Provident Financial boss rebuffs Brexit doom-mongering

Oliver Gill
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(FILE PHOTO) Credit Crisis To Impact Consumer Spending
The Brexit clouds are clearing according to the chief exec of Provident Financial (Source: Getty)

The boss of sub prime lender Provident Financial said post-Brexit economic doom-mongering has been proven to be wrong and is quietly confident about what 2017 will bring.

Peter Crook, the chief exec of the FTSE 100 firm, revealed there was plenty of room for the firm to grow, “serving customers in an underserved market”.

Read more: Provident Financial has a good feeling about 2016

Speaking to City A.M. he said: “We’re pretty optimistic around growth."

Crook explained Provident Financial is fairly well insulated from the micro-economic impacts of the Brexit vote, given that nearly all of the group's operations are in the UK. This means the problems facing other international firms – such as passporting – aren't as much of an issue.

Instead, macro issues affecting the economy are what impact the lender. Speaking this morning, ahead of Theresa May unveiling her 12-point plan for Britain's exit from the EU, he said:

"The forecasts and the gloom immediately after Brexit have been proven to be wrong.

I was just writing my board report and looking at the economic forecasts that are out there, they’ve all been upgraded over the last few weeks.

I don’t personally subscribe to all the doom-mongering around the Leave vote.

Provident Financial operates a number of brands including Vanquis Bank and Satsuma Loans and released its annual trading update today. Crook summarised the figures as “on the money”.

He added: “Today’s statement is a fair workmanlike update of how we finished the year.”

An underserved market

During 2016, Vanquis Bank, which runs the credit card business of the group and represents around two-thirds of operations, opened 406,000 new accounts. This led to net customer numbers growing by nine per cent to 1,545,000.

Read more: Provident Financial leaves negative analysts in the cold

Far from stealing market share from other credit card operators, according to Crook, Vanquis provided credit cards to people who have never had one before.

But due to the necessity of things like online purchases, he said: “Credit cards are a pretty essential part of modern life.

“Fundamentally, we are serving customers in an underserved market. Ever since the financial crisis there is a lack of supply of credit into this market for all those that want it.

“We are continuing to see strong demand and it’s not because we’re dropped credit standards to book more business.”

Shares in Provident Financial edged down in trading, closing 0.9 per cent lower.

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