|Headquarters||Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK|
|Manjit Wolstenholme, (Chairman)
|Revenue||£1,075.7 million (2014)|
|£224.6 million (2014)|
|£175.6 million (2014)|
Provident Financial plc is a British financial services group based in Bradford, West Yorkshire. It specialises in credit cards, Home Collected Credit (HCC), online loans and consumer car finance. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
The Company was established in Bradford in 1880 by Joshua Kelley Waddilove to provide affordable credit to families in West Yorkshire. The company's credit methods were rapidly popularised amongst the working classes, but from its outset The Provident was subjected to criticisms by those who were opposed to consumer credit or the costs associated with doorstep credit. The Company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1962. In 1997 it extended its operations to Poland and the Czech Republic, later operating in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Mexico.
In 2002 Provident Financial formed Vanquis Bank Limited, with a full banking license from the FSA, a consumer credit license with the Office of Fair Trading and a license from VISA International to operate and issue credit cards under the VISA brand. Vanquis Bank Limited specialises in the pre-paid credit card sector, enabling people to use the benefits of a credit card where normally due to their credit profile they would seldom be successful in obtaining a card from mainstream card issuers.
In June 2004, the Office of Fair Trading referred a Super-Complaint from the National Consumer Council expressing their concern over a perceived lack of competitiveness in the home credit industry, particularly as the four largest operators accounted for around 70% of the business in the home-collected credit industry. The Office of Fair Trading published a consultative paper which echoed this concern about the concentration of market share and referred the case to the Competition Commission.
Although the Competition Commission's conclusion confirmed high levels of satisfaction among customers who found home credit products well suited to their needs, they believed that measures should be implemented to make the sector more open and transparent. They required that the website Lenders Compared be set up, the costs of which was to borne by Provident and the other large operators. In addition, all home credit operators were required to advertise the new site in documentation and advertisements and to offer customers regular statements. The Commission rejected the concept of price caps, recognising that home credit is valued by many customers and did not believe that it would help customers if home credit were less available as a result and the potential of people then turning to unlicensed lenders (loan sharks).
In 2005, the company closed its Yes Car Credit business, which had sold second hand vehicles to customers with problematic credit histories via a national network of retail locations, offering the vehicle and finance as a single package. The company had been plagued by bad publicity, including a TV investigation into its selling practices, pressurisation of staff, unreliable vehicles and debt collection methods.
In 2007 it demerged its international business and a new separate public company was formed called International Personal Finance. This company now holds all of Provident Financial's ex-non-UK operations, with the exception of the Republic of Ireland. It also sold the motor insurance business leaving Provident Financial to concentrate on UK only financial products.
In 2011, Vanquis were criticised for offering Repayment Option Plans to their credit card customers, a form of insurance some consumer sites referred to as the 'new Payment protection insurance (PPI)'.
In 2014, Moneybarn was acquired by Provident Financial plc, joining the home credit and online credit businesses and Vanquis Bank to become the third leg of the group.
The Central Bank of Ireland in late 2014 fined and reprimanded Provident for flagrant breaches of the regulatory requirements aimed at protecting Irish consumers. The 5 whistleblowers who reported the law breaking were then sacked by Provident which led to the matter being raised in Dail Eireann.
In the UK, Provident Financial trades under a number of different brands, including Vanquis for its credit cards, Provident Personal Credit for its home credit operations, Satsuma for its online instalment loans, glo for its guarantor loans and Moneybarn for its vehicle finance operations. The home lending operations are based in the head office building on Godwin Street in Bradford, Vanquis Bank is based in London with purpose-built premises located in Chatham, Kent and Moneybarn is based in Petersfield. Real Personal Finance became a trading style of Provident Personal Credit, offering direct debit loans rather than the traditional home collected credit; the venture proved to be unprofitable and the RPF product was withdrawn in February 2010.
The company's home credit business lends to people in their homes via a network of local agents. Out of an estimated 3 million people who borrow from home credit providers, 1.0 million place their business with Provident home credit, giving the company an estimated 60% market share.
- "Annual Report 2014" (PDF). Provident Financial. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
- O'Connell, Sean, Credit and community: working class debt in the UK since 1880 (Oxford University Press, 2009)
- OFT action on Home Collected Credit Super-complaint
- Doorstep agents help Provident Financial ride out the credit storm, Financial Times, 29 December 2007.
- "Poverty - The poor need a better deal from the banks". Parliamentary Brief. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- "Lenders Compared: About this site". lenderscompared.org.uk. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
- OFT: Review of high cost credit
- "Uncorrected Evidence m11". parliament.uk. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
- "Write better papers, faster!". accessmylibrary.com. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
- Car finance glossary
- Provident Financial puts £70m into demerger
- "Provident Financial sells motor insurance arm to GMAC for £170m". business-sale.com. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
- Vanquis credit cards profit from 'new PPI' choose.net, 17 November 2011
- Treanor, Jill (27 October 2013). "Provident Financial launches Satsuma loans at 792% APR". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- "Central Bank is still failing us, despite all we've gone through". Irish Independent. 7 December 2014.
- "Call for Central Bank probe after Provident sacks 'whistleblowers'". Irish Independent. 17 June 2015.
- Bond of the Week: Provident Financial issues another new retail bond Investors Intelligence, 15 March 2013