2020 has been a year for reinvention, agility, compassion and a ‘can-do' ethos that is seeing motor retailing reinvent itself. I’m immensely proud of the role that MotoNovo has played in a year like no other as we stood and continue to stand side-by-side with our dealers and customers.

As we come to the close of what has been an unprecedented year, I find myself looking forward to time with family at Christmas and looking forward to the year ahead. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling a combined sense of apprehension and optimism for 2021.

While writing this, I looked back at Karl’s review of 2019 and our outlook for 2020, we could never have predicted the sizeable events of this year, but many things haven’t changed.

The review was led by the FCA changes expected for motor finance and the launch of the Senior Manager Certification Regime (SMCR). My immediate thought is little has changed because both are such dominant items today with new deadlines for both looming. However, this doesn’t dominate my thinking looking back at 2020.

Crucially for dealers, we kept lending during lockdown with no changes to our credit approach. We kept our foot to the floor in terms of innovations in new stocking models designed to help dealer cash flow, new technology to help consumers access and manage their accounts and most notably in the launch of the ground-breaking MotoRate pricing model. We continue to provide a support hub for dealers, giving them the tools and resources to move forward in the current climate.

Over 2,000 dealers have now embraced MotoRate and the January 28th FCA deadline is fast approaching. I know other models are being offered, but I was struck by the words of two competitors on a recent webinar suggesting that they both expect risk-based pricing to be the future for dealer finance. The critical barrier in the short-term being the time needed to develop the pricing technology and functionality.

Before moving on from MotoRate, my personal thanks to the dealer community who are helping us shape the business model, placing their trust in us for the future of dealer finance. I appreciate your support and I’m delighted that the year-on-year growth is delivering a win for you, your customers and MotoNovo - thank you.

Last year, we noted “Into 2020, dealers will need to be leaner and more digitally engaged.” It was a call to action made because the risk from potential disruptors was gaining momentum. As it turns out, becoming leaner and embracing digital capabilities were an essential part of surviving 2020 in the face of the pandemic.

While the backdrop to the ‘why’ the industry changed was clearly distressing, the outcome has to be welcomed. Click and collect, distance selling and the use of a series of online tools to meet customer needs will serve the industry well as we go forward, turning ‘survive to thrive’.

And so, to 2021

In 2020, the value of service and care became clear; price is not everything. Transparency, care, expertise and quality can come together to help create a brighter future for an omnichannel car dealer model.

Being lean remains vital, as will agility and continuing to embrace digital channels, but in 2021, if we can focus on delivering the ‘wow’ factor for every car buyer and prospect, shaking off old practices and welcoming in the new, we can create a new level of value and trust and with it, raving fans who keep coming back and who keep delivering new referrals. It’s a prize worth pursuing.

I hope everyone enjoys the festive season and has a very Happy New Year!

Jon Slater, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer

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