Asset Finance News

Approaching the Arena anniversary: fixing the gap in UK asset finance fraud data


Asset Finance Connect to host a panel discussion with Nick Leader, CEO of Acquis Data Services, live online.

In an exclusive Asset Finance Connect panel discussion webcast on 20 September, Nick Leader, CEO of Acquis Data Services will be joined by John Phillipou, Board Director of FLA and Managing Director – SME Lending of Paragon Bank plc, and Steve Budd, Chief Operating Officer and MLRO at Investec Asset Finance Plc to discuss the implications of the Arena Television fraud revelations nearly a year ago.

Together with AFC equipment finance community leader John Rees and AFC asset finance community leader Stephen Bassett, they will consider “one of the biggest frauds in UK asset finance” and what lessons the industry has learned in the past 10 months.

The webcast discussion, sponsored by Acquis Data Services, will look at the challenges facing the asset finance industry in combatting the ever-present threat of fraud, what has been achieved and what has still to be done.

While the Arena Television scandal was a dark time for the asset finance industry, hopefully it has led to an industry united against fraud with some positive developments emerging or has the memory of this latest fraud began to fade before the finance providers have been able to act?

As Nick Leader commented, “Recent high profile fraud investigations have underlined what we all know is an unfortunate reality in the asset finance industry. Fraud is an ever-present threat. It’s estimated that as many as 50 asset finance lenders recently fell victim to a major financial crime of this nature, many now facing significant financial losses. There are tools and processes in existence to help avoid and reduce fraudulent activity but the reality is none provides a wide enough view across the asset finance lending market and more needs to be done to tackle the issues and offer asset finance lenders better insight and visibility to counter it.”

However, it is not just the asset finance community who need to assess the systems and processes in place to combat fraud in the industry. We must look at what progress the credit reference agencies (CRA) and trade associations have made, and unfortunately there appears to be a lack of meaningful progress by the CRA which remains a concern.

As Leader points out: “There are at least six credit reference agencies being used by the industry to try to spot suspicious activity but the reality is no single agency possesses enough market share to provide the level of oversight needed.”

Following the Arena scandal, the Covid pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis, the industry must pull together to tackle the increasing cases of fraud by creating a register that will prevent fraud on such a large scale from happening again. Better sharing of information by funders would have exposed such fraudulent activity.

After working with an industry working party, Acquis have delivered Acquis Lumia, an effective tool to aid lending decisions and help tackle fraud. As Leader concludes, “The solution is simple, deliverable and will be delivering value quickly if the industry comes together and adopts it on a large enough scale. We are very sensitive to the impact of fraud on our clients.”

To be effective, Acquis Lumia requires a significant majority of funders to participate to clearly see the full live picture of the customers indebtedness, as well as a universal acceptance and diligent implementation throughout the asset finance industry.

To register for the webcast, click the banner below.

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