pandemic. Only 10% of brokers expect the market to take over 12 months to bounce back.

iwoca’s Q1 2022 SME Expert Index is based on insight from UK brokers who collectively submitted over 3300 applications for unsecured finance on behalf of their SME clients in March.

Small business cash flow concerns trigger rising demand for finance

Over a third of brokers (34%) reported an increase in loan applications submitted in the last month compared to the previous month. Managing day-to-day cash flow became increasingly important to SMEs in Q1 2022, with nearly one in three brokers (31%) identifying it as the most common motivator for applying for finance. This is the first time that ‘managing cash flow’ has risen month on month, a significant shift in the downward trend it’s followed since the index began in Q1 2021, and a seven percentage point increase on Q4 2021 when 24% listed cash flow as the top motivator. This suggests the spike in lending activity could be attributed to small businesses’ escalating need for finance as they navigate the increasing cost of doing business, including rising energy prices and inflation.

The survey also signalled small businesses were looking to access smaller bridging loans – perhaps to cope with these rising costs – with the most commonly requested loan size for SMEs in Q1 2022 being under £25,000. In Q4 2021, by contrast, the most commonly requested loan size lay between £50,000 and £200,000.

Despite the rise in cash flow concerns, growing the business encouragingly remains the most common reason for SME owners to apply for finance, reported by 43% of brokers (same as Q4 2021).

Market prepared for winding down of government loan-schemes

Further signs of more familiar levels of activity in the lending market were reflected in brokers’ views on the winding down of the government schemes introduced to help SMEs through the pandemic. With the Recovery Loan Scheme coming to a close in June, only 18% of brokers said they’re dissatisfied with the scheme’s end, compared to 39% who are satisfied with its imminent closure. This indicates a readiness in the market to return to pre-pandemic business as usual.

Colin Goldstein, Commercial Growth Director of iwoca, said: “While it’s reassuring to see the lending market returning to pre-pandemic levels of activity, the inflation crisis is taking its toll on small businesses who are feeling the pinch. Rising fuel and energy costs are the main cost pressures hampering SMEs ability to combat what is expected to be a weaker than expected year of economic growth. As small business owners prepare themselves for cash flow issues in the coming months, it’s vital that lenders offer flexible finance to help them through this.”

Broker Rich Olsen, CEO of Pegasus Intelligent Corporate Finance, said: “We’re seeing a surge in demand for finance, driven by SMEs in all sectors, who are experiencing increased sales as well as rising costs. And we expect this demand to only increase, as businesses pay back their government loans. Whilst growth is expressed as the primary loan purpose as businesses bounce back from the pandemic, we’re also seeing cash flow needs due to rising costs associated with raw materials, staff, energy and other inputs.”

Broker David Farmer from Lime Consultancy added: “We’re already seeing demand above pre-pandemic levels. Based on what small businesses are telling us, this is because they’re gaining confidence in their understanding of the ‘new normal’  and now want to grow. They’re happier to carry debt and have cash, giving them more scope to move quickly and not be in the same position they were at the outset of the pandemic. Whether this rising demand for finance continues remains uncertain as we’re currently riding a wave of pent up demand with businesses who’ve consolidated over the past two years and are now actively looking to recover that ground. Much will depend on the impact of inflation, consumer confidence and whether base rates stymie spending.”

SME Expert Index

This SME Expert Index from iwoca provides a snapshot on what’s driving small business owners to borrow, the trends seen in the types and value of finance being accessed, and how these patterns change as the country emerges from the pandemic. iwoca publishes this index every quarter to capture the experience of brokers working with small businesses.