ALPHERA Financial Services
Car Finance Loans from Alphera
ALPHERA Financial Services is BMW Group’s multi-award-winning independent motor finance division. We are based in Farnborough, Hampshire, and celebrate 12 years in the UK market in 2018.
Founded on a customer-centric culture of innovation and partnership, and a suite of market-leading commercial and consumer finance products, Alphera has grown consistently year-on-year. We now support more than 1,300 broker, franchise and independent partners for all marques (outside of BMW and MINI).
We have also taken a lead in the premium space as the captive finance provider for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Financial Services and Aston Martin Financial Services – both brands experienced record finance volumes and cases in 2017.
2017 was a milestone year for Alphera, as we funded £1.2bn in car finance for the first time, a 68% increase from 2016. While we saw our number of clients grow by 11% in 2017, our strategic focus was on organic growth from existing relationships.
In 2018, we have won three prestigious industry awards, including ‘Best Independent Lender’ at the Car Finance Awards, ‘Independent Finance Provider of the Year’ at the Motor Finance Awards, and ‘Finance Provider of the Year’ at the Credit Awards.
We focus on supporting our clients in a number of ways, beyond merely supplying end-user finance products. This includes training and education, underpinned by the launch of our new Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) accreditation scheme. We believe in incentivising sales staff in such a way as to generate positive customer outcomes. And we believe in using these, and other tools at our disposal, to help our clients grow with us as a business.
IMI accreditation scheme
In 2018, we commissioned an independent consumer survey among more than 1,000 UK motorists. Four out of five motorists (79%) said they are more likely to buy a car through a dealership salesperson who holds formal, industry-approved accreditation governing the sale of finance and insurance products.
In seeking to improve standards across the industry, we have established a partnership with IMI to support its new accreditation scheme for finance and insurance sale specialists. This is a significant step towards establishing a universal kitemark and a means of self-regulating to support compliance, giving customers confidence in the quality of advice and service they receive.
Our accreditation scheme complements the established FLA programme, Specialist Automotive Finance (SAF), and includes SAF ‘basic’ as a requirement. The scheme also enables practical skills and application of knowledge, offering an alternative to SAF Advanced for those that don’t work well with theoretical learning platforms. The recognised accreditation scheme enables sales staff to develop confidence in their skills and knowledge through practical, non-academic programmes and assessments.
We and the IMI hope to engage dealers and other lenders to develop the accreditation programme. This unified approach will demonstrate to the regulator that the motor retail industry is developing a ‘bulletproof’, self-regulating method of selling car finance – ensuring customers are always treated in a way that delivers positive outcomes.
This unique approach has been recognised at two prestigious finance industry events in 2018. In the first half of the year, Alphera was named ‘Non-bank Owned Independent Finance Provider of the Year’ at the Motor Finance Europe Awards 2018, as well as ‘Car Finance Provider of the Year’ at the 2018 Credit Awards.
Incentivising salespeople the right way
The FCA intends to carry out a programme of ‘mystery shopping’ among UK car retailers throughout 2018 to gauge the level of compliance in car finance sales. In addition to ensuring sales staff have the necessary skills and knowledge to sell car finance in a compliant way, we believe in incentivising sales staff to prioritise customer service that will generate happier, more loyal customers and ultimately lead to increased income for dealers.
In June 2017, we launched an incentive initiative for dealer clients, which focused on encouraging FCA-compliant sales behaviour to deliver positive customer outcomes. Our clients were ranked over seven months, based on the results of a point-of-sale customer survey. The ten salespeople who yielded the most survey responses and generated the highest customer satisfaction were offered spaces on an educational and entertaining trip to the 2018 NADA Conference in Las Vegas.
After the survey period, we provided participating clients with a report detailing their performance against these KPIs and offering new insights into customers’ experiences to help refine their processes where appropriate. A single-minded focus on customer satisfaction, over and above contract volumes, ensured very positive survey results:
- 91% said they were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘completely satisfied’ with the service received from dealer staff relating to their finance agreement
- 92% rated the clarity of explanation from sales staff highly
- 94% said it was easy doing business with the dealership
These results were significantly improved from 2016 and earlier in 2017 and showed that incentivised sales staff generated improved levels of customer satisfaction while the survey was running.
Helping our client base grow
Alphera’s core value proposition is one of consultancy and long-term partnership. Offering transparent and innovative products and processes, we help our clients develop profitable business to accelerate their sustainable growth. This can include investing in partners with strategic investments to help grow their businesses, in addition to supplying end-user car finance.
Our progressive, consultative approach helps us establish the closest, strongest relationships with clients across the automotive sector, with education and transparency underpinning our support. Drawing on the strengths of Alphera’s parent company, the BMW Group, we help our client base develop clear, transparent and rewarding relationships with their customers.
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