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From the FCA to the BVRLA, we talk you through the different organisations who regulate car leasing companies in the UK

If you’re new to leasing, chances are you’ll have a lot of questions including how can you be sure you’re dealing with a reputable company and who is responsible for regulating car leasing companies in the UK?

As a vehicle leasing broker, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts must follow strict standards and codes of conduct to ensure you are given the right information in order to make an informed decision about your next lease vehicle. But who sets the codes of conduct and how do they ensure we are following the standards?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

"The Financial Conduct Authority is the conduct regulator for 58,000 financial services firms and financial markets in the UK and the prudential regulator for over 18,000 of those firms."

That's a lot of businesses and Nationwide Vehicle Contracts is just one of them. Companies regulated by the FCA must follow strict guidelines to ensure that consumers get a fair deal in a financial market that is honest, fair and effective.

An independent public body that is funded entirely by the firms that it regulates via a system of fee-charging, the FCA is accountable not only to the Treasury but to Parliament too. With the Treasury being responsible for the financial system in the UK, and therefore the modern economy, the FCA has an important role to play in everything from children’s ISAs to pensions, direct debits to credit cards, and loans to investments – as well as helping to keep over 2.2 million people in work in the financial sector.

But, not only do they "protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system" when it comes to the financial markets, they also protect consumers by securing "an appropriate degree of protection" for them as well as "promoting effective competition" in their interests too.

To do this, the Financial Conduct Authority ensures that businesses:

  • Have their customers at the heart of how they do business
  • Offer appropriate products and services
  • Put the protection of their customers above their own profits or income
  • Meet FCA standards before they can be authorised to enter the market that they are concerned with
  • Work within FCA standards when carrying out any activities that the FCA regulates

If businesses do not meet the FCA standards then the FCA will intervene, and depending on the severity of the breach, they can impose penalties ranging from fines and redress for consumers to a cessation of trading both immediate and in the future.

It is important that consumers know that they can trust the firms that they buy from, but just as important is the fact that if anything does go wrong that they are protected. By promoting and encouraging healthy competition amongst businesses, the FCA states that it gives consumers "confidence to make choices and switch product providers." This, in turn, encourages businesses to treat consumers properly - and the FCA's Enforcement division makes sure that they do.

Any fines, investigations and enforcement notices are published so that consumers can find out if a business has been the subject of any wrongdoing in the FCA's eyes, and any financial penalties are paid to the Exchequer after certain costs are deducted. In 2017 the total amount of fines collected was just over £229.5million.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA)

The BVRLA is the trade body for the vehicle rental and leasing sector and is responsible for almost five million cars, vans and trucks on UK roads.

Working across many issues involved with finance, technology, taxation, environment and road transport, the BVRLA consults with government, public sector agencies, industry associations, consumer groups and other stakeholders to ensure that its 900+ member organisations "provides customers with the reassurance that the company they are dealing with adheres to the highest standards of professionalism and fairness."

Established in 1967, the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association supports over 465,000 jobs, adds £7.6bn in tax revenues and contributes £49bn to the UK economy each year. But right at the heart of the BVRLA is consumer protection, headed up by the mandatory Codes of Conduct that it insists businesses adhere to.

There are 5 sector-specific Codes of Conduct:

  • BVRLA Leasing and Fleet Management Code of Conduct
  • BVRLA Leasing Broker Code of Conduct
  • BVRLA Commercial Vehicle and Minibus Code of Conduct
  • BVRLA Rental Code of Conduct
  • BVRLA Rental Broker Code of Conduct

You can read about the Leasing Broker Code of Conduct that Nationwide Vehicle Contracts adheres to here.

Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

Set up by Parliament in 2000, the Financial Ombudsman Service is a body created as "the UK’s official expert in sorting out problems with financial services."

Unbiased and authoritative, the Financial Ombudsman Service has legal powers to decide on an outcome if a business and a customer can’t resolve a complaint themselves. These complaints range from credit and debit cards to PPI; bank accounts to loans and other credit; mortgages to debt repayment; and pensions to online payments.

The Financial Ombudsman Service is an independent public body, and at the top of their list when it comes to disputes is fairness; making sure that they do the right thing whilst treating customers well and respecting their needs. They do this by "listening, thinking and explaining." It's not all about technicalities; it's about doing what they believe and what they feel is right, resolving "individual disputes between consumers and businesses - fairly, reasonably, quickly and informally."

As a leasing company, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts are tied to all three of the above bodies and follow their standards and Codes of Conduct with strict adherence. We aim to treat all customers fairly with exceptionally high levels of service, but if you find that our service falls below that which you believe you should receive, then we have a Complaints Procedure for you to follow.

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