|Headquarters||Bradford, England, UK|
Home Collected Credit
Consumer car finance
|Revenue||£534.6 million (2021)|
|£142.2 million (2021)|
|£(32.1) million (2021)|
Provident Financial plc is specialist bank for UK adults who are not served by mainstream lenders. Based in Bradford, England, it specialises in credit cards, online loans and consumer vehicle 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 as the Provident Cloth and Supply Company. The Company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1962.
Provident Financial Group were one of the first financial institutions to enter into estate agency in the UK, establishing Whitegate Estate Agency in two cities 1978, and by the end of the year was operating in eight Yorkshire towns. The chain grew to 19 branches by the end of 1979, 22 branches by the end of 1980 and 23 branches by the end of 1982. Innovations brought to the market place included seven day opening, computerised mailing lists, a "No Sale - No Fee" guarantee and an all include fixed fee. By late 1985 there were 60 branches of the chain, expanding with a move into the East Midlands in 1986 to 70 branches (the 10 in the East Midlands were acquisitions which had trade during 1986 under their former names. As the chain reached its 10th anniversary towards the end of 1987, the chain totaled 95 branches of which 17 were franchised, rising to 107 branches (27 franchised) by the end of the following year. The chain was sold for £19 million in December 1989 to Legal & General.
In 2002, Provident Financial formed Vanquis Bank, with a full banking licence from the FSA, a consumer credit licence with the Office of Fair Trading and a licence from Visa International to operate and issue credit cards under the Visa brand. Vanquis Bank specialises in the pre-paid credit cards.
In 2005, the company closed its Yes Car Credit business, which had sold second-hand vehicles to customers with problematic credit histories. 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.
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 2012, the company were the subject of an episode of the BBC documentary series Panorama, which alleged that the company were breaching Office of Fair Trading guidelines by offering loans to vulnerable people who might not have understood the implications of the contracts they were entering into. The programme featured two instances of people with mental illness who were given substantial loans, including a woman diagnosed with schizophrenia who was lent several thousand pounds. The company were criticised by the Citizen's Advice Bureau, whose chief executive told Panorama, "I call into question...the motivation to keep exploiting people who clearly can't be held responsible for their own decisions in that situation."
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 five whistleblowers who reported the law breaking were then sacked by Provident, which led to the matter being raised in Dáil Éireann.
On 22 August 2017, Provident Financial lost two-thirds of its stock value in a day, following its second profit warning in two months, the replacement of its chief executive by Manjit Wolstenholme, cancellation of a shareholder dividend and a warning that the full-year dividend might also be cancelled, and the announcement of an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority. The share price, which had been £32 in April 2017, was £8.50 by the first week of October 2017.
On 15 March 2021 Provident announced they intend to introduce scheme of arrangement, in which £50m would be set aside for compensation payments for claims made before 17 December 2020, which are still unresolved. Provident claim that if the scheme is not approved then their consumer credit business will go into administration.
In the UK, Provident Financial trades under two different brands, including Vanquis for its credit cards and loans and Moneybarn for its vehicle finance operations. Operations are based in Bradford, in London, in purpose-built premises located in Chatham, Kent and Moneybarn is based in Petersfield, Hampshire.
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