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The quality of our portfolio is the best it’s ever been, and this is reflected in our performance

Thanks to automated processes and clear performance visibility, the London-based vehicle and equipment finance business is able to make smarter decisions and service a growing business with eight fewer collections agents

London, May 13th, 2013 - Sopra Banking Software, a world leader in banking software, solutions and services, today announced that London-based Private & Commercial Finance Group plc (PCF) is saving £500,000 a year in reduced write-offs alone since deploying Sopra Banking Lending - Asset Finance solution. The business, which provides finance for vehicles, plant and equipment to consumers and businesses, has also seen a five-fold increase in revenues from existing customers thanks to the advanced management information provided by the solution.

PCF, which celebrates 20 years in business this year, has a finance portfolio of over £100 million and almost 14,000 customers. The group implemented the Sopra Banking Lending component in 2009 to gain greater visibility and control over its credit control activities. Although it already had an asset finance management system, this was very old, had limited collections functionality, and was very weak on reporting, according to PCF’s information systems manager Andrew Barber.

As the UK continued to dip in and out of recession PCF wanted to be able to concentrate its resources more productively, both within its credit control operations and in other areas of the business. “We had limited automation in our collection processes and were keen to improve on this when choosing a new contract administration package,” Andrew says. “We wanted to establish more of a workflow-based environment to gain a greater level of control of the performance of our portfolio at any stage in the month. This would allow us to react accordingly and focus on the important agreements.” The group also wanted to provide management information from collections to the business development team. Although traditionally the vast majority of PCF’s business originates via brokers, the group has an opportunity to sell further finance to existing customers as their contracts come up for renewal. “With a large portfolio of customers we weren’t in a position to remarket our databases effectively if we couldn’t determine who the good customers are,” Andrew notes.

PCF chose Sopra Banking Software from a long-list of 8 possible suppliers. It wanted a system that was workflow-driven and would provide a high level of process automation - yet with the flexibility to enable internal teams to reset parameters without having to go back to the software vendor. “Sopra Banking Lending – Asset Finance solution is very easy to use, and extremely configurable,” Andrew comments. “We can set up new products on the system and amend system configuration easily.”

Since using the system, PCF has been able to handle its credit collection activities with almost 50% less staff. Before the solution was deployed, the credit control team was 20-strong; within two years the group had been able to reduce this number by eight. Agent effort is better targeted; the quality of the portfolio has improved, reducing the level of chasing that is required; and routine processes such as account alerts and follow-up actions are managed automatically.

Another advantage of the software is the extensive range of interfaces it provides to other systems. An SMS facility, for example, allows the credit control team to issue automated text prompts to customers in arrears. Other interfaces let staff process credit or debit card payments, verify customers’ addresses and validate bank details from within the system, Andrew adds. “The result is a very slick end-to-end process.”

PCF is saving £500,000 a year in reduced write-offs, because the new system is so efficient in recouping missed payments at an early stage, and because it can automate the monitoring of payment plans - where customers have asked for help with amounts owing. Repeat business has soared too. In the month of May 2010, before using Sopra banking Software’s solution for account analysis, PCF financed just £74,000 in repeat business. In February 2013, a short month, the equivalent business generated was £370,000 – a five-fold increase.

Tighter controls and improved accuracy, helped by on-demand report generation, have helped PCF strengthen its underwriting and attract new funding too - most recently from Barclays which has committed to supporting the group’s activities for the next three years.

Commenting on the developments, PCF’s managing director, Robert Murray, says, “The quality of our portfolio is the best it’s ever been, and this is reflected in our performance. The last two months have been our strongest yet for new business and we’re going from strength to strength in a difficult market. The visibility and control Sopra Banking Software’ solution has given us have had a large part to play in helping us achieve this.”

About Sopra Banking Software

Sopra Banking Software is a global leader in software and IT services for banks and financial institutions. Its solutions help over 500 customers in 70 countries be more efficient, agile and responsive to business challenges. The market has long recognised the company's constituent parts - Sopra Group's financial software business, Callataÿ & Wouters, Delta Informatique and Tieto Financial Services UK - as solid players with a wide range of proven products. Worldwide, Sopra Banking Software employs 1,700 skilled experts. The company is a subsidiary of the Sopra Group – a leader in consulting, IT services and software development in Europe – which employs more than 14,000 people and generated a turnover of 1.217 billion euro in 2012. For more information, please visit our website www.soprabanking.com.

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