FCA opens investigation into auto finance brand

DUP leader Arlene Foster

Provident said in a regulatory update for investors that the FCA, Britain's financial services watchdog, is scrutinizing how its Moneybarn subsidiary treats consumers who are in financial difficulty. Barclays downgraded Provident Financial to an "equal weight" rating in a report on Wednesday, August 23rd.

The regulator is examining whether Moneybarn, which specialises in lending to the financially strapped to buy used cars, carries out proper affordability checks on customers.

Shares in Provident Financial fell more than 12pc this morning after the troubled lender announced its auto lending arm is to be investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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A statement by the group said: "The Provident Financial Group aims to act responsibly in all its relationships, and to play a positive role in the communities it serves".

"Already stuck in a quagmire that is the badly handled restructuring of its home credit operations, coupled with an FCA investigation into historical sales of its repayment option plan (ROP) product at Vanquis, Provident has today announced that the FCA is now investigating Moneybarn, it's vehicle finance business".

Moneybarn is a relatively small arm of the group's business, with around 50,000 customers out of the group's total of more than 2 million. Some of its conclusions will be published early next year, it has said.

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The FCA declined to comment on the investigation.

It added: "The company will work collaboratively with the FCA to investigate the remaining concerns and resolve any outstanding related issues as soon as practicable".

Provident claimed it had already made "a number of process improvements" at its finance unit Moneybarn following discussions with the FCA. "On that front the outlook is very uncertain".

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The company said it meant to make a post-closing trading update in mid-January.

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