This past financial year has been one of the toughest for the lending market in recent memory, with a global pandemic that specifically hit our sector by producing economic instability.
Systemic uncertainty was difficult for both lenders and customers, as lenders struggled to predict how the market would react and customers could not plan for the future.
As we entered a new financial year, we thought it prudent to send out a survey to our partners to gauge their individual experiences. This has helped us find out how they coped with the challenges of the pandemic and how it affected their results, whilst looking towards a gradual recovery in the new financial year.
Take a look at some of the main points from our survey below. If you would like to know more about how to get more insights from the survey please contact Dawn Wood.
Lender survey - key statistics
Whilst many of the results we found from participants were expected, we had a few that were interesting insights into the specific challenges faced by our partners, especially when it came to the toll of the pandemic.
We are happy to share a few glimpses into the full report, which should give you an idea of some of the statistics that we took as key takeaways, amongst many others.
Credit applications and acceptance rates reduced
As expected, the pandemic introduced a lot of instability into the economy, meaning that customers and lenders had no idea what was round the corner. Add into the mix unemployment, furloughed employees and businesses shutting their doors, and you have a recipe for a reduced lending market.
Over 75% of our respondents saw an overall reduction of credit applications across the pandemic period, showing that less customers were searching for loan products at all. This seems consistent with customers not able to commit to borrowing or waiting for the pandemic to be over before considering borrowing again.
This was compounded by over 75% of our partners seeing an overall reduction in acceptance rates, showing that many customers applying were simply getting declined. This could have been changing circumstances with many customers or lenders tightening their acceptance criteria during an unstable period.
Post-pandemic acceptance rate rise and furlough scheme impact
Our respondents were also able to confirm what they predict will happen post-pandemic, with over 80% indicating that they expected acceptance rates to rise. This is consistent with the economy opening back up as well as a period of stable recovery now that infection numbers have reduced and businesses are allowed to open again.
In addition, our respondents also indicated that the withdrawal of the furlough scheme would have an ongoing effect on their business. Whilst it had been keeping many in the UK workforce afloat, this scheme being taken away will mean no more support, which could leave many unemployed and unable to borrow, while businesses look to rebuild.
Lender survey - key comments
Our respondents were also able to give us detailed comments about their experiences during the pandemic, allowing us to compare and contrast specific challenges and positive outcomes.
The first major challenge was of course, the uncertainty that came with COVID and the reduced appetite for borrowing. This is consistent with our statistics and we had numerous comments that included these reduced numbers being the major contributing challenge to the pandemic period.
Another challenge that we had from our respondents was the impact of Brexit that almost occurred simultaneously with the onset of the pandemic. Specific comments centred around Brexit forcing talented staff to leave the UK, creating an issue amongst recruitment for our partners, alongside the pressures of the pandemic itself.
Thankfully, our respondents were also able to comment on positives that came from the pandemic period, which was very encouraging to see.
The first positive comments were focused on the acceleration of tech innovation due to COVID. This is consistent with customers having to interact with their finances using a computer or mobile device, rather than going into a physical branch. This reliance on digital would have made banks and lenders drive more innovation to ensure customers could always access their services.
Lastly, there were also comments around employer and industry questions added to loan applications. Due to customers’ changing circumstances with the furlough scheme and many businesses having to close, these questions allowed for more personalisation and taking the pandemic into account during the application process. More changes to applications and developments in personalisation will almost certainly be a precursor to Open Banking, which continues to rise in popularity in the UK.
There are certainly some outcomes that we expected to see, consistent with the overall effect of the pandemic on the economy and appetite for borrowing. These challenges were thankfully balanced out by many opportunities for our partners to learn and develop resilience during testing conditions.
Comments regarding Brexit were a surprise to see, revealing that this issue has not gone away just because of COVID, and still remains a challenge for some of our partners. But on the other hand, the overwhelmingly positive outlook on the post-pandemic period is encouraging to see from our respondents, especially as we all look forward to a better, more stable period for the lending market.
Monevo enjoys being able to communicate and gather insights from our partners in this way, and we will continue to provide further insights to support the development of products, services and relationships.
If are you interested to hear more or get involved with our Lender Survey, please contact Dawn Wood.